World War Z – If your Right Hand Causes you to Sin…

World War Z is technically a zombie movie, but really it’s a movie about an infectious disease that is affecting the majority of humanity, and the struggle of uninfected mankind to find a cure.  Gerry Lane (Brad Pitt) with the United Nations is specifically tasked to find a cure.  Spoiler Alert!!! – He doesn’t actually find a cure, but he does find a way for mankind to protect themselves from being infected.

Anytime you deal with life and death issues on this kind of scale, it helps bring what really matters to the forefront.  It changes your perspective, gives you clarity.  I think this is one of the reasons why shows about war and about the end of the earth are so popular – they allow you the opportunity to re-evaluate priorities but to do so vicariously and at a safe distance.

I can’t help but thinking there is a correlation between the zombie virus in WWZ and sin.  It’s not a perfect connection, mind you, but it bears some strong similarities worth examining.  In both cases the infection is passed from man to man.  Sin was passed from Adam to all men, generation to generation.  The zombie virus is passed when a zombie bites a human.

The virus makes man less than man, barely a shadow of himself.  He still looks much the same, but the soul is gone.  He becomes a predator, only living for himself.  Sin has much the same effect.  It makes us shadows of ourselves, and affects our very souls, disconnecting our soul from its life source, God.  And when sin is given full reign, it too makes man a predator, living only for his own flesh and desires.

In the end, the best Gerry could do was find a way to insulate mankind from the zombies.  The zombies themselves still had to be fought and killed.  Our story is a little better.  Jesus did actually defeat sin and death when he rose from the cross, but for now, until He comes back to reign, we still have to live on the earth with sin.  We can protect ourselves from the effects of sin by accepting Jesus’ atonement for sin on our behalf, but as in WWZ, we still have to wage war against sin and work to put it to death until Jesus returns.

One of the most powerful moments of the movie was when he was in Jerusalem with a young military woman, Segen.  The Zombies breached the city and Segen (with other military personnel) is trying to get him out to safety when she gets bit on the hand by a zombie.  It takes less than 30 seconds for the virus to change a person to a zombie.  So for those few seconds, a person knows they are about to become less than human, and about to do horrible things to their fellow man.  Earlier in the show another military personnel is bit and they suicide, rather than endangering others.  It’s a tough call, but they know they are facing a horrible reality.

So Segen’s just been bit.  She looks at Gerry with that horrified, knowing look, and in an instant, without a pause, Gerry cuts off her hand.  Now she looks at him with a new sense of astounded horror, but Gerry makes no apologies.  He begins to care for the amputated limb and count.  He counts as he watches her closely, to see if she is going to become a zombie anyway, or, if by cutting off the infected hand, he saved her life.  He saved her life.

I said that movies like this make you reevaluate what really matters, and scenes like this are precisely what I’m talking about.  Under normal circumstances you wouldn’t ever opt to cut off your hand, but when it’s your hand or your life, you choose your life, and you don’t hesitate.

Remember I said that you could draw some pretty good parallels between the Z virus and sin?  Well, check out what Jesus said in Matthew 5:30:  “If your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell.”  Jesus is speaking in hyperbole, granted, but He’s serious about sin.  He understands just how deadly it is—far more than we do.  He may be speaking in hyperbole, but He’s not exaggerating when he says that it would be better to lose a hand (or an eye in vs. 29) than to send your whole body to hell.

Sometimes it’s hard to read scripture and see it fresh.  Sometimes it’s hard to read scripture and take it seriously—it’s easy to gloss over it, to take it lightly.  That’s where a scene like this one in WWZ can be helpful.  It puts it in a new light, a new context and helps us realize, in this case, just how serious sin is.

It’s an epidemic.  It turns us into people we never thought we would be.  It makes us forget what really matters.  It makes us live only for our own fleshly desires, and we become willing to sacrifice anyone, even those we love most, on the altar of those desires.  Sin, when given reign, makes us no better than those zombies.  And sin is eager to spread itself to others – so it’s not enough that it does that to us, but it makes us want to infect others and make them just like us—because sin hates righteousness and holiness.

We have got to take it just as seriously as the zombie virus in WWZ.  We have got to protect ourselves from it with the cross of Christ, and we need to be equally passionate about helping others protect themselves with the cross.  And we have to wage against sin with everything we have, most importantly when we see it in ourselves.  We need to be willing to do whatever it takes, even to the point of cutting off an arm, to keep sin from getting a hold on us.

Questions for Discussion

  • How seriously do you take sin?
  • What sins currently have a hold on you?  How might you be able to “cut them off”?
  • How does a movie like World War Z help you put your life into perspective?
  • What would be different about your life and priorities if you were living in WWZ, facing life and death like that?

by Stacey Tuttle

Click here to read a collection of quotes from World War Z.