April 11, 2011 by Stacy McDonald

Soul Surfer: Beaches, Bikinis, and…Bibles?

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The following review refers only to the Hollywood movie, Soul Surfer. It is not a critique of the real Bethany Hamilton, her testimony, or her ministry to others.

Soul Surfer, the popular new movie produced by secular group TriStar Pictures, is all the rage this week. Heavily marketed to Christians, the film tells the dramatic story of 13-year-old Bethany Hamilton (played by 17-year-old AnnaSophia Rob), a Christian teen surfer in Hawaii who lost her arm in 2003 after a shark attack. Soul Surfer demonstrates Bethany’s courageous journey back into daily life, particularly surfing the waves she desperately loves.

While the film makes it clear that Bethany is a Christian, the story seems to focus most heavily on her strong will, and determination and passion for surfing. As an example, arriving late for a seaside church service, Bethany throws a cover-up over her wet bikini, and takes a seat. As family and friends finish singing “Blessed Be Your Name,” Bethany continues to gaze out over the ocean, seeming to long for the waves. One of the first questions she asks her father after the accident is, “When can I surf again?”

Family Topics

In a day when the dysfunctional family is portrayed in movies and television as “the norm,” the Hamilton’s close-knit, loving family is refreshing. However, Bethany displays character issues that, for the most part, seem to go unaddressed by her parents. After breaking her commitment to go on a mission trip, so that she can train for a surfing competition, Bethany complains to her mother that her youth pastor (Carrie Underwood) is trying to make her feel guilty for not going. Her mother’s expression shows some disapproval; however, rather than discuss with Bethany the problem with broken promises, she tells the young teen, “It’s your call.”

All children sin, so, we should expect to see sin dealt with in the story of any “real” family. But I have to wonder if the movie accurately portrayed Bethany’s real interaction with her parents. Bethany and her best friend, Alana, dressed only in skimpy bikinis, sneak out one night while the family is sleeping to attend a beach party where there is lots of partying, older boys, music, bikinis, moonlight, and midnight fireworks.

The next morning, when Mom says something that indicates that she knows the girls snuck out, Bethany answers simply, “Sorry, Mom; but, I really wanted to go night surfing.”

Bethany’s mom asks her daughter why she didn’t just ask. Dad, seeming to side with Bethany, walks by and casually says, “Because she knew you’d say no.” Bethany questions her mother, “Would you have let me go?” Mom falters, “No…I don’t know.” The lack of fatherly protection from Bethany’s Christian dad, as portrayed in this scene, is disappointing, giving the impression that “cool” parents are hands-off in their approach toward their teenaged children.

Even though Bethany is only 13 years old, we see no repercussions from this incident; instead, everyone heads out the door with a cheerful kiss and goodbye. There is no discussion of danger, no talk of deception, no rebuke, and no consequence.

Skin Surfer

The immodesty throughout the film is significant, as nearly the entire movie takes place on the beach where most of the women wear skimpy swimwear and the men go shirtless. The surfing scenes are particularly problematic as bikini-clad surfers are filmed curving around the waves from various compromising angles.

Though there are no “sex scenes,” the nearly constant display of beautiful, tan, near-naked young Hollywood actresses still make sex an issue. If a man would find it difficult not to lust sitting at a crowded beach watching beautiful women in bikinis walk by, then he will probably have a hard time with this movie.

Pornography is a real issue and men who are struggling with this sin know the importance of avoiding giving provision to the flesh.

But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts. (Romans 13:14)

It is important to recognize that we live in a sex-saturated culture. Many men, Christian men, struggle daily with internet pornography. For instance, Promise Keepers conducted a survey after one of their stadium events, and one of the most troubling discoveries was that over 50% of the men in attendance admitted to being involved with pornography within one week after attending the event. Many men and boys (and some women), even those without pornography issues, may find this movie a stumbling block.

In one scene, Bethany’s best friend, Alana Blanchard (played by 20-year-old Lorraine Nicholson), poses in a string bikini for a photo shoot, something Bethany was scheduled to be involved in too, before the accident. Alana strikes various sultry poses, as the male photographer snaps pictures of her with her surf board, telling her how beautiful she is. A group of admiring teen boys stands in the sidelines watching, offering cat calls, which Alana seems to welcome. Afterward, she changes her bikini on the beach behind a couple of towels held up by friends, while the young men look on.

After the accident, Bethany has to learn to do everything with only one arm. One brief scene shows her from behind, with a close-up of her bare back, struggling to tie her bikini. While this surely shows one of the many new struggles in her life, was it really necessary to portray her challenges in this way? Does anyone wonder if this might be problematic for just about any boy or man watching?

The Message

At youth group, Bethany’s youth pastor tries to encourage the kids by quoting Jeremiah 29:11 (one of only two Scripture verses mentioned in the movie). She uses the NIV version, which says, “For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.” Bethany seems to grasp this message.

Bethany’s life appears to be going just the way she wants: Sunshine, surfing, and good times with friends and family. “Can you believe we get to do this every day?” Then tragedy strikes.

As a mother, my heart sunk the terrible moment Bethany was attacked by the shark. I felt the panic when Bethany’s mother dropped the phone on the ground and raced to get to the hospital. I experienced her father’s pain when he heard the news that it was in fact his daughter who had been attacked by a shark. I suffered the crushing fear as the emergency room doors shut on Bethany’s mother and family as doctors scrambled to save Bethany’s life.

Though much of the acting was mediocre, the entire rescue scene was very well done and was, in my opinion, the best part of the movie. I had to remind myself that Bethany was going to live.

Again, two Scripture verses are mentioned in the movie. The first verse was quoted by the youth pastor before the attack, and the second verse is mentioned by Bethany’s father. While Bethany lay recovering in the hospital after the accident, she asks her father when she can surf again. He encourages her with Philippians 4:13. However, it’s worth mentioning that he quotes a Bible version that uses “Him” instead of “Christ.” He smiles at Bethany and says, “You can do all things through ‘Him’ who gives you strength.”

During her first attempt to compete after the accident, Bethany wipes out and has to be pulled to shore. She tells her father, “I can’t do this any more.” She seems to be quitting surfing for good, as she gives her surf boards away to some little girls who ask for her autograph. Her father is upset by her decision; however, her mother seems relieved, wanting Bethany to realize that there is more to life than surfing.

Bethany winds up going on another mission trip with her youth group. As she sees the terrible suffering of tsunami victims in Southeast Asia, she appears to begin to see beyond herself. One woman tearfully describes to Bethany what her village has been through and how she’s lost everything. Bethany gets choked up and walks away from the scene. Her youth pastor (Underwood) tells her, “Don’t be sorry for compassion – it can move you to do amazing things.”

It seems Bethany is beginning to understand that “surfing isn’t the most important thing in the world.” But, when she gets home, she decides to surf again; presumably, after reading letters from those who have been inspired by her example, she wants to inspire the handicapped, or those who have been through difficult trials.

However, in the movie, the message seems to be if she can do it, so can they, rather than directing them to the Source of her strength, a relationship with Her Savior. At this point, if the movie was intended to show Bethany’s Christian faith, it would have been easy to make clear. Perhaps quoting another Bible verse would have been appropriate: “For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (II Corinthians 12:10).

While one could certainly get caught up in the emotional drama of this powerful story, we need to try to evaluate the “film” for what it is, which is simply a Hollywood movie “based on a true story.” Soul Surfer was certainly “inspiring,” in the same way other “tragedy to triumph” stories are inspiring (see Ice Castles); but, it was not the Christian faith-builder it’s been promoted to be.

While Soul Surfer pointed to family, kindness, and determination, it did not point to Jesus. There was no Gospel or redemptive message in the movie. For the record, I don’t think a movie has to be produced by Christians, or be about Christians, to glorify God. At the same time, I think it can be produced by Christians, even be about Christians, and still fail to glorify God.

A secular movie review I read didn’t seem to even realize there was supposed to be a “Christian message,” and acknowledged what so many Christians are failing to see, that Soul Surfer has the typical “athlete-overcomes-obstacle story line.” If the secular crowd doesn’t even notice or acknowledge a Christian message, then how exactly is Jesus getting the glory?

Regardless of Bethany Hamilton’s true life and testimony, the movie depicts a determined young girl, with a supportive family and friends, who refuses to give up her dream of surfing. I saw only brief nods to Christianity, even during deeply emotional scenes. Except for Bethany’s faint cry for help from Jesus as she is losing blood and being raced to the hospital, no one ever prays or speaks of Christ. The only other prayer that takes place in the movie is when the Hamilton family says grace before a meal (at Bethany’s prompting).

At the end of the movie, when asked by a reporter if she wished now that she had never gone surfing that day, I’m not sure what I expected Bethany to say. But with all the hype about the movie being a powerful “Christian testimony,” I guess I expected something distinctly…well, Christian. What Bethany said could have been said by a girl of any religion, “I can embrace more people with one arm than I ever could with two.”

Bethany also says, “If you have faith, anything is possible.” Most religions would agree with this as well. Some will ponder the object of her faith; but, how many will miss it all together?

It seems, too often, Hollywood uses Christians for free marketing. If they can produce a movie that shows enough flesh to sell in the secular market, all they have to do is convince the Christians that it has a godly message and we’ll find a way to excuse the immodesty.

First, they’ll need a good moving story (we Christians like to cry…thinking like a movie promoter here). If they can find a story where someone does an amazing good deed, or an athlete (we love our sports too) becomes a hero by overcoming some huge obstacle–especially if it’s true­–they’ve hit the jackpot. Now all they have to do is throw us a few bones to make it “Christian” enough for us to tell our friends and buy the tickets.

In the case of Soul Surfer, all they needed were two verses, a female youth pastor, a worship song, and the flash of a Bible. Throw in a deeply moving (true) story about a sweet Christian girl who pulls herself up by her bootstraps (or bikini straps) and we’re hooked.

[Note: I don’t believe that Scripture has to be used in a film in order for God to be glorified. I also don’t think a movie has to present the Gospel, talk about Jesus, or be about a Christian family. However, Christian groups seem to use the fact that Hollywood threw us a few bones in Soul Surfer as a reason for calling it a “Christian film” and using it as a “ministry tool.”

As Christians, we should think a little deeper than this…

Lifeway Christian Stores is now selling “Soul Surfer Church Kits,” complete with ready-made sermons and Powerpoint presentations!]

Double Standard

Anyone raising daughters today knows what a challenge it is to teach them to be modest and discreet in our sexually charged culture. Instead of baby dolls, hopscotch, and storybooks, today’s little girls have push-up bras (for 7-year-olds); teen sex symbols who act more like strippers than role models (on the Disney Channel, no less), and kiddy pole dancing classes. One obsessed mother even gives her 8-year-old daughter regular Botox injections to keep her “looking young.” Hollywood continues to sexualize young girls and Christians continue to watch it…and give their money to perpetuate it.

I take seriously the charge to teach my daughters to be chaste; and chastity includes modesty (1 Timothy 2:9, Titus 2:4-5). I want them to know that it’s important that we live out our theology practically and faithfully. So, what message do you think we’re sending our daughters if we promote a film that totally disregards modesty and treats Bethany as a glamorized spiritual role model?

Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ. (1 Corinthians 11:1)

I received the following from one of my daughters expressing her frustration with this very issue:

Mom, I don’t understand. Parents tell their daughters they’re supposed to dress modestly, and then they go crazy over this movie, proving that modesty isn’t really all that important to them. It’s like girls at church are supposed to be modest, but it’s OK for boys at church to watch girls who are practically naked, as long as it’s in a movie. Modesty is either important or it’s not. If boys aren’t moved by a girl in a bikini, then what are they moved by? And why do I have to dress modestly?

I have to agree with her. The double standard is glaring. We send a conflicted message if we ask our daughters to dress modestly and then take their brothers to watch girls parade around in bikinis (the equivalent of their bra and underwear) for nearly two hours, and call that an awesome testimony. What this models is hypocrisy, and our girls will get this message loud and clear. Either modesty is important or it’s not. Scripture doesn’t change because a good movie comes out.

Christians may not all agree on what is “modest”; but, at what point do we call something nakedness? Can we get any more naked than a bikini without being completely nude? As I’ve shared, raising chaste daughters in today’s culture isn’t an easy task. Therefore, we Christians need to support one another, so that our testimony is consistent, and so that God is glorified in our midst. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we jointly promoted purity and loveliness in all areas of life – including our entertainment choices?

When we teach young women to be chaste, they should expect us to be consistent with it ourselves. Soul Surfer contradicts what many are trying to teach their daughters…and their sons—what Christians are called to teach their children.

Soul Surfer could have been a good, family-friendly film, even without a distinctly “Christian” message. If it hadn’t been for the lack of clothing, my husband and I would have been happy to take our children to see it; we’re used to discussing worldview with them, and pointing out problematic scenes in movies. I even thought the shark scene was done tastefully enough for our younger children to see. Afterward, we could have discussed how when we are weak, God is strong; and how the real Bethany has a great opportunity to proclaim God’s goodness. However, because of the almost constant nakedness, I can’t recommend it to anyone.

Slapping a catchy “Christian” label on something doesn’t make it “Christian.” Likewise, a movie can glorify God without ever actually mentioning Christ’s name. Sadly, in my opinion, Soul Surfer fails to do either.

