‘Unplanned’ Review

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When I was a teenager and a younger Christian, I was into every Christian fad that was available to me. My closet was filled with mostly Christian t-shirts. I wore (multiple!) WWJD bracelets. I listened to Christian music only and loved every Christian band (Newboys, Audio A, Jars of Clay; you name it, I owned the CD and listened constantly! Anyone remember Plus One or Jump5 or Phat Chance…? They were a thing and I was there, lol). I also felt encouraged when a secular music star or a movie celeb would mention God’s name in public or in a magazine article. I would then convince myself that there were godly people everywhere in the world, including secular music and Hollywood. And I have no doubt that if Pure Flix had been pumping out movies like they do now, I would have seen every one of them.

I have now been an adult for longer than I was a teenager—I haven’t been a teenager in almost 20yrs!—and God has graciously persevered me in faith through the work of the Holy Spirit in His Word and through the church. In this perseverance, my eyes have been opened that not every so-called “Christian” fad is a good one, is one to endorse, or is even Christian at all. And so I am much more discerning than I used to be and I can usually spot quickly when a Christian-fad is something I want to invest any time in or not.

Enter the newest Pure Flix movie Unplanned.

Unplanned tells the true story of how Abby Johnson, a former Planned Parenthood clinic director, changed her mind about abortion. While Abby believed that she was genuinely helping women in need, it wasn’t until 8 years into working at PP that she witnessed an abortion on an ultrasound screen which changed everything. Abby was horrified by seeing a baby in the womb struggle for life and then be ripped limb by limb out of existence. Abby then became an advocate for the pro-life movement and has now devoted her life to saving as many lives in the womb as possible, as well has truly helping pregnant women become moms or giving their baby for adoption.  She also has a ministry to help other women who work at PP but who want to leave and need help.

Is this movie worth seeing as a Christian? I think so. Let me explain why.

First, it visually sheds light on what abortion is for someone who doesn’t know. Since I was a teenager, I understood what an abortion entails to a certain degree.  But this movie gave me a better understanding of the emotional and physical trauma a woman goes through—esp. with the RU-486 pill. Furthermore, when discussing this movie with a group of my teenagers, all of whom were raised in the church, most of them admitted that they had no idea what happened in an abortion and didn’t know what Planned Parenthood actually did. This movie makes clear of what is going on.

Second, Unplanned does not in any way glorify the violence of the abortion. Yes, the movie is rated ‘R’ because of “some disturbing/bloody images”. But, the disturbing/bloody images are never done in humor or flippantly or with any inappropriate images. In the few bloody scenes, your heart breaks because a life has just died and that is tragic. Interestingly, the ‘R’ rating was meant to be a deterrent for people to see the movie, but, as the real Abby Johnson points out, “It’s almost like the [Motion Picture Association of America] stumbled backwards into the truth by admitting that abortion is violent, that it is an act of violence, and that it is disturbing … I’m not going to disagree that abortion is R-rated.”[1]

Third, the movie clearly shows the power of prayer and kindness from God’s people. Outside of the PP where Abby worked, a group of Christians gathered every day to pray and to talk with the women who were there to have an abortion. These folks were portrayed as kind and gentle, while being firm that what is going on in PP is murder of innocent lives. It is their kindness that Abby eventually runs to after seeing the murder of a baby. And that alone is a testimony to that ministry that kindness (and not harsh, rude language and actions) is what attracts many unbelievers to Christians and the gospel.  The movie also shows some rude/harsh protestors outside of PP, but you see the contrast between them and the ones who quietly pray and kindly engage in conversations with girls who come to have an abortion.

Who should see this movie?

First, I think church people, because 30% of abortions[2] come from ladies who identify as evangelical Christians. This means that churches are doing a less than adequate job of spiritually investing in educating God’s people about what God’s word says about human life in the womb (Gen 1; Ps 139) and what is actually going on inside of Planned Parenthood. Many (if not most) churches in America seem to care about what is “cool” or trendy or what keeps people coming back, rather than investing solid, biblical teaching and practical discipleship. We reap what we sow. Furthermore, I also think this movie is a good resource or tool for our church families to invite a neighbor, co-worker, or classmate to come watch it so that they can engage them in conversation about what they saw and what they believe.

