Time of the Wolf — DVD of the Day

I’m currently working on a manuscript about powerfully transporting films, and the chapter currently on the table is about films that explore loneliness, alienation, and division in contemporary society.

Thus, I’ve been thinking about a lot of films, from Taxi Driver to Barton Fink to Punch-drunk Love to Last Life in the Universe. The director I can’t escape is Michael Haneke, especially Code Unknown.

But it didn’t hit me until today that the events we’re seeing unfold in what’s left of New Orleans are strikingly similar… dismayingly so… to the events in Haneke’s Time of the Wolf.

Because the disaster that sets the film in motion is left undefined, the subsequent events onscreen could be applicable to any number of tragedies. All we know is that something… nuclear holocaust? Hurricane? Civil war? … has turned a seemingly secure and civilized society upside-down. Isabelle Huppert plays a woman trying to keep her family together during the chaos that ensues. The similarities between the current chaos and what happens in this film are uncanny…

…the desperation for water…
…the problems of transporting the old and the sick and the weak…
…racial conflict…
…vigilantes and criminals running rampant…
…the absence of federal help until, for many, it’s too late…
…the waiting for rescue, for compassion, for supplies, for anything
…the desperate attempts of parents to keep a family safe and together in spite of the encroaching dangers of hunger, disease, dehydration…
… the threat of murder and rape in the night…

Part of me wants to revisit the film right now, because I’m curious to see what else relates. And also because, while the conclusion is wide open to varying interpretations, you can find hope there. But my emotions, battered as they are right now, couldn’t take the weight of the experience. Not yet.

I appreciate Haneke more and more, though, and in the future, this film will be an even richer provocation to conversation and contemplation. I am thrilled to see he has a new film coming that stars the great Daniel Auteuil and the sublime Juliette Binoche. Cache is about a married couple who are torn to pieces by the experience of having videos delivered to their doorstep that reveal they are being watched by someone somewhere and documented. Ahh… just in time for Christmas!

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About Jeffrey Overstreet

Jeffrey Overstreet is the author of a “memoir of dangerous moviegoing” called Through a Screen Darkly, and a four-volume series of fantasy novels called The Auralia Thread, which includes Auralia’s Colors, Cyndere’s Midnight, Raven’s Ladder, and The Ale Boy’s Feast. Jeffrey is a contributing editor for Seattle Pacific University’s Response magazine, and he writes about art, faith, and culture for Image, Filmwell, and his own website, LookingCloser.org. His work has also appeared in Paste, Relevant, Books and Culture, and Christianity Today (where he was a film columnist and critic for almost a decade). He lives in Shoreline, Washington. Visit him on Facebook at facebook.com/jeffreyoverstreethq.

  • Anonymous

    Some clarifications re. my last post:

    1.Doctrinal – in that Jesus sacrificed himself as a sin offering for all people everywhere. I fully affirm Scripture in its clear identification of homosexual behavior as sinful. But I also believe the struggles that people face in battling wrong sexual attractions are experienced by everyone on the planet, whatever their sexual orientation. (Am speaking of “orientation,” not of actions. They are two different things.)

    2. Exodus-affiliated ministries are there for men and women who are struggling with relational brokenness and sexual sin, be it same-sex or opposite-sex.

    3. We live in a fallen, broken world . Is it any wonder that we’d experience disordered sexual attractions? The difference we as believers can make in reaching out to those who are struggling (Christian or not) is incalulable, if only because Jesus’ sacrifice – and his redemption – are also incalculable. He is grace, he is mercy, and there is hope for all who surrender to him.

    There, now I feel better.

    One last comment: some of you might find Annie Proulx’s comments on her feelings for some of her characters (namely Jake and Ennis) interesting; also her admittedly terse comments on her story. You can find them on her web site: http://www.annieproulx.com/

    If anything, her comments and my own recent reading of her short story are pushing me into greater compassion for those who struggle with these temptations. (BTW, there are no minced words regarding the destructive force of Jack and Ennis’ desires on their wives and their marriages – some of the story is written from Alma’s viewpoint.)

  • Anonymous

    I don’t really want to jump into this thread, but something compels me: compassion for those who struggle with unwanted sexual attractions and the consquences they bring. Could be either heterosexual or homosexual – and the brother or sister sitting next to you in the pew might be battling them. Or maybe *you* are.

    One of the big mistakes we, the church (am using this phrase because the church is us, not some building or institutional structure) make is that we tend to distance ourselves from – in these cases – putting ourselves in the other person’s shoes. We’re terribly behindhand in our response to AIDS (in the US and Canada as well as the rest of the world) partly because of our own fears and prejudices toward homosexual men and women.

    Take a look at the Exodus International website for a taste of what it’s really like to face up to living Christ’s love in the face of homosexual desires – I’m not endorsing all Exodus-affiliated ministries, but am aware of some good ones.

    Our lack of identification with others – and our perceived (often all too real) lack of understanding and compassion for those who struggle with relational brokenness and sexual sin (same-sex or opposite sex) has helped put the church in a terrible place! If we truly reach out to others in Christ’s love, we’ll inevitably have to confront the “there but for the grace of God go I factor.” And if we *do* indeed confront that honestly, we will be able to reach out to those who are struggling with sexual sin, no matter what variety (along with gender-identity confusion and the whole lot). Please, folks – do it. Jesus died for all sin, and not a single one of us is outside the reach of his mercy and forgiveness. If you truly believe that, you’ll have to face the fact that your neighbor in the pew might be struggling with these things.

    I’ve not yet seen this film (and am not sure I’m going to), but I did read Annie Proulx’s short story last weekend. While there is (at some points) a polemical subtext, there’s also a very honest examination of what it might mean to want to be emotionally intimate with another. Although there are some fairly raw (and, to my mind, very unerotic) passages in the story, it’s mainly about needs that go far deeper than sexual desire – needs and longings that all of us have, and that are not wrong per se. How we choose to meet those needs – and what kinds of relationships we enter into – are where sin enters into the picture.

    Lots of constructive things can be gained from this film and the surrounding controversy – one of the most important, to my mind, is the opportunity to see the world through someone else’s eyes, and further, how to reach out to those “someones” on Christ’s love.

    Apologies for a rather rambling psot, but I’m not feeling much like editing it right now!

    e.c.

  • Christopher

    After making an ill advised comment about this movie at a church meeting, I went online to read reviews about it and stumbled across this blog thread. One hour later I’m done reading. I must say, this has been a thought provoking experience. So much pain and anger and confusion. So hard to know what to say. I think this issue touches on what makes it difficult to be a Christian in the first place. How do we hold up grace and law? In other words, how are we Christ to other people? I wish I had the answers. I don’t. Slogging through these posts kind of reminded me of my frustrations reading the sermon on the mount. The ideals are there, but they’re unattainable. We recoil along with the disciples and shout, “who then can be saved?” Christ responds, “with man it is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” I want gays to know that I love them, that God loves them, that they are welcome any time at the church I attend. I also want them to know what a miserable sinner I am, want them to know about the grace I have found, want them to know about my feeble efforts toward the light. I also want them to know about God’s truth, God’s law, so that they can experience the fullness of his holiness and help them to live into it. I feel helpless to do this. I pray that God will accomplish it, for them and for me.

  • Rick R

    Good points, Adam W…especially your last paragraph. In fact, I’ve been thinking about this whole topic today and you hit upon something I was going to post.

