The Noah Controversy: To Watch or Not To Watch


I have to say, I’ve been surprised to see how much “controversy” has come out of a movie. Then again, am I really surprised…

Normally I don’t jump on the bandwagon of posting my feelings about some issue that really seems trivial in the grand scheme of things, but this time I felt it needed addressing.

Whether you like or dislike the fact that Noah was made by an atheist, played by actors and actresses who aren’t Christians doesn’t mean it’s not worth seeing. In fact, I appreciate that it has both of those factors. For one, that means that the writers, producers, directors, actors, and everyone else involved in this movie had to get their head into Scripture…and in case you didn’t know, that stuff is powerful.

And since when did we say that a depiction of a Biblical story could only be done by Christians and for that matter be considered an inerrant word of God? Last time I checked we don’t even use The Message Bible as a word for word translation of what’s really going on. We take it with a grain a salt and extract the Biblical truths…just like we should do with EVERYTHING.

If you are a follower of Jesus Christ and have a grasp on the gospel story then you will start to see remnants of it everywhere. In the music you listen to, the shows you watch, and the books you read. Why do so many Christians like Mumford and Sons? It’s not just the hipster cool persona they possess, but it starts with the lyrics, “Awake my soul.” Need I say more?

When we are living out the gospel of grace we will see it dropping hints everywhere we turn. We will either be reminded of our sinful nature caused by the temptations of this world, or we will see a light of grace, grabbing our hearts and making us turn toward our Creator in adoration.

So what does this have to do with Noah? Everything. Because if you choose to not see Noah just because you don’t want to support an atheist trying to tell a Christian story, then you are missing out. You are missing out on a story that accurately depicts sin. As Noah (in the movie) struggles with his understanding of his fellow man he and his family feel entitled to be saved from the flood. They see themselves as followers of the Creator and different than the heathens over there…but then that changes. In a dream God reveals Noah’s sinful nature. It’s original sin at it’s finest. It started with an apple and it made no man innocent. You see, it wasn’t Noah’s good works or obedience that made him different in front of God; it was his faith.

Even the antagonist king in the movie says over and over “I am made in Your image.” He acknowledges that there is a Creator, but he refuses to have faith in him because “he abandoned us long ago.” So the king decides he must take things into his own hands, that man is able to make decisions and take charge of his destiny. But Noah has faith in his creator, faith he will fulfill his promise to his family and faith enough to build an ark. I think you get the picture.

But even more than it’s depiction of sin, the movie portrays a real person. I don’t know about you but the only way I’ve ever heard Noah portrayed me to was with a white beard, staff and some long ‘ol hair. And then he had all those cute little animals with him, you know the elephants, dogs, cats, only the most fluffiest of all creatures. And once that dove came back with the olive branch, well everything was hunky-dory…the end…or was it?

One of the reasons I wanted to go seminary was to explore the Bible in ways that I never did in Church. To learn what was really being said when I read things. And just like numerous stories my eyes were opened when I realized Noah’s story didn’t end when the dove came back that day. 

“Noah, a farmer, was the first to plant a vineyard. He drank from its wine, got drunk and passed out, naked in his tent. Ham, the father of Canaan, saw that his father was naked and told his two brothers who were outside the tent. Shem and Japheth took a cloak, held it between them from their shoulders, walked backward and covered their father’s nakedness, keeping their faces turned away so they did not see their father’s exposed body. When Noah woke up with his hangover, he learned what his youngest son had done. He said, "Cursed be Canaan! A slave of slaves, a slave to his brothers! Blessed be God, the God of Shem, but Canaan shall be his slave. God prosper Japheth, living spaciously in the tents of Shem. But Canaan shall be his slave. Noah lived another 350 years following the flood. He lived a total of 950 years. And he died.”

I don’t know about you, but what do you do with that?! Oh wait, I know, leave it out…at least that’s what all my Sunday School teachers did. But imagine that, the movie did not. Instead we faced the reality that a man who had to listen to the cries of people die around him while spending 40 days and nights on a ship covered in animal dung might go a little drunk. He was a real person. And even more he was a person that God used because he had faith.

So if you are determined not to go see Noah ask yourself why, and remember, this movie never promised to be the inerrant word of God, but what it did promise was to make you think about the life and story of Noah. And if you open up your heart a little bit you might even pull out some nuggets of truth. Besides wouldn’t you rather spend your money on something that speaks some Biblical truth and encourages others to make well-made movies based on Biblical characters then to have more movies about guys who go to Vegas and get drunk and sleep with strippers? (which by the way out of all R-rated films, a movie just like this one I described is actually the highest-grossed film behind only The Passion of the Christ and The Matrix Reloaded.)

So go see it, learn from it, and then inspire dialogue around it. You might just be surprised.

If you've seen the movie, we'd love to hear what you thought, comment below and let us know.