Click HERE for Part 2 of Beaches, Bikinis, and…Bibles?. In Part 2 of this series, Carmon Friedrich addresses the way Hollywood and other media outlets exploit the Christian market, and how Christians can exercise discernment about this ploy to plunder their pocketbooks while undermining their principles.

Download a free copy of Pastor Jeff Pollard’s excellent booklet Christian Modesty and the Public Undressing of America.

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118 Responses to “Soul Surfer: Beaches, Bikinis, and…Bibles?”

  1. ThankfulMom says:

    THANK YOU!!!!! for writing this! We had seen a preview clip and knew that it was one movie OFF of our list for watching. Another disturbing thing that we saw was a post by the Courageous film makers encouraging people to go and see Soul Surfer as they have a preview of their movie (Courageous) at the end. :(

  2. alH says:

    Thanks Stacy. Disappointing but not unexpected, after having seen a preview.

    One may wonder why Christians would ‘sign off’ on such a wrong rendering of a true story… I suspect that often the movie makers manipulate the unsuspecting by persuading them that “this is the way to bigger box office receipts, which will mean more income for your ministry or favorite charity.” It is the way of the world.

  3. Jason says:

    Great review! Thanks, Stacy!

  4. Kim d'Escoto says:

    Thank you for putting prayer, thought, and time into this great article, Stacy. You saved many people the price of a movie ticket. I will be sharing this!

  5. Jeremiah says:

    While I don’t agree with the attire of the female characters in the film, I just wanted to point out that it is the attire that Bethany herself wears in real life as someone who identifys herself as a Christian.

    (you may have known this, but I can see how people would assume the attire was added in by “Hollywood”)

  6. Briana L. says:

    Thank you so much for this review. I’ve heard a lot of great reviews about this movie and even ladies at church talking about how good it was. As a mother of a 13 yr old boy and 9 yr old daughter, I think that I will have to pass on this movie based on the modesty issue.

  7. Martha Artyomenko says:

    I am sure that alot of people enjoying the movie are used to seeing that in a beach movie, as most Christians I know, do not see anything immodest about a bikini. Thank you for the review. I do not normally go to see movies, but sometimes we rent them later.

  8. Terry says:

    Thanks for taking the time to thoroughly review and discuss this movie. We made the decision to take our daughters (15, 17, 20) to this movie (thinking we were promoting a Christian movie) and we have had much insightful and thought provoking conversation since. We, too, can see God’s creation revealed in non-Christian movies but He was not glorified in this movie. Much can be learned about perseverance from Bethany’s story, but her faith in God as Her source of strength was not portrayed. And due to the clothing worn we would never recommend it to a young man to see. My husband said that he hardly noticed the bikinis except when they were flaunted, and they were flaunted in three scenes, and that is simply because the surfing and storyline held his attention, but he also has no problem with pornography. Unfortunately with so many men having issues the safest route is to not put it in front of their eyes. Bethany’s faith in surfing was the main message. Thanks again!

  9. Thank you for reviewing this movie. My husband and I were subjected to the preview when we went to see the movie Grace Card a few weeks ago. I honestly didn’t know it was supposed to be a Christian movie, based on that preview. We just knew it was something we wouldn’t watch.

  10. Michelle says:

    Thank you for posting this! This movie is another version of secular Christianity- the watered-down kind that Hollywood thinks (knows) will be accepted by the public. There are many movies out that advertise themselves as being ‘family friendly’ or Christian that I personally think lack Biblical values. I’m also glad to see that I’m not the only person that had an issue with a movie that was touted as being so Christian but had LOTS of skin in it. I already knew just by the ads that I wouldn’t be able to take my son to it. I hear so many people say “well, everyone does it, it’s just life”- that’s just desensitizing us all to the things that God may not approve of.

  11. gail says:

    Throughout much of the movie I was thinking just how hard it would be in that beach culture to get the real message out about the Messiah and His true way to live. It seemed like such a foreign culture to me and I kept thinking that we need missionaries there to spread the Good News!

  12. Ayla Stewart says:

    Thank you for this post. I was planning on taking my children to see this film if it ever came to our small town, but now I know to spend the money somewhere else. Thanks!

  13. Carmon says:

    Gail, there is a pastor in Santa Cruz whose children are now grown, but when they were teenagers, they wanted to surf. Their wise Christian parents knew that the surfing culture could cause them to lose their children to the world, and they also knew that there was a great ministry there, so they welcomed young people to their home and began a Bible study with them that led many of them to deep faith in Christ. They made their home a place of ministry and hospitality. Now the ocean in Santa Cruz is COLD so surfers probably wore a lot more clothing, but being a missionary doesn’t mean dressing like the natives. I don’t know how this pastor’s children were attired, but I do think it is necessary in such a culture to strongly present the Gospel and make sure it is known as distinct from the worldly feel-good message that is a counterfeit.

  14. Kathy says:

    I heard two segments about this movie on Chris Fabry’s radio program and I wasn’t completely pleased with the manner in which the real problem of immodesty was treated. Sure, we can all rejoice in the way Bethany Hamilton has come back strong, but supporting a movie that Hollywood produces with all its slants and agendas is a different thing altogether. We can support Bethany in many ways other than buying a ticket to her movie. Thank you for pointing out all the parenting issues in the film. Your review is the first I have read to address that and I wouldn’t have known about it otherwise.

  15. Susan Lantz says:

    Thank you for posting this. My husband and I saw the interview on Fox and were thinking about getting it when it came out on DVD. We do not go to the movies but watch them when they finally get out on DVD. I do think that we have to remember that life can not be sheltered from our children. We watch these movies at home so we can discuss the different problems within the movie. That goes for all movies, even the “Christian” ones. I would encourage those people who have reservations about this movie in particular to do so in their home. That way all the problems that were seen in this movie could be gone over in a reasonable way, showing what you do not like and the great parts that are inspirational.

  16. Thanks for this insightful review. I know not to watch the movie now.

  17. Nathan Chilton says:

    Thank you, Stacy, for addressing the serious immodesty in the film and the great hypocrisy of marketing it to Christians as a “Christian” film.

  18. Wow… did we see the same movie?

    I do understand your concerns about films and immodesty, but I personally wasn’t at all offended by Soul Surfer. Bethany Hamilton and her family live in Hawaii… beach culture. This is just the way it is. I don’t think they could’ve told her story without accurately depicting beach culture in the film. Should Bethany wear a bikini in real life? It’s not my place to decide that.

    I felt this movie was incredibly encouraging and the Christian message beautiful. Sure, it was subtle, but I got it loud and clear. You might be interested to read an interview I did with the real-life Sarah Hill about the movie: http://www.titletrakk.com/movie-interviews/sarah-hill-interview-soul-surfer.htm

    She had a lot of great things to say, and it was clear her heart and passion are Christ centered.

    This isn’t a bash at all of your review. You took a lot of time and thought to write it. Bravo on that, but I’m really surprised people are taking issue with this movie. I came away encouraged and uplifted!

  19. I have not seen soul surfer and do not intend to. The preview was sufficient to reveal the intentions of the film. This review you have written is excellent and I thank God for you and your labor in writing it. I did read the site by Bethany Hamilton as found it to be very good, especially here video, “I Am Second”. The truth about Bethany was far beyond the understanding of Tri Star. I trust that your review will keep many from temptation and sin. Thank You.

  20. Thank you so much for this excellent article, Mrs. McDonald! Thank you for standing up for God’s truth and for being such a shining light. It’s so sad how today, due to the way our culture is, things like bikinis, etc. are viewed as normal and ok. Especially considering that women wouldn’t go to town dressed in their undies. Anyway, I could say a lot more, but just wanted to thank you for this fantastic article!

    Keep up the good work!

  21. Christy says:

    Thank you for your review Stacy. I am very conflicted about this movie. My main concerns are with attitude and respect (pertaining to the main character). I saw the preview and felt she was disrespectful to her parents. Anyhow, as a person who grew up around the surf/beach scene, the swimwear and such didn’t cross my mind until later in the preview. Me and my friends/relatives did not think much about swimwear being immodest growing up. It was part of our culture. I think a person who didn’t grow up in a beach area would have a hard time with it, especially those who struggle with pornography. We dress modestly, my children wear board shorts and tops when at the beach, but when I see a man wearing a speedo or a woman wearing a thong, I cringe. We struggle with what to do when we go back home for a visit. I honestly wish I had access to a private beach!

  22. Christy says:

    Excellent review! Thank you! Christians are to emulate Christ, not the world. There is often little concern for modesty among Christians, showing that we are much more aligned with the world on this issue. I don’t feel it’s any of my business how others dress, but I choose to dress modestly, believing my body is for my husband’s enjoyment, and not to be used to attract lingering stares from other men. I choose to wear baggy men’s swimming trunks and a t-shirt over a bathing top to swim, although I could easily wear a bikini. Others wearing bikinis don’t bother me at all, but I am not one of the millions of Christian males struggling with lust over scantily clad women. Immodesty can be a huge stumbling block to these men.

    Bethany has a wonderful story to share. It’s really too bad that they didn’t use a truly Christian film production company to tell her story, such as the church which put out Fireproof and Facing the Giants. They would have kept the focus on God.

    She could have also dressed in a short surf suit, and skipped scenes like the sexy photo shoot. I actually didn’t realize it’s common to surf in a bikini. Maybe the family didn’t realize how the film would turn out, but based on your review, I can certainly see that it could cause a lot of trouble for many. The world laughs at the notion of remaining pure and faithful to one’s (future) spouse. We must protect our eyes from so much in this world. The types of Christians serious about shielding themselves from temptation probably don’t attend many movies anyway, as the offering is so pathetic for family friendly movies. Many American Christians don’t even try to avoid ungodly media, and do not realize just how much they are influenced by it.

  23. lively4Jesus says:

    i’m guessing the book will be much better. i have to agree w/everything you’ve addressed in your review i was going to take my GrandKids to see it, but i think i’ll get the book. After reading her testimony and perusing her website, complete w/The Gospel i’m impressed w/Bethany. It’s too bad, hollyweird had to muck up her story, how sad. =(


  24. Shari says:

    People who aren’t offended by all the skin and immodesty in this movie have probably been desensitized to seeing immodesty on TV and in other movies. Just because beach culture is immodest does not mean we need to subject ourselves to it!

    Thank you for having the courage to write this review.

  25. Heather says:

    Thanks for reviewing this! We were going to take our 10yr old daughter to see this movie after many Christian friends recommended it (not having seen the trailers ourselves). Definitely not happening now! People seem to have become so desensitized by all the “flesh” seen in everything now, & out right disobedience of children portrayed by shows, that even conservative families don’t see a problem w/ what they are watching. Dangerous! Thank you!

  26. Matt M. says:

    I understand many of your opinions here. Just a few questions.

    In a surfer community what are they supposed to wear?
    It only seems like an understandable thought that they would wear swimsuits. Do some of these suits push the line of exposure. Sure. However, If you are honest this is how the surfer community truly dresses. Hollywood, if you will, is only being true to the setting.

    As far as the interactions between the different people. What is wrong with portraying it to reflect what really was occurring in this young womans life?
    Could they have changed the interactions to represent a more “Christian” outlook? Sure, but would it be true to the story? I highly doubt it. I would rather see what really occurred in this persons life than see some cleaned up ‘improved’ version. That is being deceitful for the sake of your own view. The Bible often gives us the gritty events that happened instead of the cleaned up view we would like. David and Bathsheba come to mind.

    Finally, Please would someone show me where the movie company, its advertisers, or someone officially representing the movie portrayed it as a “Christian” movie?
    Everything I’ve seen, heard, and found simply states that the movie was about a young woman who survived through courage and determination. Although a few places did mention that her faith was part of that, it never said that this was more than a simple vein of belief running through the film not a major theme of the film.

    This was a film made by a secular film company for a secular world. Why is anyone surprised by the way the film was executed? Do we need to be aware of the issues in this film? Of course. But people, it’s a movie about surfers. There’s going to be swimsuits. There are going to be women in bikinis. You know why? It happens at a beach. This is what you might call reality.
    Was the focus of the movie on the swimsuits? Or was it only your focus? It seems to me from reading this review and some of the comments that this might be the case.

    I plan on seeing this movie. I will not be watching it because of the swimsuits, women, or anything along those lines. I will be watching it simply because it looks like a good story about a woman who survived a horrific attack. If you are struggling with lust, pornography, or anything along those lines a movie about female surfers is probably not a movie you should be watching. Everyone else should be fine as long as they are mature and aware of the type of film they are watching. It is called self-control.

  27. Mary Johnson says:

    This is the most pathetic review ever. I believe women should be able to dress however they like; be proud of what God gave you. Wear a skimpy swimsuit- nothing says you have to cover up because a man might look at you. Take your young daughters to see this movie- this is clearly some bored housewife who isn’t getting **** desperate for some much needed attention.

  28. Carol Flett says:

    The sign of this age is that people are naked and don’t even know it, and that was talking about the church. With pornography so rampant in the church you would think that pastors would warn against it. but it doesn’t happen much. And it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that a movie about surfing is going have pornographic type temptation.
    How has it happened that we are so callused?

  29. Cody Winton says:

    Great post, Mrs. McDonald!