    I’ve been wondering if it was possible to raise this discussion out of a “we must agree to disagree” stage and into something we can have a good dialog about as Christians.

    To get there, I present a question to all followers of Christ who are reading this, regardless of where you stand on the subject of homosexuality:

    How do we Christians, as we are called to do, show God’s unconditional love, his grace, and Jesus’ love and sacrifice to those people who are living in sin? Let’s look at some extremes that I think we can all agree about. How do we show God’s unconditional love and grace and Jesus’ sacrifice to murderers, rapists, child molesters, and thieves? If these people are still living ungodly lives, how do show them God’s love and try to convince them to to move toward godly living, without judging and condemning?

    Like Adam W said, “WWJD?” I kinda hate that tagline, but it really applies here, doesn’t it? Jesus didn’t always tolerate and accept people’s sins. He may have moved in and amongst the sinners, but he certainly got angry at people defiling the temple, told people to “sin no more.”

    So…how do we show unconditional love to those still living in sin?

    (If we can reach consensus on that, then maybe we can reach consensus on how to show unconditional love to people who some of us believe are living in sin and some of us do not.)

    (As an additional…I’ve asked my sister to come check out this discussion.)

  • Adam Walter

    Rick R said: Okay, so you would probably argue that there’s a huge difference between homosexuality and pedophilia. Well, to a Christian who thinks God is against homosexuality, there isn’t.

    You express the situation here perfectly. If it is arbitrary to place gender restrictions on sexual relationships, then it is also arbitrary to restrict relationships along the lines of age, number (i.e. only 2 people to a marriage), and family relation.

    [And wait a minute before crying out that "incest is different" because it produces biological problems in offspring. I have heard this distinction made--without further qualification--time and time again. However, it is as "homophobic" a statement as any I've heard, since it always assumes that incest won't be compounded with homosexuality.]

    Oh, and there’s also the #1 reason for rejecting deviant sexuality: God hates it.

    I definitely believe Christians need to hold an attitude of love for homosexuals, but I think this love should have the same character as our love for pedophiles and people who engage in incest and polyamory or polyfidelity. I work in a public place where “polyamores” meet regularly–and to tell you the truth, I’m at a complete loss for words when I see them. My fault completely, I’m sure. WWJD?

  • Rick R

    Kate…your last paragraph hardly sounds like a rant. Well thought out argument and point. It’s the one aspect that I do struggle with regarding this issue. Like with my sister, she’s a mature person, she’s lived forty-plus years…she’s finally found someone who gives her some joy and happiness and might be with her for many years. On one hand, that’s nice to see. But on the other, I’m still “opposed” to it on a Biblical/moral basis, so it causes some internal angst with me, and some awkwardness with her.

    If you were to extend your point a little, what if someone said, “You know, I can only find intimacy with young girls. I’ve tried having relations with women, I’ve tried having relations with men…they just don’t cut it. I only find true intimacy and love with girls younger than 17.”

    Everything you say in your last paragraph about homosexuals could also apply to this person. But wouldn’t you agree that he/she BETTER practice celibacy?

    Okay, so you would probably argue that there’s a huge difference between homosexuality and pedophilia. Well, to a Christian who thinks God is against homosexuality, there isn’t. In fact, there are probably more instances in the Bible of homosexuality being spoken against than there are pedophilia.

    Regarding Anon’s last post…
    I wish people would paraphrase correctly. To say that I use the word “hate” in my posts without showing the context or re-writing what I wrote as if that’s what I said (making it seem I said, “You state you have to embrace, accept, or tolerate or hate”) is wrong. My use of the word “hate” was to show how Christians are viewed if they don’t accept homosexuality, not to say that I actually hate. A direct quote of mine is “accept and embrace this, or be considered a hate-filled bigot.” HUGE difference. In fact, Anon is proving me right by considering me hate-filled just because I choose not to accept, embrace and celebrate.

    Grace, peace and mercy to all. Yes, even to you, Anon! :)

  • kate

    I too like the direction this comment thread has taken. Lots of food for thought.

    Peter, thank you for your very excellent and thought-provoking points. I have been mulling them over since I read them. At this point I don’t have any specific objections or arguments. I’m more in a “mulling” stage than a “debating” place on this subject, I guess.

    In particular your question about what “pre-marital sex” would mean in the context of a homosexual relationship has given me a lot to think about. Obviously, for gay people in this country (and, many would say, in the eyes of God), there is no such thing as “marital,” so the whole concept of pre-marital begs the question. This is why I don’t like comparing heterosexual people’s struggle to homosexuals’ struggle: yes, it is difficult for heterosexuals to abstain from sex, but they at least have the POSSIBILITY that an intimate sexual relationship may someday be available to them in marriage. Homosexual Christians are not even given the same possibility; they are cut off not only from sexual intimacy, but from the emotional intimacy and security and trust and covenant that is marriage. I think that is tragic, and at this point in my life, I am not willing to say that God requires a life of celibacy and solitude from someone who is clearly in love with and in covenant with another person. I think celibacy is a noble and true calling for many people, hetero- and homosexual. I think many people are called to it in spite of their “nature,” i.e. their desires otherwise. But I think it is unfair to say that homosexuals must *automatically* be celibate (unless they are willing to become heterosexual).

    OK, that’s my rant for the day. No more. :)

  • Anonymous

    Jeffery overstreet: You seem like a good friend to have. I admire and respect you for your strong convictions, not that I agree with all of them, but we can agree to disagree and I can still respect you, which I do.

    Mike g.: Well said! To me, that is what being a Christian all is about.

    Rick r.: I’m sorry if I wasn’t tolerant towards you and your beliefs. To me, when Christians don’t “appear” compassionate (you towards your sister) I’ll get a knee jerk reaction. I guess when I see someone getting (or what appears to be) kicked, I like to kick back in their defense. Your thread with a 10:50 timestamp uses the word, “HATE”, 4 times: 3rd paragraph last sentence, 4th paragraph last sentence, 5th paragraph next to the last sentence, 6th paragraph last sentence. You state you have to embrace, accept, or tolerate or hate. You clearly don’t embrace, accept, or tolerate. Your words, not mine. I don’t think you are a hateful person. You just sound hateful about this topic. Can’t you be open a little and just consider what this site, http://www.religioustolerance.org/hom_bibl.htm offers?

    Merry Christmas everyone!! God Bless!

  • Rick R

    This is a great thread of posts. Lots of good discussion, lots of different perspectives. As I said in my initial post, I find the homosexuality issue to be a tough one to handle as a Christian, seeing as how the Bible seems pretty clear about it being sinful, yet current society leans toward acceptance. Everyone’s thoughts and arguments have helped me get a better handle on perspectives from both sides of the issue.

    Regarding Jeffrey’s latest post: >>”However, regarding ‘the religious right’ and how they ‘single out’ homosexuals while refusing to address other varieties of sin… insofar as this is truly the case, then ‘the religious right’ is out of line.”

    I’ll come back to a point I made earlier. I think the reason it appears that the “religious right” is focusing on homosexuality while seeming to ignore other varieties of sin is because homosexuality is currently the only “sin” which current society says we, as humans, must accept, tolerate, embrace and celebrate. I think if there were other immoral/sinful things that were pushed so strongly – that is, to the extent of embracing AND celebrating – then the “religious right” would jump all over those, too. I rue the day when society asks us to begin tolerating pedophiliacs or people who enjoy Britney Spears music.

