In an artistic landscape where films often argue worldviews that starkly disagree with the gospel and instead offer incomplete truths to explain the condition of man, it is surprising and refreshing to come across films that can offer affirmative insight into the Christian faith. It is even more surprising when those films are accepted and acclaimed by critics and popular culture. This seems to be the case with The King’s Speech. Starring Colin Firth, Helena Bonham Carter, and Geoffrey Rush, this film tells the true story of King George VI and his friendship with Lionel Logue, a speech therapist who helps cure the king of a debilitating stammer in a time when he is called to lead and inspire his country on the brink of World War II.
While I enjoyed the story and performances, what I found most striking about the film was how closely its themes parallel the Christian’s call to an ongoing battle against sin. For example:
Addressing behavior alone is futile.
Initially, King George and his wife have no interest in discussing personal matters with Logue and instead simply want to address the “mechanics” of the problem. In the same way, we often find ourselves idly trying to change our behavior without actually exploring the deeper cause of our sin. Sin is never as simple as willing ourselves to stop. If this was the case, Paul would not lament, “For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out” (Romans 7:18). Just as the king wanted a quick fix for his stuttering speech, we want to put an end to our lust, anger, envy, doubt, etc., without recognizing that these actions are rooted in our distortion of the truth and power of the gospel.
Change and growth requires humility.
For King George, deliverance from his stammer came at a great personal cost. He was forced to heed Logue’s instructions, speak truthfully about his past, and make himself painfully vulnerable. In the same way, battling our sin could very well cost us our pride. It may mean confessing sin to others, seeking accountability, and limiting access to temptation. This is one of the main purposes of community. In Galations, Paul explains, “Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness… Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” (Gal. 6:1,2).
At the same time, we should be humbled by Christ’s complete work on the cross, which is the source of right desire, strength, and assurance of justification. Although Paul reminds us that we are wretched men (Rom. 7:24), we are also told that, “There is therefore no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 8:1). The work has already been completed on our behalf.
The battle is difficult.
Our interactions with sin must actually be combative–we must actively struggle and fight the desires of the flesh by recognizing the weight of the war. King George’s work with Logue (and his later work as a war-time king) was difficult and taxing. But, understanding the weight of his call, his words in the film’s final speech beautifully parallel the Christian’s battle against sin:
“The task will be hard. There may be dark days ahead, and war can no longer be confined to the battlefield, but we can only… reverently commit our cause to God. If one and all we keep resolutely faithful to it, ready for whatever service or sacrifice it may demand, then with God’s help, we shall prevail.”