  30. Diana says:

    I loved the movie. I am a Christian. I thought the movie full of christian values. Just because you have a few people walking around shirtless and wearing a bikini doesn’t mean its not “christian”. I also would like to make a comment on the movie only using two verses from the bible. I thought that was wonderful and inspiring. Soul Surfer had the power of Christianity all over it. What more do you want. This is called life.

  31. Erica Miller says:

    I had been seeing this movie heavily marketed to Christians for a few weeks. When it came out, I read the review on plugged in. They do mention the bikini’s but in the end say something about the inspirational story makes it easy to overlook the immodesty.
    After seeing Christians give it glowing reviews, I have been waiting for someone to point out the obvious problems here. I like what you said about how at what point do we say something is nakedness. Its not just a skirts vs. pants issue. Bathing suits leave little to the imagine, even one pieces. Of course its the norm these days so we can easily become desensitized. Just in the past few years I have awakened to the fact that you cannot be modest in the average bathing suit. Well, I don’t mean to ramble. I know many people will brush this issue aside and believe its no big deal. But it’s nice to know that there are people who see that it is a big deal. Thanks for writing this :)

  32. Sharri says:

    A very well done review. I had originally planned to go and see this, until the trailer came out… (I thought that surfers wore wetsuits? How silly of me!)
    I so agree with your review. Modesty is biblical, and important…for guys, and girls!
    May God bless you as you use your sphere of influence for godliness Stacy!

  33. Colleen Gleason says:

    I really like this review. I have only seen one preview for the movie is was slightly promoted as Christian but had quite a lot of bikini shots in it. That red flagged it to us. The visuals outweighed any kind of message it could have had.
    My husband was stationed in Hawaii while in the Navy. According to his experience there is a MAJOR difference between a one piece swimsuit and the bikini’s worn there. The girls will wear as little as they can get away with. My husband called those postage stamp and a rubberband bikinis.
    That being said our personal opinions about modesty don’t mean a thing. God said something about the issue. While we may not always agree with the exact interpretation we can’t pretend that our bodies are neutral objects that we can clothe however we want to. As Christians we never get a free pass to sin or cause others to sin. Culture should never be an excuse for sin or causing others to fall.

  34. Jenn P says:

    Thank you for a great review! Often, we and even our churches forget what the Bible instructs us!

    Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins. James 4:17

    But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of imuprity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. Ephesians 5:3

  35. Stacy,

    I really appreciate your review of this movie. I have been wanting to say something about it on my blog, but without having seen it myself I didn’t feel comfortable doing a review. When I read yours…I felt led to share it with my readers.

    Thank you for really looking at the details of it and sharing it with us so honestly. I pray that many people will be prevented from viewing it and start thinking before they expose themselves, their husbands, sons or daughters to this type of white washed Christianity.

    God bless you!

    Building Home with Him,

    Mary Joy

  36. Sharon says:

    Thank you Stacy for this review.

    I have not seen the movie (nor do I intend to). The preview was enough for me.

    It was disheartening to see the bare skin and bikinis in the preview as well as photos of Bethany wearing a skimpier dress compared to the secular actors of the film at the red carpet premiere.

    ~I know that some of your readers have commented on this being called ‘life” or ‘reality”, but what happened to glorifying Christ in ALL that we do?

    ~What makes us different than non-Christians if we embrace the very things that should make us different?

    The ‘christian’ world has become so desensitized and so fearful of offending that Christ has been pushed aside so that we do not offend.

    Thank you for sharing your heart and this review Stacy.
    May the Lord continue to bless your ministry.

  37. Sarah says:

    I was sent this review via a friend. I took my 13 year old daughter to see the movie last weekend and although I understand where everyone is coming from with the modesty issue I thought I would add a positive that came from my daughter after watching the movie and also she read the book. We saw the movie on Saturday and after Church on Sunday my daughter told me she needed to tell me something. Turning down the radio she turns to me with tears in her eyes and said “Mom, after reading about Bethany Hamilton and her faith, I want to become closer to God” she also said ” Mom, you know the part in the Mass when the priest holds up the Eucharist and we pray the Lamb of God? Well today at mass I saw Jesus. I knew he was really there and I was so excited to receive Him.” So with that being said I Thank Bethany Hamilton for allowing her story to be told and sharing it, because if she touched my daughter how many other girls has she touched. I am proud of her and more so my daughter for realizing that there was more to the story than Bikini’s and Beaches.

  38. Mandy Mom says:

    Some time ago, a friend of ours asked if we would preview a movie with him. It had yet to come out to theaters, but the makers of this “Christian movie” had sent a demo out to many churches, mostly to the youth pastors, encouraging them to promote the movie and ask their theaters to feature it. Tickets had to be pre-sold, and once so many were sold, the cinemas would feature it.

    Many churches/youth groups took their youth to it. The movie was titled “To Save a Life” (I have seen them promoting this movie, Soul Surfer, on their facebook.)

    And, while it did have a good message, I couldn’t believe how scantily dressed the girls were. And, I was surprised people would take their youth to the movie. If I recall correctly, it had a sex scene in it. (One of the characters ended up getting pregnant, desiring to abort her baby, and had a change of heart right before she entered the building thanks to a young Christian girl standing outside the abortion clinic.)

    Like I said- good “overall” message… I really DID enjoy it, but the clothes- the short skirts, the bare middles- I really felt like the “Christian makers” of this film could have dressed the girls in trendy clothing without showing so much skin. I think a few naughty words were included as well- so I definitely did not care for that either!

    When I raised the question, I was told that the makers wanted to appeal to “the world” as well, and didn’t want to make it so squeaky clean that lost people would refuse to watch it. They felt by including worldliness in it, they would attract lost people who would be able to get the message of Christ.

    I don’t know why I was so surprised at the response, since… well, isn’t that what most churches to today?

    When I heard about Soul Surfer, I figured it would be similar to To Save A life. I recommend one waits for the book. To Save a Life is now in book form- so you can get the “Great message” without the lust.

  39. Maryanne says:

    As far as the concerns mentioned in this blog about the bikinis leading men into pornography, did it occur to any of you that if a man is addicted to pornography then he will not waste his time watching a movie where bikinis are occasionally shown and will instead actually watch pornography?

  40. Mary says:

    excellent review. I really appreciate your honesty, candor, and willingness to state the truth plainly. Many people do not seem to be aware that the Bible actually defines modesty for us. In 1Tim2:9, we are told to wear “modest apparel”. The Greek word for this is “katastole”, which literally means “long, loose, and flowing, like a robe”. There is no way a bikini fits this standard. And the standards don’t disappear because we are surfing. Even if we’re passing out tracts.

  41. Mary says:

    Maryanne, if you just google ‘soul surfer, bikini’ you will sadly see that the porn sites are abuzz about this movie. The thing about porn is, they are always looking for something new. And this movie delivers! The fact that the porn industry is interested in this movie is a glaring red flag. We should not be naive. “Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the middle of wolves: be you therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves”. Matthew 10:16

  42. Andy says:

    Thanks for such a thorough review.

    I’m sure you’ve heard the old saying…you can put lipstick on a pig, but it’s still a pig.

    This movie lacks modesty in a significant manner. The fact that churches are using this movie as a tool for Bible studies demonstrates an amazing lack of understanding of scripture. It’s a real shame to say the least.

  43. Jason says:

    I am frusterated that so many people taking issue over this, over it’s modesty issues. One thats the beach culture that they live in.
    Also when in 1 Timothy 2:9 Paul was addressing women who were going to extremes with there lavishness of thier exipensive clothes , excessive jewelry and also Paul also was concerned about that the women serving in church were looking to much like the temple prositutes and that it would bring pagan practises in the church since many belivers were coming out of the Pagan religions that were in Ephesus at the time. Certinantly you dont want women to be out of control but It is not meant to a prohibitation on bikinis.
    About the lust issue, In Matt 5.28 Jesus was not talking about physical sexual attraction or arousal, He was talking about a delibrate harbouring desire for an illicit relationship in fact the greek word thats used in Matt5.28 is the same word thats used in Romans 7.7 and 13.9 when it is talking about coveting

  44. Jason says:

    A lot of men are believing they are lusting when they are not when they are just physically attracted to a girl > So many men get so worked up over thier “lust problem ” that it actually cause them to become more overwhelmed when they see a sexually attractive woman because of the fear and anxiety that they will think something wrong and “lust” .

    I believe Jesus knows the difference between a man who is just really physically/sexually attracted versus a man who is looking at a woman with evil desire (lust) and intent. We Men can have a range about attracts them. There can be a man who see’s a girl in a bikini or miniskirt and not be attracted to her for whatever reason, then that same man can go see another woman wearing a ONE PIECE bathing suit and be more sexually arroused and then start lusting after her.

  45. […] review that lead me to the decision I had made about it can be found here and […]

  46. Stacy McDonald says:

    Hi Jason,

    Sexual attraction, as well as action, should be reserved for a husband and wife. Nakedness stirs sexual attraction, which can be an entryway to lust. Thus, it makes sense that women should cover their nakedness (as should men) and men (especially) should guard their eyes as did Job, in an effort to avoid being sexually aroused by the nakedness of someone who doesn’t cover their sexually oriented areas. You may find Carmon’s points in part 2 helpful:

    It’s a well-known fact that many men have a problem with pornography, something that was addressed very biblically and carefully in the Christian film, Fireproof. Putting larger-than-life bikini-clad teenagers in front of Christian boys and men and then telling them to not lust, but to discern the Christian message in the movie, is ignorant at best.

    If men do not have a problem with seeing women who are virtually unclothed, then perhaps we ought to wonder what that indicates about their sexual health and consciences.

    When King David noticed Bathsheba bathing on the rooftop, he reacted as any normal, healthy man would–he was aroused. At that point he had a choice: he could keep looking, or he could turn away and refuse to indulge himself in lustful thoughts. He did the former, with terrible results. We need to teach our sons to deal with the cavalcade of immodesty, but we don’t have to intentionally place them in the path of it.

    Exercising self-control is an important practice for all Christians. Yet, if we expect our husbands and sons to be functional eunuchs who have an on/off switch when it comes to their God-given sexuality, we may desensitize them in ways that have deeper consequences than we expected.

    As a mother of seven sons, I want each of them (and my husband!) to be excited about his own wife’s unclothed body, and studies show “overexposure to erotic stimuli exhausted the sexual responses of healthy young men” concern me.

    This is not about a couple of church ladies who expect us all to be desexualized robots; we are actually concerned that the blithe acceptance of immodesty among Christians will be detrimental to their families in this area, as some shrug at what is a deep and beautiful gift from God to be enjoyed only in the context of marriage.

    That He reserved nakedness for the privacy of marital intimacy shows God’s grace to us, in that Adam and Eve were ashamed of their nakedness after they sinned; yet, He properly clothed them and redeemed their ability to enjoy each other as husband and wife.

  47. roger tharpe says:

    Very strong Christo-centric view. Hollywood knows how to keep it close, but not to close that the world who is already blind is able to see.


  48. Stacy McDonald says:

    “…Did it occur to any of you that if a man is addicted to pornography then he will not waste his time watching a movie where bikinis are occasionally shown and will instead actually watch pornography?”

    That is true of a man who decides to sin. But a man who is struggling to honor God and honor his marriage avoids pornography, as well as anything that stirs sexual desire towards anyone other than his wife. Staring at a screen with near-naked beautiful young women is likely to be a struggle for any healthy man, particularly one with a history of porn problems.

  49. Jennifer says:

    I really don’t think there’s much we can do about bikinis in the film perse; that’s just part of our culture. But some of the antics, like flaunting in front of a camera, were definitely uncalled for. And that girl’s attitude, sneaking off at night with no punishment? What’s wrong with people? And how can they excuse the pathetic “well, you would have said no” line, using it as justification for that behavior?? That’s a child’s immature, rebellious logic, and the parents rewarded it. Even the rough-edged TV show “Roseanne” deals more responsibly with kids and parents; when the oldest daughter borrowed her father’s motorcycle without asking, she tried the bogus “Well if I’d asked, you would have said no” line, and her dad replied, “That’s right! What does that TELL you?” She had no further reasoning after that.

  50. SophieMae says:

    After seeing some previews, one of which was the photo shoot scene, I decided this film was not for me or my family. I whole-heartedly agree, Stacy, with your take.

    Skimming some of the comments, I was saddened to be reminded how easily ‘the world’ can creep into a Christian’s life. I’m a Florida native, so have lived my entire life in a ‘beachy’ culture. But I am still embarrassed when I see barely-covered bikini-clad girls and women. Even moreso when my son is with me. So many people brush it off as ‘just the culture’. Are we not to be IN the world, but not OF it?

    A mother (of a teen aged daughter) recently complained to me of a lack of morality in today’s youth. Then she belligerently informed me that her daughter should be able to wear whatever she wants without repercussions of any sort. In a perfect world, this might be possible. (In a perfect world, of course, we would not be having this discussion). But this is definitely not a perfect world.

    I am so sorry, dear Stacy, that you were personally attacked in the comments. If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you.

    Have a JESUS-filled day! ^i^

  51. Jennifer says:

    Can’t say I completely agree with your post, but I do think you have a strong point that is hard to argue. The only thing I fault in it–and you can’t really say it’s a fault at all–is that I still find those movies very interesting.

    I will say this should have been divided into a series of posts, though. Incredibly long. But very well thought-out, indeed! :D Cheers to you!

