“For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. The light of the body is the eye: if therefore your eye be single, your whole body shall be full of light. But if your eye be evil, your whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in you be darkness, how great is that darkness! No man can serve two masters.” Matthew 6:21-24a
“For the past 35 years, one of my greatest pleasures has been to see Star Wars passed from one generation to the next,”said George Lucas, maker of the Star Wars movies. Over the last four decades Star Wars has consistently won the hearts and minds of viewers of all ages and is arguably one of the most lucrative and widespread cinematic enterprises ever to hit the silver screen. And with Disney’s purchase of Lucasfilm back in 2012, provided the Lord tarries, Lucas’ legacy and message are all but guaranteed to thrive for years to come. According to an online article from USA Today, “Disney expects to more aggressively expand the Star Wars film schedule, Iger [Disney CEO] said in a statement. Following the release of Episode VII in 2015, “our long term plan is to release a new Star Wars feature film every two to three years,” Iger said. Star Wars Episodes VIII and IX, Iger said, would follow “probably on a cadence of every other year and then go from there.”
Over the years, many studies have examined the marketing and message of the Star Wars industry in hopes of gleaning some of its “industrial magic”. It truly is one of the first movies ever to build such an enduring and successful toy/product line reaching almost four decades and spanning around the globe. Anyone alive in the late 70’s-mid 80’s should be able to testify to the Star Wars fan frenzy every December. There were literally empty toy shelves across the country and frantic parents braving the rain, sleet, and snow to make sure their children had the latest and greatest Star Wars action figures and accessories.
Very few movies have ever cemented themselves so thoroughly into the psyche of the masses. Its enduring popularity alone should cause even the moderate Christian to pause and inquire a bit further. Interestingly, there are not that many resources thoroughly examining the spiritual/biblical implications of Star Wars. With that in mind, along with the long anticipated Episode 7 on the virtual horizon, I hope this brief article serves to help readers understand some of the core concerns with theStar Wars message.
A Brief Testimony
As a child I was mesmerized by the Star Wars movie series (IV, V, and VI). I had watched them so often I could recite almost every line from all three movies. My parents did not raise me in the New Age (New Spirituality) or any religion for that matter. My temple was mostly the theater and my doctrines formed from the movie mysticism I fed upon. I can say without equivocation that Star Wars was one of the greatest influences on the false understanding I grew to embrace pertaining both to God and to myself.
There may be readers thinking that compared to the horror and gore riddled throughout today’s TV, video game, and movie entertainment, Star Wars is really nothing more than a benign sci-fi alternative featuring fanciful creatures, heroes, and villains from galaxies far, far away. But nothing could be further from the truth. Arguably Star Wars doesn’t contain much graphic gore. Neither is there much in the way of swearing, sex, and intense violence, but there is most definitely a message; one that is diabolical and deceitfully destructive through and through. It is a message that resonates with people from around the world and was intentionally designed to cement one simple idea into the hearts and minds of everyone watching, “May the force be with you.”
The rest of this article will focus on several main points that readers should then be able to use to share with others. Hopefully these tools will add light to a message that has very much been injected and embraced even by many Christian families.
Point 1: The Family Structure
For a variety of reasons moms, not dads, tend to be the spiritual leaders in their households. And since that’s the case, moms are usually the ones guiding the spiritual landscape of their families. But who’s typically more interested in sci-fi, guys or girls? Typically guys are.
Over the years, I’ve spoken with many parents and fellow teachers and when talking with moms and female teachers, I almost always hear the same two basic responses, “I’m not even interested in things like Star Wars” and “I’m just happy my husband is doing something with our son”. Can you see the problem here? If moms are typically the spiritual leaders and they are not interested in the very thing their husbands and sons are bonding over, then how does that family really know if the messages they’re feeding on are spiritually “safe”? The simple answer is they don’t.
Point 2: George Lucas’ Message
It’s easy to forget that this world is full of messages and most of them don’t even originate from the pulpit. Some messages might be hard to “swallow”, especially when shared with a Christian crowd. That old phrase “a spoon full of sugar makes the medicine go down” can definitely be applied to today’s media/entertainment industry. Granted, some films are mostly made for entertainment value with little real content behind them; however there are others that have seemed to find a perfect mix of “sugar” and “medicine”. In other words, there are some movies that do a very good job of feeding the audience their message in such an entertaining and amusing way that the medicine (message) is widely and readily received.
