Warning: Spoiler alert for The Giver
I, gynecologist like probably every other student in the U.S., hepatitis read The Giver in middle school. I really wasn’t a fan, this possibly partly because I didn’t like my English teacher, and so when the movie came out earlier this year I wasn’t super enthused to see it. But when I did see it, I was absolutely blown away. The movie made the book come alive in a really special and beautiful day.
The Giver is set in a dystopian society that has gotten rid of all potential causes for conflict such as sickness, lying, violence, and race. But along with that they have also gotten rid of emotions, biological families, music, art, color, sexual attraction, and love. The Giver is the only one in the society who has memories of the past and through these memories he experiences all the pain that used to exist in the world, but also experiences true joy and love. Jonas is a young man who is chosen to be the Receiver, to receive all the memories that the Giver has. As Jonas receives these memories, he experiences both the pain and beauty that used to exist in the world, which the community he’s grown up in has eradicated. At the end of the movie he decides to escape from the community and travel through the world of “Elsewhere” to cross the boundary of memory so that all the memories will return to the people of the community. Jonas decides that even though returning the memories will mean that people will have to experience immense pain, suffering, disease, and war, it’s worth it because they will also experience the astounding beauty of love.
The movie brings up poignant theological questions. I believe that we, along with angels and demons, have been given free will by God. This has created a world in which people do terrible things–there is murder, cancer, abuse, and rape. So why has God given us free will? LOVE. A world with free will is the only world in which there can be true love. And so the question is this: Is love worth it? Is the incredible beauty of love worth the pain and suffering we go through?
Some people would say no. But I agree with Jonas–love is inexplicably worth it. The warm hug of a parent, the feeling of holding your baby for the first time, your wedding day, being overwhelmed by the majesty of the world around you, crying at a beautiful song, feeling enveloped by the love of God, the power of forgiveness and healed and redeemed lives…it’s worth it.
As we fall more in love with Jesus, the more our heart breaks for what breaks his and the harder we fight against the powers of darkness. Because one day heaven will come to earth and there will be no more tears or dying or suffering because the old order of things will pass away. And He who is seated on the throne will say, “I am making everything new!” And we, empowered by the Holy Spirit, have the privilege and responsibility of living every day fervently calling the Kingdom of God to Earth.
And if you still don’t think love is worth it, watch The Giver and maybe you’ll be convinced.