The Help

Over the Christmas break I watched a movie called, The Help with my wife’s family.  It is a story about life in Mississippi during the Civil Rights era. If focuses on life from the perspective of the black maids who work for southern white families.

While watching it, I was very angered and saddened by how poorly the black women were treated by most of their white employers. They were treated as if they were sub-human. But interestingly what came out to me in the movie, was that the more that the white women acted in a way that denied the Image of God in the black women, the more in-humane (or sub-human) they became. For are we not truly human when we are living in life in restored relationship with God, restored relationship with man, and restored relationship with creation, in accordance with God’s Word.

Another thought I had was what in the world was the Southern Church doing during this period of our history, and even before. The marks of the church are preaching the Word, administering the Sacraments, and the practice of discipline. These marks were severely distorted by the Southern church to allow slavery and behavior as portrayed in the movie to go on unaddressed, and in some cases approved and argued for by the Church. What did this communicate about the work of Christ and the truth of the gospel? If the church had worked to fulfill its calling during this time we might be in a different place today.

If you grew up in the South, as I did, another question I have is this- If I had grown up during that period would I have acted any different? Would I have ignored how Scripture spoke into my culture, my life, my prejudices?

What are the areas of our lives and culture that we are blind towards today? Where does the Gospel  need to speak into our lives? Where are we acting sub-human? Does the reality of Christ’s finished work on behalf of sinners impact how we treat others, how we live our lives today?

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5 Responses to The Help

  1. Daniel Ray says:

    Jason, I like your interaction with this movie and I will be chewing on your questions. I am a member of a multiethnic Church and I still see indwelling sin creeping up in small situations that overtime can communicate deep issues of cultural influence. Thank you for this reminder!

    • jasonschubert says:

      If you have any other thoughts or insight on this later, I’d love to hear more.

  2. Gary Stiltner says:

    Wow! I love the way you connected the “inhumane” and being less human. I see a correlation in the dehumanization that occurs in lust – making others into an object dehumanizes that person, and dehumanizes ourselves as well. Perhaps growth in salvation could be considered as Lewis suggested in the Abolition of man “re-humanization.”

    • jasonschubert says:

      Gary, I think you are right and Lewis is as well! What got me thinking about this is studying Daniel 4. There Nebuchadnezzar, because of his pride, is humbled by God, being made like the beasts of the field. I think part of the specifics of this punishment is to show Neb. and us what happens when we disregard God’s designs for us. Pride, lust, oppression etc..(Dan. 4:27 and 30) “de-humanizes” us in a way (we also dehumanize others in our hearts with these sins). God’s work in the world is to restore His people to true humanity, to renew us in the image of His Son (Rom. 8:29). When Neb humbled himself and looked to the true King he was restored or as Lewis said “re-humanized”. The same is true for us, when we humble ourselves and look to King Jesus in faith. Sin’s effect is de-humanizing us, the effect of Christ’s work for us is “re-humanizing”.

  3. Jonathan Sickert says:

    I really appreciate your perspective here although I have not seen the movie yet. I am reading a book on Jonathan Edwards by John Piper and am on the chapter there where Piper explores Edward’s stance on slavery.

    Ultimately we need to ground ourselves under the understanding of God’s design and his ultimate purpose of glory for himself (most eloquently expressed by Edwards)!

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