Photo credit: Shewanda Riley

By Shewanda Riley

“Auntie Wanda?   Are you okay?” I peeked through my fingers which covered both of my eyes and nodded my head at my teenaged niece and nephew who were asking this question concerned about my response to the film. Relieved that I was okay, they went back to commenting on how the shooting of people in the movie was so precise: “Great kill shot!”  were words that I overheard both say at least twice while watching the movie. What was the movie?  Django Unchained which my sister, [their mother], agreed would be okay for them to see. In fact, after at least 10 years of enjoying many children’s movies and cartoons as part of a family movie going ritual, it was the first “adult” movie that we [meaning my niece, nephew and I] had seen together.  It turned out to also be one of the most insightful experiences I had watching movies with them.

When the movie was over, they seemed completely unaffected by the violence and couldn’t wait to play Fruit Ninja in the movie theater arcade.  However, I was troubled by the violence of the movie but at the same time in awe of what I thought was one aspect of the movie that was not talked about much by its critics. The movie was not just a revenge story or one that trivialized slavery; it could also be seen as a story of the powerful sacrificial love that one man has for his wife.  Even more so, despite using the n-word nearly 200 times and having graphic instances of horrific violence, the movie actually had what could be called a Christian message.    

The Christian message I saw was the faith-fueled determination of Django to find his wife Broomhilda, no matter what.   When he does find her, there is one pivotal scene where he shields her from a potential gun’s bullets. The way the camera is angled, she completely disappears and all that is seen is Django standing protectively in front of her.  All I could say when I saw that was “Wow!   Now that’s a man!  Willing to give his life for his wife!” The scene was very much a visual example of I John 15-16 which encourages that “By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.” Regardless of how difficult it looked, Django stayed focused on finding his wife and took necessary risks.   I wouldn’t call Django a “Christian” movie, but it does illustrate key Christian concepts of unshakeable faith as well as unconditional and sacrificial love.  

What would our lives as Christians be like if we used this same type of determination (not killing people to get what we wanted) but remaining so faithful and focused on what we believe God has called us to do? Like Broomhilda, we have to be willing to hid behind Jesus and let him fight our battles. Like Django, we might have to endure what appear to be deceptively insurmountable obstacles as we exercise our faith. However, in the end, if we do not waver and trust God, we will obtain his promises and reach our Godly goals. 

Shewanda Riley (Aunt Wanda), PhD, is a Fort Worth-based author of “Love Hangover: Moving from Pain to Purpose After a Relationship Ends” and “Writing to the Beat of God’s Heart: A Book of Prayers for Writers.”  Email her at or follow her on Twitter @shewanda.   You can also listen to her podcast at