J. Lee Grady’s Good Friday Porn

passion of the christ

This is the time of year when Evangelicals love to emphasize the bloody, brutal, violent death of Jesus. Many Evangelical preachers, evangelists, and writers will go to great lengths to turn Christ’s death into a Criminal Minds episode or a Christian version of Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Take J.Lee Grady, a writer for CHARISMA. Yesterday, CHARISMA published an article by Grady that is best described as Good Friday Porn. Here’s part of what Grady had to say:

When the movie The Passion of the Christ was released 12 years ago, Hollywood insiders mocked it because it offered a realistic—and extremely bloody—depiction of Jesus’ torture and death. Regardless of what you think of controversial director Mel Gibson, he did a masterful job of capturing the brutality of a first-century Roman execution.

I know some Christians who objected to the R-rated violence of Gibson’s movie, as if what happened to Jesus should be reduced to the sanitized charm of a Renaissance-era painting. But the truth is that what Jesus suffered on Good Friday was R-rated. It was spattered with blood and horrifying to watch.

Nobody performed an autopsy on Jesus’ mangled body after He was taken down from the cross. But doctors who have studied the Bible’s description of His death say the pain would have been beyond excruciating. In fact, the word excruciating means “out of the cross.” Jesus literally defined the worst pain anyone could feel.

His suffering began in Gethsemane, when God laid the sins of the world on His beloved Son. Hebrews 5:7 says Jesus offered up prayers “with loud crying and tears” during this moment of anguish. Luke’s Gospel says the agony was so strong that Jesus’ sweat “became like drops of blood, falling down upon the ground” (Luke 22:44). The intense stress caused what physicians call hematidrosis, a condition in which blood seeps out of sweat glands.

After His arrest, Jesus was flogged so mercilessly that his skin was stripped off His back, exposing muscle and bone. The soldiers who tortured Jesus would have used a weapon called a flagellum—a whip that had several leather strands with lead balls or shards of bone attached to the ends.

The cuts inflicted by this whip could actually rip open the flesh and expose internal organs. Jesus would have lost a significant amount of blood after His scourging—and this would explain why He did not have the strength to carry His cross all the way to Calvary.

Matthew 27:28-29 says the Roman soldiers stripped Jesus naked and then twisted together a handmade crown made of thorns to mock His kingship. Bible scholars believe these thorns were extremely long and hard. When the thorns pierced the top and side of His head, Jesus would have most likely experienced what doctors call “trigeminal neuralgia”—piercing pain all over the head and face.

After this merciless abuse, Jesus was covered with a red robe and led to Golgotha. There, Roman soldiers drove seven-inch metal spikes into his wrists (most likely hitting the median nerve, causing more blinding pain) and then they rammed another spike into his feet.

At that point, doctors say, Jesus would have suffered dislocation of His shoulders, cramps and spasms, dehydration from severe blood loss, fluid in His lungs and eventual lung collapse and heart failure.

Yet Jesus refused to drink wine mixed with gall, a pain-killing solution offered to Him by his executioners (Matt. 27:34). He chose to endure the full impact of the pain.

He felt that pain for us.

Some victims of Roman crucifixion took as long as nine days to die, but Jesus’ death came in a matter of hours—probably because He had been flogged so cruelly before He was nailed to the rough wood. Victims of crucifixion typically developed serious dehydration because of a lack of blood and oxygen.

As Jesus took His last breath, He said: “It is finished.” He was actually quoting the last verse of Psalm 22, a psalm He recited throughout His torture. It is one of the most graphic prophecies about Christ’s suffering in the Old Testament—and Jesus knew it was about Him.

Jesus willingly poured out His blood on that cruel cross. It was an ugly, revolting, disgusting scene. We don’t have to downplay the violence or muffle the gut-wrenching cries. The Bible does not soften the impact or censor the cruelty of Jesus’s suffering. Isaiah 53:6 says: “But the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him.”

Keep in mind that most of what Grady writes is personal opinion. He has no evidence for many of the claims he makes about the brutality of Christ’s crucifixion and death. Compare Luke 22,23 with what Grady has written and you will quickly see that he has turned the death of Christ into a Christian version of No Company for Old Men.