George Lucas is a master storyteller. He understands the nature of the viewer quite well. Some might argue that the message behind Star Wars is really not that intentional and that Lucas simply wanted to tell a story that would translate well on the big screen. The following article shows a little insight into what Lucas had to say regarding the Star Wars message and his own understanding of what he was actually teaching the audience:
“Lucas, even after Empire, said as much in his story conference talk with scriptwriter Lawrence Kasdan and director Richard Marquand before they started shooting Jedi:
Kasdan: The Force was available to anyone who could hook into it?
Lucas: Yes, everybody can do it.
Kasdan: Not just the Jedi?
Lucas: It’s just the Jedi who take the time to do it.
Marquand: They use it as a technique.
Lucas: Like Yoga. If you want to take the time to do it, you can do it; but the ones that really want to do it are the ones who are into that kind of thing. Also like karate.
Despite any arguments to the contrary, Lucas most definitely understood what he was doing when he wrote the Star Wars saga. He understood how to to introduce a spiritual message that would appeal to the masses in a very personal way. Unfortunately, it worked.
Point 3: The Main Message
When audiences, both young and old alike, exit the movie theater, there is one simple message they will undoubtedly take with them, “May the force be with you.” This sounds harmless enough, right? Wrong! One day I was in another teacher’s classroom after school and her fourth grade son came in. She asked him to help pick up all the music stands and arrange the chairs. After she walked away, he looked at me with his hand stretched out, a smile on his face and remarked, “I wish I could use the Force right now.” Understandably, he was somewhat just saying he didn’t want to work that hard in rearranging his mom’s classroom, but even though he might not have grasped the implications, he clearly understood the appeal. After all, wouldn’t be nice if we could tap into some sort of energy to manipulate both minds and matter to our will? Oh, the flesh would love it! We wouldn’t even need to summon a genie out of a lamp to do our bidding. We could actually become the genies and do whatever we wanted. Isn’t that an appealing message, especially to children! The apostle Paul, however, through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit reminds us, “When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things” (1 Corinthians 13:11). The message of Star Wars, albeit simple, has been effectively taught with mass appeal and long lasting devotion.
Point 4: The Main Character
As with all good stories, audiences have favorite Star Wars characters. Some are cute and others are brave. Some are perfect villains and others great victors. But there is arguably one character that rises above the rest; one character without whom the Star Wars story would not be a story at all. That character is the Force.
The new movie coming out December 18th, 2015 is number seven in the saga and entitled “Star Wars: The Force Awakens”. In one of the movie trailers, the voice of Luke Skywalker states, “The Force is strong in my family. My father has it. I have it. My sister has it. You have that power too.”
There are many clues woven throughout the saga as to how the Force actually works, but without getting too in depth, the Force is simply an impersonal energy/power that is neither good nor evil. This amoral Force is nothing new. George Lucas simply borrowed concepts from Hinduism, witchcraft, etc. and repackaged them to appeal to the masses. Sorcerers, yogis, and shamans have long understood the reality of some power that can be “tapped” into and used to both benefit self and others.
Again, despite those who might think otherwise, the Star Wars Force, although a false replacement for the true God, is neither good nor bad. It is neither right nor wrong. Nor does it really care one way or the other about anything. The western mind thinks in terms of morality, i.e. good vs. evil, however the Force is actually better understood in line with the yin and yang found in many eastern philosophies and religious practices, i.e. Taoism. The white side (yang) is not necessarily good. It simply is what it is. The black side (yin) is not evil. It is not understood to be anything other than the other side of the yin. Both are actually necessary and neither can be strictly measured morally.
As chapter 8 of the Huainanzi (an ancient Chinese text that consists of a collection of essays) claims:
“Yinyang embodies the harmony of heaven and earth, manifests the forms of myriad things, contains qi to transform the things and completes various kinds of things; yinyang extends and penetrates to the deepest level; begins in emptiness then becomes full and moves in boundless lands.” http://www.iep.utm.edu/yinyang/
This same article also explains, “Yin and yang are the qi [life force]of the universe. These qi flow within the natural as well as the human worlds. Thus qi, a force arising from the interplay between yin and yang, becomes a context in which yinyang is seated and functions.” In other words, both sides (light and dark) are necessary for the force to properly function and eventually harmonize. Witchcraft is understood in much the same way. White magic, although supposedly benevolent, is not defined in a morally “good” sense. Nor is black magik inherently evil. However since witchcraft has become so popularized in the west over the last few decades, there has been much westernized confusion mingled into its actual teachings.
