I see very few movies that I really enjoy. The Blind Side was a movie that I knew was loosely based on a true story of the life of Michael Oher, a homeless inner-city teen, and his adoption by the Touhy family, wealthy Memphis suburbanites. Knowing the storyline contained S.E.C. Football and adoption there was no doubt I would go see it. I was expecting a second rate but enjoyable film but was surprised at how well the film was produced and at the gripping portrayal of the story.
I was far more surprised by the reaction of some of the Christians I talked to and heard talk about the film. In one conversation I was talking about how powerful I found the story as portrayed in the movie to which the person responded, “Yeah but they were so rich.” When I followed up to discern what they meant it was obvious that they were suggesting that the storyline was not powerful to them because the Touhy family was rich and, of course, rich people can do things like that, but not ordinary people.
I think the story is more amazing because the Touhys were wealthy. In our cultural fascination with money and possessions evangelicals are often blind to the constant warnings in the Bible about the danger of riches even while we carry our well worn study Bibles around (Matthew 19:21-26; Mark 4:19; 1 Timothy 6:9-11; James 2:6-7, 5:1-6). We believe that if we were rich we would automatically become more generous even though the Bible warns that most often the opposite happens. Money and possessions often shrink our soul, steal our affections, and blunt our compassion.
Jesus warned, “Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God” (Matthew 19:24). Likewise, it is true that it is hard for a rich person to live with the priorities of the Kingdom as well. Too many times Christians hear these pleas to avoid hell itself and flippantly remark, “It may be hard for a rich man to go to heaven but I sure would like to try.” I suspect those are the same people saying, “Yeah, but they are rich” about The Blind Side. I am thankful for the racism and reverse racism that The Blind Side has exposed in the context of the beauty of transracial adoption but it is possible that the “ism” the film may most powerfully confront among Christians is materialism.