How did you feel the first time you saw Darth Vader on the screen? Probably exactly how Lucas wanted you to feel. This guy is evil.
But Darth Vader didn’t start out that way. He started out as Anakin Skywalker, hero of the prequel trilogy. His fall from grace in science-fiction is not much different than our fall here in the real world.
In Star Wars, we see characters who affiliate with the dark side of the Force become corrupted over time. Like a gateway drug, committing small sins makes it easier to commit big ones. This is something that we’ve all probably seen. People who break bad can usually remember the first instance of bad behavior that started their slide down the slippery slope, but by the hundredth time the behavior has become so natural that they don’t even think about it. And they are on to behaving even more badly.
Conversely, you have probably met people with good habits who seem relatively unfazed by scenarios that might cause others to stumble. It’s hard to bribe a teetotaler with a fifth of Jack Daniels, but a drug addict might kill someone for just a few grams of heroin.
Small sins progress into big sins, and you usually don’t notice where they are taking you. As C. S. Lewis put it, “The safest road to hell is the gradual one—the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts.”
But why do we start down this gentle slope to begin with?
The apostle James—who was the pastor of the church in Jerusalem and was martyred for his faith in 62 AD—had some inspired insights about this. He wrote, “Each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death” (James 1:14-15).
Enticed means, “to catch by use of bait.” In other words, sin involves some level of deception. When we sin, we are deceived; we’re like an animal caught in a trap or a fish being dragged away by a hook.
This process of being enticed and dragged away into greater and greater sins could be summed up by Yoda’s warning, “Once you start down the dark path, forever will it dominate your destiny.” Darth Vader admitted as much when he tried to entice Luke with his famous line, “If you only knew the power of the dark side.”
In Star Wars, you can clearly tell who has been enticed and dragged away. A character’s moral fall is typically shown through physical deformities and injuries. Users of the dark side often have significantly altered facial features and eyes (Emperor Palpatine), or physical deformities like the loss of limbs and mechanical parts (Darth Vader), signifying their loss of humanity. Users of the light side are generally depicted as being whole and unscarred. As Lucas put it:
Darth Vader was a—a composite man. I mean, he was . . . half-machine, half-man. And that’s where he lost a lot of his humanity is that he—you know, he has mechanical legs. You know—and he has mechanical arms possibly and he’s hooked up to a breathing machine. So there’s not much, actually, human left in him.
In the real world, we also see physical effects of sin but not always so quickly. Sin brought sickness and death into the world, and it has also separated us from God. Only a divine Redeemer—someone who is sinless and can conquer death—can make the world new and bring us back into God’s family.
Taken from Hollywood Heroes: How Your Favorite Movies Reveal God by Frank Turek and Zach Turek. Copyright ©2022. Used by permission of NavPress. All rights reserved. Represented by Tyndale House Publishers, a Division of Tyndale House Ministries.
Frank and Zach Turek are coauthors of the new book Hollywood Heroes: How Your Favorite Movies Reveal God.
Frank Turek is an award-winning author or coauthor of several books, including I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist and his latest, Hollywood Heroes (releasing from NavPress in May 2022). He hosts a weekly TV program broadcast to 32 million homes and an apologetics podcast on over 180 stations. As founder and president of CrossExamined.org, Frank speaks over 100 times per year, often to youth and college students. He has debated several prominent atheists, including Christopher Hitchens and Michael Shermer.
Frank Zachary Turek has a master’s degree in philosophy from Southern Evangelical Seminary and is the coauthor of Hollywood Heroes with his father, Frank Turek.