Mel Gibson and King David

What are we to do about Mel Gibson? By now, you’ve all heard about his DUI and his anti-Semitic statements during his arrest. It appeared that Mel had committed the unpardonable sin in Hollywood and I know I sort of waited for the condemnations to come. Put that thought on hold for a minute.This weekend I taught on II Samuel 5, the installation of David as king over the northern tribes of Israel. This placed David as the sovereign over a united kingdom in Israel. Frankly, as we had gone all the way through I Samuel to get here, I anticipated David’s arrival on the throne as the pinnacle of this part of the story. And yet it gets very few verses; four total. Then the author tells us about David moving his capital from Hebron to Jerusalem. Jerusalem was held by the Jebusites at the time and so there was a battle to take the walled city. Again, only two verses dedicated to this battle and only a few more to David’s building project. Then we hear about how a foreign king gifted a palace to David. The entire thing occupies one verse. The biggest part of the chapter is two battles with the Philistines but even there the details are scant.

When we read II Samuel, we’re expecting David’s success to be the high point of the story but it isn’t. The author will slow down narrative time for the next two events; the return of the Ark and the establishment of the Davidic covenant. David’s seat on the throne of all of Israel is only a step in the progress of the story but I know I anticipated it to be the high point.

And now Mel has taken a tumble in a way that should have ruined him in Hollywood. But it hasn’t. Mel came out immediately and confessed and apologized for his hateful words. No blame-game, just confession. Back to Mel. When we look at Mel’s career, we might think that he arrived when he did the Lethal Weapon series and Mad Max II and III. These were big hits for him. Then there were Braveheart and The Patriot. These were more mature films for Mel and ones where we got to seem him really act. He won two Oscars for Braveheart. Surely this is it for Mel, this is success!

When Mel made The Passion of the Christ, there were naysayers and critics. A film in a foreign language wouldn’t make it. The subject matter was too controversial. The film had an anti-Semitic tone. The conventional wisdom in Hollywood was that religious films flopped. Religious people were to be made fun of and religious themes ignored or parodied. Mel made the Passion with his own money and it did well. Very well. Suddenly Hollywood is awakened to an audience who want to see religious movies.

And now Mel has taken a tumble in a way that should have ruined him in Hollywood. But it hasn’t. Mel came out immediately and confessed and apologized for his hateful words. No blame-game, just confession. The Anti Defamation League has condemned his words and forgiven him for them. A Jewish man he has worked with and been friends with has come out and defended Mel. He explained that Mel is not a racist but he is an alcoholic. Jodie Foster has come to Mel’s aid and defended him. Now Patrick Swazye is coming to bat for him. When Hollywood would be expected to stone Mel, they seem to be embracing him.

Like David, we might have assumed that earthly, temporal success was Mel’s high point. But it wasn’t. I think Mel Gibson’s success has been in making the Passion and then living like a Christian before the world. Mel is in the spotlight because he is so successful and what we see Mel Gibson doing now is confessing and asking for forgiveness. This is a form of humility that the world is not used to seeing in famous people. It isn’t a media stunt or Mel’s friends wouldn’t be defending him, he’d be defending himself.

David has a similar experience. Four chapters after God establishes his covenant with David, we see David commit adultery and murder. When David is found out, he doesn’t hide or blame someone else (you can hear it now, “Well, what was she doing bathing on the roof near the palace?”). Instead David repents and fasts. He spends the night begging God for mercy on his son but in the end is willing to accept whatever the Lord does.

As Michael Collender of St. Anne’s Pub gives us wise words about Mel. He reminds us that God’s greatest spokesmen all make colossal mistakes right out in the open. God is glorified in those who screw up and repent. David and Peter are two examples that come to mind. God only has one perfect spokesman, Jesus Christ, His Son. Of course, there will be people who will refuse to forgive Mel. They will not believe his confession and repentance. Mostly, these people have never experienced repentance. They tend to believe that they have never done anything wrong and therefore have never been forgiven and therefore cannot forgive others. But Christians need to forgive Mel. We need to call his sin a sin and then accept his repentance.

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  • Farther Steps,

    I know this may be an odd request but do you still posess and can I read a copy of your paper defending Premillenialism? i would prefer the longer version. i am going back and forth mysel between amillenialism and Pre. and thought your paper sounded interesting. thanks Cbristian

  • Sorry Christian, I don’t have a paper like that. I used to be amill but have become more of a soft historic premil. I couldn’t really defend a premill position very well right now.

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