  52. Mary says:

    Jason said, “Also when in 1 Timothy 2:9 Paul was addressing women who were going to extremes with there lavishness of thier exipensive clothes , excessive jewelry and also Paul also was concerned about that the women serving in church were looking to much like the temple prositutes and that it would bring pagan practises in the church since many belivers were coming out of the Pagan religions that were in Ephesus at the time. Certinantly you dont want women to be out of control but It is not meant to a prohibitation on bikinis”

    Actually, Paul didn’t SAY any of what you said, Jason. You are putting (a lot) of words into his mouth. It is the age-old “cultural” argument, which a lot of people use to excuse disobedience to God’s clear commands. There is no mention whatsoever in 1 Tim 2:9 about not looking like prostitutes, or lavishness. I pointed out that the exact word he uses here is katastole, which means long and loose. This means every Christian woman who does not want to bring shame to the name of Christ. No exclusions. This most definitely excludes bikinis!!

  53. Jeremy says:

    Stacy, I understand where you are coming from in writing this blog, and I want to thank you for taking the time to watch the movie and give a well-thought out opinion. We live in a culture that is saturated with lustful images and temptations that are hard to ignore and difficult to defeat. I live in South Florida, and these images come at you all day every day with seemingly no reprieve at times.
    After reading your blog, I decided to go see the movie tonight. I have been told that it’s great, but I wanted to see for myself. Maybe it’s because I had prepared myself for something horribly offensive after reading this blog, but I didn’t find myself lusting after anyone. I wasn’t at any point distracted from the message of the movie which was clearly, “I can do this with God’s help”. I know that there could have been more scripture given. It would have been nice if she had testified more clearly when the cameras were shoved in her face. I would have loved to have seen Carrie Underwood sing an amazing rendition of “Our God is Greater” or some other great Christian song. All of that would have been great, but in spite of those shortcomings, I thought the message of the power of God was spelled out plainly in the script.
    I also thought about the Hamilton family that put themselves out there and became vulnerable to help create this movie. I thought about what it must be like to really try to do what God has asked and get the message of hope out to a lost and dying world only to find Christians are the ones bashing what you are trying to do. It has to be disheartening to attempt something big for God and then have those who are supposed to be on the same team say you did it in the “wrong” manner. I know that they didn’t do it the way I would’ve done it, but they took the platform they were given and preached Christ the best they know how. I think that’s amazing!
    I presume that the comments on this blog that I’ve read are not intended to be mean-spirited. In fact, I think those who have been critical of the movie, have done so in a polite manner for the most part. I also think that the motivation is to help others make a wise choice regarding the movie. However, consider this: who were the people that criticized Jesus in the New Testament for hanging out with the people who didn’t act right, dress right, or live the way they were supposed to live? It was the Pharisees. They weren’t trying to be jerks to Jesus. They really thought He was doing it wrong, and it didn’t make sense that he spent His time with “those” people. These surfers may have been right where Jesus was hanging out if He were here today. “Those who are whole need not a physician, but those who are sick.” Maybe, just maybe, God is going to use a movie with girls in bikinis and shirtless boys to change the lives of some moviegoers who don’t even know they’re about to meet Christ.

  54. Stacy McDonald says:

    Hi Matt,

    I just wanted to address a few things you said. You asked:

    As far as the interactions between the different people. What is wrong with portraying it to reflect what really was occurring in this young womans life?
    Could they have changed the interactions to represent a more “Christian” outlook? Sure, but would it be true to the story? I highly doubt it. I would rather see what really occurred in this persons life than see some cleaned up ‘improved’ version. That is being deceitful for the sake of your own view. The Bible often gives us the gritty events that happened instead of the cleaned up view we would like. David and Bathsheba come to mind.

    If they were really after “reality,” why not have 13 year-old girls play the parts of Bethany and her best friend, instead of 17 and 20-year-olds. Adolescent teens and grown women look quite different in bikinis, don’t they? Also, have you seen photos of the real Bethany’s mom? She looks like a regular middle aged mother, one who would have a very difficult time fitting into a bikini. Instead of reality, they get Susan Hunt to play Bethany’s mother, who looks very good/sexy in a bikini. Reality? Not so much.

    The Bible often gives us the gritty events that happened instead of the cleaned up view we would like. David and Bathsheba come to mind.

    But, God didn’t give us any visuals – He gave us the written Word. Do you think a movie should be made about David and Bathsheba? Would you really want adultery in all its sinful “reality” depicted on the silver screen? I doubt it.

    Finally, Please would someone show me where the movie company, its advertisers, or someone officially representing the movie portrayed it as a “Christian” movie?

    They haven’t. That’s my point! It’s a secular movie that is being promoted by Christians AS a Christian movie – and it’s NOT! :-) I think the producers knew if they threw the Christians a few bones, they would market the movie for them – and they were right!

  55. Stacy McDonald says:

    Hi Jeremy –

    Carmon and I were very careful to be thorough and specific in sharing exactly how and where we felt the movie, Soul Surfer, failed to glorify God. You said, “I thought the message of the power of God was spelled out plainly in the script.” Would you mind being more specific?

    And, since you are disagreeing with our perspective, would you mind addressing the specific concerns we raised?

    You also said:

    I know that they didn’t do it the way I would’ve done it, but they took the platform they were given and preached Christ the best they know how…

    Exactly where did they preach Christ? Could you quote, or at least paraphrase where Christ was preached?

    Again, for the record, I don’t think a movie has to be produced by Christians, or be about Christians, to glorify God. At the same time, I think it can be produced by Christians, even be about Christians, and still fail to glorify God. If the message of Scripture isn’t clear (either by word or by deed) how exactly is it a witnessing tool?

    Who were the people that criticized Jesus in the New Testament for hanging out with the people who didn’t act right, dress right, or live the way they were supposed to live?

    I’m going to assume you’re not calling those who disagree with your assessment of the movie Pharisees. :-)

    They weren’t trying to be jerks to Jesus. They really thought He was doing it wrong, and it didn’t make sense that he spent His time with “those” people.

    Actually, they were being jerks – they were hypocrites. They didn’t “get” the message of Grace and wondered why Jesus would be associating with “sinners” – not realizing that they too were sinners. Jesus wasn’t joining in the sinful lifestyle of the prostitutes and tax collectors; He was ministering to them. There’s a huge difference.

    I believe the “surfing culture” of Hawaii and elsewhere needs missionaries. But missionaries to Africa don’t walk into the tribes topless, so that they can better minister to the sick. They minister with the Word, and walk in a way that is consistent with it.

    I was in a conversation with someone the other day who was trying to justify Soul Surfer with all sorts of interesting excuses. They said that Americans are obsessed with breasts, and she implied that we should “get over” nudity by taking note of countries like Europe where nudity is no big deal (of course, neither is false religion and perversion). America is not far behind. She even pointed to African tribes where nudity is common, as if heathen cultures are something to emulate! One of the first things missionaries discover when ministering to heathen cultures where nudity is part of their culture, is that the women automatically begin to cover their nakedness.

    We Christians are supposed to be showing the world who Christ is by preaching His Word and by living out the Gospel. Inconsistent actions speak loud and clear – and unbelievers will notice the hypocrisy. By promoting Soul Surfer as a “Christian film” (which producers admit it is not) it falsely represents Christianity, and that is the problem.

    These surfers may have been right where Jesus was hanging out if He were here today.

    That’s right; but, I doubt Jesus would have been partying on the beach without his clothes, or ministering to the lost without using Scripture. Jesus was never inconsistent with the Word of God.

  56. Kristie says:

    Wow, it sounds like you would almost rather there NOT be a movie talking about the grace of God and the strength Bethany has because of her faith in Christ. We should be thankful that so many non-Christians are seeing this movie and walking away thinking “maybe I should visit a church or read my Bible and see what this is all about”? Let’s stop criticizing and start looking at the positives.

  57. Stacy McDonald says:

    Kristie – did you read the reviews? That is the point ; while it’s being promoted by Christians as a movie that talks “about the grace of God and the strength Bethany has because of her faith in Christ” that is not what is actually in the movie. (Remember, we’re talking about the movie – we’re not examining Bethany’s actual life).

    And I am not convinced this movie will cause anyone to walk away from it thinking “maybe I should visit a church or read my Bible and see what this is all about?” But they may walk away with a very different view of Christianity, and how Christians should live, than what the Bible teaches.

  58. Betty says:

    Thank you for this review! I posted it on Facebook. :)

  59. […] Freidrich on the new movie Soul Surfer (If you haven’t read Part One yet, you can do so here.) The concerns Stacy and I have about the movie have nothing to do with the real Bethany and her […]

  60. Jennifer says:

    I disagree about “To Save a Life” being really bad; I think it was more realistic about our culture than anything else. Had all the girls been dressed in long skirts, nobody would buy it.

  61. Erin Neikirk says:

    We saw the movie recently and had quite the opposite response on some of the points you have talked about. We live in North FL near the beach. (very much considered the “Bible Belt”) I heard that a movie was coming out about the girl who got her arm bitten off by the shark…and whoever told me about it, said she was a Christian. (which I did not know). I knew it was secular movie so I really “braced” myself for how they were going to portray her faith or possibly trivialize it.

    I was “blown away” in the positive sense that they actually quoted the Bible and that the actress was actually praying to JESUS, right after the attack…something I thought “How could that have made the cut?” or why didn’t they stress to the actress to Pray to “god”…I look at the Name of JESUS being spoken ANYWHERE especially in a secular movie as a HUGE plus for the Kingdom of God!! (The disciples asked should we stop those proclaiming your name for their own gain and he said NO.) God can use any witness for him no matter how “inappropriate” the messenger may be…that’s the power of our GREAT God. He SEEKS and saves the LOST.

    Another point that I was pleasantly surprised by, was the amount of clothing they WERE wearing especially in the competitions. The girls wore “rash guards” swim SHIRTS.

    Also, with the “Beach Culture” in the movie, it would have been VERY EASY to “play up” all the bikinis and skin…to pause and let the camera linger or allow music to accentuate the “Beach Culture”…I didn’t see any of that…I got “lost” in the story and was encouraged by her faith, perseverance, and that JESUS’ Name was being said, and that the Bible was quoted!!

    There were moments that I cringed when I didn’t think God, the Bible, or the Gospel weren’t being represented well…but again, it is a secular movie.

    I saw Bethany’s character as one who loved God, loved his creation and LOVED the opportunity to enjoy it daily, surfing for HIS GLORY. And now that her arm has been bitten off…she’s taking EVERY opportunity to point to Christ who got her through this.

    I think this movie DOES have the power to draw people to God, Christ, back to church or to dig out their Bibles and I think we should PRAY that it does. The Holy Spirit can use this to draw the unsaved to Himself.

    I understand your points, but I never heard this movie promoted in church or as a “Christian” movie. So my perspective coming into the movie was quite different than yours. I would take issue
    with many of the same points you raised ESPECIALLY if it was being presented as Christian movie.

    One thing we need to remind our kids is that people don’t come to Christ all “cleaned up”…the more we grow in our faith and the knowledge of His word…that’s when convictions come…the more we “own” that all of His word to be cherished, honored and obeyed, the more we will reflect Christ. Bethany’s character (in the movie and the moral sense) reflected Christ, when she was being treated badly by another competitor, repeatedly…she didn’t gossip, mock or scorn that person. She demonstrated good sportsmanship and she thanked them for NOT treating her differently because of the loss of her arm.

    I think there is a lot to be gleaned…and I think this movie can be used as a stepping stone for leading others to Christ.

  62. Stacy McDonald says:

    Erin – If this movie wasn’t being so heavily promoted by Christians as a “Christian movie,” or a “strong testimony of Christ”, or a “family-friendly movie” we would ignore it as just another Hollywood movie (albeit one with a few nods to Christianity). But what seems obvious to me is that the producers are throwing us Christians a few bones so that we will help them market it to other Christians (which is exactly what we’re doing).

    It’s been promoted by ministries, churches, and Christian organizations. Lifeway Bookstore even has a “Soul Surfer Church Kit” complete with sermons, movie clips, Powerpoint slides, and a DVD study.

    I’m still waiting for the Christian bookstores to come out with Bethany bikini dolls for little girls to emulate. We’ve just lowered the standard for our daughters to just above nude. When Christians celebrate this movie, their daughters WILL emulate it. Why teach them to be modest (as Scripture teaches) if we’re going to use a bikini clad Hollywood actress as a role model? Do we not see the hypocrisy here? And the justification? Because she said “help me Jesus” when she thought she was dying?

    I’m sure God did bring the real Bethany through many powerful challenges, but you just don’t see that in the movie (unless you make assumptions in your own head). Yes, they made it clear that Bethany’s family claimed Christ; but, the way Christianity was exemplified in the movie was weak and worldly, as we demonstrated in our review.

    The movie also did not show that Bethany relied on Christ during her trials. Christians have to make that assumption on their own (which is easy for those who know Bethany’s true-life testimony).

    Even the secular world sees this movie for what it is. They are laughing at Christians over this, calling it a “really tame version of Baywatch!”

  63. Fran says:


    Thank you for being a faithful older Titus 2 woman and much more! I am so glad that you and another lady did a thorough review backed by a lot of Scripture to help Christians make a wise decision about seeing this movie.