    I don’t intend to get in a dialog with just one specific person, but I have to respond to a couple of comments made by Anonymous.

    >>Being gay is hard enough, coupled with the region of the country you live in can make it worse then throw in a family member who’s on a religious kick can make it even worse.

    I’m definitely not on a religious kick. I believe in the Bible, true, but I don’t go around beating people over the head with it. I try to live a life worthy of being adopted into God’s family, worthy of being an heir to his kingdom, and to show Christ’s love through example. I don’t always succed, but I try. I rarely…RARELY…outright evanglize. And that’s why I love this discussion. It’s helping me see the other perspective and get an idea of how to respond without eliciting knee-jerk reactions from those with opposing views.

    >>I guess you are right that I may be close minded but I don’t like thinking there are people like you in this world that spew hate in the name of God.

    Yikes! Looking back at my posts, I see no hate in them, I really don’t. If an objective observer/reader could point it out to me, please do. (In fact, if there is hate anywhere in this thread of posts, it appears to be coming from you toward me.)

    >>Rick you shouldn’t let your faith get in the way of your relationship with her. Not everyone is going to believe the way you do, don’t expect her to.

    My sister and I talked about this the other day. I believe we have a very open, loving relationship. I do object and find offensive that you would assume that we don’t, just because I believe in something that she doesn’t. There is awkwardness in the relationship, yes. And yes, it is because of the homosexual issue. But that awkwardness would exist if she were an alcoholic, a drug-user, or whatever goes against my beliefs. (And please don’t tell me that you’ve surrounded yourself with nothing but open-minded people like yourself that you never find yourself in awkward situations due to differing beliefs.)

    Anyway, thanks everyone, for a great discussion and some challenging concepts. Thanks, Jeffrey, for your blog!

  • Jeffrey Overstreet

    Well, if anyone assumes I’m recommending “lives of deception,” or if anyone thinks I rate marital infidelity as any less offensive then homosexual activity, they’re wrong. Sin is sin. I don’t single out homosexuality as some other super-category.

    It just happens to be the subject of this thread, and I’m responding to questions about it directly. If this thread were about infidelity, pornography, gluttony, or some other sin, I’d be sharing similar convictions about those… and not as some high-and-mighty judge, but as a sinner who knows that what God wants from me, and what my own impulses say, are very different things.

    >>My concern with the religious right singling out homoesexuality is that it pushes people deeper into living double lives.

    If I have a conviction about sin, I’m not pushing anybody to live a double life. I’m saying “Be honest… but give up your sinful desires and struggle toward righteousness.” Jesus defended the prostitute from hypocritical judges, but he also said “Go and sin no more.” I doubt this was an easy order for her to live with.

    However, regarding “the religious right” and how they “single out” homosexuals while refusing to address other varieties of sin… insofar as this is truly the case, then “the religious right” is out of line.

    >> The bottom line is this–many Christians (me included) are more satisfied with someone living a lie than someone being real about their feelings.

    This is indeed a serious problem, and needs more attention. We need to address sin in a way that other sinners will confess their sins with the confidence that the church will still show them love, rather than judgment, when they do. That love, however, must do them the honor of holding fast to conviction, not changing the definition of sin to keep from hurting people’s feelings.

  • Mike G.

    My concern with the religious right singling out homoesexuality is that it pushes people deeper into living double lives. Having attended a Christian college here in Alabama, I saw many guys who “played straight” and regularly “hooked up” with guys. I think that is disgusting (the lying). The bottom line is this–many Christians (me included) are more satisfied with someone living a lie than someone being real about their feelings. Though I grew up in an extremely conservative home, I was able to help pray with a guy in my fraternity who struggled with sexuality and helped him to not reject God because of his struggle.

    A monogamous homosexual relationship doesn’t bother me at all (as a Christian). In fact, i’d rather see that than a man cheating on his wife or an unhealthy “conventional” relationship. I need to spend my time ensuring that my [future] marriage stays intact and that I can give homosexual people a better alternative, if I do believe that it truly is. Unfortunately, marriage (even among Christians) isn’t such an appealing option! I want to see us as Christians face reality and help people of any orientation come back to self-awareness and self-respect. There are healthy ways to deal with this issue (no matter your view), but the dogged anger toward this specific sin invites a glorification of a dual life, which helps noone. In a way, we are promoting this new “down low” culture which is deplorable. I am all for straight and gay people living lives of discretion, but living a life of deception must be a nightmare. The pitiful thing is this–when many people who struggle with sexuality are pushed away from faith, there are plenty of people willing to be there for them. Unfortunately, they are dysfunctional-homosexual people (people who are sub-normal despite their sexuality) who resent faith and help to push their fold more against Christ.

    I pray that we all will seek to live more authentically in 2006. I will continue to do my part by being the best follower of Christ that I can be, and always fight the stereotype that a Christian has to think one way about everything. I can’t let my difference with the religious right push me away from a relationship with Christ. He means too much to me. To think that many homosexual people won’t get to know a relationship with Christ because of Christians (us, me) makes me sad.

    Merry Christmas!

  • Jeffrey Overstreet

    >>When a gay person is attracted to the same sex, there really isn’t a choice who that person engages in for sex.

    Well, if they have the ability to choose WHICH same-sex partner they sleep with, then yes, they can choose to sleep with someon of the opposite sex. Hopefully in the covenant of marriage.

    As Peter has just pointed out, Brokeback Mountain even portrays this.

    I have two friends who have homosexual inclinations who are choosing to resist “nature” in that sense… because “nature” does not equal “moral.” Nature can incline us toward all manner of unhealthy behaviors. To follow God’s call is to resist those “natural” urges that go against what is *best.*

    >>Do you hold your strait friends to that same level you hold your gay friends too?

    I don’t understand the question. What do you mean by “hold”? I don’t give anybody orders. But I do believe that heterosexual people should engage in sexual activity only in the covenant of marriage, because anything else does more harm than good, and because I believe scripture is very clear on the point of what God desires and honors.

    >> Do you have any gay friends who have been in a committed monogamous relationship and if you do, do you still object to that?

    I do have gay friends in committed monogamous relationships, and while I am relieved that they are not being promiscuous, I believe they have done “what is easy” (or “easier”) rather than “what is right” (to borrow a phrase from Dumbledore. The better path would have been to pursue wholeness, in which sexual desires and sexual activity is fulfilled in two different sexes becoming “one flesh.”

    >> In your view, is it unhealthy for you to support a gay relationship the way you would support a strait relationship?

    Yes. I can love them as friends and still object to their choice. Just as I don’t believe it is moral or healthy for unmarried heterosexuals to live together and engage in sex before marriage, I don’t believe it is moral or healthy for homosexuals to engage in such activity. Although I know the road is very difficult, I would encourage all of them to pray, and to take steps toward God’s design for marriage rather than choosing an alternate path and pretending that there’s no difference.

    I have areas in my own life where my fallen human nature inclines me toward something that isn’t right. Every day I must struggle to resist what seem “natural” in order to do what is right. It isn’t easy. It goes against “what my heart tells me” (Hollywood’s favorite phrase. But in the long run, it is the right thing, and the godly thing to do.