Why does Grady graphically depict Christ’s execution? Grady wants readers to know that Easter is not about fun, games, candy, and the Easter Bunny. Oh no, Easter is all about the brutalization of Jesus by God, the Father. Grady writes:

This Easter, please don’t settle for a G-rated, greeting-card version of the cross. Consider the depths of the agony Jesus experienced when He died for you. He took the pain we deserved.

There’s the reason — the substitutionary death of Jesus. Sinners need saving, can’t save themselves, so Jesus was brutally tortured, died, and rose again from the dead so sinners could have their sins forgiven and live in heaven after they die. Look at all that Jesus suffered for us! When Christians whine and complain about how hard it is to be a Christian in the most Christian nation on the face of the earth, they are often reminded of the Jesus’ gruesome death on their behalf. No one has ever suffered like Jesus, preachers say. Really? People face all sorts of horrible suffering, in every way as bad and as painful as that of Jesus. Of course, their suffering is due to sin. Jesus suffered because he was an awesome guy and wanted to start a cult. Jesus Suffering-1 Human Suffering-0

Grady wraps his bloody article in the clothes of Mel Gibson’s 2004 porno, The Passion of the Christ. I have not seen Gibson’s movie. By the time it arrived on the religious scene, I was on my way out the door of the Christian church. I do remember countless Christian luminaries saying that The Passion of Christ would be used by God to bring revival to America. According to Wikipedia:

The Passion of the Christ received enthusiastic support from the American evangelical community. Prior to the film’s release, Gibson actively reached out to evangelical leaders seeking their support and feedback. With their help, Gibson organized and attended a series of prerelease screenings for evangelical audiences and discussed the making of the film and his personal faith. In June 2003 he screened the film for 800 pastors attending a leadership conference at New Life Church, pastored by Ted Haggard, then president of the National Association of Evangelicals. Gibson gave similar showings at Joel Osteen’s Lakewood Church, Greg Laurie’s Harvest Christian Fellowship, and to 3,600 pastors at a conference at Rick Warren’s Saddleback Church in Lake Forest. From the summer of 2003 to the film’s release in February 2004, portions or rough cuts of the film were shown to over eighty audiences—many of which were evangelical audiences. Gibson received numerous public endorsements from evangelical leaders, including Billy Graham, Robert Schuller, Darrell Bock, and David Neff, editor of Christianity Today. In an open letter published prior to the film’s release, James Dobson, the founder and chairman of Focus on the Family, endorsed the film and defended it against its detractors. Similar public endorsements of the film were received from evangelical leaders Pat Robertson, Rick Warren, Lee Strobel, Jerry Falwell, Max Lucado, Tim LaHaye and Chuck Colson.

Twelve years later, no revival. The movie — called by Roger Ebert the most violent movie he had ever seen — grossed over 600 million. Gibson, an anti-semitic, violent Catholic, made a killing off the movie, and everyone else moved on to the next big movie. Last week, Fox aired The Passion Live — a live two-hour show depicting the last hours of Jesus’ life. Surely, on a Sunday, tens of millions of Christians tuned into The Passion, right? Nope. According to TV Line:

Fox’s live-ish Sunday broadcast of The Passion drew 6.6 million total viewers and a 1.6 demo rating, down 46 and 63 percent from what the network’s Grease: Live delivered in January (albeit when there was no Walking Dead in the mix).

In fact, the Tyler Perry-hosted musical event placed even below NBC’s Peter Pan Live, which in December 2014 delivered 9.2 mil and a 2.4, on a Thursday.

Here’s what Grady and Fox need to understand: the death of Jesus is passé. Been there, done that — boring. In Grady’s case, he needs to understand that telling Bible stories filled with blood, gore, and violence no longer interests most Americans. We have The Walking Dead and Game of Thrones. Jesus’ death, no matter how graphicly it is displayed, is no match for modern TV dramas. Bruce, you are sooo going to hell for saying this. Yeah, about the hell thing…

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24 Comments

  1. August Rode

    “Jesus literally defined the worst pain anyone could feel.”