One online article states, “Star Wars producer George Lucas said, “The Force is neutral, and it can be used for good or evil… The Force has two sides. It is not a malevolent or benevolent thing. It has a bad side to it involving hate and fear, and it has a good side, involving love, charity, fairness and hope. If you use it well, you can see the future and the past. You can sort of read minds and you can levitate and use that whole netherworld of psychic energy.” [TIME magazine – May 19, 1980] His description of “the Force” seems to be right out of the occult and witchcraft. Constance Cumbey first alerted Christians to the New Age Movement’s occult association in her book The Hidden Dangers of the Rainbow. She refers to Eva Dowling’s comment in a New Age “bible” that “…one may enter fully into the spirit of the ‘God of Force’”, which, in the New Age Movement, is a central spiritual being. “Force” is a technical term used in witchcraft, which is what the films feature. Black (“bad”) and white (“good”) witchcraft are contrasting uses of the force of nature, which is defined as neutral but can be employed either way.”
Another online article says, “Christian author Pastor David J. Meyer, once a practicing witch, explains the true meaning of “May the Force be with you.” He wrote: “When real witches have sabats and esbats and meet as a coven, they greet each other by saying “Blessed be”, and when they part, they say “The Force be with you.” Both sides of this “Force” are Satan. It is not a good side of the force that overcomes the bad side of the force, but rather it’s the blood of Jesus Christ that destroys both sides of the satanic Force.”
The Star Wars Force is nothing less than the mystical and ancient power that has tied all religions together throughout the centuries. It is not the same as the personal God of the Bible, but instead the Force provides the potential for people to have their own power as they discover how to tap into this universal power, essentially causing them to ‘evolve’ into their own gods. This power has no will of its own, nor does it have a mind. Ultimately, who gets to make their own decisions, choosing their own fates and fortunes? We do. The Star Wars Force is really just a repackaged version of the original lie which Satan has been spreading since he first spoke with Eve in the Garden- “You shall be like gods…” (Genesis 3:5).
The Force is not simply some creative, made-up character to help propel the Star Wars saga. In truth, it is the oldest and most popular of Satan’s lies, the one used to plague and propel billions of people into a horrible, Christ-less eternity.
Interestingly, the Force is actually found in the Bible. In Daniel, the Lord wrote pertaining to the Antichrist, “But in his estate shall he honor the God of forces: and a god whom his fathers knew not shall he honor with gold, and silver, and with precious stones, and pleasant things” (Daniel 11:38).[Emphasis mine] This is the only time this Hebrew word is translated “forces”. It is perhaps more than a little interesting that the only time God’s Word uses the idea of a false “god of forces” is to describe the Antichrist himself.
Point 5: A Jesus Replacement (An Anitchrist)
There are all sorts of occult ideas riddled throughout much of today’s media/entertainment; however there is a consistent theme routinely employed to pull in audiences. The story usually starts with a child or young adult who is either an orphan or in an environment he/she wants to escape from. The young person soon finds a mentor, or the mentor finds the child. And what is the mentor’s message? “You’re special. You’re different. You have so much hidden potential within you. You just don’t know it yet. You have the potential to lead people to victory.” It then becomes the mentor’s duty to help the young, naïve child discover how to exercise his/her untapped mystical skills through a variety of eastern practices, i.e. mindless meditation, visualization, etc. Soon the mentor takes a backseat, letting the student become the leader in some sort of rescue mission to save humanity.
This kind of message is often confused within Christian communities who are too often looking for ways to build bridges to a lost and deceived world. Over the years there have been a variety of so-called Christian books, Bible studies, and outreaches based on movies such as The Matrix, Star Wars, etc. When The Matrix was still really popular, I had a seventh grade student who insisted that Neo (the main character in The Matrix; similar to Luke Skywalker) was a type of Jesus. Plenty of people have made the same incorrect connection with Luke Skywalker. After all, Luke rises in power to rescue the universe. But there is one big problem with this conclusion. In every occult based movie, whether Dune, The Matrix, or Star Wars, the main character rises in power to rescue civilization, but not for the purpose of knowing the personal and loving God who created the universe. They always rise up with a message of self-discovery leading to self-deliverance which is passed on to others so they too can become their own empowered self-deliverers (gods).
This isn’t the message of the true Jesus Christ, rather the message of the “God of forces”, the Antichrist. This is the message of Satan, and it’s been the same lie since the Garden of Eden!
After peeling away the personalities and general likability of Luke Skywalker, Obi-wan Kenobi, Yoda, other Jedi knights and masters, viewers are left with the clear conclusion that these characters are nothing other than wizards, sorcerers, and priests practicing mysticism in hopes of ascending until they reach their final goal: godhood. Interestingly, there has been a steady interest and acceptance over the last couple decades in actually developing and practicing a Jedi Knight religion, especially in the UK. It’s being called Jediism and is recognized as an official religion. In the 2010 UK census, almost 200,000 people identified as holding to the teachings of the Jedi Knight.
