Should Christians watch movies like those in the Saw franchise?
So what is so redeeming about the Saw franchise?
First, but absolutely least, the series is pretty well thought out. It actually has a point besides thrills and chills. For those of you unfamiliar, the series follows John Kramer, a.k.a. “Jigsaw”, a notorious serial killer who really hasn’t killed anyone. He places people in traps, which force them to face their sin and battle for their life. If they succeed in escaping the trap, they should have a new appreciation for life and be rehabbed from their wrong doing. They will, however, pay a heavy price… in blood. The entire plot is much more complicated, but (if your conscience allows) can watch the series for yourself.
Here’s why I think the series has redeeming value:
- The theme of redemption runs deep throughout the series. Jigsaw’s true motivation is for people to redeem their past and experience a rebirth–a rebirth through violence that forces the person to face their past. This is the heart of the gospel–rebirth through violence that puts the past to death. The main difference: Jigsaw wants people to do so for themselves. The gospel shows that Jesus does so for us.
- The series shows you cannot save yourself. Although Jigsaw’s methods are, well, pretty insane, he does want people to save themselves. Yet, if you’ve watched the series, you know that no one ends up “saved.” In the first movie, Cary Elwes’ character crawls off, having sawed off his foot. We still don’t know his fate, but it can be assumed that he bled to death (it is, however, totally possible to bring him back into the series… I wouldn’t be surprised). Jigsaw’s apprentice Amanda escaped her first trap, but she fails to save herself in her ultimate test in Saw III. Almost everyone else (with a rare exception) fails to pass their test, and thus dies. This is the essence of the gospel–we cannot save ourselves. We cannot atone for our own sins. We cannot pay for our past. Only God through Jesus’ death and resurrection can do that.
- Judgment is certain. You can be certain that if you live in Jigsaw’s general vicinity, he will find you and you will suffer judgment if he deems you worthy of judgment. Thus it is with us and God. Judgment is certain. The Bible tells us that all people will have to “give an account” of their lives before God. Make no mistake, judgment is certain.
- Salvation requires blood. The Saw series certainly is bloody. Those in Jigsaw’s traps must shed blood if they hope to find redemption. But as we’ve seen, nothing we do ourselves can save us. Jesus’ horrific, bloody death on the cross, however, has provided the means to save us. In God’s economy, blood is required to forgive sin. Jesus, the perfect God/man sacrifice, spilled his blood so that mankind could find forgiveness and redemption with God.
Are the parallels perfect? Of course not. But they do serve as conversation starters with those who do not know Jesus. That’s another reason we need to be intentional about what we watch. We must be discerning in what we watch (sorry guys, you can’t justify watching porn by saying, “It shows how sexuality has been degraded”), but we must also be intentional in that we’re looking for ways to speak the truth of the gospel in relevant ways to those who don’t know Jesus.
So for those of you who don’t feel you can watch this series, good for you. Go pop some popcorn and watch the game. For those of you who feel you can, be discerning and certain of your conscience, pop some popcorn and go “play a game.”