My Darling Patrick:

As you know, before your dad and I allow you to watch any movie that is rated higher than a PG, we sit and talk alone or with you about the content, appropriateness, etc. of the movie. There are many times when we decide that a movie is not appropriate based on the violence, sexual content or profanity. There have been a number of movies that your friends have seen and talked about that you are not allowed to watch because they are not compatible with the morals we hope to instill in you and the environment we hope to raise you in. So when the discussion of The Passion of the Christ came up, your dad and I thought it would be a clear-cut answer.

We know the book the movie was based on and believe strongly in its message and encourage you to read and listen to stories within it. We know from interviews he gave, Mel Gibson’s reasons for making the movie and we believed that there would be no problem with sexual content or profanity. We also knew that the events the movie was covering were gory. Many of the reviews we had read discussed the excessive amount of violence. A few went so far to say that Mel Gibson had included extreme amounts of violence simply for the shock value.

Now what to do? If there is so much violence that you leave the theatre more disturbed by the vision of blood than overwhelmed by the fact that our Lord gave his life for us, is the movie worth seeing? What is the value of watching it?

After reading many reviews and commentaries on the movie, and after much discussion, your dad and I did the only thing we could: we went to see the movie ourselves.

The results were surprising. We sat and watched the movie. Considering the warnings of reviewers about the violence, both of us prepared for the worst. At times we would shut our eyes, at times we were moved to tears and often throughout the film one of us could be heard whispering, “Wow.” To know the story is one thing; to see such a physical and heart-wrenching version play out in front of you is another.

For people, like you and I, who are visual learners, the difference in seeing the movie and simply reading about it are unbelievable. It is crucial to remember that the Bible is the accurate account of what took place and this movie is simply one man’s interpretation. But, the advantage of knowing the true story and seeing so many aspects depicted before my eyes left me with a deeper appreciation of what our Lord went through.

I have seen many Passion plays and movies about our Lord’s life, yet none moved me as much as this one did. Is it because of what the movie had to offer or because of the point I am at in my life and my faith? I am unsure and I don’t think it truly matters. I don’t want to spend time thinking about why the movie had such an impact, but more about what I want to do with the impact.

Yes, there was a lot of violence. A lot of blood and gore. More than what Jesus really had to go through? We don’t know. Was Gibson after an accurate account of the amount of violence and blood or was he trying to make a point? My sense is that he was trying to bring home his point. Gibson knew that putting out this type of movie in a society where children and adults are becoming totally desensitized to seeing and hearing about violence, blood and death, he had to push the envelope a bit. For if Jesus was not shown to be suffering in ways beyond belief or in ways we had seen in other mainstream motion pictures, would anyone be saying, “Wow”?

Now back to the main point of this letter: should you, at the age of 13, be able to see this movie? Your dad and I have decided that you may go with one or both of us to see it. We know the violence may be a bit much in parts, that the depiction of the devil can be frightening and the possible persecution of those who followed Jesus can be appalling. But those are all truths you need to live with, to understand. Jesus gave up his life for us. He was crucified in a painful and unimaginable manner. The devil is scary. He will try to get into your life and into your thoughts. He was even bold enough to try to do so to Jesus. Be frightened of him and know the best weapon against him is the One who resisted him in such a time of pain and uncertainty.

Still today, people who publicly follow God are persecuted. Many people have chosen not to believe and live their lives belittling those who do. We have taught you to seek the truth in the Bible, to use the examples and stories within it as a guide for leading your life. When someone questions you and you don’t know where else to turn, the Bible is there.

Now we are giving you another tool. Some will say The Passion of the Christ is only a movie. It is only a movie. However, it is a movie based on a true story and it helps us understand what truly happened: that Jesus suffered, died and rose for us. This story is not fiction and if anyone wants to compare the movie to the story, you will be right there ready to do so with an amazing book that is both the story, the prequel and the sequel all in one. If this movie lets you understand that book a little better, then Mel Gibson will have done a great service. And it is why we want you to see this movie.

Patrick, I can’t wait to see the movie again myself and to share in this moment with you. I look forward to hearing what you have to say and to find out what impact the movie has on you.

May you continue to grow in peace.