The basic subject matter of The Blind Side is like a slow-pitch softball of an invitation to discuss the story of the Bible as it relates to God’s character and actions toward a humanity that’s been orphaned by our own sin nature.
To be honest, it’s not really an artistic achievement. Sandra Bullock is good…even Tim McGraw is good (and the kids are sort of cute too). But there’s not much that screams “artistic genius!” Some material is glossed over (e.g., the racial tension) and Michael Oher himself isn’t much of a character in the film – that is to say this film is more about Leigh Anne Tuohy (Bullock) than anything.
So why bother watching it for Film and Theology? Well, it may not have been close to my favorite film of the year, but it touches directly on themes that are at the center of God’s ultimate story of Adoption and Redemption. Films that can handle these themes with earnest intentions often earn my respect regardless of whether they’re artistically superb or not.
The Blind Side is the story of homeless, fatherless Michael Oher and the wealthy Memphis family that took him and nourished him, eventually, to NFL greatness. However, under this surface lies a story about:
A film like this is easy to write about and talk about because it, in a manner of speaking, is telling the same story that the Bible is telling. Sure, the characters are different, but the outline is similar.
Michael Oher is a boy that needs to be rescued. He’s homeless, roaming the streets with no change of clothes, unable to feed himself and no one to plead his case, let alone love or care for him.
The story of mankind from nearly the beginning of the Bible is the story of a people who need the same thing. They need a home. When Adam and Eve sin, in the Garden of Eden, when they try to take God’s authority for themselves, when they rebel against God’s goodness toward them, they lose their home. They’re cast out of God’s presence where they are safe and protected and in perfect fellowship, perfect relationships with their Creator, King and Father.
They are now a sinful people, constantly grasping at false homes and false fathers to try and get back something of what they lost in the garden and they need to be rescued from their false pursuits…they need to go home again.
There’s a story in Ezekiel 16. It’s a prophetic, symbolic allegory. In it, the prophet Ezekiel portrays the sinful people of God as an abandoned child; an orphan abandoned to die, wallowing in her own blood. The story says that no one, literally no one, looks on this child with compassion or care. No one. But God passes by the child and rescues her. He has compassion on her. He adopts her, makes her his own and nourishes her until she becomes the most beautiful thing that anyone has ever laid their eyes on. He loves her as his own and she flourishes because of his love and compassion for her.
I like what movies like The Blind Side can do to remind me about God’s compassion for me. Because, if I’m being honest, I’m not like Michael. I am much worse. In my sin, I don’t deserve adoption. In my sin I don’t deserve compassion because in my sin I persist in my rebellion against God but God, being rich in mercy and rich in compassion rescued me anyway.
This movie, in seeing the selfless compassion that the Tuohy’s have for Michael is capable of reminding me that my God has been infinitely more compassionate with me. He rescued me from my sin when I was happy with my sin.
What do stories of rescue do for your view of God? Do they call to mind the ultimate rescue mission of Jesus Christ, on his cross dying to rescue sinful sinners from their sin? I dare say they should. And I dare say the wonder of the best rescue stories will always pale in comparison to the heroics of that beaten, bloody, Jewish carpenter – crucified for you and for me.