    Before I saw your review I was bothered with what I saw in the trailer. I saw from there that it was not something necessary or even helpful for our family to see. I was disappointed in the Christians that whole-heartedly endorsed seeing the film because of what the Lord has done in this Christian’s life. The Lord continues to do an amazing work in all of His children but that doesn’t mean we have to expose our nakedness publicly and encourage others to accept it for what it is.

    If the Lord saves a prostitute, shall we then view sexual scenes and hear wicked language and expose ourselves to sinful behavior just so that we can praise her in the end for becoming a new creation? There are things the Lord would have us not even speak about lest show and then even moreso encourage others to see and dwell on all for the sake of “seeing” something “Christian” or even about a “Christian.”

    We can thank the Lord about this precious young lady and her testimony but seeing this film is not going to help any of our family members. It is not edifying.

    Thank you for all the areas you’ve been addressing especially in regards to our daughters.

  64. Jeremy says:

    Thank you for your thoughtful response to my post. You definitely know a lot more details about the movie than I do, and you have expressed yourself strongly, yet politely. It is clear that you are firm enough in your thoughts on this movie that my responses are not going to sway you to a different opinion. I also feel strongly regarding my opinion about this being a good movie with a positive lesson that can be learned by our students, and my opinion will not be changed by others’ arguments either. All that being said, I wanted to address your post since you took the time to graciously answer.

    I definitely want you to know that I am not calling you or others who disagree with me “pharisees”. I apologize if that was the impression I left. I was simply making the analogy that Jesus did things differently than the religious zealots expected of Him. I also totally disagree with the woman who stated we should just get over nudity. Growing up in the midwest, I was never around anyone who was swimming-much less laying out and getting a tan while wearing next to nothing.

    I also presume that you didn’t actually think that I was implying that Jesus “join the sinful lifestyle of the prostitutes and tax collectors”, or, “that we should walk into African tribes topless in order to reach them”, or, “that Jesus would have been partying on the beach without his clothes, or ministering to the lost without using Scripture.” All of those thoughts seem to be hyperbole in order to make your post sound more rational as you defended your stance.

    I was simply saying that He wouldn’t avoid sinners so as not to be contaminated with their filth. He would go to where they were. As Andy Stanley says in chapter 9 or 10 of his book (“The Grace of God”), “He liked being with them, and they liked being with Him”– Sorry, I don’t have the book with me right now so I’m paraphrasing. :) The point is that Jesus gravitated to those who needed Him, but He didn’t participate in what they were doing. In fact, in spite of the fact they knew He believed differently than they did there seemed to be a comfort level with Jesus!

    I was trying to figure out why you are so down on this movie, and then I realized it’s because you come from the same viewpoint that I used to live under. If I’m reading your post right, I believe that you are stating it is because of the “separation” issue-Christians need to be set apart from the world. This is a tough subject to handle because of the above mentioned example of Christ. I have often said (and been teased by my fellow pastors because of the way this statement sounds) that “if my kids start living like Christ lived, I’m gonna be really bothered.” You see, He didn’t live the way most of us as Christians do-living separate lives, and if we happen upon an unsaved person in our “normal” travels, then we’ll witness to them and tell them about our God. He got into the thick of it. He jumped in with both feet. If my kids did that, I would think I had lost them to the world. They could be witnessing to every single person they meet, but because they would be doing it in the more “worldly” places, I would be freaking out. :) I don’t live as much like Jesus as I should, but I think Bethany does. As you have pointed out, the movie could’ve done a better job of that, but I’d rather point out the positive in a movie that showed very little flesh in a setting where normally it is magnified 100 fold. That’s the problem with a “separatist” viewpoint: it keeps you from being around anyone who needs God.

    To say that “it falsely represents Christianity” is a strong statement. It may not represent Christianity as you see it, but it does not give a “false” representation. There are many people who live in beach culture who go to church just like the Hamilton family with bathing suits under their church clothes and who go back out to surf the moment the pastor says Amen. Those same people may not quote Bible verses peppered throughout all of their conversations, but they live a pure life before God that shows others what’s important in their lives. They also participate in surfing competitions sponsored by secular companies that gives them a platform to share their faith to even more people. All of this is not in the “separatist” worldview, but please don’t imply it’s wrong. We can disagree on how the gospel is spread, but I believe in and follow the same God you do. We testify of Him differently to others, but He is the Savior of us both.

    Just yesterday, we had our first annual student ministry baptism on the beach. Over 50 students that got saved in the past few months joined us on the beach to be baptized. None of our girls was wearing a bikini, and none of our boys were shirtless, but the beach was full of many people who were dressed just like that. As we stepped out into the middle of this mass of humanity that had no idea who God is, we influenced them. They didn’t influence us. Our kids were so busy praising God and thanking Him for change in their lives and in their friends’ lives that they completely missed the “influence” of the clothing around them. In fact, a lady from the hotel saw what was happening, got saved, and got baptized.

    We were in a setting just like that movie, and we were able to make a difference. We could’ve said, “No, we’re going to remain separate from those who wear bathing suits we don’t approve of.” Or we could have said, “Only witness to those who are wearing one piece bathing suits”. Instead we chose to go into the world and make a difference. I know this doesn’t change your opinion of the movie, but hopefully it at least gives you a glimpse into why some Christians are excited about this movie and the platform it gives us to share the gospel with those who live in a culture just like this movie depicted. I’m sure that many who read this post (and those I grew up with) will say that I have compromised or I’ve become liberal, but I can tell you that it is liberating to reach people where they are and show them Jesus – even if they’re on the beach and not covering up as much as they should be. It’s amazing grace for those that need it so desperately.

  65. Stacy McDonald says:

    Hi Jeremy –

    Thank you for your gracious response.

    It’s interesting how email/blogs/online conversations have such limitations. You don’t know my testimony, and I didn’t grow up in the midwest (just moved here 4 1/2 years ago). While I didn’t live on the beach, or in a surfing culture, I did grow up on the Gulf Coast, an hour from the beach. I wore bikinis, partied all night, and did things I barely remember. You have no idea. I hit rock bottom before Jesus pulled me out of the gutter.

    In fact, the woman who led me to the Lord invited me to stay at a beach cabin with her family one weekend. I was a brand new Christian and nobody had told me about modesty (I was still looking for the Little Drummer Boy in my Bible! LOL). After walking around half naked all weekend long, she finally blurted out to me, “Can you please get some clothes on!” She had teen sons, and I think it finally got to be too much. I was mortified. I remember wishing she had had the guts to tell me at the beginning of the weekend that I was naked, instead of letting me walk around unknowingly humiliating myself. I had no idea.

    That being said, I don’t believe you are reading me right. You said:

    If I’m reading your post right, I believe that you are stating it is because of the “separation” issue-Christians need to be set apart from the world.

    I believe that we are to be “in the world, but not of it.” Often, today’s Christians have it backwards. They think we need to be “of the world, but not in it.” In other words, they think we should have some sort of bizarre “Christian culture” where we have “Christian movies,” Christian books, Christian video games, and Christian music, but they don’t realize there is no such thing!

    They (poorly) copy all the things the world does, trying to be relevant; and miss the whole point. The world rolls their eyes while we drink our “Christian latte’s” and pat ourselves on the back for being so cool.

    Movies, books, video games, and music don’t have to mention Jesus at all to glorify God! Even the Heavens declare the glory of God! But even a “Christian movie” can fail to glorify God.

    All that we do, all that we immerse ourselves in, all that we proclaim and promote should glorify God! That’s why it’s so ridiculous for Christians to call this movie a “Christian movie.” I do believe that the movie falsely represented Christianity, and I gave examples of that. At the very least, I think it poorly represented true faith. That being said, God can use anything to glorify Himself – so I do acknowledge that.

    We’re to be “in the world;” but, we’re to be distinct. We’re to confront the culture; not hide from it. And THAT is what we are promoting.

    I was simply saying that He [Jesus] wouldn’t avoid sinners so as not to be contaminated with their filth. He would go to where they were.

    Amen! I hope you didn’t think I was saying that we should avoid sinners! But how is viewing or being entertained by this movie “going to” the lost?

    They also participate in surfing competitions sponsored by secular companies that gives them a platform to share their faith to even more people.

    But she didn’t do that – not in the movie! I’m not saying that the “real Bethany” doesn’t do that, but that is not what is portrayed in the movie.

    We can disagree on how the gospel is spread, but I believe in and follow the same God you do. We testify of Him differently to others, but He is the Savior of us both.

    Amen again! And I am VERY, VERY thankful for that. :-) Please don’t read my comments as harsh because if we were speaking face to face my tone would be soft (though I tend to get animated – I’m from Texas! ;-)

    None of our girls was wearing a bikini, and none of our boys were shirtless, but the beach was full of many people who were dressed just like that. As we stepped out into the middle of this mass of humanity that had no idea who God is, we influenced them. They didn’t influence us.

    Exactly! But the movie portrays 13-year-old Bethany and her friends living just like the world (sneaking out at night, obsessed with a sport/activity, wearing next to nothing). Yes, she was certainly a kinder and gentler version, but I grew up with plenty of girls like that – and they weren’t Christians. Try to examine the movie without preconceived ideas about the “real Bethany.”

    Or we could have said, “Only witness to those who are wearing one piece bathing suits”.

    Hmmm…I hope you’re not using hyperbole now. ;-) What Christian would ever say such a thing?

  66. Hmm… Stacy, I hope you didn’t think that I’m the Jason in the two longer posts. (I’m going to have to stick with my usual online pseudonym, I guess.) The first comment signed by “Jason” (and which links to my blog) was mine, but not the other two.

  67. Jennifer says:

    Arrrghhhh! Well my friends, I just saw a review and comments from a Christian website on this film, and some drove me up the wall. I WAS relieved, upon further reading, to see so many mixed reactions and often balanced ones, like those that said the film was good but still went a little too far. But my main protest was that the primary review said there was no inappropriate behavior! Does sneaking off to a night party and posing in a string bikini ring a bell? Then, a post that was either very naive or very much in denial by a 19-year-old kid:

    “The user comments on this page very much sadden me. More or less because they can be summarized as follows: “Men are animalistic lust toads who cannot control their base desires and must be shielded from such filth.” That seems so condescending. I feel as though I deserve more respect than that. But, I, also, am sad for you—sad for all of the beautiful beaches that God created that you will presumably never see firsthand, out of your fear of sin.

    …I am bothered by the objectivity of your comments, and more so by the condescension towards men, and women, too. We don’t all struggle with the same things, and it’s important to keep that in mind. That said, I have not seen this movie, and I don’t know that I’m planning on it. I generally find these types of movies somewhat manufactured and heavy-handed, and reviews by and large indicate that that’s what this will be. But for those who think it will be beneficial to see it—please do not begrudge them that right”

    EVERYONE suffers from lust and visual stimuli sometime; no need to act like you and a few others are lone snowflakes who don’t. You’re a young male and, while I usually would never presume to tell another what they feel, I’m not naive; as Stacy said, if a male isn’t in the least stirred in his mind by these kinds of things, I’d be concerned.

  68. Cecilia says:

    Thank you SO much for writing this… you said everything that has been going through my mind since the trailers for this movie started playing.
    …the only other thing that has been brought to my attention about the movie, was that it was a female youth pastor… which I also do not agree with in the least.

    Bottom line… thank you so much for writing this, and reaffirming the fact that I’m not crazy for feeling disapproval for this movie and the ‘message’ it’s sending out to the culture.

  69. Hannah Jones says:

    Thank you for this! I greatly enjoyed reading it. I was considering going to see this movie, but after reading about it, I am glad I did not spend the money to do so. I believe I would have been very disappointed.

    Blessings to you,

  70. Mrs. McDonald, thanks for posting reviews like this even through all the flak. If I watched this film I firmly believe that I’d be seriously struggling against temptation, if not downright giving in, most of the way through. And I’m glad! I’m glad that the female body is something that excites me. But I don’t want to see a film that cheapens the women on screen and wears away that God-given excitement that I want- and Scripture tells me- to save for my wife.

    Yes, it’s a balance… there are films that I watch where the women aren’t dressed as I wish they were… and I sometimes find myself watching floors and walls and ceilings. And with that being the case in films that are far, far less controversial in the realm of modesty than “Soul Surfer”- I don’t even want to go there. May God give us wisdom as we seek His standard of holiness.

    So, great review. Thanks again.

  71. Amy says:

    I honestly am much more disturbed by this review than I am by anything I saw in Soul Surfer. I did not even finish reading it. I don’t have time to go into all the reasons that I think this is rediculous, but you lost me when you stated in the first few paragraphs something about when she is late to her tent covered church service, when everyone is singing Blessed Be The Name, and Bethany is gazing out over the ocean (as if she is not interested in worshiping Jesus). Really? Could she not have been praising Him for the wonderful creation that He has gifted us with? How would you pretend to know what she was thinking?

    I would challange anyone that picks apart something like this and to this extent to examine your own heart. Is being this judgemental any better than some of the things they may could have done differently? The movie was not perfect, but WOW. What high and mighty people who think their ways are so much better, how sad and what a turn off to non-believers.