    Christ sacrificed far more than this in order to align himself with God’s will. The least I can do is carry my own lesser cross.

  • Peter T Chattaway

    Are we forgetting that the men in this film both have sex with women, and produce offspring? Whether or not they enjoyed sex with these women as much as they enjoyed sex with each other, the fact remains, they chose their actions, and they are responsible for those actions (whether those actions were good or bad).

  • Anonymous

    Jeffery overstreet. I can see your point with how “orientation” and “choices” can be perceived as two different things. When a gay person is attracted to the same sex, there really isn’t a choice who that person engages in for sex. It would be unnatural for that gay person to sleep with someone of the opposite sex. So, I don’t clearly see the choices. Do you hold your strait friends to that same level you hold your gay friends too? Do you have any gay friends who have been in a committed monogamous relationship and if you do, do you still object to that? In your view, is it unhealthy for you to support a gay relationship the way you would support a strait relationship?

  • Peter T Chattaway

    That’s my big question: what about committed, trothful, covenental homosexual relationships?

    That’s certainly better than rampant promiscuity. Better to be committed to someone than to be a slut, of whatever gender or sexual preference.

    That said, I would still pose a few questions.

    (1) The Christian understanding of marriage is rooted in the biblical notion that sex between a man and a woman makes them “one flesh” (which, in turn, is rooted in the Creation story which specifies that God made male and female as complementary subcategories of humanity; humanity is made whole, in a sense, when male and female come together, in a way that it is not made whole when two men or two women come together). Is it even possible, then, that sex between two men, or between two women, would produce the same state of being “one flesh”? And if not, then what sort of covenant could be based on these relationships?

    (2) How many gay people, including gay Christians, would follow the principle that one should wait until the commencement of the covenanted relationship before having sex? What would an expression like “pre-marital sex” mean in that context? (This, of course, could lead to a gay variation on the age-old youth-group question, “How far is too far when you’re dating?” Or it could lead to a debate over how to define “sex” in the first place.)

    (3) If someone is confused about his or her sexual orientation, how is he or she to resolve this question without actually experimenting with the sexual practices, both hetero and homo, that reside somewhere in the grey area described by my second question?

  • Anonymous

    kate: Many Christians believe like you that it is not a sin for just being gay. Like you, I have many gay friends who are in committed relationships just like married folks are, and then I have some who are single, like heterosexuals who are single, like to sleep around so promiscuity does happen across the board. You shouldn’t be questioning yourself if your feelings are in line with those around you because I can say from this site, it may not be. It seems to me most here are very conservative and judgmental toward the homosexuals so you may be asking for approval from the wrong group of people.

    Go to http://www.religioustolerance.org/hom_bibl.htm and read what is posted at that site. This may answer your questions you seem to be hung up about but I can assure you that your feelings are very similar to mine, etc.

    Rick r: You think your sister had heterosexual relationships because that’s what was expected from her? You certainly expected it. So, since it was expected she tried it and found out it wasn’t for her, so what. Rick you shouldn’t let your faith get in the way of your relationship with her. Not everyone is going to believe the way you do, don’t expect her to. Being gay is hard enough, coupled with the region of the country you live in can make it worse then throw in a family member who’s on a religious kick can make it even worse. Rick, there is nothing wrong with being gay. Are you so insecure with who you are that you would rather suppress who you think doesn’t measure up to your standards? Or is it your Bible’s standards? I guess you are right that I may be close minded but I don’t like thinking there are people like you in this world that spew hate in the name of God. I know, hate the sin love the sinner…

    I don’t mean to offend anyone here and if I have I am sorry.

  • kate

    JO wrote:

    I have many friends who are gay. I love them dearly. I object to their choices when they choose to sleep together, just as I object to the choices of friends who drink Diet Coke at every opportunity (because it’s so destructive to them) or who smoke a pack a day, or who look at pornography, or who steal from their parents.

    Emphasis mine, in bold, because that phrase raises one of the most difficult questions for me about this whole issue: why are homosexual relationships destructive?

    All of the other things in your list have either health consequences (ingesting too many sugars/carcinogens) or consequences that are foisted upon other people (stealing violates trust and consent between two people). But I just can’t for the life of me come up with the same sorts of consequences for homosexuality in and of itself.

    I can certainly see the sin in various types of homosexual relationships. For instance, you mention friends choosing to sleep with same-gendered partners. I’m assuming here that you mean this on a casual basis, i.e. sleeping around. This type of behavior seems to have obvious consequences, both emotional and physical, perhaps not immediately manifest but likely detrimental over the long term–but that is true of BOTH heterosexual and homosexual relationships. Casual sex violates the covenental intent of “two becoming one.”

    I think we can also agree that a homosexual relationship like Jack and Ennis’s is sinful because of the destruction it wreaks on their families. As I’ve mentioned elsewhere, I have several friends whose marriages have been torn apart when one partner finally admits (to his wife, AND to himself) that he’s gay. Often in these situations the gay partner has been having an illicit affair during the marriage. Again, this is obviously sinful, obviously violating covenants left and right. But this is also true of heterosexual marriages where sexual or emotional infidelity takes place.

    And this is where I get hung up. What if the gay partner had not struggled so hard to live as a heterosexual? What if he had met his current male partner years earlier, and instead been faithful to him–rather than unfaithful to his wife later on?

    That’s my big question: what about committed, trothful, covenental homosexual relationships? What about those who aren’t doing the casual sex thing, but are committed to one partner, to one person, for life? What about my two women friends who have been together for 15 years, who while I don’t understand everything that draws them together, are a model for the trust and fidelity I hope for in my own marriage? What is the “destructive” element in that relationship? Where is the sin?

    Again I feel the need to amend this with the qualification that I am not trying to be confrontational. This is an area of great and passionate unrest for me, and I hope that comes across

  • Peter T Chattaway

    While I may be confusing I am certainly not confused. This has been a well thought out doctrine for many years. Ezekiel 16:49-50 . . .

    Dude, you wouldn’t believe how often I have quoted this passage in the past 13 years. Just the other day, I quoted it to explain why I object to the word “sodomy”.

    It is possible but it smacks of “beggin the Question” to me.

    I’m not sure what “Question” you’re referring to.

    I’m not sure how you are defending your point here.

    My point is that the film is not “promoting” homosexual behaviour, therefore, I am defending my point by pointing to scenes where the film points out some of the regrettable potential consequences of homosexual behaviour — including, in this case, the destruction of a family.

    You seem to think that “the destruction of the family” is one of the negative consequences of homosexuality, and I am saying that the film might actually provide evidence that supports your view, and I am also saying that a film which provides such evidence is probably not “promoting” the opposite view as aggressively as you seem to think it is.

  • mark

    Peter,

    While I may be confusing I am certainly not confused. This has been a well thought out doctrine for many years.
    Ezekiel 16:49-50
    “Look, this was the iniquity of your sister Sodom: She and her daughter had pride, fullness of food, and abundance of idleness; neither did she strenghten the hand of the poor and needy. And they were haughty and committed abomination before Me; therfore I took them away as I saw fit.”
    In Ephesians greed is listed last but it is just a list. Ezekiel seems to declare a cause and effect. Sorry for not being clearer on what I was trying to say.

    “Specifically what I meant was that a movie where the writer, director, actors, and theme, all assume homosexuality to be a normal lifestyle, it is pretty incredible for anyone not to see that they are promoting that idea no matter what else is thrown in.

