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Joseph Gordon-Levitt Seems to Think Porn Addicts Need More Judgment

Posted by thethousandmarch on October 13, 2013 at 6:05 PM

Is the Church too judgmental? Many people seem to think so. Yet in the new movie Don Jon it seems the Roman Catholic Church is being criticized for being not judgmental enough. Each week the main character Jon, who is addicted to pornography and usually manages to bed a new girl each time he goes to the club, confesses his sins for which he is “sorry”. The priest then tells him to say X number of Our Fathers and Hail Marys. Then the priest absolves him of his sins and Jon goes off to the gym to perform these prayers while working out at the gym. The whole process is made to look absurd, which I take to be a criticism of the Roman Catholic Church as well as those who believe in it.

 

The movie is clear from the start that Jon’s obsession with pornography and his promiscuity are a problem. And it quickly demonstrates that Jon as well as his family’s commitment to their Church is ridiculous and empty (perhaps with the exception of the Mother). In the end Jon is eventually “saved” from his sin by a decidedly non-religious woman who shows him how to have “meaningful” sex. Through this relationship Jon learns how damaging pornography can be and how it affects his ability to have a real relationship with a woman. Once Jon is finally able to experience this intimacy he is finally happy.

 

The Church doesn’t confront Jon about his problem by telling him that the way he is treating others is unloving and objectifying women – and that’s precisely why he can’t have a meaningful relationship with a woman. The Church makes no attempt to instruct Jon in how he should live. The priest does not expect Jon to change or attempt to follow God’s moral standard. Instead it’s accepted that this is how people are these days and you can’t possibly expect men to not lust after women or wait for marriage to have sex. In the movie this is a bad thing. Yet in our culture whenever the Church does tell people what God’s moral standard is and actually try to make disciples of Jesus – teaching them to obey all that he has commanded – it is criticized for being judgmental. So how much are we allowed to challenge Christians to actually attempt to obey God’s moral will, and how much are we allowed to challenge the corruption in our world?

 

It’s not that I believe in the Roman Catholic sacrament of confession and penance, but I do believe that Christ’s Church has been given the mission of proclaiming the good news that God has made it possible for us to be forgiven of our sins even though we have done absolutely nothing to earn this forgiveness. But in this movie the declaration that God could possibly forgive Jon’s sins when Jon doesn’t properly understand them and isn’t sufficiently sorry to actually try and change his actions is made to look extremely absurd. In this it seems the Church is actually critiqued for being too forgiving. A Church willing to accept and forgive sinners despite their spiritual immaturity and continued sin is viewed as foolish.

 

Perhaps the writer/director Joseph Gordon-Levitt doesn’t have a problem with Christianity in general, but is just criticizing the shallow and immature spirituality he sees in many Christians in America. Perhaps he is criticizing a church which makes no effort call out that immaturity. Maybe Gordon-Levitt wants to see a Church that asks its members to take God’s moral standard seriously and expects them to grow and mature. But that would mean the Church will probably continue to make some people who don’t accept the biblical standard of morality, or aren’t willing to try and change feel judged. And many in the Church will continue to act like hypocrites who merely pretend they have it all together and are better than other people – at least Jon confesses his sins.

 

Categories: Movies, Grace, pop-culture

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