David loves Jesus and wants to go to heaven, but he also wants Colin. Marcos was fired for being gay, but wants to be a pastor again. And Sherri wants her kids to grow up to be good Seventh-day Adventists even though the church teaches that her same-sex marriage is sinful. All three are caught in the middle between the church they know and love and their desire to be fully accepted for who they are. ‘Seventh-Gay Adventists’ offers a revealing look at the inner spiritual world of three LGBT church members struggling to reconcile their faith and sexuality and explores what it means to belong when you find yourself on the margins.
When I first sat down to watch this film, I honestly expected to encounter a movie that was a “leftist” cynical attempt to point out all the “legalistic flaws” in the Seventh Day Adventist denomination. I expected to hear heart breaking stories of LGBT Adventists who were forced out by their strict congregations and felt great disdain for their former faith homes. (As one rightfully should expect) But instead, what I found was a documentary that brought me the real life stories of the struggles that many LGBT Adventists have faced as they have tried to reconcile their faith and their sexuality, a struggle that LGBT Christians of all theological stripes can resonate with. But beyond the stories of great pain and struggle were stories of people that love their faith tradition, even in spite of the great pain it has caused them. People who deeply desired to be a part of their tradition, even when the tradition had excluded them. The resilience of the individuals in this film was truly inspiring and their commitment to God shined through boldly. This documentary is not an attempt to demonize the SDA church or Christianity but seeks to represent it well, to make much of the tradition, while also pointing out some very major flaws that the tradition has. This isn’t a documentary done by outsiders to criticize an institution that they have progressed beyond, but a genuine attempt to build a bridge between LGBT Adventists and the church that they love.
No matter what your perspective is on the LGBT issue, this film is worth a watch. Not because it’ll convince you to change your mind, necessarily, but because it is a film that shows real Adventists, with real struggles, and real stories. It powerfully represents the position that so many faithful LGBT Christians find themselves in between feeling compelled to embrace their sexual orientation and their faith tradition at the same time. It’s a film that doesn’t stretch the truth or attempt to over-dramatize the situations and stories of the individuals to emotionally grab you and win you over. Instead, you get a real sense that this film is truly a desperate plea of the filmmakers and everyone involved for their denomination to reconsider the way it deals with the LGBT issue theologically, ecclesially, and socially. And that is a plea that I can get behind. No matter where one stands on these issues, conversations must be taking place. We must not simply close our minds to the position of those who disagree with us. And I think this film creates a platform for such conversations to occur. What a valuable gift!
I give “Seventh Gay Adventists” a 4.5 out of 5 Stars!
Seventh Gay Adventists releases on Itunes this Tuesday, June 3rd! For more information, check out the films website here.