    Well, there’s a difference between assuming and promoting. You can do one without necessarily doing the other.”

    It is possible but it smacks of “beggin the Question” to me.

    “My other concern is that this sin calls for the ultimate destruction of the family.

    Interestingly, one of the most powerful things about this film is the way it shows a family being destroyed by the father’s homosexuality, and his refusal to deal with it properly, and his wife’s inability to talk to him about it, etc., etc., etc. The man in question even goes so far as to blame (or almost blame) his gay lover for destroying his “normal” life. So, the film is certainly up-front about those sorts of consequences.”

    I’m not sure how you are defending your point here. Blaming everything but his homosexual behavior is balance out by “blame (or almost blame) for his homosexual lover. OK, on this point I am confused.

  • Rick R

    In my opinion, one fallacy of liberal-thinking is this…that liberals consider themselves more “open-minded” than conservatives. Truth is, liberal-thinkers – true, far-left, liberal-minded folks – are just as “open minded” as their right-wing counterparts. Don’t believe me?

    My case begins when Anonymous says, “I guess I surround myself with people who are more accepting, who are more open minded, and who don’t judge people for who they are.”

    Later, Anonymous responds to me with this comment: “When you say, ‘accept and embrace this, or be considered a hate-filled bigot.’ I guess you have answered your own question.”

    Yeah, that’s really open-minded toward someone who has a different viewpoint than yours. And wow…it’s so non-judgemental!

    Let’s face it, you don’t necessarily surround yourself with open-minded people, you just surround yourself with people who believe exactly as you do. That’s not being open-minded, and your comments are far from “non-judgemental.”

    When you say “I don’t know anyone in society who thinks acceptance of homosexuals is comparable to acceptance of: drug addiction, alcoholism, gambling addictions, porn addictions, and/or gluttony (etc.)”, then it is obvious you don’t understand the Christian viewpoint and perspective of sin, you may be unwilling to understand that Christian perspective, and you’ve probably made up your mind for good on the Christian perspective. That’s fine. But don’t call yourself open-minded and don’t label you and your fellow liberals as “open minded”. You are as closed minded as you consider conservative Christians.

    (And if you can admit that…then you’re not as closed-minded as I currently believe you to be.) ;)

    I loved some of Jeffrey’s questions as discussion points about the movie. I intend to see it just to see how the subject is handled, how much of a pro-gay agenda appears along with the movie, and to see how I might answer some of those questions that Jeffrey poses. I’m not one who is sold on the idea of “born a homosexual.” As some of his questions suggest, is it possible that had things gone differently in their childhoods that they may have turned out differently? Not only gay vs. straight, but how about career choice? Maybe if things go differently, they become airline pilots instead of cowboys? I mean, I look at my sister’s upbringing and wonder if something in it shifted her toward lesbian relationships. (By the way, she’s had heterosexual relationships, too…so how does THAT factor into this topic?) You can’t convince me she was born a homosexual when she’s swung both ways. Heck, maybe if things had turned out differently for me – if I’d had an abusive mom and my dad had neglected me, and the first person who showed me love was a man – maybe I’d have gone down that path. I’d like to think not, but I know how weak I am in other areas, and I’ve definitely not been a Christian all my life…who’s to say that I might not have succumbed to that lifestyle?

    (I imagine this will bring another string of “open-minded” and “non-judgemental” comments on why people are born homosexual or not.)

    As soon as I see the movie, I’ll try to comment further.

  • Jeffrey Overstreet

    >>Your sister’s “Lifestyle Choice” isn’t a choice . . .

    >>>>Actually, it is. It may be that no one chooses his or her own orientation, but everyone is responsible for his or her own actions.

    Indeed. Babies are born with drug addictions, thanks to their drug-addicted mothers. But when that child becomes old enough to choose whether to take drugs or not, that child has the choice to do the difficult thing, to take the harder path, to deny those cravings that he was born with, that are not his fault, but that ultimately steer him from a path that brings about a more fruitful life for him and for those around him.

    Or, we could just support him because he’s “oriented” to pursue drugs, since it shouldn’t be our place to get in the way of his particular desires.

    Now, I’m just using this as an example of how “orientation” and “choices” are two different thing. Please understand I can see plenty of differences between drug addiction and sexual orientation. But the fact remains: being oriented to be attracted to the same sex and CHOOSING to engage in same-sex intercourse are two entirely different things.

    I have many friends who are gay. I love them dearly. I object to their choices when they choose to sleep together, just as I object to the choices of friends who drink Diet Coke at every opportunity (because it’s so destructive to them) or who smoke a pack a day, or who look at pornography, or who steal from their parents. I can sympathize with sinful desires… we all can, because we have all had sinful desires. Most of us have had… and still have… bad habits that we could break if we tried hard enough.

    But when we step beyond that “sympathy” to support unhealthy and broken impulses, that’s when we sin. Or, when we stop objecting to the choices and start hating the people, that too is when we cross a line…

    If I hate someone for their sexual orientation, I am a bigot. If an “active” homosexual hates me for objecting to his “lifetstyle,” that makes him a bigot. It is possible for the two of us to disagree and still avoid hating.

  • Peter T Chattaway

    mark wrote:

    First, I wasn’t quoting, I was paraphrasing and the passage is indeed Ephesians 5. The interesting part of that passage is that homosexuality is a natural outcome of greed.

    Not at all. Greed is the last item on the list, not the first, both times it is listed.

    The sin of Sodom being that while being wealthy they did nothing to take care of the poor in their midst so God gave them over to all kinds immorality.

    Whoa. You have apparently confused Ephesians with Ezekiel, Romans, and possibly other texts as well.

    Specifically what I meant was that a movie where the writer, director, actors, and theme, all assume homosexuality to be a normal lifestyle, it is pretty incredible for anyone not to see that they are promoting that idea no matter what else is thrown in.

    Well, there’s a difference between assuming and promoting. You can do one without necessarily doing the other.

    My other concern is that this sin calls for the ultimate destruction of the family.

    Interestingly, one of the most powerful things about this film is the way it shows a family being destroyed by the father’s homosexuality, and his refusal to deal with it properly, and his wife’s inability to talk to him about it, etc., etc., etc. The man in question even goes so far as to blame (or almost blame) his gay lover for destroying his “normal” life. So, the film is certainly up-front about those sorts of consequences.

    Rick R wrote:

    However, there is one big difference that separates the sin of homosexuality from any other sin. That is, current society tells us we must celebrate homosexuality, that we must embrace it as a valid lifestyle, that if we don’t, we’re hateful, bigoted people.

    I disagree that homosexuality is unique in this regard. I think society tells us that we must celebrate virtually all forms of fornication as valid lifestyles. It’s the people who don’t fornicate that are treated as something weird. That’s the whole premise behind movies like The 40-Year-Old Virgin.

    If suddenly society told us that we must accept and indeed EMBRACE the lifestyles of drug addiction, alcoholism, gambling addictions, porn addictions, and/or gluttony (etc.), I believe we Christians would become rather vocal against those, too.

    Interesting that you list a bunch of addictions. I think “society” would say that sex addiction is a problem, even though it also says that sexual activity outside of marriage is okay.

    Anonymous wrote:

    Your sister’s “Lifestyle Choice” isn’t a choice . . .