    Color me unimpressed. Anyone who lives with chronic pain over the span of many years endures far worse pain than Jesus is reputed to have done over the course of a day or two. Of course, if Jesus is a fictional character, then there would have been no actual suffering at all.

    Reply
    1. Kingasaurus

      —“Jesus literally defined the worst pain anyone could feel.”—-

      Again, even if you buy the story, how would they know this?

      It’s just a theological assertion. “It’s the sins of the whole world, right? So it MUST be the worst!”

      It just has to be the worst pain ever because that’s what follows from all the other religious assumptions.

      Reply
  2. Troy

    Very little of Mel Gibson’s movie is based on the Bible, instead it is based on the visions of a loony nun from the 1800s.
    I also haven’t seen it, though I think it gives more of an insight into Gibson’s head than anything else.

    Reply
  3. Melanie

    If Jesus took on the pain we all deserve, then why is there still pain? If he took the pain already, then I wouldn’t expect so many good Christians to suffer at all, not to mention the agonies that many have experienced in the past and still do today. I guess this goes along with another question I have, which is why Jesus is waiting so long to come back again. If everything was tidied up so nicely with him being the sacrifice that God needed a couple of millennia ago, why wait thousands of years to claim his perfect kingdom? Has anyone gotten a rational answer as to why there is still pain if Jesus took it all upon himself or does the answer just have something to do with only seeing the back of the tapestry, etc.?

    Reply
    1. Michael Mock

      I’ve got a better one for you. The price of sin is eternal conscious torment in Hell, right? So how exactly did Jesus manage to pay this price in a mere three days?

      Reply
      1. August Rode

        He got the nepotism discount.

        Reply
        1. Melanie

          Ha! I like this answer. There seems to be some truth in it, too, because since Jesus was perfect in every way (i.e. God himself) he could pay all the debts in a warp-speed fashion. But if he could warp-speed the whole thing, why drag it on for hours? Why go with crucifixion at all? Jesus could have stubbed his toe for the sins of the world (as long as there was blood involved) and saved himself a lot of trouble.

          Reply
          1. Becky Wiren

            I love this comment!

  4. Angiep

    I’ve never been interested in seeing the movie. But the photo posted with this blog caught my eye. Maybe because it’s a still photo, it is easy to see the really bad skin suit the actor is wearing. And just exactly why would the Roman guards treat him so sadistically? He was crucified for his political practices and teachings, not for some horrific crime against people, so it’s hard for me to believe the guards would have been able to summon the emotion to inflict such suffering on him, unless they were all sickos.

    Reply
  5. Appalachian Agnostic

    The Passion of the Christ had a role in my deconversion. At various times I have tried to remember a turning point in my change from Christian to non-Christian, and I finally remembered a conversation which took place a few days after I had seen the movie. I was describing to my one atheist friend how the Roman soldiers had seemed to derive an almost sexual pleasure from the beatings they were giving. As I heard myself speaking, it slowly began to dawn on me just how stupid the whole idea was. I looked at my friend and said, “None of that stuff is true, is it?” He just said, “No.” in a matter of fact, low key way. I wonder if there are other deconverts out there who were helped along by this disgusting movie.

    Reply
  6. Kenneth

    I often wonder where is the mention of all the others that were executed by crucifixion? Jesus, after all, wasn’t the only one. Somehow, people don’t seem to care. Jesus also wasn’t the only “prophet” or Messiah in those days……

    Reply
  7. Scott

    I didn’t ever see the movie, as was in my reformed xian worldview days and Reformed xians don’t labour the physical emotionalism of RC or Arminians. Good old substitutionary atonement. A theological construct mastered by Paul. Always doctrine trumps everything. Jesus never died for the sins of the world – only the elect. The aim is new creation. Tom Wright.
    The rest of the world is destined to eternal torment (or if Rob Bell…….).

