Julie and I recently saw the movie Juno. It’s about a 16 year old girl, Juno MacGuff, played by Ellen Page, who gets pregnant by her highschool boyfriend, Paulie Bleeker, played by Michael Cera. The film, directed by Jason Reitman and written by Diablo Cody, is a humorous, witty, poignant story of teen impulsivity and respect for life. Julie and I were captured by Ellen Page’s fly-by-the-seat-of-her-pants character Juno.
Juno contemplates aborting the child, even goes to the clinic, but true to her character, Juno on impulse decides to keep her baby. The clinic freaked her out. With the help of one of her friends Juno finds a childless couple who advertise for a baby. Juno meets Mark and Vanessa Loring (who is played by Jennifer Garner) and they make the legal deal for a closed adoption. Juno’s parents, of course, are both shocked and concerned for Juno and her condition and offer her both grace and guidelines.
Juno, the movie, is not a “Christian” movie, yet it portrays a deeply-held conviction of the Christian faith: the sanctity of life. Juno and Paulie, in a moment of teen boredom and impulsive passion, create a life. That life is kept, not disposed of when it could so easily have been. Juno makes the personally difficult and socially awkward decision to carry the baby to term, deliver it and give it away to a woman who desperately wants a child, yet can’t. I have yet to see anything so affirming of life come out of Hollywood. There is grace, there is courage, there is selfless giving, there is a startling pro-life decision. The movie not only views the sanctity of the baby’s life, but all the lives intertwined in the story. Julie and I marvelled at the countercultural story-line. Off-beat Juno goes against the grain of her society and does the very unexpected thing.
I went on the website of a renown Christian-family ministry, excited to see the movie review there. I was stunned. What a downer. Grudgingly, it seems, the reviewer admitted that the story was pro-life, but only accidentally so. Juno did not make a reasoned decision. Juno was in a culture awash with “moral relativism.” Juno and her friends used crude teen idioms. And, oh my God!, there was the banana and condom scene. But so what if Juno did not have a “Christian world and life view,” she kept her baby! Christians ought to be cheering her on. So what if Juno acts impulsively (most teens do) and turns on a dime and keeps her child? She makes a God-honoring, life-saving, other people-serving decision. This was not a Christian film, and I’ve yet to see the Christian establishment produce a movie that portrays the love of life, the grace of God, and the joy of serving others so well.
Jesus came and served. It was predicted and fulfilled that “a bruised reed he would not break and a smoldering wick he would not snuff out.” Jesus cherished the tiniest evidence of grace that he saw in the wounded and weak. He applauded the least signs of life that honored his Father. I think Jesus would have cheered, not jeered Juno. I think he would have shouted in the quiet darkness of the theater, “Way to go, girl!” Why are there so many soured nay-sayers in the establishment Christian community? Why are there so many who can’t celebrate just one blade of grace in a yard of weeds. They have to whine about all the weeds they see. For them, Juno didn’t live and play by their rules of the game so they can barely say anything good about her. If they do so, they do grudgingly.
Why are there so many in the USAmerican evangelical world so boringly and predictably judgmental?
[This post was accidentally deleted so I rewrote it. Please comment again, those of you who commented earlier. Thanks.]
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