Timid undercover Christian, Chase Morgan, hides his faith at his high school, you know, like it’s supposed to be in our brave new world of secular regressive politics. When beautiful and bold Christian, Grace Davis, arrives as a new student, Chase becomes close friends and falls for her. But their experience of faith being suppressed by a double standard at their school, finds Grace standing up for God in her debate class, which challenges Chase to stand up, speak out and find his voice.
Okay, I have a love/hate relationship with the Christian movie genre. I don’t really care for them. But unlike cynical Hollywood “Christians” who condemn all Christian movies because of their own self-loathing “faith,” I actually see a place for the genre.
But to be honest, it takes a lot to get me to watch one. Because, usually they’re just so poorly written, poorly directed, and poorly acted, that I can’t get through the first ten minutes. My bias is that I was raised on Hollywood quality production values. So yes, the first hurdle you must overcome before you can be considered respect-worthy is the basics of good filmmaking.
But this I will say. Christian movies are getting better. And Because of Gracia is one of the best I’ve seen. This is not saying much, I will admit. Yes, there still needs to be work on the writing, directing and acting. But this movie was very watchable, and emotionally connective in a way others I have seen have not been.
Because of Gracia rang true to the human experience, especially for Christians.
Here’s how it does…
Free Speech for Me, but Not For Thee
Grace is a strong Christian who speaks up in debate class for her faith, so she is attacked by the teacher, who forces her to debate about evolution. But her willingness to stand up is what inspires Chase to do so in his own life. There is also a subplot about a school teacher who gets suspended for praying with a student. This story is so important because it is very relevant to the rising persecution of Christians in this country. It is a prescient story. It shows how the Christian voice is not acceptable in a world of increasing bigotry (identity politics), anti-science (gender redefinition), and Christophobia.
But it is not a movie about claiming victimhood, it is a call to courage. A positive inspiration to stand up and speak out for the truth, despite the rejection you may face. It’s a heartfelt call to free speech, an archaic belief the education establishment apparently no longer holds.
Of course, cynics and Hollywood tools will say this movie’s theme about standing up for your faith in high school is a rip-off of God’s Not Dead. Well, it may be exploiting the success of that movie. But that is simply free market reality (and no different than how Hollywood works all the time). If the audience loves something, give them more of it. And there is a reason why God’s Not Dead was such a huge hit, despite being a terribly written, atrociously directed and acted movie. It’s because, despite its glaring production flaws, the STORY rings true with millions of Christians’ experiences. The notion of open season bigotry against Christians has become so ubiquitous in our society, that it is now perceived as a Constitutional right. Thankfully, this has not risen to the level of ISIS beheading Christians yet. But it all starts with the soft bigotry of intolerance and religious discrimination (did anyone believe Christians would be sued and deprived of their livelihoods simply for their Christian beliefs about marriage?). The irony is lost on those “useful idiot” regressives who say, “Criticism of Islam is Islamophobia, but it’s perfectly fine to criticize Christianity and mock Christians in any class of any school curriculum. We shouldn’t post pictures of Mohammed because that is disrespectful, but hey, let’s mock Jesus in every form of entertainment we can!” Bigotry is never rational or consistent. It’s just hate.
Those same cynics will also look at this movie and say, “Hey, Christians don’t have it that bad in schools. You have a persecution complex!” Meanwhile, all over America, Christians are being silenced, punished, discriminated against in schools. Sorry, those cynics are sycophants of their Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Google-curated ignorance.
But again, Because of Gracia is not about being a victim, it’s about standing up to bullying and speaking up for justice with a Christian spirit of boldness and yet grace. It reminds me of what Evangelicalism used to be about: inspiring people to stop being ashamed of the Gospel and to share that Good News with your world.
The Christians in this movie are not unrelatable holy specimens. There is a good sense of underlying realism and nuance to their humanity. The Christian Grace has a dark past that has broken her. Another subplot about a Christian getting pregnant shows Christians make bad choices too. And the atheist teacher is not a Darth Vader in that he befriends a Christian teacher. A pastor father is more concerned about his job than his family. There is an honest struggle with abortion that does not result in a canned Christian response, but rather family reconciliation.
Yes, things are wrapped up mostly tidy, but only after people struggle through their difficulties to change and make better choices – JUST LIKE IN MOST HOLLYWOOD MOVIES. There’s nothing wrong with showing how people can make choices to overcome their problems in life.
Godawa’s Quibble Corner
Like I said, there are some of the usual flaws here. Some bad acting (but less of it), cliché characters and writing and story issues too. But honestly, folks, if you don’t support something that is GOING IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION, then it will not get better. It is only by supporting movies like this that they will get the votes and money to be able to make more of them, and they will get better.
Because of Gracia is well worth supporting. It’s an inspirational feel-good drama that addresses an all-too common problem of Christian persecution in schools and the challenge to stand up for your faith.