While the message in the Kendrick’s films appear to fit mainstream, Christian culture, it is important to pay attention to who these filmmakers chose to associate with. After all, if you give them money for their product then you are validating their connections to Christian patriarchy organizations such as Vision Forum.
It remains to be seen if Sherwood Pictures will submit Courageous for consideration at the 2011 San Antonio Christian Film Festival. However, it’s highly likely, since their last film Fireproof was screened at the film festival in 2009 and won the best feature award. A quick glance at the San Antonio Christian film festival’s website reveals that it promotes and gives its awards to very conservative, dogmatic films that strongly favor the foundational beliefs of Vision Forum – male headship. anti-feminism and support for the Quiverfull movement.
The San Antonio Independent Christian Film Festival offers the largest prize of any film festival to its best of show “Jubilee Award” winner. The winner receives $101,000 in cash. Doug Phillips, president of Vision Forum and visionary behind the film festival, notes the festival seeks to “To encourage the production of films which inspire the highest ideals, the clearest and most noble biblical values, and which do so with a commitment to holiness. To motivate the next generation of Christian filmmakers to create ‘epistemologically self-conscious films’ — films that reflect a distinctively and supposedly biblical worldview. We want our applicants to strive to bring ‘into captivity every [frame] to the obedience of Christ’.”
Read on their own these statements don’t sound too bad, but let’s look at the broader rhetorical implications behind this statement – “Films that reflect a distinctively and presuppositionally biblical worldview” and films that “inspire the highest ideals.” Each of the films this festival has highlighted and gives awards to are very anti-egalitarian and sometimes down right illogical.
This is the type of group the Kendrick brothers have chosen to associate with. If you look at the theology of their church, Sherwood Baptist Church in Albany, Georgia, the beliefs of the church are well in-line with Christian patriarchy theology. The church is part of the Southern Baptist Convention and on the church’s “About Us” section under doctrinal views and beliefs readers are referred to the “Baptist Faith and Message” pamphlet for additional information.
In this pamphlet section XVIII: The Family states: “The husband and wife are of equal worth before God, since both are created in God’s image. The marriage relationship models the way God relates to His people. A husband is to love his wife as Christ loved the church. He has the God-given responsibility to provide for, to protect, and to lead his family. A wife is to submit herself graciously to the servant leadership of her husband even as the church willingly submits to the headship of Christ. She, being in the image of God as is her husband and thus equal to him, has the God-given responsibility to respect her husband and to serve as his helper in managing the household and nurturing the next generation.”
Note the emphasis on the wife as helper. This is just a way to subtly say the wife is not equal to her husband when final decisions for the family must be made. The Southern Baptists make no claim to follow Biblical egalitarian theology, but the Kendricks’ are not up front with their theological beliefs in their films. Instead promoting their films as something that any Christian, from any theological background will appreciate and learn from.
For too long Christians have been willing to watch anything labeled “Christian” and assume it fits with their doctrine. Thus, the rhetoric of male-headship has been able to subtly infiltrate mainstream evangelical culture, and even denominations, such as my own, which has a long history of supporting egalitarian theology now have many members who see nothing wrong with male headship. We have denominational difference because we can’t agree on theology. Frankly, we shouldn’t agree and accept all theology. Any religious ideology that makes one gender superior to another and doesn’t recognize the fact that both man and woman are created in the image of God and both are capable of leading together in the home should be avoided.
As Christians we need to begin to seriously think through the messages presented to us in Christian popular culture. We need to examine the associations of the artists and decided if the underlying theology fits what we believe or is a detriment to our faith. Until we are willing to take the time to think critically and say “No, I will not support everything that has a Christian label” we will continue to allow the theology of male-headship to infiltrate our denominations and undermine the value, contributions, and worth of women.
See also the post “Vision Forum: Giant of the Christian Patriarchy Movement”