The Washington Times |by Everett Piper | June 4, 2023
On May 30, just before President Biden tweeted his annual call for our nation to spend an entire month celebrating pride (something his own church has defined as one of the seven deadly sins for the past 1,600 years), another Dylan Mulvaney-esque kerfuffle broke out in one of the most unlikely places. It was behind the scenes of a television drama about the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ called “The Chosen.”
Here’s how the story unfolds:
After noticing a rainbow banner flying on one of the cameras behind the filming of the aforementioned production, Jon Root, a man who defines himself as a “Christ follower and anti-woke sports guy,” tweeted the following: “Hey ‘The Chosen’ Can you explain why there’s a Pride flag on the set?”
This is not an unreasonable question. One would think that in light of the public outrage over Bud Light, Target and other retailers trying to ram their rainbow “wokeness” down the throats of the average American that the powers that be behind a crowdfunded production of a movie about Jesus would want to avoid such mistakes like the plague.
So how did Dallas Jenkins, producer and director of “The Chosen,” respond? Here’s what he said:
“Just like with our hundreds of cast and crew who have different beliefs (or no belief at all) than we do, we will work with anyone on our show who helps us portray or honor the authentic Jesus. We ask that audiences let the show speak for itself and focus on the message, not the messenger, because we’ll always let you down.”
OK, let’s do what Mr. Jenkins suggests. Let’s consider the “authentic Jesus” and let him “speak for himself” and share his own “message.”
Here’s a smattering of what the man whom his followers called the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the king of kings, the Lord of lords, the Lion of Judah, the Lamb of God, the Word made flesh and dwelling among us, the one without whom nothing was made that was made; he whom the angels declared to be God with us, the creator of the universe, the sacrifice for our sins, the savior of the world, the second person of the Triune God, the inspiration and authority behind every word of Scripture from Genesis to Revelation — here’s what he, the “authentic Jesus” that Mr. Jenkins says he seeks to “portray and honor” has to say about the flag Mr. Jenkins so casually dismisses and the corresponding celebration of “pride” that it represents.
In the book of Proverbs, God, aka Jesus, is clear: “The Lord detests all the proud of heart. Be sure of this: They will not go unpunished. Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.”
In Psalms, Jesus inspires King David to say, “In the pride of his face the wicked does not seek [me]; all his thoughts are, ‘There is no God.’”
In the book of Ezekiel, Christ speaks through his prophet, saying, “Because your heart is proud … [and] though you make your heart like the heart of a god … I cast you to the ground.”
In Obadiah, Jesus warns, “The pride of your heart has deceived you.”
In the Gospel of Mark, the one who describes himself as the way, the truth and the life, and the great “I Am” says, “Out of the heart of man come evil thoughts, sexual immorality … deceit, sensuality … [and] pride.”
Jesus then doubles down through his apostles James and Peter by telling us, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”
He does likewise through St. Paul: “If anyone [is proud, and] thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself.”
In 1942, C.S. Lewis took to the BBC to talk of the “authentic Jesus” that Dallas Jenkins says he seeks to portray. In doing so, Lewis didn’t speak in platitudes of “affirmation” and “different beliefs,” but instead spoke forthrightly about what he called his nation’s “Great Sin.”
And what was the sin that Lewis described as “worse than any other”?
“There is one vice,” he said, “[a sin] of which no man in the world is free. [That] essential vice, that utmost evil, is pride.” Lewis concluded: “Pride leads to every other vice. It is the complete anti-God state of mind.”
Maybe as America begins its monthlong celebration of the vice “that leads to every other vice,” the producer of a movie about the “authentic Jesus” would do well to consider not only the words of Scripture but also what C.S. Lewis told us over 80 years ago.
Maybe in the face of this “most mortal of all sins” — this “complete anti-God state of mind” — Dallas Jenkins would do all of us a favor, as well as himself, by “focusing on the message” of Jesus where he repeatedly tells us to confess our sins rather than fly flags that celebrate them.
• Everett Piper (dreverettpiper.com, @dreverettpiper), a columnist for The Washington Times, is a former university president and radio host.