In a recent interview with the Hollywood Reporter, Reacher star Alan Ritchson is referred to as “an unfiltered, faith-driven family man who is unafraid to show his scars as a way to fulfill God’s wishes and live in service to others.”

Yet, Ritchson also doesn’t seem to have much patience for Christians who don’t measure up to his expectations – or those who question or push back on his judgment.

“Christians today have become the most vitriolic tribe,” he told the reporter. “It is so antithetical to what Jesus was calling us to be and to do.”

To be fair, it’s not clear from the story what vitriol the actor is specifically referring to, but some additional comments hint at it.

Ritchson went on to say, “I’m a Christian quite simply because of what Jesus calls us to do. Love other people until death.”

The popular star is right that Jesus calls us to love one another. “Love each other as I have loved you,” He urged His disciples. “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (John 15:12-13).

But that’s not all Jesus called us to do. The New Testament is full of dozens of timeless and difficult charges that go well beyond just loving our fellow man.

Jesus also calls us to “repent” (Matthew 4:17) and not scoff at the seriousness of sin. “If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away” (Matthew 5:29).

Jesus commands us to turn the other cheek (Matthew 5:39) and love our enemies (Matthew 5:43-44). But then He also commands us to beware of false prophets (Matthew 7:15) and watch out for frauds and charlatans (Matthew 10:16).

The Beatles might claim “All you need is love,” but the Bible suggests otherwise.

Alan Ritchson has taken offense to criticism he’s received for assuming edgy or risqué roles. He correctly points out that the Bible is no G-rated book. Yet, that doesn’t necessarily mean Christians should be comfortable taking R-rated roles.

In his role on Reacher, Ritchson has been filmed in a shower with a topless woman – and called criticism he’s received “laughable” and said that “God doesn’t care” about such things.

In his spirited response to the criticism, Ritchson suggests those who push back think Christians should only be taking parts where they’re “silently folding their hands in the pew of a church.”

We can’t speak for the expectations of all those challenging his judgment, but that’s clearly not what the vast majority of those speaking out expect.

Through the years, many Christians in Hollywood have taken layered or even complicated roles that didn’t involve compromising their morals or marriage vows. Yet what many miss is the idea that you can still tell a strong story without gratuitous sex or violence.

In an interview with the late Barbara Walters, Ronald Reagan once talked about a movie director he knew named Ernst Lubitsch who was careful to not violate the first rule of the industry. According to the fortieth president, that law states you can’t do anything in a theater that is equal to the audience’s imagination.

Reagan then described a movie that wanted to communicate the passion of the wedding night – but not show anything graphic. Rather than hide or obscure body parts, the director set up a camera in the hallway of the hotel. He fixed the shot on the room door, capturing a bare arm reaching out and around and placing a “Do Not Disturb” sign on the knob.

“Everyone in the audience had their own version of a wedding night,” reflected President Reagan.

Alan Ritchson is a man with strong opinions and passions who is quick to decry hypocrisy. He will find no argument from most of us that doublemindedness exists inside the Church, as it does outside of it.

But as the popular actor continues to proclaim God’s commands using his platforms, including thru video messages he gives on YouTube and Instagram (#Instachurch), he might also highlight Jesus’ call to practice forgiveness.

“Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?” Peter asks. Jesus answered, “I tell you not seven times, but seventy-seven times” (Matthew 18:21-22).

A report in last week’s Deseret News said Ritchson appears to be “Anti-church despite being pro-faith.” Once more, Scripture is instructive and convicting, noting that we cannot “neglect meeting together” and that we must be “encouraging one another” as we do (Hebrews 10:25).


Image from Getty.