Sex spurs Christian debate


Sex and the City, the summer movie perhaps least likely to interest a Christian audience, has exploded a debate on Christianity and culture.

It started with a provocatively three-star review from Christianity Today's Camerin Courtney. Courtney acknowledged the show's fluffy materialism and gave several warnings about the rampant nudity, but she added the bold assertion that the film would resonate with single Christians:

Carrie, Samantha, Charlotte, and Miranda ... show how challenging it really can be for intelligent, accomplished, and admittedly neurotic women to find lasting love. They, unlike many Christians, don't insult my intelligence. Instead they speak to the complexities of relationships in a postmodern age. ... Yes, materialism and hedonism abound. But so does a messy wrestling with complex new realities of life that I wish I saw more of in Christian circles.

The review prompted both cries of outrage and a show of support. CT's Mark Moring defended their decision to review a movie that depicts sinful behavior: "It's because such films depict real-world truth, and the truth is sometimes ugly. To suggest that one cannot find redemption amidst the muck is preposterous; often the best kinds of redemption come from out of the muck."

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On Radical Womanhood, Carolyn McCulley also acknowledges the struggles of Christian singles but questions whether shows like Sex and the City offer any encouragement. Crunchy Con's Rod Dreher found it "amazing" not that CT would review the film, but that they would recommend it. Still, he acknowledged its appeal to Christian singles struggling with the church's closed conversation about sexuality:

Perhaps what Christians who like that show crave is acknowledgement of themselves, within the church, as sexual beings. Not approval of premarital sexual activity, but simple acknowledgement that it exists, and it's hard to manage, especially in today's culture.

Barbara Nicolosi liked the movie and called the film's message "a good one ... about the need for mature relationships to move into forgiveness." Ted Slater from Boundless was slightly more appalled. He called on CT editors to repent: "Those who want to grow in character, who want to grow in purity and godliness are wise to reject your slick words." His column prompted some thoughtful debate on Christ and Pop Culture and spurred the debate at Arts and Faith.

WoW writer David Sessions also responded to Slater's column on Patrol.com, finding two problems with Slater's thesis: first, that one is what one watches; second, "that modern men may directly speak for God on whether or not a piece of art is fit for Christian consumption."

Peter Chattaway, the CT reviewer Slater chided for giving Prince Caspian fewer stars than Courtney gave Sex and the City, suggests that people look a little deeper than the number of stars it gets: "And to really understand a film, you have to go a little deeper there, too; you might even have to see the film."


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