    Reply
  8. John Arthur

    Hi Bruce,

    Grady’s gruesome theology of punishment for sin is designed to create fear in the followers of a violent god who is alleged to have brutally tortured Jesus for our sins in our room and place. This repugnant theology shows us a god who cannot be loved. And if we do not accept this violent god, we will supposedly be punished forever in hell.; forever

    Can loving kindness, compassion and healing mercy support the brutal execution of anyone: not only Jesus but also the thousands of others who were crucified by the Romans? If god exists and if he/she is compassion, healing mercy and loving kindness, why would he/she be a brutal, cosmic child abuser, torturing his/her only son in the way depicted by Grady?

    Of course, Grady could support some of his views from the bible. The bible is a book with a mixture of violent passages supporting some of Grady’s views and others that completely contradict such views. The problem for Evangelicals like Grady is their authoritarian view of an infallible bible which means that if they accept the violent passages literally, it makes it very difficult to show compassion and kindness towards those with whom they disagree.

    Thanks for your article, Bruce.

    Peace be with you.

    John Arthur

    Reply
    1. Brian

      I read much about Mel Gibson’s masturbatory orgy with Jesus as the film was being made and marketed. It was then that I decided to keep my money and not support this particular porn even though it clearly appeals to the woo-woo world in its hysterical message. The idea is a simplistic one, that you do not really understand how much Jesus suffered and will be shown it some more until you get the message.
      Donald Trump is doing a similar thing with Republican politics now and it is selling out too! He is thowing the rule-book out the window and going directly for the lowest in humanity, the fear and loathing, the paranoid and the shallow bullying. America is ready for Trump because of American Christianity, an intrinsic part of the American Way. Christians insist this is the real meaning of the founding fathers, this God over all and I believe they are telling their truth. The only difference we have in understanding is that Chrisians believe we have not had enough Christianity and that is why we are all fucked up. I have long supposed that we have had far too much.

      Reply
      1. John Arthur

        Thanks for this, Brian. Yes, the world has had too much of Fundamentalisms and that is one of the reasons it seems to be in a mess. We have various religious Fundamentalisms like Jihadi Muslims and theocratic Christian Fundamentalists whose religions are religions based on fear and intolerance and there seems to be a political Fundamentalism, too. Le’s hope that neither Trump nor Cruz win the US presidency.

        Shalom,

        Reply
  9. Becky Wiren

    I refused to see the movie. I still considered myself a Christian then, and I couldn’t see any good reason to see it. But I have a Christian friend who did, and said it was good. I simply can’t watch that kind of blood and gore.

    Reply
    1. Melanie

      I also couldn’t have imagined seeing such a bloody, violent movie. At the time, I heard other Christians say that the least they could do was to force themselves to look at the screen throughout the most gory scenes since Jesus actually endured all that pain for their salvation. I wonder what we would think of a parent who “forgave” his child and yet insisted ever after that the child remembered how much the forgiveness cost the parent. If the child had broken a favored crystal vase, let’s say, and the parent said that he was forgiven and yet constantly showed him the scarred finger the parent had incurred while picking up the shards, so that the memory of the suffering would never die away, would we even consider that forgiveness?

      Reply
      1. Becky Wiren

        Yeah. I could never watch that kind of gore no matter what.

        Christianity makes no real sense. I never really believed in a burning Hell, and ended up in a denomination that didn’t teach one. (Seventh-day Adventist.) But I left it long ago. My leave taking started painfully but then over the years, things slowly dropped away. So now I’m probably some kind of Universalist, except I don’t know there is any kind of afterlife, more like hoping so. And trying to live rationally!

        Reply
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  11. Steve

    Luke 13:3 I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.

    Reply
    1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

      *sigh*

      Reply
    2. Brian

      Steve, go buy one of those beat-your-kids-for-God sticks being sold to true believers and hit yourself hard with it. Do this now and repent. You will perish anyway but go on and punish yourself some more.

      Reply
    3. Michael Mock

      I don’t believe that God exists. I see no reason to conclude that our Universe includes the presence of such a being. That’s not the sort of thing I can repent of.

      Reply
    4. Becky Wiren

      Steve, I don’t understand Christians like you. I know I was only attracted to Christianity because people showed me love. And Christians like you repulse nearly everyone. In fact, before I ceased being a Christian, I had stopped calling myself one due to people like you.

      Reply

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