I recently went with a group of girlfriends to see the movie “Bad Moms”. It stars Mila Kunis and Kristen Bell, and it’s about a group of thirty-something women who are sick of the pressure put on today’s moms to have everything together and be perfect. Throughout the movie, the ladies engage in a series of stereotype-busting adventures and eventually come to the realization that none of us really have our lives completely together.
The opening scene shows Mila Kunis in a typical “mom morning routine” – getting the kids up and ready, slapping together PB&Js, giving her husband a quick peck on the cheek before rushing out the door to bring the kids to school. She spills her coffee on her blouse as she tries to put mascara on in the car. She yells reminders and a quick “I love you” out the window at the kids as they walk in to school. Meanwhile, the PTA moms (played by Jada Pinkett Smith and the fabulous Christina Applegate) look on in judgment, sipping their lattes and smirking. When she finally gets to work (late, again), she has missed the morning meeting and is again judged by all of her just-out-of-college coworkers, none of whom have kids yet.
Oh man. PREACH, Mila. Been there, girl. I completely identified with this scene. I sat in my seat, eating way too much popcorn, thinking about how this movie has totally got it right. The writers really understand today’s moms! It’s like they made this movie about me!
But then…the sex conversation happened.
Later on in “Bad Moms”, Mila’s character, Amy, has a conversation with two other moms, Kiki and Carla (Kristen Bell and Kathryn Hahn). Carla explains to the girls, in graphic detail, what it’s like to have sex with an uncircumcised man. She uses Kiki’s hoodie sweatshirt as a visual aid and gives specific instructions on what to do.
I squirmed in my seat. I looked around at my girlfriends, but in the dark I couldn’t really see their reactions. I suddenly became very interested in my popcorn.
Why? I’ve never considered myself a prude. I’ve seen movies and TV shows with scenes that were much more gratuitous than what was currently on the screen. So why was I suddenly so uncomfortable? I think the reason is because I was ashamed. I am a Christian. A Christian, people! A child of God! GOOD Christians don’t go see “Bad Moms”…right? Jesus is totally disowning me right now. God is turning His face away. Where’s my cat o’ nine tails? I need to run to confession, I’m going straight to hell!
Okay, perhaps that was a bit dramatic.
But I knew. I knew what I was getting myself into before I went. I knew the movie was rated R. I’d seen the poster with the tagline – “Party like a mother”. I had a good idea of what kind of movie this was going to be. But I still chose to buy the ticket and sit in the seat. I knew. And I did it anyway.
What confused me further was that a movie that was full of curse words, excessive drinking and sexual innuendo was also a movie that I thought was really funny. Hysterical, even! I identified with parts of this movie, and could see my life reflected back to me from the screen – blasphemy! What is going on already?
My struggle was with discernment. I had trouble categorizing this movie as “good” or “bad” in my brain because it fit both categories, at least in a way. How do we stay good Christians in this world without locking ourselves up in our houses and channeling our inner Little Edie? (That’s a “Grey Gardens” reference, folks. Look it up.)
Psalm 119:66 says “Teach me good judgment and knowledge, for I believe in your commandments.” The word that stands out to me here is “commandments”. We all know the Ten Commandments. You could probably recite them in order in your sleep. It’s one of the first things we are taught in Sunday school (or church school or CCD or whatever you happen to call it). The tenth commandment is “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male servant, or his female servant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor’s.” (Exodus 20:17) But wait – am I breaking this commandment just by watching a silly movie?
No. And yes.
It would be really easy for us to say “I’m an adult! I can watch/read/do whatever I want!” True statement, at least by society’s standards. But if we claim to be Christians, lovers of Jesus and followers of His word, this is in fact NOT true. God does not want us to defile ourselves in thought, word or deed. Yes, we are adults, but we are also God’s children. If you’re rolling your eyes at this point, think about it – God feels about us the same way that we feel about our own children. He wants to keep us safe and protected. He loves us more than we can ever begin to know or understand. But in our human brokenness, we make choices that He would not want for us, in much the same way that our teenage or adult children may make choices that we would not make or would not agree with. This is where discernment comes in.
Discernment is defined as “the quality of being able to grasp and comprehend what is obscure (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/discernment). Discernment is that little voice inside your head that says, “Really? You’re really gonna go ahead with this?” It’s also the voice that says “Atta girl! You’re doing the right thing!” It’s your conscience. Your Jiminy Cricket. But it’s more than that. It’s also your deciding factor in whether a choice you made will be made again. Whether you will have that second or third glass of wine. Whether you will continue to gossip about your coworker. Whether you will watch another movie full of swearing and conversations about sex. Discernment is thinking biblically.
There were parts of “Bad Moms” that made me incredibly uncomfortable. But I took a valuable lesson away from it as well. We women are not defined by any one role – not by being moms, or wives, or girlfriends, or whatever we are. We do not need to be pigeonholed into one defining characteristic. We need to lift each other up instead of tearing each other down. I love that. I’m grateful for that message. I want to see it out there more in the world. The drinking? The hookups? The laid-back attitude towards relationships? Not so much. That’s what I have discerned. Maybe my girlfriends got something else out of it. We should chat about that. But in the end, a “bad” movie about “bad” moms doing “bad” things still left me with a “good” message. And I think that was what the plan was all along.
For more information about discernment, here are some good resources: