PRODUCER: Do you have a new movie for me?
SCREENWRITER: Yes, sir. This is gonna be gold, trust me. It’s an adaptation of a steamy romance novel set on the western frontier.
PR: What? You do know our company is called Pure Flix, right? Not Impure Flix.
SW: No, it’s a Christian novel.
PR: A “steamy” Christian novel?
PR: . . .
SW: What is it?
PR: I’m trying to find a multiverse where “steamy” and “Christian” belong together. Those terms aren’t exactly bedfellows.
SW: But our main characters are, if you know what I mean. [winks]
SW: Well, the female protagonist is a prostitute.
PR: Okay, this is not your best movie pitch, I gotta tell you.
SW: It’s a redemptive story, though.
PR: How so?
SW: Well, it’s called Redeeming Love. So…
PR: Oh, I see. It’s right there in the title: “Redeeming.”
SW: Yeah, and it’s sold over three million copies since its publication in 1991. It’s really popular with the Christian ladies. It could make us a ton of money!
PR: In that case, I guess I can take a look at the script.
SW: Yeah, it’s a love story inspired by the book of Hosea.
PR: You mean, from the Bible? About the prophet named Hosea who was commanded by God to marry a sexually promiscuous woman named Gomer?
SW: That’s the one—only in the movie, her name is Angel, and she is forced into prostitution at a young age.
PR: Oh no!
SW: Yeah, life’s basically thrown everything but a feral prairie dog at her, so the audience will feel super empathetic—what with her poor, miserable, wretched life.
PR: But that’s fairly incongruous with the story of Hosea, where Gomer is kinda playing the part of the antagonist.
SW: Sure, but this isn’t the literal book of Hosea. I mean, it’s a fictional story.
PR: I’m confused.
SW: That’s because you haven’t heard the story yet.
PR: Okay, fine. Tell me the story.
SW: Like I said, Angel’s been mistreated her whole life, and she ends up as a prostitute. Then this man named Hosea—
PR: Hey, that’s the name of the prophet!
SW: Exactly, sir. Remember, this is an allegory.
PR: But you just said…
SW: Anyway, this guy named Hosea—he goes into town one day, sees Angel, and immediately wants to marry her.
PR: Oh, love at first sight?
SW: I mean, kinda. God basically tells him he’s gonna marry Angel.
PR: Oh, really?
SW: Yeah. So he pays double price to spend time with Angel.
PR: Whoa, whoa, whoa. We can’t have that in a Christian movie.
SW: No, he just wants to talk with Angel. To, you know, get to know her as a person.
PR: Oh, okay.
SW: So he goes to see Angel, and she’s just standing there fully naked—
PR: Whoa, whoa, whoa! Why is she stark naked? We can’t have that in a Christian movie.
SW: What can I say? I mean, it’s a brothel. It’s basically like a nudist colony, right?
PR: I’m pretty sure prostitutes aren’t naked all the time.
SW: Well, we’ll just…frame the shot so certain parts of her body are blocked from view. How’s that?
PR: Fair enough.
SW: So Hosea tells Angel she’s going to be his wife because God says so.
PR: Really? He just out and says it?
SW: Sure. I mean, haven’t high school kids been doing that to their crushes for, like, forever?
PR: Oh, good point.
SW: Exactly. So Hosea spends a ton of money to spend time talking with Angel. He woos her with his prophecies about their upcoming marriage, and after he badgers her for a long time—
PR: He badgers her? So she’s not interested at all?
SW: Not a lick.
PR: I’m sorry, this doesn’t really sound like the book of Hosea.
SW: No, this is a work of fiction.
PR: But you said—
SW: Anyway, after a lot of convincing, Angel finally agrees to be his wife and he takes her to his farm.
PR: Well, shucks. That sounds like a fairly short movie to me.
SW: No, it’s not over yet. The best part’s coming.
PR: Oh, really?
SW: Yeah, yeah, yeah. After Hosea finally gains Angel’s confidence, the two start getting…intimate.
PR: Intimate? How so?
SW: [nods mischievously]
PR: You mean…like they finally have an open and honest discussion by a warm fire or something?
SW: No, I mean…intimate.
PR: You mean…like snuggling next to a warm fire?
PR: Oh, you mean like a romantic…
PR: …candle-lit dinner?
SW: No! There is no fire and no candle!
PR: So, they…eat a romantic dinner in the dark?
SW: No, I’m not talking about “dinner table” intimacy, I’m talking about “bedroom” intimacy.
PR: But why would they take their dinner to bed?
SW: There’s no dinner! Forget dinner. There’s no food whatsoever!
PR: You’re going to have them go to bed without any dinner? How is that intimate?
SW: [takes a deep breath] As a husband and wife, they enjoy what husbands and wives enjoy…you know, when they’re…husband and wife. Alone. With no one else around to watch (except for the audience, in this case).
PR: . . .
SW: . . .
PR: Oh! Now I understand.
PR: They start kissing, and then we cut to them covered and snuggling afterward. That’s sweet. And props to you for giving a positive portrayal of marriage and all.
SW: No, they start kissing, but that’s only the beginning.
PR: The beginning of what?
SW: We’ll spend, like, a couple whole minutes watching them kiss and take each other’s clothes off and fondle and copulate and—
PR: What the cuss?!
SW: Uh, did you just say “what the cuss”?
PR: This is poo on a stick!
SW: What is?
PR: This whole load of hooey you’re trying to sell me! There’s no way in Sheol we’re going to actually show two characters getting intimate onscreen.
