Can you call yourself a movie fan and NOT have seen a Mel Gibson film? If you never saw Braveheart, you probably saw at least one of the lethal weapon films. You might have skipped The Man Without a Face but probably sat through at least part of The Patriot, Signs, or one of the Mad Max films. There’s a reason his films have made a ton of money for various studios—and himself—they’re usually quite entertaining.
And then he directed The Passion of the Christ and people didn’t know what to think—who knew he had such a religious streak? The movie went on to make a LOT of money and proved there was an audience for religious films (perhaps forgetting the 10 Commandments had done well too).
But then he started getting all kinds of bad press, and not for his acting. In addition to demonstrating a generally sexist attitude to the female cop(s) who detained him for drinking and driving, he also declared that Jews were responsible for all the wars in the world.
It’s one thing to hold a passionate belief; it’s quite another thing to put forward something that is both hurtful and inaccurate.
In this book of the Bible, Jude is all fired up and writing to warn his audience about the sin and doom of godless men. Such people are dangerous, for they “change the grace of our God into a license for immorality” (1:4). These people should have learned from the lesson of Sodom and Gomorrah, whom—in case you forgot—God punished for their sexual immorality by destroying them (1:7). In case this won’t convince his audience, he brings more examples, such as Cain, Balaam, and Korah’s rebellion (1:11).
So he’s at least done his homework. Who wouldn’t take pause at these worthwhile examples, given the source (if that’s what you believe)? But then he keeps talking. These people are “blemishes” at his audience’s table, when they share the same food, etc. Although he is worried that their behavior might become infectious and taint well-meaning people, he’s forgetting an even greater example in the Bible: Jesus ROUTINELY feasted with “bad” people. In fact, he SPECIFICALLY sought these people out.
But he seems to not mention Jesus, choosing instead to argue that the biggest these evil people have is that they follow their evil desires, boast about themselves, and flatter people in order to take advantage of them. These people, he contends, follow “natural” desires and lack spirit.
This one word, natural, is perhaps the most startling admission in the entire Bible—people are embracing what occurs in them NATURALLY, which means it is not a perversion or even something unique. No, it’s natural, as in something people are BORN WITH. And if this is true, that means that God provided these desires. So if people are embracing their natural desires, they are just following through on what God gave them. Therefore, condemning their natural desires seems unnatural—why should someone judge another person who is only living the life God programmed in him or her?
Although his point seems to speak to things man-made—of the natural world—as opposed to things heaven-sent, there’s no mistaking the language. Since people who have often used the Bible to support their beliefs, it seems strange to not embrace the wording here.
These days, with social media providing the opportunity for so much scrutiny of what someone says, thankfully people tend to be held accountable for what they say. It also gives us an opportunity to replay what is said to make sure we’re hearing what we’re hearing. I wish more scrutiny would be afforded older ideas. If the Bible says that people are born the way they are, why isn’t this respected more often, especially if—as 1 John makes clear—a person’s actions are not a threat to another person, let them be (John 5:16). This should be our natural instinct.