Second, though I think each parent needs to decide if their kids should see Unplanned, I think at least young ladies 13+ should, because 12% of all abortions are of adolescent ladies. I think young men will have a harder time understanding, but I believe most 15+ young men can approach Unplanned with maturity, or at least leave the movie impacted and armed with the truth, so as to make better decisions personally or help friends who are considering an abortion.

As a side note, before any of our youth saw Unplanned, I took our youth group to a local Christian crisis pregnancy center to do a few hours of serving by cleaning/organizing. The director of the pregnancy center took us on a tour of the facility to share how comprehensively they help the women and men who walk through their doors to give them hope in the middle of their crisis. She also described the two types of abortions (the RU-486 pill & surgical procedures) performed at Planned Parenthood and showed our students life-size models of babies at different growth stages in the womb. Afterwards, we debriefed with our youth and came to find out that these “raised in the church” youth had no idea about most everything they heard that day, including how well-developed a baby is inside the womb.  Most had never heard of Planned Parenthood or if they had, they thought it was a place to help moms have babies.  Our youth were so thankful for that opportunity to learn about this ministry.  We told them that you never know when you or someone you know finds themselves in a situation they never imagined they would be in and we want them to know there are resources, like this crisis pregnancy center and our local church, who will walk along side of them.

The only negative to this movie is that the gospel is missing. The answer for all these ladies and for Abby is Jesus’ finished work on the cross. And yet, the place to find true hope was absent from the movie. God is spoken about several times but not the gospel.

Now there was one point in the movie that would have been a great place for the gospel. After Abby has left PP, she is at her home crying with her husband and trying to figure out what to do about her guilt of being complicit in over 22,000 abortions. She asks her husband, “what do I do with this guilt?” To which her husband tells her to ask God for forgiveness. Scene over. I really wish the gospel would have been inserted here. I wish her husband would have said to her, “Abby, you are guilty for all of those murders. And you stand before our holy God as condemned (Rom 1:28-32). Your guilt is right. BUT, God loves you in that He sent His only Son, Jesus Christ, who is God in flesh, to be the Savior of sinners, by dying on a cross to bear the weight of our sins (Rom 3:21ff). He took our sins and our guilt so that we could be free from sin’s penalty and power (2 Cor 5:21). Abby, you need to trust in the work of Jesus on your behalf and you will know God’s forgiveness and comfort.” If this had been in the movie, it would have offered eternal hope. But instead this was lost. Maybe it is because Abby Johnson is a Catholic[3] and does not know the true grace found in Christ[4]. Or maybe the point of the movie was educational and not trying to convert the audience to a specific religion. Either way, I wish the gospel would have made an appearance.

In the end, I think this movie is an important one to see. Yes, it is graphic and difficult to sit through at times, but if forces us to look at and understand the awful reality of an action that has killed more than 56 million people made in God’s image. Abortions are a plague and a genocide, and we need to wake up to its reality. Unplanned jars the audience awake and forces us as Christians to pray more, to be in the lives of young ladies more, to be the voice for the unborn, and hopefully to be able to engage our culture in the spheres of influence we have been given with the good news of forgiveness and redemption that is only found in Jesus Christ through His Word.


[1] https://thehill.com/hilltv/rising/438212-pro-life-advocate-says-move-to-give-unplanned-movie-an-r-rating-helped-the

[2] All stats to follow are from https://www.guttmacher.org/fact-sheet/induced-abortion-united-states unless otherwise noted.

[3]
https://chnetwork.org/journey-home/abby-johnson-former-baptist-and-episcopalian/

[4]
https://www.gotquestions.org/salvation-faith-alone.html

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