    I left the movie feeling uplifted and inspired, and I am leaving this blog feeling downhearted and discouraged. May we as Christians stop judging everyone else and take the time to look at our own hearts…

  72. Stacy McDonald says:

    Amy, it would be nice if you would take the time to read the whole review before judging it. :-) Reading only halfway through the second paragraph of a 9 page review is hardly a fair assessment! Notice we watched the entire movie before reviewing it in detail. :-)

    You said:

    “I don’t have time to go into all the reasons that I think this is rediculous, but you lost me when you stated in the first few paragraphs something about when she is late to her tent covered church service, when everyone is singing Blessed Be The Name, and Bethany is gazing out over the ocean (as if she is not interested in worshiping Jesus). Really? Could she not have been praising Him for the wonderful creation that He has gifted us with? How would you pretend to know what she was thinking?”

    First of all, what I actually said was:

    While the film makes it clear that Bethany is a Christian, the story seems to focus most heavily on her strong will, and determination and passion for surfing. As an example, arriving late for a seaside church service, Bethany throws a cover-up over her wet bikini, and takes a seat. As family and friends finish singing “Blessed Be Your Name,” Bethany continues to gaze out over the ocean, seeming to long for the waves.

    This was my impression – an impression I believe the movies producers wanted viewers to get. It wasn’t a “judgment” of Bethany. She arrived late because she was surfing. Instead of paying attention, she looks back to the beach that she just left. Bethany backs out on a commitment she had made to help with a missions trip because of what? Because of a surfing competition. The first thing she says after her accident is, “When can I surf again?” It was clear that surfing seemed to be almost an obsession to Bethany (and her father).

    Again, please take the time to read the entire review (instead of only a couple of sentences) before judging my motives or my character. Be careful, and consider your own words. You said:

    May we as Christians stop judging everyone else and take the time to look at our own hearts

    I agree. So, remember, the Bible says:

    For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. (Matthew 7:2) Be very careful.

  73. Jennifer says:

    Amy, you’re more horrified at people who protest an irresponsible little girl’s actions than the kid herself?

  74. I haven’t seen the movie yet but I’m still going to. I’m sure the bikinis and scantly clad can be an issue for some but they are in Hawaii and this is the norm at the beaches, including, throwing on a cover to go into stores etc.

    I’m sure they could have done a better job with the film. They always can.

    Thanks for the honest review. I still can’t wait to see it and I hope that despite some of the bad in it, that it will still be an uplifting movie.

    Please feel free to stop by: Trailing After God

  75. gina says:

    I think that you have some good things to say.. Bottom line, it really wasn’t a Christian movie…but a movie about a girl who is a christian. Produced by the world. We can’t expect the world to produce amovie with all the christian, biblical guidelines. I think we could watch it and take it for what it is. But I think that some of what you said was good food for thought…just a little bit of insight…but it only a movie! On the other hand, if it WERE a christian movie, I’m not sure how a person would be able to do it differently since the setting was Hawaii and revolved around surfing! I think that modesty is something that is a process of growth, and as the heart grows more in line with god, we change in how we view it. So, I try to give young people a lot of room to grow in that!!! Instruct, pray, and let them grow.

  76. toni smith says:

    My 12 yr old daughter and I saw the movie today. While I agree with a lot of what you said regarding modesty, it did not overshadow the movie for me. I loved it. I had a great discussion with my daughter afterwards, especially about the scene where she sneaks out (this is the only part of the movie I took exception too.) I enjoyed pointing out how much more practical board shorts are than bikini bottoms. Not the greatest movie I have seen, but like blind side, at least it does have a great message. Lets hope hollywood keeps trying.

  77. Jennifer says:

    You know, ironically, better movies without Christian marketing have been produced by Hollywood and still given outrightly Christian messages.

    It’s the sneaking out and the sultry bikini dance that makes me mad; were it not for those things, I could probably enjoy it.

  78. Kelli Wilson says:

    You think they should have used 13-year-old actors to portray it more realistically and then don’t understand that she was 13! Any 13-year-old who can surf like that is going to want to surf rather than go on a trip — even a mission trip. It’s called immaturity. As for the bathing suits — I think it would have drawn more attention to the issue had the purposely tried to fully cover these surfers. It’s not a “Christian movie,” it’s a surf movie about a young Christian girl – don’t read so much into it. I saw it, with my 15-year-old daughter, and loved it and we are both Christians who dress modestly.

  79. Rebecca says:

    Thank you! Thank you! Thank You! My husband and I went to a free pre-showing of this movie. We discussed it on the way home and came to almost ALL the same conclusions that you did. We attend a conservative church and felt that we should tell the parents that this is NOT a movie for us ( as a body). Our children are 25/22 and we told them that we didn’t feel that they needed to see it. The biggest problem was definitely the NUDITY. As you said – even though it wasn’t by the world’s standards – it definitely was by OUR standards. Again, thank you for your words.

  80. Jennifer says:

    Kelli, there are more modest bikinis than those in the film, and the bikini dance Alana did is really unnecessary.

  81. […] also some solid words from a Christian perspective here. This snippet just about nails it: It seems, too often, Hollywood uses Christians for free […]

  82. Thank you SO much for your conservative outlook. I watched the previews and as a male would not be able to watch the movie without noticing the females in the movie. If we are to honor our wives by looking only at her… this movie should be avoided. What amazes me most is that there is a debate among “Christians” on whether near nudity is ok to watch. God help us!

  83. Anonymous says:

    If you find the female body offensive, you find god offensive since humans are supposedly created in god’s image.

    But bible bangers like yourself aren’t known for their skills in logic.

    Enjoy burning in hell for saying that god’s creation is shameful.

  84. Jennifer says:

    Anon, your sharp words are not outlined in logic. Our bodies are beautiful, but also sacred; did you know that the Bible describes being stripped of clothing as shameful? Do we all walk around naked because our bodies are beautiful? No we don’t, and you forget something else: string bikinis, and certainly bikini DANCES like that which Alana did in the film, are made and done for the purpose of being sensual; this is not something innocent or artistic, but involves flaunting bodies for sensual attention. Does that sound like something holy?

    Lastly, if you’re going to use God’s name, please at least spell it with a capital G.

  85. lindy abbott says:


    I am a very opinionated outspoken follower of Jesus. God has been teaching me when to speak and when it is better to close my mouth and walk away. It has been a wonderful empowering gift, and I am sure it has made many people including my family grateful.

    So what is my comment? Well, I first need to tell you I am afraid to write it down, because I see how quickly you respond to defend your view. I first read your post on modesty today… and it brought me to tender tears.

    Then I read this post. I had heard some of the same comments made by my more conservative Christian friends who we love dearly and they love us.

    One big lesson God has taught me is to allow Him to be God in the lives of others. For the first half of my Christian walk I tried so hard to walk holy and obedient… and in doing so I would look at others and consider if they were being holy and obedient as I felt the Word clearly taught. I used this as a way to identify with and separate the true followers of Jesus from the hypocrites or at least the wayward ones.

    But God showed me I had taken a “spiritual job” on to be the Christian Police. Even if I didn’t say something I thought it, and I made a mental determination. After God showed me that the “Christian Police job” belonged to the holy spirit, I found it easier to love others … in the body of Christ and even everyday people I met here or there. I started to see everyone as who they were today, but also knowing that God who began a good work in their lives would be faithful to complete it and that I was not privy to His timetable nor His agenda in the lives of others.

    You see, I learned by experience, that some sin are more glaring obvious then others, and it seemed that a person should clean up their life after becoming a Christian as swiftly as possible… eager to become more like Christ… it was only naturally obvious to me… but God gave me a different insight. He showed me that I didn’t know what He was cleaning up in another followers life and that what He chose to deal with in whatever order He chose was He sovereign right as Lord.

    We had a neighbor that drank beer and smoked but who I also know went every Sunday and Wednesday to church. Every time I saw him on the deck I would wave Hi and never once did I make a comment about the beer and smoking. I figured God had other issues the He deemed more important to work on, and I knew God couldn’t clean up everything at one time. I trusted God to do the work in His life, while living a godly, accepting, loving example – since he knew we were strong Christians. After several years, I noticed no more drinking or smoking, and one day our neighbor came over and shared his testimony of how God dealt with him on this and other issues. It was a time of rejoicing, and our neighbor felt save to be real.

    I did not condone his drinking or smoking, but I didn’t call him out on it either. Now I will say, if God impressed on me or it ever come up in a conversation I would have openly shared my opinion. God never opened the topic, and I didn’t press. This is just one of so many examples.

    You see I know this because I personally was a sinful mess. I tried to clean up the outside first and it was hard work keeping it all together… such hard work that God wasn’t able to do the deeper cleansing work that needed to be done in my heart. As I surrendered to God to do as He willed, I painfully walked through many years of healing and sanctification… but I was on no one’s time table but God’s -not even my own. I got to the point I had to decide God alone was my Lord, if He was pleased with me, my progress, and accepted me exactly where I was… it was good enough for me… and I couldn’t care what others thought. I am sure lots of “church people” wanted me to work on lots of stuff they saw, but I gave God the job.

    Through this – I have tried not to assume a person’s spiritual walk by what I see as an apparent missed point in their sanctification, because I know that God could be working with something a lot heavier and deeper. I may want a girl to not wear a nose ring and to cover her back better with a lightweight jacket, but God might be healing her heart from an abortion she had. This is just a real example. If I told her to get the nose ring out and the jacket one, she might not have been as receptive to stay learning and following God to let him deal with a hidden sin and healing.

    So what is my point – after this long long comment. We can not know the heart of others but God does. People come to God at all different stages and with all level of sin. There is not a one plan fits all step by step approach to sanctification… it is we alone who work out our salvation in our personal relationship with God, in our prayer time, in our Bible study and in discipleship.

    Like others who commented, I did see the movie with my daughter. My husband and teenage sons chose not to go see it. We really got a lot out of the movie and I was surprised that the movie makers had no love scenes or hot mamas walking about with perfect 10 bodies. There were no smoking hot bathing suit dude or babe scenes. I knew it was about a Christian girl but I did not get pulled into the marketing or the lifeway/church’s angle of promoting or marketing it. I would not want it shown at church and especially not a youth group to be discussed. Yes, I would not want a youth group to go hang out on a beach… but our church did offer a FL beach trip this year… we did not attend.

    My point is we need to let God be God in each person’s life. God can work in ways and with mediums I would not choose or think of to drive a lesson home in another. Parents should be able to determine the appropriateness of a movie for their children… that is why I love “Plugged In” at focus. I can read it with my child and we can determine together if we will see a movie.

    I didn’t not find Soul Surfer to be a strong Biblical story, but I found it to be a clean one for my daughter and myself. And it was something that we could talk about and experience together. After seeing the movie, I have so longed to go attend a church that met on a beach regularly. When I was in FL a week ago, I asked around to find out if any churches met on the beach on Sunday, so even I was drawn to want to “go to church” because of the movie. I am sure others could be also.

    I am sure you will have lots to respond to, but I hope not. I really don’t want to be in a debate. I really wanted to give my comment that comes from another daughter of the same King you follow who through my faith walk from God He has shown me to look at situations in a different way. I totally understand as I do my other friends that didn’t want to see the movie and didn’t like it being “toted” by some as a Christian movie. I respect your and other’s view.

    I hope God can help this be read by you as loving and not derogatory, because my heart is not to pick at, poke a hole in or to tear down. I just wanted to share to expand the view – God often sees things in a bigger way then we do, and He gives us each other so that we can see things from a wider range of godly perspectives. It is not about determining who is right or wrong. It is about encouraging each other to press into God having a personal relationship and accountability with Him.

  86. Stacy McDonald says:

    Dear Lindy,

    Welcome to my blog, and thank you for the gracious tone in your comment. I have a few comments as well – but, then, you knew I would! ;-)

    I first read your post on modesty today… and it brought me to tender tears.

    I’m not sure if that is good or bad! What kind of tears do you mean?

    One big lesson God has taught me is to allow Him to be God in the lives of others.

    That’s great, Lindy! We can certainly agree here!

    Lindy, I’m confused over the purpose of most of your comment. Though it seems like you are sharing your own past struggles with critical judgment against others, it also sounds like you are accusing me of the same thing in a round- about way. If so, you are superimposing your own past sin onto me and you are judging my motives.

    I can assure you that my desire is to see God glorified in His people – and to see my precious sisters in Christ living full lives, free of the chains of worldly desires. I am fully aware that it is the Holy Spirit who does the work in the hearts and lives of His people, but He certainly uses other believers to communicate that truth. Paul certainly knew that – and I’m glad he didn’t silently wait for a mystical change in those around him.

    I have many similar examples like the one you shared about your beer-drinking/smoking neighbor, and patiently waiting for the Lord to work in someone’s life. However, drinking alcohol in moderation is not a sin. And though I think smoking is profoundly foolish, it is not a sin either. When we go to a brother or sister who is in clear and actual sin (and of whom we have a relationship), and gently confront them, we are speaking truth into their lives – something we are e called to do. That isn’t usurping the Holy Spirit – it is obeying Him.

    I got to the point I had to decide God alone was my Lord, if He was pleased with me, my progress, and accepted me exactly where I was… it was good enough for me… and I couldn’t care what others thought. I am sure lots of “church people” wanted me to work on lots of stuff they saw, but I gave God the job.

