I recently saw Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit. Wow. What a movie. Gorgeous scenery. Wonderful writing. Great actors. It all came together greatly capturing the spirit of the book and Tolkien’s mythos that he had created. But there was one thing missing. (spoiler alert). Blood. Blood was missing. They had epic battles with trolls, orcs, and goblins and there was no blood. No blood on their swords. No blood on their clothing. No blood on their faces or hands. There was no blood to be seen.
Maybe I’ve been reading too much manga and watched too many Quentin Tarantino movies, but with fight scenes, especially epic battle ones, you need blood. When a body part gets hacked off, blood comes out. When someone is disemboweled, blood comes out. In The Hobbit, there was no blood. Maybe this was to garner a PG-13 rating. But it truly bothered me. It bothered me that we had become so sanitary as to not have goblin blood all over the place.
In many ways, we’ve been sanitized to things like blood. We get grossed out when there’s blood left over in our hamburger when making Hamburger Helper. We get sickened when there’s blood left over when making a steak. We don’t even see how we get the steak or hamburger. Here’s a spoiler for you, it comes from cows. But we don’t see that. We don’t know that.
We have too much blood and it becomes an R rating in life. And we want to keep things safe. We want to keep things sanitary to our eyes.
But the stories of life are more in an R rating than PG-13. Our ears hear, our eyes see and when things are gross, our schnozes smell odors that shouldn’t be.
The Bible itself isn’t sanitary. It is gory. It is filled with blood. It is filled with sex and violence. Yet we try to sanitize that as well. We try to keep those stories out of the kids books. We don’t talk about Joshua besides that he was strong and courageous. We talk about Gideon when he’s afraid. We talk about Deborah but not about Jael and wacking a tent peg into a dude’s head.
And more so, we talk about Jesus’ death and the shedding of his blood but don’t go into the details. We sanitize it. The Hobbit was sanitized. More so that Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy. We sanitize the Gospel as well. For the Christmas story, the shepherds become cute and cuddly people. We talk about the three wise men but not about Herod killing children under the age of 2 trying to kill Jesus. We don’t talk about the bloodshed.
Now, I’m not condoning violence. I’m not asking for a Tarantino-esque movie of the battle of Jericho, but I am asking that we not sanitize things so much. That we be real about the visceralness of life.
I enjoyed The Hobbit even though it was sanitized. I enjoyed the story. I enjoyed the acting, the humor, the characters. But it was sanitized all the same. The same is true when we try to approach the Gospel. Don’t sanitize it. Let it all come out. Let it all be seen. Don’t hide the icky parts but let it be seen for what it is.
When we open wide the Bible, especially the Gospel account of Jesus’ death, we open wide the possibilities of fully understanding what lengths God went to to bring us back to himself. We see the lengths and widths and heights and depths of Jesus’ love for us because of what he endured.
When we sanitize it, we loose something. When we sanitize it, we loose the wholeness of what makes the Gospel message so scandalizing. Even Tarantino couldn’t come up with this stuff.
So tell the story, the old old story, of Jesus and his love. Tell the story, the whole whole story of the lengths Jesus went with this love. Hold nothing back. Tell it all. Don’t sanitize one thing. Let the blood flow.