An R-rated Movie Your Teenagers Should See

I’ve never been one of those parents who uses the PG, PG-13 or R rating as a benchmark for whether a movie is appropriate for my teenagers. Think about it. Would you really hesitate to show your 16-year-old the R-rated Saving Private Ryan? On the other hand… do you really want them watching another PG-13 Adam Sandler flick like last year’s Just Go With It, a PG-13 sex romp.

That’s why I wasn’t too worried when my 17-year-old daughter Alyssa sat down with Lori and I last night to watch the R-rated Gerard Butler film, Machine Gun Preacher.

It’s nice to have websites out there like where you can quickly click on “Parents Guide” and get a quick glimpse of what kind of content the film will show. Plus, my movie reviewer for my web site had recommended the film.

The film earned its R-rating in the first few minutes. One of Butlers first words spoken on screen was the f-word, and it wasn’t long before we saw sensuality, drug use, and violence. This movie was almost as graphic as the Bible! (not quite… the Bible is a little more graphic)

The film is the true story of Sam Childers, a drug addict, biker, felon who finds Jesus and becomes a crusader for hundreds of Sudanese children escaping the clutches of the evil LRA in Africa.

This powerful film is thought-provoking and convicting. I’m so glad that Alyssa watched it with Lori and I.

Be warned, the movie is an emotional roller coaster. Several scenes had Alyssa in tears.

I think the reason we loved the film so much was its authenticity. This gritty, real film was so profoundly Christian in theme. It provided a true glimpse of evil in many forms, and the redemptive power of Christ-led compassion.

I think when some people think “Christian” film, they think of Courageous or Facing the Giants. This film is much more like Hotel Rawanda or The Mission.

I not only recommend this movie to parents, I recommend it to church leadership teams. It provides an honest look at the importance of missions, and a sobering peek at how our calling can become corrupted and twisted, destroying our family.

Give the film a chance… you won’t regret it. Just bring a box of Kleenex.

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  • Austin McCann

    My wife and I recently watched this movie as well. The R-rated was definitely earned, but overall the movie has a great theme and brings up some great lessons. However, it was a sad ending theologically. Far too many men end up like Sam, loving their mission (or ministry) more than Jesus and their families. Sam went from doing his mission out of his heart for God, but ended up just doing it on his own. I would also recommend this movie to teenagers with some warning and with some discernment on how mature they are. Thanks for this post!


  • jonathanmckee

    I agree Austin. It actually would be a good movie to discuss as a ministry leadership team to talk about “boundaries.”