By Meg Kilgannon/The Washington StandJuly 10, 2023
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I really didn't want to see this movie. Does anyone want to see a movie about horrific crimes against children and the systems that support or fail to stop child sex trafficking? But I felt an obligation to support "Sound of Freedom." And I was happy to hear the buzz in the conservative media sphere. "Sound of Freedom" was making noise in all the right places.
So I bought my tickets online and told myself that I had at least done my duty to financially support this worthy cause. My seat was sold, and if it went unfilled, the movie theater would still make money. Despite my best efforts to be somewhere else, I found myself in the seat on July 4.
I still don't quite understand how I left the theater feeling hopeful. I had expected to feel hopeless and disgusted after watching a movie about child sex trafficking. And there were certainly moments of those feelings during the course of the movie. But the power of art to move the human heart is very real, if hard to describe, even after experiencing it.
It's also hard to describe a movie without spoiling the plot for others. Here are five impressions this movie left on me, and I hope they inspire you to see the movie.
1. "God's children are not for sale."
This is the motivation for the main character to move beyond the soul crushing work of tracking organized pedophile networks to rescuing their victims. "Sound of Freedom" made me reflect, once again, on the work we ask others to do in our name: policing, soldiering, guarding. It is hard work, mostly done by men, who lay down their lives to protect and serve others. We ask them to deal with many of the things we do not want to face. Many do this work because of a higher calling, one that needs our support in prayer.
2. "I feel like she's my daughter."
Mrs. Tim Ballard texts this message to her husband while he is away searching for a victim. Her love and support for him and his work is beautifully communicated in this movie. She is also asked to bear part of the burden her husband shoulders on our behalf. She represents a much larger group of people who deserve our gratitude and our prayers.
3. "I was that darkness."
A man contemplates his role as a consumer in the adult sex industry. His redemption from direct involvement is by the grace of God. But this character made me think about what I could or should be doing to address this grave injustice against women and men, girls and boys. At a minimum, opposing the legalization of "sex work" would be a start. Removing pornography and pornographic content from school libraries and curricula is also imperative.
4. "You're on your own, Tim."
Government redress of grievances is limited. Tim Ballard, the main character, had to operate on his own to follow the call to protect God's children. But as Christians we have an obligation to prove that Tim is not alone. Each of us is called to combat the sex industry, whether through promoting organizations like Covenant Eyes that guard against pornography, by speaking out against endeavors to normalize pedophilia, or simply by living a life that upholds the dignity of every male and every female as a human being -- not objects for exploitation.
5. "Could you sleep if your child's bed was empty?"
The plea of a father for his trafficked daughter. This theme was the main reason for my initial reluctance to see the film. And it was one of the reasons why, if I had to see it, I would see it in a theater. Hearing a question like that asked in a movie theater for me is very different from hearing it asked in my living room, with my own children's beds right upstairs.
There are some movies to see and "leave" at the theater rather than experience them at home. But this movie is one to share with others, at a theater or at your church, or even in your home. While it is not for young children, this movie is a remarkable work of art about a horrific topic. I'm grateful to Angel Studios for distributing the movie, and I encourage you to see it. I am glad I did.