Clearly, many people around the world understand the mystical doctrines which have so very plainly and intentionally been intertwined into the Star Wars storyline.
Sorcery’s rebellious foundations and seductive and dangerously deceptive doctrines all come from devils and are completely opposed to the true Gospel. Because of this, the Lord has understandably given very harsh consequences for those practicing such things. Carefully consider a few familiar Scriptures:
- “A man also or woman that has a familiar spirit, or that is a wizard, shall surely be put to death…” Leviticus 20:27.
- “There shall not be found among you any one that makes his son or his daughter to pass through the fire, or that uses divination, or an observer of times, or an enchanter, or a witch, or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard, or a necromancer.” Deuteronomy 18:11.
- “For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry.” 1 Samuel 15:23. [Emphasis mine]
- “Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.” Galatians 5:21-23. [Emphasis mine]
- “But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.” Revelation 21:8. [Emphasis mine]
Point 6: Altering the Very Character of God
“It’s just a movie” is often the excuse heard when people are confronted with content concerns. Perhaps we too have essentially said the very same thing, maybe not aloud, but by our actions. While it is clear that movies are a modern form of entertainment, there is nothing that says entertainment is intrinsically harmless. Those who have become addicted to and corrupted by pornography can testify that movies can be much more than just movies. Again movies often contain messages and messages (words) have meaning. Once those messages are embraced, even a little bit, they have at least the very real potential of altering our view of the truth.
Jesus said, “If you stay in My Word, My disciples you will be, and you will know the truth and the truth will set you free” (John 8:31-32). Ultimately, the goal of God’s Word is to know God. Jesus taught that the Word of God is the seed which needs to be planted in soft hearts. But the world has seeds as well. The Bible doesn’t have the market cornered on the meaning of life. There are many false ideas of life and its purpose, all of which emanate from the deepest of all concepts… the character of God Himself. The highest goal for any human is to truly know God, to understand and know the One who created this universe, the One who rescued humanity by dying for all their sins so we could freely and fully return to Him through His one and only begotten Son, Jesus Christ. Jesus is our door, our only door, yet Satan is subtle and knows that in order to keep people from coming he must provide other doors. And to keep Christians for growing closer to our Savior, at least some of those doors must look pretty close to the original.
Specific to Star Wars, since the main character (the Force) is really a pseudo-type of god, the danger with this movie’s message in particular is the potential it has in manipulating viewers’ understanding of the true God revealed in the Bible. There are many ways of corrupting our understanding of the Lord; however one of the main methods is two-fold: deprivation and supplementation.
If a person is deprived of the truth found in God’s Word he will most likely be much more susceptible to receiving a supplemental replacement. This won’t necessarily mean a believer replaces his ultimate understanding of the true God for a lie. It does mean that a lie can be introduced as a supplement (in addition to), over time leading to a synthesized (mixed) god. Some of the believer’s understanding will be biblical and some will not. This of course is true at some level for all of us since we all deal with the flesh and the world every day; however we should all be seeking to increase our understanding of the true God, not running out to be fed a bunch of amusing lies.
There are several so-called Christian books and articles seeking to make comparisons between the Force and the Lord God of the Bible. The issue here is that although there may be a few similarities between the two, there are also differences and it’s always the differences that make the difference. As within all areas of life, one does not learn to exercise discernment by simply focusing on similarities. We must always examine the differences if we are to actually build our understanding properly. A doctor never simply looks at what’s right with her patient. She must examine what is wrong if she is to correctly diagnose and treat the person. The same is true for the mechanic, the teacher, the parent, etc.
A few vital differences between the Force and the true God of the Bible:
- Part of Creation
- Not a Savior
The True God of the Bible
- Personal (John 17, 1 John 5:20)
- Outside of Creation (Genesis 1, John 1:1-3, Col. 1:16)
- The one true Savior (Isaiah 45:21-22, John 3:16-17)
Point 7: The Faith of Feelings
Trusting in our feelings is one of the biggest lies ever sold to humanity. Sadly, we live in a generation that is not only encouraged to embrace their feelings, but celebrate them regardless of how depraved. The moral line that at least used to be outwardly recognized has now been erased and replaced by a much more deceptive and subjective standard – feelings. There seems to be no part of today’s society that does not tell us to “let our hearts be our guide” and Star Wars is no different. Consider a couple excerpts from the following articles:
“Unraveling Absolutes by focusing on subjective feelings: “God is perfect and absolutely perfect. Obi-Wan teaches Anakin the concept that absolutes belong on the evil side when he says “Only a Sith deals in absolutes.” As Christians we understand that Jesus was without sin and God is absolutely good. By teaching Anakin absolutes belong on the evil side, Obi-Wan is teaching a Luciferian concept that the God of Moses, absolutely good, is evil.”