    Actually, it is. It may be that no one chooses his or her own orientation, but everyone is responsible for his or her own actions. Various friends and family of mine have “disappointed” me by embarking on sexual relationships outside of marriage, and I don’t see why I should say that the gay ones didn’t choose their lifestyles when the straight ones clearly chose theirs.

    Adam Walter wrote:

    Certainly Brokeback Mountain is only one of the early mainstream, big-budget, big-name Hollywood stories to promote the normalizing of homosexuality in our pop culture.

    “Early”? William Hurt won his Oscar for playing a gay man in The Kiss of the Spider Woman 20 years ago.

    Anonymous said…

    The Bible describes three emotionally close relationships between two people of the same gender. They appear to have progressed well beyond a casual friendship. There is, however, no unmistakable evidence that they were sexually active relationships.

    You don’t say. I think Ruth and Naomi, as daughter-in-law and mother-in-law, are entitled to something more than “a casual friendship”. As for David and Jonathan, even assuming that there is more to their tears than the fact that they are very close friends, since when was David a model of sexual virtue for us to follow? And you are almost certainly reading way, way, way too much into the fact that Ashpenaz was sympathetic towards Daniel. (Thank you for not insinuating anything about Jesus and the Beloved Disciple, though.)

  • bmoorewdm

    Thank you for your well-spoken and courteous reply. I am aware of the broader issues of biblical interpretation, and cultural attitudes. Two of the three examples you cite were the ones I expected. (I had not heard the Daniel 1:9 one before.) There is nothing in the three examples you cite that indicates a sexual relationship. I’m not aware that the problem for those who object to homosexuality is in “loving relationships” – but in the consumation of that relationship in sexual ways. (Though I am aware there is argument even on this point.)

    I guess where so much “dialog” about this issue goes off the tracks is right in the beginning of your reply: “Homosexual orientation and behavior is seen as a normal human sexual expression among a minority of adults. It is not changeable or chosen.”

    The first is true, but incomplete. An equally true – and imcomplete – statement would be “Homosexual orientation and behavior is seen as an abnormal human sexual expression among a minority of adults.” Neither statement is especially helpful.

    Your second statement is an assertion of fact which has not been conclusively proven.

    And so, this discussion – like so many others – reaches an impasse.

    Be well….

  • Anonymous

    bmoorewdm: Homosexual orientation and behavior is seen as a normal human sexual expression among a minority of adults. It is not changeable or chosen. Like all sexual behavior, it can be a sin if it is exploitive or manipulative or not carried out safely within a committed relationship. The Bible describes three emotionally close relationships between two people of the same gender. They appear to have progressed well beyond a casual friendship. There is, however, no unmistakable evidence that they were sexually active relationships. The individuals are: Ruth and Naomi (Ruth 1:16-17 and 2:10-11), David and Jonathan (Passages in 1 Samuel & 2 Samuel), and lastly Daniel and Ashpenaz (Daniel 1:9). You have to understand, different Bibles have different translations. Not all Bibles were created equal.

    Yes, it is true that I don’t know anyone “personally” who thinks that the acceptance of homosexuality is comparable to the acceptance of: drug addiction, alcoholism, gambling addictions, porn addictions, and/or gluttony (etc.). My personal feeling is, how can a loving same sex relationship be compared to any of those? I am retired military and I never met someone who feels this way. I guess I surround myself with people who are more accepting, who are more open minded, and who don’t judge people for who they are. Maybe they just keep their personal feelings/beliefs to themselves for they are, personal in nature. Should your relationship with God be personal? Or should you only surround yourself with people who believe the way you do? Religion can be so divisive.

    I’m not out to change anyone’s view. I don’t think that would be possible. The Christian Scriptures are ambiguous on the topic of homosexuality. Paul’s epistles and Jude’s writing may have condemned: homosexual orgies outside of a committed relationship, or heterosexuals engaging in homosexual sex, or homosexual ritual sex in Pagan temples, or sexual rape of young boys by adult males, or pimping, or men raping angels. The Christian Scriptures, in their original Greek do not contain any clear references to consensual homosexuality within a committed relationship, and certainly do not contain any unambiguous condemnation of gay and lesbian sexual activity. However, after having been filtered through the belief systems of the translators, many English versions of the Bible clearly condemn homosexual behavior. Now that the famous “anti-homosexual” passages of 1 Corinthians 6:9 and Romans 1:18 have been so long identified as being critical of homosexual activity, it would be impossible for Bible translators to offer alternative explanations; their Bible wouldn’t sell.

  • bmoorewdm

    Anonymous: please list for me the “3 same sex loving relationships going on that are talked about just like any other relationship” that you refer to from the Bible. In what way does the Bible describe them as same-sex sexual relationships? In what way does the Bible indicate that their behavior is condoned and/or celebrated?

    Anonymous: Is this really true for you? “I don’t know anyone in society who thinks acceptance of homosexuals is comparable to acceptance of: drug addiction, alcoholism, gambling addictions, porn addictions, and/or gluttony (etc.). That thought is a very scary thought. People actually think that way?” Are you truely unaware that there are millions of people around the world that deeply believe homosexual behavior is a deviation from what is natural and right?

    I have not always been very good (or gracious) in my attempts to talk about this issue. But perhaps it will be better for you in your dialogs with “the other side” to understand that such a side exists, and is not held exclusively by frustrated bigots…

  • kate

    Adam, do you have gay friends, celibate or otherwise? I am curious how you talk about this issue with them. I’m not asking this in a way that’s making assumptions, I am genuinely curious. I think you have lots of solid opinions and communicate them very well. A few years ago I agreed intellectually with everything you said, but for me, I had to reevaluate it all when some gay people came into my life. Personal relationships make everything messier, so I’m interested to hear how this looks for you. Please know that I am not trying to be confrontational; this is a touchy subject so I just want to make that clear.

  • Adam Walter

    So Brokeback Mountain is being spurned furiously by many, many Christians. I would be surprised if it weren’t–though any anger approaching the level of hatred here is misplaced, of course. (In The Four Loves, C.S. Lewis has a line… something to this effect: I never understood how one could feel anything but pity for the genuinely homosexual.) No, what surprises me is that this movie won’t even raise the eyebrows of many Christians I know.

    An alarming number of Christians today can be heard to say this is a difficult issue for them to “come to grips with” despite the Bible’s clear message regarding homosexuality. Often cited as troublesome are the psychological and biological origins of homosexuality. After all, hasn’t humanity moved beyond its old ignorance and found that this is a “natural” phenomenon? (Haven’t we moved beyond the simplistic Old Testament morality in which homosexuality was one of the sexual sins equated with irredeemable depravity, as in the stories of Lot and Noah?) And how can God today ask anyone to turn against their natural impulses? Of course, this ignores the entire biblical teaching regarding our fallen nature. Everything God demands of us is against our nature. Here’s a minor example–ask yourself, honestly: how “natural” is monogamous love? And what could be more true to our fallen nature than fornication, promiscuity, or even acts of retribution and murder, all as prompted by our biological and psychological makeup in moments of passionate feeling?