    While I would agree with you to a point, I also believe there is a place for teaching, rebuke, and admonishment (the Bible says so). When I was a brand spanking new Christian, I was dating an unbeliever. (in fact, he was my live-in boyfriend). The woman who led me to the Lord never told me I was living in sin. And she never told me what the Scriptures said about being unequally yoked (2 Cor. 6:14)

    Telling me the truth may have saved me years of misery and heavy consequences – and, in light of that, it certainly would have been the more loving thing for her to do (not to mention the more “Titus 2” thing to do). You see, she was instructed by God’s Word (Titus 2) as an older woman in my life, to teach me such things.

    Now we exhort you, brethren, warn those who are unruly, comfort the fainthearted, uphold the weak, be patient with all. (1 Thessalonians 5:14)

    Years later, when I asked her why she hadn’t told me that what I was doing was sin, she gave me a very similar excuse to the one you are giving me right now.

    I may want a girl to not wear a nose ring and to cover her back better with a lightweight jacket, but God might be healing her heart from an abortion she had.

    Your example has nothing to do with either article. I’m not sure what to say, since I happen to agree with you.

    We can not know the heart of others but God does. People come to God at all different stages and with all level of sin. There is not a one plan fits all step by step approach to sanctification… it is we alone who work out our salvation in our personal relationship with God, in our prayer time, in our Bible study and in discipleship.

    Agreed. Again, no argument here. Not really sure what it has to do with this particular post, but , there is a time to rebuke, exhort, admonish etc. It must be done in wisdom, love, and gentleness – and without hypocrisy – but it wouldn’t be love if we ignored the Scriptures that call us to call confront sin in a brother or sister:

    Leviticus 19:17 You shall not hate your brother in your heart. You shall surely rebuke your neighbor, and not bear sin because of him.

    1 Thessalonians 5:12–14 And we urge you, brethren, to recognize those who labor among you, and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, and to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake. Be at peace among yourselves. Now we exhort you, brethren, warn those who are unruly, comfort the fainthearted, uphold the weak, be patient with all.

    1 Corinthians 4:14 I do not write these things to shame you, but as my beloved children I warn you.

    1 Thessalonians 2:11 As you know how we exhorted, and comforted, and charged every one of you, as a father does his own children.

    1 Timothy 5:20 Those who are sinning rebuke in the presence of all, that the rest also may fear.

    2 Timothy 4:2 Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching.

    Titus 1:13–16 This testimony is true. Therefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith, not giving heed to Jewish fables and commandments of men who turn from the truth. To the pure all things are pure, but to those who are defiled and unbelieving nothing is pure; but even their mind and conscience are defiled. They profess to know God, but in works they deny Him, being abominable, disobedient, and disqualified for every good work.

    Titus 2:15 Speak these things, exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no one despise you.

    Revelation 3:19 As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent.

    1 Corinthians 5:9–13 I wrote to you in my epistle not to keep company with sexually immoral people. Yet I certainly did not mean with the sexually immoral people of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner— not even to eat with such a person. For what have I to do with judging those also who are outside? Do you not judge those who are inside? But those who are outside God judges…”

    Parents should be able to determine the appropriateness of a movie for their children… that is why I love “Plugged In” at focus. I can read it with my child and we can determine together if we will see a movie.

    Yes, they should. However, many parents need to be challenged in their thinking. Thank you for sharing the way you handle things in your family. I received hundreds of comments and private emails from parents who simply hadn’t thought it all the way through – they appreciated the challenge. I am often challenged by friends and family with good, passionate conversation/debate on various topics. And this is what my blog (and this particular post) is all about (not debate, but challenge). We need to be thinking Christians. And, too often, we just follow the crowd.

    I like to use a combination of http://www.screenit.com (for bare bones content) and http://www.moviology.com (for worldview). In fact, moviology (put out by American Vision) reviewed Soul Surfer HERE.

    I hope some of this was helpful.

  87. Alex McGoldrick says:

    I just finished watching the movie and I too, did not expect a Christian theme throughout. I was very pleasantly surprised. It was great to see a young person exercise her true faith in her everyday life amidst such tragedy. What a wonderful role model for people, young and old, of any faith. As far as bikinis are concerned, the need for modesty never even crossed my mind once in this film. As a Chrstian, I would hope that we could all be as faithful and kind as Bethenny Hamilton….no matter what our attire or lifestyle. I would allow my teenage son to watch this any day of the week and hopefully emulate the Bethenny’s amazing strength and courage in his life.

  88. Karis Cress says:

    In my opinion, this movie was actually pretty well done, as far as secular movies go; i actually quite enjoyed it. That being said, I really wasn’t sure at first how to react to the lack of care the family portrayed toward modesty, church (first scene), the gospel (church didn’t seem gospel-centered, neither did “missions” trip), and biblical familial roles.
    Being a recovering legalist, I tried to not judge bethany or her family for the immodesty (haha, i know it was just a movie, but i guess i was pretending as if it were the accurate story, and thinking about how we as christians should react to it). The Bible does not straight up say “Do not wear bikinis”. The Bible does say, “Adorn yourself in modesty”. There ARE grey areas in the Bible, but there are no grey areas with God. So how do we decide what the Lord wants from us? How do we personally decide what God intended by including “Adorn yourself in modesty” in scripture? We are in desperate need of the Holy Spirit, to lead, convict, and teach us.
    So how I saw bethany, was a young girl in need of more of the Holy Spirit in her life. Had this story been completely accurate, it is my hope that I would be broken over her immodesty, for i believe sadness to be a very appropriate response to sin in any Christian’s life.
    But, as the author of this blog pointed out, it is Hollywood’s version of the story. As much as I did enjoy the movie, I called my husband afterwards and told him that I wished they had just left Christianity out of it. I personally believe that the movie could cause the lesser-surrendered Christians to continue in their lack of surrendering and unbelievers to continue in their assumptions that all Christianity is, is a “God on the side” kind of life style. That, to me, was very sad!

    Good review… did agree with everything you said.

  89. michelle says:

    Just a quick question for those that think bikinis are an option for surfing….Would you allow your sister to wear her bra and panty in public? It is the same thing. When my children were younger I always made them wear shorts and shirt over their swimsuits (who wants wet underwear?). When we started hanging out with another family who likes to canoe it was difficult at first because their children wore their immodesty proudly but after half of a summer with being with us….they started wearing coverings over their bathing suits. We never had to mention anything to them. We could have did what they did so they wouldn’t feel uncomfortable but we held out and the Lord did the rest. It was a great having this family with us for the next five years while camping together. Bikinis are not an outward option for any one. It is the same as wearing your underwear in pubic. Even some of the surfers were wearing full tanks and surfing shorts. That seems a more viable option. If our standard is the same as the world what is the point of being a Christian?

  90. TanyaP says:

    I am so thankful to have come across your blog. I just finished watching this movie and while I find Bethany Hamilton’s life story and courage to go back into the water after the horrible shark attack to be inspiration, I was very surprised at how this was such a rave amongst the Christian community. I must admit this is why I watched it and was sadly expecting something so much better than what this film offered. Anyway, after watching it, I wanted to pull up some discerning truth on this film and came across your blog. You worded my thoughts and feelings with so much more grace than I would have and it was a comfort to know that someone out there felt the same concern.

    The film industry has caught on and are trying to get their hands on the “Christian” industry… but a wolf in sheep’s clothing, is still a wolf.

  91. Susan R says:

    This is a very balanced and thorough movie review. I appreciate the time and effort it took to put all your thoughts into writing in such a clear but gracious manner.

    I read through some of the comments briefly, and perhaps some folks need to be reminded to read your disclaimer at the very top of the post, and that this is *a review of a movie*, not a theological dissertation on every perspective of all intelligent life in the universe. Kudos to you, Stacy, for taking the time to respond so kindly to those critical of your critique.

  92. Ken Lindquist says:

    Well the story may be sensationalized by Hollywood…but I am surprised to see reviews/comments to detract from Bethany’s message.

    “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11

    Bethany would most likely have died with that much blood loss. This modern day miracle is a testimony to her faith in Jesus Christ.

    Now her first thoughts of wanting to surf again is natural regardless of your faith…But God’s plan to use this event to affect other people lives is Good.

    This negative movie review quite possibly is one of best tools for letting people who may not know Jesus yet to start their path to a personal relationship with Jesus

    Your reference of this bible verse is perfect: Php 4:13 Christ gives me the strength to face anything

    As she could be feeling sorry for herself, depressed and sitting in her bedroom day after day doing nothing for herself. This struggle to face life now with 1 less arm doing everyday things including professional surfing, is a Strong testament that God will be with her on her daily walk thru any adversity.

    It is Bethany’s faith in Jesus Christ that she is alive, and sharing His Good News.

    John 3:16

    New International Version (NIV)

    For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

    God Bless
    Ken Lindquist

  93. Jennifer says:

    If the message is that she and her friends are Christian, then they should have acted in a Christian fashion.

  94. Jrob says:


  95. Jrob says:

    THANK YOU VERY MUCH for writing this. I was beginning to think everyone had gone off the deep end.

  96. Claudia says:


    I must say I read your review and saw the movie of which you speak and have to say WOW. I showed this movie to my youth group and they were greatly encouraged by it. None of them really looked at the attire, in fact that was lost in the message and when asked what they got out of it, most said, they got that they must persevere and trust Christ in those difficult times of their lives and never give up. Maybe I am not as spiritual as the next guy, (God knows I have to keep pressing on in Him) but I did not feel the movie was glamorized or placed Christ in a negative way at all. We are the salt and the light and need to be influencers wherever we are. You are I are not part of the surfing community and would never be able to influence them at all but Bethany. Her story is worth telling our teens. At 13 she displayed character and strength very few of us at 30 can display. Also I believe that her parents must have done something right for her to be as she was at age 13. I am glad that movie is out there along with Fireproof and Courageous, Passion of the Christ etc. I will use whatever means to bring the gospel to the world. Many will never come to church but they will go to see a movie. This is our opportunity to use that medium to share Christ with our unsaved neighbours and friends.

  97. Stacy McDonald says:

    Claudia – did you read the whole review? The fact that your youth group didn’t “notice” the nakedness of the actors and actresses in the film may be more of a reflection of how desensitized they are to it than a good gauge of how problematic it was. Also, the message of “never give up” isn’t necessarily a Christian message (think Rocky). Also, keep in mind, this was a review of the movie; not a review of Bethany or her actual life.

  98. Jennifer says:

    Claudia, trust me: the boys in your group noticed. They’ve just learned not to noticeably react every time, which is good, but I’ve learned some alarming things about the effect this kind of thing has over the male mind.

  99. Jenny Leighanne says:

    I think I understand what you’re trying to say in this post. You’re basing your opinion on scripture, and I don’t think you’re necessarily wrong, but I’m a Christian who happened to love this movie. As a matter of fact, I loved it so much that I bought it the day it came out on DVD. While I would have loved the movie even more if it gave more credit to Christ, it makes sense that the producers didn’t include it. I doubt the movie could have or would have been picked up by a studio at all if it contained a lot of language about Jesus (as sad as that is). I see this movie as a kind of hook, allowing the message of Jesus to be preached in a more subtle manner so that the person watching doesn’t immediately dismiss it as “churchy” and stop watching. In my opinion, a movie like this is much more likely to win souls to Christ than a televised church service. I sometimes think that those of us who regularly attend church and hear the preaching of God’s Word expect others to feel comfortable with the idea of a church, and all that that implies. For us, the mention of a couple of the most well-known Bible verses in the movie was hardly giving Christ the credit as the hero in this movie, but such ideas are very new to some watching this movie. To the average non-Christian, I think it gave them a lot to think about. It pushed them just a little further into their own personal struggle with accepting Jesus as God’s Son. Personally, I’m glad it was geared more toward a “worldly” crowd than to “church people.” Why preach to the choir when you can preach to the lost? :)

    I can’t say this enough- if men could control their thoughts, women could dress anyway they felt appropriate. In the long-standing debate among Christians involving immodesty, I believe there is little respect given to women and our rights as equals in the Kingdom of God. We are ALL His children. Instead of sending Mary and Martha away, our Lord respected them for worshiping side-by-side with his disciples. Oftentimes, if men behave inappropriately, and we say “boys will be boys.” Even if you don’t say those exact words (I don’t think I ever have), you are still geared toward thinking that men are somehow unable to control sexual desires. The focus should be, not on the fact that women show skin, but that men are weak enough in their faith that they would give in to sin. Even if it’s not Bethany Hamilton (or AnnaSophia Robb) wearing a bikini, there will ALWAYS be females showing skin who have little respect for themselves. Personally, I see nothing wrong with the act of wearing revealing clothing. It becomes sinful, however, depending on the wearer’s intentions. If Bethany Hamilton wore a bikini for the purpose of being “sexy”, then it’s sinful. If she wore it because it’s easier to surf in than, say, a one-piece, then it’s not sinful. I can personally attest to the fact that two-pieces or bikinis are MUCH cooler when you’re out in the sun. Women have beautiful bodies, and I don’t think there is anything wrong with enjoying what God made, as long as intentions are pure.