Referring to Obi-Wan’s teacher, the author of Naming a Jedi writes, “He became Qui-Gon Jinn, a powerful Force-adept who relied on his subconscious urges (‘the will of the Force’) to a degree that discomfited those around him, a quality destined to bring both great suffering and, in the end, the salvation of the galaxy. Young Obi-Wan would learn from him a commitment to trusting his instincts, something he would pass on to Luke decades later (‘trust your feelings!’). … “In Star Wars, there is more ambiguity — ‘use the Force’ and ‘use your instincts’ are synonymous, and yet one implies faith in the supernatural and one implies faith in the self. I explain this as two different ways to characterize the intuitive impulses that well from within us….” Originally from Naming a Jedi. Quoted in-http://www.crossroad.to/articles2/05/star-wars.htm
While Luke is unsuccessfully learning to use his lightsaber during training, Obi-Wan Kenobi instructs him to cover his eyes and let his mind go blank and simply trust his feelings. Basically to become an expert in the Force, Luke and all Jedis must cease from thinking and instead put all their trust in their feelings. There isn’t one single Scripture that even eludes to mankind ever putting trust in their hearts. There are plenty of verses, however that give very clear reminders of just how deceptive and destructive the human heart truly is. Here are just a few examples:
- “Every one of them is gone back: they are altogether become filthy; there is none that does good, no, not one.” Psalm 53:3
- “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” Jeremiah 17:9
- “He that trusts in his own heart is a fool…” Proverbs 28:26a
To See or Not to See (Should you see the movie?)
Some will say yes. Some will say yes, but then want to point out the errors to their children. Some will say no. No matter what direction people are led, may we choose to be led by the Lord and His Word, not man’s opinions and certainly not our own personal feelings. Job’s reminder to make a heartfelt covenant with his eyes most definitely applies to every area of our lives, including the entertainment we choose to watch. (Job 31:1)
A few things to consider… Some will choose to see the movie and simply dismiss it as entertainment. Hopefully this article has helped to address enough issues to make it clear that Star Wars is far from simple amusement. For those who might choose to watch the movie with their families and then point out the errors, you may want to evaluate the most beneficial way to teach about the dangerous errors of doctrine and practice. For example, do we take our children to strip clubs or bars to explain the issues of drunkenness and lust? There may be wisdom at times in engaging head on with particular errors, however involving our children, especially our young children in these engagements, is questionable at best. We also might need to be honest with ourselves, making sure we really want to examine and expose error and not simply find a reason to enjoy a little “entertainment”.
Now what? What to do from here?
Although this article is specific to Star Wars, I hope it encourages readers to remember that all media contains messages, many of which are not made for the purpose of glorifying the Lord. Keep praying and studying God’s Word and continue keeping your ear to the ground. There are always new avenues for the enemy to transport his lies; however the lies are typically not that different. Repackaged? Yes. New and improved? Not really. The basic story in Star Wars is found in many books, movies, and video games. Don’t be afraid to engage your children. Ask them questions. If they have a favorite show, book, or video game, children typically won’t hesitate to tell you everything about it. Be patient and let the Lord work in their hearts and minds as you continue reading the Word and praying with them.
The goal isn’t so much to get believers to stop doing certain things as it is to get them to keep growing in their love for Jesus. As we draw closer to Jesus, we will always begin to see just how destructive this world really is. As the song goes, “Turn your eyes upon Jesus. Look full in His wonderful face. And the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace.” Teach your children to understand and know the Lord by studying His Word and personally praying to Him regularly. (1 John 5:20-21) In doing so they will begin to understand they’re not giving anything up by letting go of this world. After all, it’s difficult to cling to Jesus when both hands are full of the world. But when we see the glory and splendor of our King, how can we do anything less than hold tightly to Him with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength? Ultimately, no matter what the influence, it should always boil down to one simple thing… love Jesus more, and love the world less.
“For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, has shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” 2 Corinthians 4:6
A few helpful resource article links: (While the information in the articles below is helpful, we are not necessarily endorsing everything from these ministries. As always, we are all responsible for searching the Scriptures, as well as examining the avenues of Satan’s lies for ourselves.)