    Also, I think we have to agree that certainly there is forgiveness for any sin. Yet, isn’t it true that some sins are more deeply defiant of God’s will than others? It isn’t difficult to find passages in the New Testament where certain extreme sins are distinguished (e.g. incest, I Cor 5:1: “It is reported commonly that there is fornication among you, and such fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles, that one should have his father’s wife.”). And as often as we see Christ ministering to prostitutes, greedy tax collectors, etc., in the New Testament, I do find it interesting that we hear nothing of time He may have spent with homosexuals (let alone the greater extremes of rapists or child molesters)–of which there could not have been any shortage in the Roman Empire. Did Christ not seek out such sinners, or did they simply not respond to His call? That is, who was it avoided whom?

    I continue to be amazed at the change in public attitudes toward deviant sexuality since I was growing up in the 70s. Even in the church it isn’t difficult to find many people who have gone beyond tolerating homosexuality to embracing the idea of it as a viable “lifestyle.” No doubt I’ll see further extremes normalized by the time my daughter is grown. Certainly, groups from NAMBLA to COYOTE to CUDDLE International are watching the advances toward homosexual marriage with some glee and a hope that their time is coming as well. And we shall see how accepting the church is of that. Certainly Brokeback Mountain is only one of the early mainstream, big-budget, big-name Hollywood stories to promote the normalizing of homosexuality in our pop culture. Many more–and worse–such films are, undoubtedly, on the way. I notice (still with a bit of naive alarm) that the topic of sex with minors is steadily creeping its way toward mainstream films.

    Call it just an alternate lifestyle, huh?
    Morality lies within
    Consciences are restin’
    Please repeat the question again
    Whatever happened to sin?

    ….[Steve Taylor]

  • Anonymous

    This is in response to what Rick R posted, especially in defense of his gay sister. Isn’t it amazing we have conservative Christians and then liberal Christians? Who’s right in their beliefs? I tend to be liberal. You quote passages from the Bible about “homosexuality” when that word never existed. There is nothing in the Bible that talks negatively of loving same sex partners. Actually, if you have read the Bible, and understand it, there are 3 same sex loving relationships going on that are talked about just like any other relationship.

    Your sister’s “Lifestyle Choice” isn’t a choice and please don’t say that to her. It is your choice to be partnered with the opposite sex? Or were you born that way?

    I can understand how hard it must be for you to accept your sister for who she is; after all, it’s hard for me to accept Conservative Christians like yourself and I’m sure gay people have a hard time accepting people like you. I don’t think most of society thinks being homosexual is a sin. If they do, maybe they think wearing clothing of more than 1 type of fiber is more heinous, or eating seafood, or people with tattoos? Does the Bible actually have a level system for which sin is worst?

    I don’t know anyone in society who thinks acceptance of homosexuals is comparable to acceptance of: drug addiction, alcoholism, gambling addictions, porn addictions, and/or gluttony (etc.). That thought is a very scary thought. People actually think that way? When you say, “accept and embrace this, or be considered a hate-filled bigot.” I guess you have answered your own question.

  • mark

    I wish I could have read these last four blogs before I went to bed last night. I might not have stared at the ceiling until 3:00. I appreciate the “rules” of this site and I was honestly confused. It is however, to my knowledge, the first time I have seen this particular subject addressed.

    Rick, thank you for a very sensitve job of explaining one of the two reasons why this particular sin seems to occupy a lot of attention from Christians that a lot of other sins don’t. There are two others set it apart in my estimation. One is its unnaturalness. That is the scriptural term for it. Most of our sins are based on our natural desires. This one is based on an unnatural perversion of our desires. That makes it much more dangerous and destructive. I hope you notice that I didn’t say more evil. All sin is evil but some definately carry far more serious temporal consequences. That’s why they carried different temporal penalties. My other concern is that this sin calls for the ultimate destruction of the family.
    You see thom, I didn’t mention that it was the agenda of those who made the movie. It is the agenda of the one who inspired it. he is the one who is set on the destruction of the family. I would take the point that those involved in the movie are all the victims of his agenda and it is the job of those of us who know the Truth to point out his agenda when it is this glaring. When it is any more subtle, or per haps even this subtle, no one will listen and will instead call us names.
    That is my disapointment with CT. By recongizing the subversive power of this movie, I am the knee jerk reactionary who won’t accept it for the art it is because of the repugnance of two of the characters. No, I won’t recognize it as art because I can’t get beyond the devastation caused by its acceptance of a hideously destructive sin.

  • kate

    I apologize if I crossed any boundaries, and I certainly did not intend to attack anyone in this conversation as a homophobe. My post was motivated by frustration with a lot of the flippant discourse I have witnessed elsewhere, especially on the college campus where I work (and even in the early stages of the Arts and Faith thread, although it has since turned around). Anyway, this CT review (and the blog commentary) was such a grace-filled breath of fresh air to me… I apologize if my comment manifested my frustration in a way that was not equally gracious.

  • Thom

    Mark,

    I have no doubt that those involved were willing to make the film in large part because they have no issue or concern with homosexuality and do not consider it as sin. I more took issue with the suggestion that they do this solely to “promote devience” as opposed to tell a story they thought was worth telling.

    I mean, this is like Left Behind, where it’s all about agenda. For the gay rights community they may use it as an agenda…but I don’t see any evidence that this was the primary goal of the filmmakers.

  • Rick R

    I find the homosexuality issue to be a tough one to handle as a Christian, especially seeing as how the Bible seems pretty clear about it being sinful, yet current society leans toward acceptance. Thrown into the mix, for me, is the fact that my sister is now in a lesbian relationship. I love her dearly, but can’t help but be disappointed in her lifestyle choice.

    One comment/thought I hear often from more “accepting” Christians is related to this quote by Jeffrey Overstreet: “Why are we singling this film out as especially heinous for its characters’ immoral behavior when a great many character dramas show characters engaging in sins of all stripes every single week?” I often agree with that sentiment, that there are many other sins that we choose to ignore or not address.

    However, there is one big difference that separates the sin of homosexuality from any other sin. That is, current society tells us we must celebrate homosexuality, that we must embrace it as a valid lifestyle, that if we don’t, we’re hateful, bigoted people.

    Let’s face it…we’d all be hard-pressed to think of any other “sin” which society looks at so positively. If suddenly society told us that we must accept and indeed EMBRACE the lifestyles of drug addiction, alcoholism, gambling addictions, porn addictions, and/or gluttony (etc.), I believe we Christians would become rather vocal against those, too. It’s just that homosexuality seems to be the only “sin” in which society demands that Christians accept, tolerate and embrace…or else we are hate-filled bigots.

    That, to me, puts us between a rock and a hard place. Yes, we must love the sinner. Yes, we must show every sinner the Christ message, regardless of their sin. But how do we do that in a society that tells us that this particular thing isn’t a sin, that it’s a valid lifestyle, that to believe otherwise means you’re a hateful person? How do we show our distaste for something that society clearly endorses?

    I haven’t seen this film yet to comment on it, but rarely does a movie endorse the sin being portrayed in the film. Movies about alcoholism, drug addiction, lying, stealing, murder, etc…rarely do they glorify the sin and people usually suffer consequences for their sin. Again, not having seen the movie, I’m guessing that with Brokeback Mountain, any “suffering” by the two cowboys is because of their “shame” and trying to hide their relationship, and I’ll assume the movie’s agenda is to tell society/us that if we’d only become more tolerant and accepting and EMBRACE homosexuality, then folks like this wouldn’t have to suffer any more. If that’s the case, then I’ll probably have a problem with the movie because it IS trying to convince us that homosexuality is not a sin. Movies addressing other “sins” rarely take that stance. So when Mr. Overstreet asks, “”Why are we singling this film out as especially heinous for its characters’ immoral behavior when a great many character dramas show characters engaging in sins of all stripes every single week?” I guess my comment is that it’s because there are no other movies out there in which sinful and immoral behavior is thrust upon Christians with an agenda telling us “accept and embrace this, or be considered a hate-filled bigot.”