    I have read many of the previous comments, and I must say that I’m disappointed that so many people have been turned off from this wonderful movie based on what you say in this post. If this movie hadn’t been [falsely] promoted as a Christian movie, would people be so adamant not to see it? It hurts me that there seem to be a lot of people who are completely missing the point of the movie altogether because they are so concerned with AnnaSophia Robb’s bikinis. Rather than nitpick, can’t we focus on the positives of the movie? Yes, many of the messages promoted in the movie can be found in the doctrines of many different religions. Does that mean those same ideas are somehow less Christian because other religions share them? Many religions promote loving others, but that doesn’t mean we should take Jesus’s commandment to “love one another” less seriously. The movie quotes Philippians 4:13, one of the most well-known verses in the Bible to a Christian. While that seems like old news to us, to a non-believer that verse could be the very thing that gets them started in their Walk with Christ. Unlike many ministries, this movie could more-effectively reach a generation that has been systematically turned off by Bible-beating, hell-preaching, holier-than-thou, snobby, stuck-up, two-faced Christians who take it upon themselves to nitpick someone else when they themselves have planks in their own eyes. Showing someone Christ is a lot more effective than telling someone about Christ. :)

  100. Stacy McDonald says:

    Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame (Revelation 16:15).

    Personally, I see nothing wrong with the act of wearing revealing clothing…

    So what do you do with verses like 1 Timothy 2:9: “Adorn themselves in modest apparel, with propriety [what is decent and proper] and moderation [self control]…”

    You might be interested in my series on chastity (which includes modesty): http://yoursacredcalling.com/blog/2010/06/the-beauty-of-chastity-honoring-marriage-part-1/


    Free Downloads: Listen to Part 1 of a sermon by Jeff Pollard on Christian Modesty and the Public Undressing of America HERE. Part 2 can be found HERE.

  101. Jennifer says:

    That’s not really true, Jennifer. “Courageous” amd “Fireproof” mention Christ a good deal.

  102. Greg says:

    Not to take away from Bethany’s story, an overlooked person to me is Sara Hill. For those who haven’t seen her biography, Sara was a surfer who after having her neck and back broken ironicly in a surfing accident decided to dedicate her life to ministry. I think she is an amazing overcomer who instead of mourning the loss of never being able to surf again, looked to God for what she could do for Him. Her passion for Christ is amazing and I think the depiction of her in the movie spoke to me perhaps more than the main plot. I read her interview and wow she can’t say 2 sentences without mentioning God and Jesus! I think this, whether it was meant to be or not, shows a parallel of 2 paths. I am not stating that because Bethany didn’t do the same and she isn’t a Christian by no means. I’m simply hoping to bring out that overcoming can mean two different things. I find it curious that Sara Hill was where she was because of a surfing accident at that time in Bethany’s life. Sara had a unique insight as a former surfer herself and the passion for it. She could understand what Bethany was feeling and also serve as an example of overcoming for her, not necessarily getting back on a surf board but as an overcomer in the faith.

  103. Kelli Roberts says:

    Thank you for your spot on review of this movie. I found your website searching for the particular biblical quote in the movie (Jeremiah 29:11) I agree with everything you said. I saw the movie for the first time today on Starz and Hollywood sure made sure to glorify bikinis and surfing more so than Jesus but thats hollywood for you. I read somewhere before seeing the movie that Bethanny’s family really had to struggle with the movie makers on some of the very points you made.

    Apparently hollywood didn’t want to go “overboard” with to much Jesus talk.

  104. Deirdre says:

    Thank you for this article. I have wondered why Bethany wears what she does for interviews. Forget the movie, if you’ve ever seen her interviews she wears what amounts to a nightie. It’s pretty much a joke on all of us…

  105. Sharon says:

    Everyone should see this movie it was so moving and uplifting. It is important to have a heads up about the content of any movie but let’s face it it is a movie about a young Christian girl who lost her arm while SURFING. Therefore, they do wear surf attire. Now if you don’t ever where a swim suit then you can say whatever you want but if you do no matter what type you are guilty of the crime you are accusing the moving of portraying i.e.…immodesty! I’m pretty sure that you or your readers have and do put on swimsuits and go swimming so remembering the words of Christ New American Standard Bible (©1995)
    “Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take out the speck that is in your eye,’ when you yourself do not see the log that is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take out the speck that is in your brother’s eye.
    But if you are a Christian that doesn’t swim or wear shorts or tank tops and covers all your skin… more power to you but …New American Standard Bible (©1995)
    Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
    Moreover, my sister you did a lot of condemning in your comments. This was a movie portraying this child’s faith, a child of 13. I don’t know if your daughter or you for that matter, could have or would have endured this attack and remained faithful. You have a lot of pride if you think, “oh, we would have been bolder, more faithful, more prayerful. You don’t know unless you have walked in her flip-flops. How dare you condemn every ounce of this movie when no one is making a movie about your faith at all? Moreover, God who is in control last I heard has ordained this movie to come out and to raise this child up to speak on His behalf. God has used this movie to touch millions of lives and her story to go worldwide for his Glory. You judge every aspect of the story say they should have, could have been more bold more scripture more “righteous” rearing being shown. But maybe it just happen that way, maybe they have simple God loving faith in Christ and that’s how it happen and so you condemn them for not being like you. It really only takes the name of Jesus being whispered by the lips of this child, in that moment when her arm is taken and her life altered to feel and know her devotion to her Lord. Moreover, you think the family was so laissez faire in that they would allowed this kind of film to be made in this way. Yet it has reached millions of people not focused on the outer shell but the heart, the heart of this child for Jesus and how He gave her this call for her life. The real miracle of this movie is that this story was told and that these people no matter how much they fall short of your opinion or what you think they should have done they raised a healthy God loving, sold out child of the King whose only desire was to serving Him and surf. Moreover, God blessed her both ways. What more could any parent ask for or Christian want for in their life.

    Bye the way I have read the other comments and boy is this full of a bunch of “gonging” Christians. I mean really comparing one girls ministry to another…look in the mirror and compare yourself to Mother Theresa and see it is level ground at the cross. I pray that none of you suffer with this kind of issue and think you could do better.

  106. Ellen says:

    I found your article very intriguing. Very nice. For a person completely blinded, being told how bad society is. Anyways back to the point, I am an avid surfer and scuba diver. I know this would be hard for you to understand, because you sit at home all day and write posts about granola bars and keeping Christ in Christmas. There are reasons why surfers and scuba divers wear bikinis. Imagine whipping back and forth in a one piece, restricted movement, right? You can’t turn nearly as fast wearing anything on your midriff. As far as scuba, a one piece would restrict movement while you explore and a tankini (God forbid you wear a tankini!!!), it would bunch up. And then that would even lead to worse things such as your chest exposed once you take it off. There are many things people wear, which they wouldn’t normally wear, because it helps whatever they’re doing. In this society, honestly you’re lucky such an influential movie mentioned religion. I have a religion, and I do believe in God, but it’s nothing like yours. My God wouldn’t want anyone to deem what is right and wrong. He knows ever situation and he is very understanding. God gave us the gift of physical activity and he knows bikinis helps surfers and scuba divers preform better. If you have children, I feel sorry for them, as they are being blinded by a CULT.

  107. Jasmine says:

    Stacy, thank you for this article. My family and I just watched Courageous last night, and while we did enjoy the movie, we almost fell on the floor trying to fast forward through the preview for “Soul Surfer”. We are very careful to not bring pornography into our home. I have heard the line “your children will see it anyway, so you are sheltering them” but our home is sacred and by bringing it into our house on our TV we are condoning it. Ellen, there are companies online who sell modest swimwear that covers the body and does not weigh your body down. Please do not use that as an excuse to make yourself feel better about disobeying God’s Word. Stacy is not being accusatory – she is leading us to obey the Word. Yes, God is graceful. Let us not throw it back in His Face.

  108. Sandra says:

    And bikinis are wrong why???? Let’s not put emphasis on attire for swimming and sports, when her “parts” are clearly covered. Remember, all humans were naked once. I think we make too much out of it.

  109. Jason says:

    I love how you make a big deal over the bikinis, when the movie takes place in Hawaii. I saw the movie at my youth group movie night, and it was wonderful. I honestly feel deeply sorry for your children, who are having your religion programmed into their minds. Let them decide what’s right for them. Let them explore the world. I myself am agnostic. I believe in a higher power but am not sure which one to believe in. I study Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, and a few other religions. I personally find myself very spiritually in touch with the higher power, as I have taken from all my studies. My point in telling you this is that by brainwashing your children you are preventing them from establishing a personal relationship with their God, something that has plagued all religions for centuries. Let them loose, the higher power ( who they call God) will be there to guide them in the direction he chooses. Stop putting yourself in His authority. Only He can decide what is best for each of us.

  110. Dory says:

    Such a great post! I was wondering if this movie was Okay…but your post was good enough for me…we will not be watching it.

    This Christian move is what we get when those who call themselves “Christian” are getting their “truth” from Daily Bread or other things like that…Christians are not studying the written word of God…they are not reading daily…they are satisfied with daily “quick” devotionals…take Galatians for instance – the whole book is a letter, something that needs to be read together to be able to understand it…not just a verse here and there. If we don’t study then how can we know what the heart of the Lord is? I am sure that the Lord would not be pleased, is not pleased, with this movie…but it goes deeper than that I’m sure He is not pleased with the hearts of all involved in the making of this movie – for if they had the Lord’s heart they would not have allowed such a film.

    Matthew 15:8 “These people draw close unto me with their lips BUT their hearts are far from me” – this is the state of “Christianity” today – no wonder Jason, above comment, believes like he does…we Christians, who have been entrusted with the truth, have become a stench and just like everyone else! Shame on us, we have failed…BUT if we turn, repent and seek the Lord we shall find Him – and He will heal our lands and hearts!

  111. Jason says:

    Dory, my issue with your religion lies in the fact that you rely on a material object, a book, to come closer to your God. By all means educate yourself, but don’t have tunnel vision. If everything in your holy book was right, then we wouldn’t have any other holy books present. I do not deny that there is a God. I do, however, deny that any higher power would put us here and taunt us with “sin”. I have morals, but there comes a point when you have to realize that you are no better than anybody else. We are all created equal, regardless of what we believe. You criticize people like me, hard working, loving people. People who would give the shirt off their back to anybody who may need it. People who work in soup kitchens with a smile on their face. People who give blood every two months knowing that they are helping to save lives, people who offer their organs in the event of death. And those who reach out and encourage others, rather than treat them like scum. So go thump your Bible all you want. I don’t feel a drop of guilt for who I am.

  112. Jennie says:

    I am simply amazed by all the negative comments you have received for this post! I give you a hearty AMEN sister. I thank you for being so bold! We choose not to watch it as well for the same reasons. We are trying to teach our children modesty and being chaste. Why would we bring entertainment into our home that promotes the other?
    Thanks again,

  113. Jennifer says:

    Jason, if you’re going to comment in the future, kindly at least add something worthwhile that might stimulate thought. As it is, you sound like a cocky secularist who resents the fact that women more conservative than you have realized how men like you think when they see flesh exposed on women. We are, in fact, living in the real world.

  114. Luba says:

    Thank you, thank you, thank you a thousand times for this review. My friend invited me to her house to watch this video. Her brothers were not allowed to watch. She and another friend acted as if this were the best movie ever, but the immodesty part was shocking to me. I’m glad I am not the only one who thought that way. :)

  115. Susan says:

    Stacey, I agree with you 100%. Thankful for this post.

  116. Jane says:

    Thank you for writing this post. I am in my mid 20’s and born again. When this movie was released. I decided not to watch it as the attire contradicts what I believe as a Christian. I will not watch movies that contradicts or undermine the word of God and oftentimes make sport of it. However, at the time it seemed no other Christians (aside from a few siblings) understood my convictions about this movie.

    It’s refreshing to see someone who does understand how even though it’s labeled Christian it’s inappropriate and not deep enough. Modesty is something that has been brushed aside,but I treasure it and I pray more “Christian” ladies eyes will be opened and do the same. I also took notice of your book titles they seem to be great reads. Me and my sister are currently writing a book about being single, modest and holy.

    God Bless

  117. Brendan says:

    Well written review, and so many comments! How did you get so many? Not sure I agree with everything that is said, but raises a lot of important issues. As a Christian and a surfer myself I’m keen to do all I can to see surfers and the world hear the gospel. I’ve got my own blog at http://www.brendantruthseeker.blogspot.co.nz and I’ve also written an article about surfing at http://www.101arguments.com/2013/01/the-argument-from-surfing.html

  118. Pete says:

    I found this link through my local church. Once again Christians are being fed Hollywood garbage pretending to be wholesome family values. First they portray surfing as a sexually charged sport, nothing new here as it has been done since the 60’s surfer movies and shows. I used to surf in So Cal when I was stationed at Camp Pendleton and I can tell you it was nothing like that for me. Scantily clad women stayed at the major beaches (where many reading this article have spent time as a ‘family outing’ ) and that was not where most serious surfers went. Most of the time the water was cold except for the few summer months to be avoided because of the tourists who knew no surf etiquette. Wet suits or board shorts are the norm and not bikinis which are not recommended for surfing. Bikinis were designed for the flesh show on the beach not the waves. Board shorts are a much better choice. The reason many surf is to relax and enjoy what God created whether they acknowledged that or not. It is not a sex thing for most and the movie not only insults Christian values but also most surfers. I have met many solid Christians who enjoy the solitude out on the waves. I now fish a lot (for the reason) and many times women are going by wearing tiny bikinis in the “wholesome upper Midwest”. I point that out as many people get some idea that what they are doing is so much more righteous than what someone else is doing. I call that the Goldfish Bowl Syndrome: everything in their bowl is right and those in another bowl are all messed up.

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