SW: But they’re married. It’s totally legit.
PR: Who would even agree to do that?! It’s not like Christian actors are standing in line waiting to shoot nude or sex scenes. You won’t get Kirk Cameron or Neil McDonough—
SW: Okay, so we’ll…get an intimacy coordinator. That’s all the rage these days, right?
PR: That doesn’t change the fact that you’re pitching a Christian film with onscreen sex. What’s gotten into that hip, edgy brain of yours?
SW: Look, consider this: all the film’s sex scenes—
PR: All of them? You’re planning on multiple sex scenes?!
SW: No, no, no. Only, like, two. And they’ll both involve just the main characters—who, I might point out, are married. And unless someone edited the Bible lately… [picks Bible off of producer’s desk and blows thick layer of dust off of it]
PR: [embarrassed] Sorry, I’ve not read that copy lately.
SW: . . . Where is Proverbs? Aren’t the books in alphabetical order?
PR: No, Proverbs is in the Wisdom Literature section.
SW: Where is that? Is it reverse alphabetical order?
A few minutes later…
SW: Here it is! Hiding right there in the middle. Strange. Okay, Proverbs 5:19. “As a loving hind and a graceful doe, let her breasts satisfy you at all times; be exhilarated always with her love.” I’m basically using that as a script for one of the scenes. This movie is, after all, based on the Bible.
PR: Wait, you just said—
SW: This isn’t illicit sex we’re talking about. It’s married sex. The best kind. The kind that any woman would want to drag her husband and children to the theater to watch together.
PR: Married sex isn’t supposed to be a spectator sport!
SW: Look, we’re not gonna be filming real sex. It’s just simulated. Nothing really happens.
PR: Oh. So, even the kissing will be a special effect?
SW: No, they’ll be kissing for real.
PR: So them taking off their clothes will be a special effect?
SW: No. They’ll take their clothes off.
PR: So the fondling will be a special effect?
SW: No, he’ll really be touching her.
PR: So the thrusting will be fake?
SW: Why would that need to be fake? It’ll be real thrusting.
PR: So when you say, “Nothing happens,” you really mean…everything happens.
SW: No, nothing does happen. I mean, they don’t actually…“do the do.”
PR: But they do do everything else leading up to “the do,” which they simulate with thrusting?
SW: Right. Non-sexual thrusting.
PR: When is thrusting not sexual? When are fondling and thrusting not sexual?
SW: When it’s acting? I mean, the actors we’ll hire probably won’t be in an actual relationship.
PR: So, if two people aren’t in an actual relationship, any intimate activities they engage in are magically unsexual?
SW: Not when you put it like that. But in this case, yes. None of the sex will be actually real. It’s simply actors doing everything married couples do (except the “final act,” of course) in front of a camera, with footage that will be considered by audiences to be hot and steamy. Only a prude would consider that sexual. It’s not real.
PR: Is your brain even real?
SW: Okay, let’s take a step back. I think we’re losing perspective. The whole point of this movie—the whole point—is to be redemptive, right?
PR: [Takes a deep breath] I suppose. I mean, it’s in the title.
SW: Right. Exactly. So, in order to redeem this movie, we need to show audiences just how hot and steamy married sex can be.
PR: We need to do that?
SW: Yes! If Hollywood wants to take us down the road of porn-inspired content, we’ll turn the tables with our Christian sex scenes—but with the actors’ critical body parts strategically blocked.
PR: Wait. So the actors won’t be naked?
SW: That’s not what I mean. The actors will be in various stages of undress, but we won’t see it. That’s all that matters, right? Who cares if the actors have to actually get naked on set and touch each other in…“Proverbs 5:19” places? We won’t see any full nudity ourselves. By placing his hands on her, the actor will be protecting the sexual well-being of the audience.
PR: But not his sexual wellbeing—or hers, for that matter.
SW: That’s just the thing. Instead of getting professing Christians to play the roles of Angel and Hosea, we’ll get people who won’t put up a fuss. It’ll be perfect. I’m sure we can find actors who lack a scriptural sexual ethic. That’s the ideal recipe for shooting godly sex scenes that will whack people over the head with the good news of steamy love.
PR: You mean “redeeming” love?
SW: Right. What did I say?
PR: [sighs] What about the other sex scene?
SW: What about it?
PR: Can they keep their clothes on for that one?
SW: Ah, a compromise. I can dig it. Sure, we’ll choreograph it so the actors can remain basically fully clothed. It’ll be so pure, it’ll rock the audience’s socks off!
PR: [holds up a warning finger] Keep those socks on – we have enough clothes coming off in this project already.
SW: Will do, sir. You’re the boss.
PR: And I don’t want the male protagonist’s first name to be Hosea. This story just isn’t a very accurate allegory.
SW: Okay, we can call him…Mike. Or Michael.
SW: Yeah, Michael Hosea.
PR: [sigh] I guess that will work.
SW: Good! Oh, and I just had another great thought.
PR: [winces] What?
SW: You know that fully clothed sex scene?
PR: . . .Yeah?
SW: We can use a screenshot of that scene for the official movie poster.
This is an edited version of a post that originally appeared at Cap Stewart’s blog Unpop Culture, and is reprinted here with permission. Cap is also the author of the online curriculum Personal Purity Isn’t Enough: The Long-Forgotten Secret to Making Scriptural Entertainment Choices, and has contributed to numerous print and online publications, including Zondervan Academic, The Christian Post, and The Gospel Coalition.