  • Jeffrey Overstreet

    No, I didn’t see you stepping over a line, Mark. I just felt like the ice was starting to get very thin. Forgive me if I misinterpreted your tone. I just had to start deleting posts in another thread today, so maybe I’m a bit on the over-sensitive side right now.

  • mark

    Let’s put a couple of things straight. First, I wasn’t quoting, I was paraphrasing and the passage is indeed Ephesians 5. The interesting part of that passage is that homosexuality is a natural outcome of greed. The sin of Sodom being that while being wealthy they did nothing to take care of the poor in their midst so God gave them over to all kinds immorality.
    Second, after re-reading my post I hope my “nice outfit” comment wasn’t misunderstood. There are many times when I assume people can read my mind. Specifically what I meant was that a movie where the writer, director, actors, and theme, all assume homosexuality to be a normal lifestyle, it is pretty incredible for anyone not to see that they are promoting that idea no matter what else is thrown in.
    Third, I actually meant facetious, not sarcastic. I would never intentionally be sarcastic. It isn’t an effective arguing tool.
    Finally, Jeffrey, in light of some of the discussions I’ve read on this site over the last three years, the tameness of this discussion raising what is one of the two strongest warnings I have as yet seen from you is baffling to me, but if I have offended you I deeply apologize. Please forgive me.

  • Peter T Chattaway

    This movie is a vile attempt to encourage . . . things that are so evil they shouldn’t be spoken of even in secret . . .

    Hmmm. I don’t believe the movie “encourages” homosexual behaviour. But I do think the movie encourages people to be more open about the issues that they and others have to deal with. And I can’t say I have a problem with that. So much of what goes wrong in this film, and in life in general, is due to the shame and silence that people impose on things; and when people bottle things up for too long, they tend to come out anyway, but in dangerous, uncontrollable forms. (Think of the scene between Ledger and Williams by the kitchen sink.)

    Incidentally, mark, I assume you are referring to Ephesians 5, in which case you have slightly misquoted the passage (“For it is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret”). The thing is, when you look at what sort of “disobedience” Paul is referring to, he tells his readers:

    But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person — such a man is an idolater — has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient. Therefore do not be partners with them.

    Got that? Immorality, impurity and greed are mentioned collectively, twice. Now how many movies are there about people who disobey God in the area of greed? And how many Christians are out there protesting that such movies should never be made or seen or reviewed or appreciated because we should not even talk about greed in secret?

  • Jeffrey Overstreet

    Watch it, folks. If there isn’t more grace evidenced in the upcoming responses, I’ll start deleting posts. When we start name-calling and turning up the sarcasm, we’ve departed the territory of productive discourse and we’re just picking fights. Stick to arguments, not personal attacks. The truth will win out on its own… it doesn’t need to be armed with sticks.

  • mark

    thom,

    While no one has a greater appreciation of dripping sarcasm than I, take a look at with whom you are in bed. If you attack this movie as a purveyor of things that are so evil they shouldn’t be spoken of even in secret, you are at best a narrow minded relgious bigot (CT), or an insecure homophobe (kate). I’ll stick with my assessment. Nice outfit.

  • kate

    What a wonderful review, and a great blog piece about it too. I’ll be honest, I’m glad a woman was assigned to this review. Virtually all of the insulting, immature rhetoric I’ve heard against the movie has come from straight men who are too busy frantically “overcompensating” to actually engage the story itself (although you are restoring my faith, Jeffrey, with this generous blog entry). Anyway, that aside, this is an excellent review, one of the very best I’ve read ANYWHERE on this film. Three cheers for CT!!

  • Thom

    Yes. That’s it. The movie producers, studios, director, writers, actors, etc decided to spend the time, money and effort so they could encourage deviant behaviour. How silly of everyone else to not see that.

  • mark

    What will it take for you to admit that the emperor is wearing no clothes? This movie is a vile attempt to encourage deviant behavior. Making a paradoy of itself eliminates any other possibility. The only thoughtful watercooler discusion that takes place will be about the color of the emperor’s clothes.

  • Adam Walter

    The movie was set up for jokes.

    And it’s not just conservative Christians who are poking fun at the movie, as you’ll know if you saw Alec Baldwin last week in SNL’s “Brokeback Goldmine” skit about a flowering romance between two grizzled prospectors.

  • Michael Rew

    The movie was set up for jokes. Brokeback? Jack Twist? Ennis? You have to be joking. Listening and reading conservative commentary must have been a real laugh for the movie’s producers since the very title of the movie is an innuendo.

  • Cpt Casual-T

    It doesn’t include any slurs like “Sodomites in the Saddle.”

    I had noticed this slur in an earlier comment and I thank you for taking it to task.

    The suggestions and questions in this post and review are very helpful as I struggle with my own understanding of this issue.

  • Adam

    Well said – I appreciate your comments about this and the review in CT. Definitely a good step forward for “mainstream” Christian engagement with Hollywood.

  • J-Tron

    I appreciate your words here, especially in relation to proportionality. Of course, as a Christian with a different perspective on homosexuality then probably most readers of Christianity Today, I am troubled by lines like Scripture says homosexual sex is sinful (Lev. 18:22, 20:13; Rom. 1:26-27; 1 Cor. 6:9-11) thrown in casually as if such a thing is a categorical fact rather than a particular exegetical conjecture. Nevertheless, the sheer fact that an evangelical magazine is even touching this movie in a thoughtful and non-hateful way is encouraging.

  • Julie D.

    Precisely. I referred several people to CT’s review today when they were complaining bitterly about the USSCB’s review (which mixed the actual review with commentary about how the movie did not agree with Church teachings … leaving no one happy in my opinion).

    Kudos to CT for handling it just right with the editor’s note up front and the movie review just doing what it should in reviewing the work itself.

  • Justin McLeod

    Jeffrey, I have to admit this review actually made me want to see the film. It seems to be a film that cannot be ignored, and may actually be great art. Perhaps I am way off base in my assumptions, but I think you make some good points about a christian response to this film.

  • jasdye

    yeah. it’s horrible that we need something like this to remind us of how, when we’re pushed to desperation we see just how desperately wicked the human heart is.

    haven’t seen ‘war of the worlds’ or ‘the station agenut’ yet. but i have seen ‘american splendor’ and ‘the station agent.’ i’m trying to understand the connection, cubicle rev. the same director?

  • Peter T Chattaway

    I was thinking of War of the Worlds, but only because (1) it is the most recent disaster movie, so it is the first one that comes to mind, and (2) it was criticized by some people for failing to show the heroism that humans are capable of a la September 11, but now, with the reports of rapes and whatnot in New Orleans, it is beginning to look like Spielberg’s film might not have been dark enough.

  • The Cubicle Reverend

    What about Station Agenut or American Splendor?

  • opus

    I also thought of Time Of The Wolf as I was trying to comprehend the events going on in New Orleans. You’re right… there are many uncanny and disturbing parallels.


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