Posted by: John Adams | December 7, 2007

For the Bible Tells Me So

“For the Bible Tells Me So” is a new independent film that makes an impassioned plea for acceptance of the gay/lesbian lifestyle. It does so by following several families (all Christian) who react in different ways to the revelation that their son or daughter is a homosexual.

The reactions and results vary widely. One of the families followed is former presidential candidate Dick Gephardt. His family is initially surprised by the revelation that their daughter Amy (trapped in a loveless marriage at the time) is a lesbian. The family reacts with understanding and acceptance. Amy divorces her husband and hooks up with a female partner she meets at graduate school. She eventually becomes her father’s campaign manager.

A Lutheran family named the Reitans react with shock and sadness to the revelation that their son Jake, a high schooler at the time, is a homosexual. The parents become teary-eyed at the thought that he had revealed this to his sister a year earlier. They counsel him to remain in the closet until he graduates from high school, mostly out of fear of what coming out would mean for his personal safety. He ignores their pleas and before long, someone has spray-painted the word “FAG” on their driveway.

Mary Lou Wallner, who “raised her family on James Dobson’s radio program,” speaks sadly of how she reacted to the revelation — sent from college in written form — that her daughter was a lesbian. She replied with a letter of her own, stating that “while I accept you, I will never accept your lifestyle.” She does not hear from her daughter again for several months. When she does, the letter is angry and asserts the daughter’s right “never to forgive you.” Shortly thereafter, the daughter hangs herself. Mary Lou has never forgiven herself — after doing a great deal of research on the topic of homosexuality, she concludes that her former views on the subject were wrong. She is now a staunch advocate of gay rights, stating that her advocacy has gained her “several surrogate gay/lesbian children through Soulforce.”

The Poteats, a couple who pastor a church in Haw River, N.C., react with disbelief and disapproval of their daughter’s admission halfway through a program at Yale University that she is a lesbian. Although the couple initially urge her to change, they eventually come to terms with their daughter enough to have a healthy relationship with her. At the end of the film, they still do not accept their daughter’s lifestyle, but everyone is on speaking terms.

The film makes no pretense at objectivity (a cartoon featured midway through the presentation imagines God lecturing a young homophobe unsubtly named “Christian” on the scientific facts of homosexuality and the need for tolerance). Those who disagree with the normality of homosexuality are portrayed as backward, repressed, closed-minded, ignorant, and bigoted.

A number of liberal biblical scholars are brought out (without rebuttal) to interpret the biblical texts that cause homosexuals grief. They dismiss Leviticus 18:22 as an archaic attempt to prevent the society from running out of babies. The Genesis account of Sodom and Gomorrah being judged is written off as a lack of hospitality. Paul’s assertion in Romans 1:18 that homosexuality is a result of people’s understanding being darkened as a result of refusing to glorify God is explained away with the glib assertion that Paul would have had no concept of the loving, committed homosexual relationships we know today. First Corinthians 6:18, which baldly states that homosexuals — along with others who refuse to repent — will not inherit the kingdom of God, is completely ignored.

Scientific evidence is also brought to the table. It is asserted that since the female body treats male fetuses as foreign agents, it attempts to “feminize” them with estrogen. It gets progressively better at doing this, resulting in a higher incidence of homosexuality among boys who further down in birth order. A human’s capacity to decide what they will do is dismissed in favor of acting according to what their bodies tell them to do.

The film inadvertently depicts the costly side effects of sinful behavior. It clearly shows how homosexuality can tear a family apart. It splits at least two families in the film, as Amy Gephardt and Gene Robinson (who in 2003 became the first openly gay bishop in the history of the Episcopal Church) abandon their spouses (and, in Robinson’s case, their children) in pursuit of same-sex lovers.

At one point, a statistic is presented indicating that homosexuals are much more likely to commit suicide than their peers. This is meant to be a sobering argument for complete acceptance of homosexuals (all that socially-imposed guilt is what is driving them to death), but it left me wondering whether it was a valid argument. If we studied suicide rates for other oppressed or marginalized groups throughout history, such as blacks or Jews, would we find similar statistics? In this enlightened age, where homosexual acceptance dominates the media and tolerance is trumpeted, could the homosexual suicide rate owe more to a conscious (albeit suppressed) sense of guilt than to an outwardly imposed sense of shame?

One issue the film does raise — painfully, in my case, since I grew up in a conservative Christian household — is Christians’ hypocrisy on the issue. To a great extent, the church has treated homosexuality as a special sin. At one point, the film allows a 2004 clip of fundamentalist preacher Jimmy Swaggart to roll unimpeded. His sneering tone as he derides homosexual marriage is embarrassing and, frankly, incomprehensible to me in light of his own sexual indiscretions.

One positive effect that this film had on me is that it sharpened my sensitivity to the fact that I share a common boat of desperation with homosexuals. My personal struggles with heterosexual immorality are every bit as serious as their struggles with homosexuality. My need for a Savior is every bit as acute. My own need to conform my life to the arc of the Gospel is every bit as relevant.

That said, this secular critique of the Christian position on homosexuality goes awry at one crucial point. It assumes that since homosexuality is a desire that comes naturally to some people, it must also be acceptable. Substitute the word “pedophilia” for “homosexuality,” and you will have glimpsed the severity of the problem.

