My wife and I recently went to see the new movie, Hacksaw Ridge. This is a man’s movie. It’s about conviction, courage, and bravery; qualities needed among Christian men in our day. Mel Gibson’s new movie tells the story of Desmond Doss, a Seventh Day Adventist, who enlisted in the Army during World War II with the understanding he could serve as a medic, so he would not have to violate his firm belief in “thou shalt not kill.” He faced stiff opposition for being a conscientious objector. He was sent to Okinawa and during the battle at Hacksaw Ridge saved some 75 solders from certain death. For his actions, he was award the Congressional Metal of Honor, becoming the only conscientious objector in U. S. history to win the nation’s highest award.
While depicting the horror of war, freedom of conscience is the central theme played out in the story of young Doss. When He says, “I feel my values are under attack.” he is echoing the sentiments of millions of Christians in America today. In a time when attacks upon conscience and religious liberty are increasing, we are challenged by the example of the young soldier to examine the strength and resolve of our deepest convictions, which impinge on our freedom of conscience in a post-Christian culture. Commentator, Steven D. Greudamus, considers Doss, “a hero for our troubled times.”
Eric Metaxas, over at breakpoint, writes, “Times in which florists and bakers are being hauled before civil rights commissions, being fined, losing their businesses; times in which pharmacists in Washington State can lose their licenses for refusing to dispense abortion pills; times in which churches in Massachusetts can run afoul of ‘public accommodation’ laws requiring gender neutral bathrooms – we do indeed have a model in Desmond Doss.” The movie is not anti-war but rather a “pro-bravery tale” of one man who was mocked and ridiculed for his values. I know, I was moved to tears several times. I left the Bear Pause Theater, committed to love the Lord with all my heart and with all my soul and will all my mind and to love my neighbor as myself. (Matt 22:37). What would this mean?
First, I need to be settled on what are the nonnegotiable convictions of my Christian worldview. A Trinitarian relationship with Father, Son and Holy Spirit as revealed in Scripture is the bedrock of my faith. I know a loving Father in heaven, who has given his own Son. I follow and worship Jesus as Lord. I can depend on the Holy Spirit to guide me as I submit my lifestyle and belief to the authority of Scripture. I consider this to be my rock, not the sinking sand of modern, secular thought (Matt 7:24-27).
Secondly, how deeply held are my convictions? The story of Desmond Doss was very challenging to me. Am I willing, as a matter of conscience, to pay a price for my deepest held values? While wanting to be a humble, loving follower of Jesus, how integrated are these convictions in my inner life, so when I am accused of being a hateful bigot or angry sexist man, I can respond with love and understanding?
Thirdly, how well do I live by my convictions in a hostile culture? Hacksaw Ridge tells the story of how one man went from being despised and dismissed by his fellow soldiers as a coward to being honored and accept by them as a hero. While respectful of the opinions of other, and with no anger or resentment for how he was treated, Desmond Doss won the right to be a witness to a group of hard core soldiers. How winsome and yet uncompromising is my witness for Christ?