The more I watch movies, the more I realize that most of them -- including the so-called “secular” ones – have biblical themes.
That’s because God hard-wired humanity to reflect his glory, even if the screenwriter and director didn’t know Christ.
Of course, such themes are more obvious in some movies than others.
Additionally, some films in this genre are appropriate for the whole family, while others should be watched only by mom and dad. (And if you’re wanting to filter out the inappropriate stuff for your kids, then give ClearPlay, VidAngel or Vudu a try.)
Crosswalk previously released its inaugural list of “10 Secular Movies that Teach Christian Values.” Today, we release part 2.
Here are 10 more secular movies that teach Christian values:
Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Monkey Business Images
1. Harriet (2019)
It’s the true-life story of abolitionist Harriet Tubman, a Christian woman who was born into slavery as Araminta “Minty” Ross but escaped from the slave state of Maryland to the free state of Pennsylvania at age 27. Tubman, though, wasn’t content in letting her family remain in bondage and returned to Maryland more than a dozen times to rescue them and others.
Harriet includes multiple Christian themes: opposing evil, standing for what is right, and finding hope in the Lord. It’s a pro-life film that affirms the “Imago Dei” of every person. It also doesn’t hide her faith.
Rated PG-13 for thematic content throughout, violent material and language including racial epithets.
Photo courtesy: ©Focus Features
2. The Greatest Showman (2017)
A desperate businessman named Phineas risks his fortune to open a circus-like show with “Unique Persons and Curiosities” – that is, people who otherwise would be teased and shunned.
His cast includes a bearded woman who can sing, a short man who rides a horse, and an individual known as the world’s “heaviest man.” The Greatest Showman is a musical loosely based on the life of P.T. Barnum that delivers a strong Bible-based message: Every life matters. “Our own mothers were ashamed of us (and) hid us our entire lives … You gave us a family,” one of the circus members tells Barnum. It celebrates friendship. It spotlights love.
The film’s core message is also a message for the church, which has a mandate from God to welcome society’s outcast.
Rated PG for thematic elements including a brawl.
Photo courtesy: ©20th Century Fox
3. Hacksaw Ridge (2016)
A man named Desmond Doss volunteers as a medic for World War II but refuses to carry a gun due to his strict Seventh-day Adventist beliefs.
At first, his request is rejected, yet his persistence wins the day and he is sent to the Pacific theater, where he serves in one of the war’s bloodiest battles: Okinawa. Doss dodges bullets and bombs to save 75 wounded soldiers – an action that earned him the Medal of Honor.
Some moviegoers consider Hacksaw Ridge a pacifist film, yet its biggest theme involves self-sacrifice. Doss was willing to die so others could live. That’s a message rooted firmly in Scripture.
Hacksaw Ridge is rated R for intense prolonged realistically graphic sequences of war violence, including grisly bloody images, and language.
Photo courtesy: ©Summit
4. A Hidden Life (2019)
A hard-working Austrian farmer, Franz Jägerstätter, refuses to fight for Hitler due to his strong Catholic faith.
The film is based on the true-life story of a courageous man who grew deeper in his faith during a decade when his countrymen were growing in their devotion to the Nazis. He opposed Hitler when his local church leaders would not. “If our leaders are not good – if they’re evil – what does one do?” he asked his bishop. “I want to save my life, but not through lies.”
A Hidden Life is a film filled with biblical themes, including opposing evil and standing for righteousness when no one else will. Terrence Malick directed it.
Rated PG-13 for thematic material including violent images.
Photo courtesy: ©Fox Searchlight
5. Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch (2018)
An ornery green creature invades the cheerful town of Whoville on Christmas Eve to steal their decorations, presents and happiness, but quickly learns that material stuff wasn’t their source of joy.
“He didn’t steal Christmas. He just stole stuff,” resident Donna Who says.
The Grinch is a marvelous animated film that offers our society much-needed Bible-based lessons on materialism, loving others and even redemption. (If the Grinch’s heart can change, then perhaps anyone can, right?) No, it’s not faith-based, but Christian parents can fill in the blanks after the credits roll.
Rated PG for brief rude humor.
Photo courtesy: ©Universal
6. The Martian (2015)
An astronaut who was presumed dead and abandoned on Mars by his shipmates must learn to survive solo while NASA prepares a rescue mission.
This science fiction film starring Matt Damon includes a subtle-yet-profound pro-life message. After all, why would our government spend millions of dollars and thousands of man-hours to save one life 48 million miles away? It’s because human life is precious and priceless. Humans are unique, and – unlike the animals – are made in God’s image.
The Martian is rated PG-13 for some strong language, injury images, and brief male nudity.
Photo courtesy: ©20th Century Fox
7. Chariots of Fire (1981)
A British Olympic sprinter who won’t compete on the Sabbath due to his strong Christian beliefs refuses to run in the 100-meter heats because they’re held on a Sunday. But his devotion to his faith is rewarded when a teammate offers him a spot in the 400-meter race, which he wins to claim a gold medal at the 1924 Summer Games.
Chariots of Fire is based on the true story of Eric Liddell, who was the son of missionary parents and became a missionary himself. Liddell’s devotion to Sabbatarianism is secondary to a more important message: devotion to God. Liddell was willing to throw away years of training to remain true to his Christian faith. Seconds before his gold medal race, a friend hands him a note paraphrasing 1 Samuel 2:30: “He that honors Me I will honor.”
Photo courtesy: ©Warner Brothers
8. Hotel Rwanda (2004)
The manager of the most luxurious hotel in the capital of Rwanda turns his building into a refugee camp when a genocide breaks out around him.
Hotel Rwanda is based on the true story of Paul Rusesabagina, a hard-working Hutu man who was asked to take sides in 1994 when radical Hutus began slaughtering Tutsis. But instead of picking a side, he risks his own life -- and stands up to murderous radicals – to save as many people as possible. His heroics stand out in a genocide that resulted in more than 800,000 deaths.
The film spotlights several biblical themes: defending the helpless, opposing evil, and loving your enemy. (As a Hutu, Rusesabagina was told he should hate Tutsis.)
Rated PG-13 for violence, disturbing images and brief strong language.
Photo courtesy: ©United Artists
9. Up (2009)
A grouchy, aging widower named Carl escapes the city – and a court-ordered demolition – by tying thousands of helium balloons to his house and floating away. His goal is to fulfill a promise he made to his wife to visit a famous waterfall. But he didn’t expect a young Scout named Russell to accidentally tag along.
Up celebrates the sacrificial love within marriage, family and friendship. Carl is driven by love to fulfill a promise he made to his wife. He reaches that goal – yes – but discovers something just as fulfilling before the credits roll. That’s because he becomes the grandfather-like figure Russell never had.
Rated PG for some peril and action.
Photo courtesy: ©Diseny/Pixar
10. Groundhog Day (1993)
A self-centered television weatherman named Phil (Bill Murray) is sent to Punxsutawney, Pa., to cover the annual Groundhog Day festivities but soon gets stuck in a “time loop,” waking up on the same day, over and over.
With no consequences for his actions, Phil engages in numerous flesh-pleasing actions – drinking and binge eating, among them – yet quickly learns they bring him no fulfillment. Only by serving others and performing charitable deeds does Phil escape the loop.
Rated PG for some thematic elements.
Photo courtesy: ©Columbia