Science may one day prove that some are sexually attracted to children by virtue of their birth. Would that discovery compel us to recognize the legitimacy of that sexual pursuit? Don’t laugh yet. In recent years, some scholars have seriously begun to consider the question. (Judith Levine triggered a firestorm of controversy with her 2002 book, “Harmful to Minors: The Perils of Protecting Children from Sex.”) Here in Portland, a man named Jack McClellan who openly admitted his sexual preference for young girls operated a blog where he posted photographs of young girls taken on the street and fantasized about sexual experiences with children. He was eventually run out of town, but one can easily imagine how he could be spun to a more desensitized generation as a civil-liberties martyr simply trying to live out his sexual preference.

This film, which is a powerful piece of propaganda in favor of complete, unquestioned acceptance of the homosexual lifestyle, unwittingly contains a scene that revives the most important question. “The real issue,” Dr. Albert Mohler says in an interview on Larry King Live, “is the authority of Scripture.”

To put it another way, as an old foe once did in the Garden, “has God really said…?” If the answer is yes, then human nature must bow to that fact. If the answer, on the other hand, is “No,” or if the answer is deemed irrelevant, human beings are free to do whatever pleases them. For all of its zeal in promoting “tolerance,” “For the Bible Tells Me So” is a passionate attempt to shout down the former option and to promote the latter.

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Responses

  1. This is one of the best blog entries I’ve ever read. I beg you to pursue your gift of writting…

    p.s. the last sentance confused me.

  2. Excellent post and excellent writing. I agree with the guy above me… for goodness sake, write man!

  3. Ian, what I meant by the last sentence is that this movie is mostly trying to prove option B — that God does not think what the Bible says He thinks about homosexuality. It tries to shout down option A by labeling it bad Biblical interpretation.

  4. okay. thanks, I’m stoopid

  5. Dude I can’t believe your memory, how did you remember all of those stories from the film? Yea I thought that was an important film to see, thanks for going with me, even though you weren’t feeling to good. I’m wrestling with what was presented. Thanks for writing this post, it was very profound. Have you checked Luis’ blog lately:)

  6. I beg of you to submit this to Burnside writers collective…. here’s the email address

    reviews@burnsidewriterscollective.com

  7. John, you amaze me man. Seriously. You should be published.

    “You have a gift my friend… don’t put that under a bushel basket.” -Jim Gaffigan

  8. Thanks for taking the time to write your blog. I had a couple of other thoughts to go along with what you wrote. Sorry it’s not as nicely articulated as what you put together.

    The timeframe from Moses to Paul is (I’m guessing here) about 3 thousand years? And the liberal theologians say that the bible is just a cultural belief from their time period, yet the biblical point of view didn’t change for that entire time…

    One troubling theme that is constantly brought up in the film is how the Bible has been used to oppress black people, and subordinate women. What they fail to realize or point out is that where the Bible has been taught in the world, you find the most liberated women in the world. Compare America and Europe with the Middle East, and Africa. Even different villages within Africa have stark differences in how women are treated between a Christian village and a pagan village that are separated by only a few miles. Also the Bible was extremely influential in Abraham Lincoln’s life in abolishing slavery. Although it is true that people have wrongly used the bible to oppress, women and people of different races, it is very clear that these practices are wrong. The bible is not the white man’s handbook for oppressing others, but the movie has a tendency to want to leave that impression on you. The movie also leaves you with the impression that a gay man or woman is just as genetically bound to his lifestyle as a woman is genetically bound to being a woman, and a black man is genetically bound to being a black man, yet it fails to prove this through scientific information. Only theory’s offered in their cartoon.

    My personal thoughts on all of this, and judging from your post, you will agree. We all have our issues and sin that we deal with. Some of us may have a tendency to be gluttons, watch pornography, practice fornication, or addictions to substances like Alcohol, cigarettes, drugs, we curse too much, or whatever. Just because we each have a tendency towards a sin, that alone doesn’t make it right. Sin is still sin, and what is sin? The Hebrew word literally means “Missing the mark”. It simply describes imperfection.

    The final thought that I had as I watched the film, is a verse that is repeated twice in the book of Judges. Judges 17:6, and again the last verse in Judges 21:25 where it says, “In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” That seems to sum up what the movie is trying to get across. The movie basically says that it’s right for me to follow my tendencies, and anyone who believes the bible at face value is either ignorant, or a foaming at the mouth gay basher.

    Scripture rebuttals:
    Leviticus 20:13 Steven Kindle says that just a few verses before that Leviticus says that it’s an abomination to eat shrimp. These few verses before are actually 9 chapters previous in Lav. 11:9-12, the thing about the shrimp is that it says that it shall be an abomination to you, the Leviticus 20 passages about homosexuality says it is an abomination period. the various “scholars” go on to say things like it’s an abomination to eat a rabbit, and that you can’t plant two different seeds in the same hole, or wear linen and wool together. All of these passages are taken out of a different passage of Leviticus. Leviticus is actually very well laid out because it begins each chapter break with the words The Lord said to Moses, so each chapter is a separate word from God. Chapters 18, and 20 are very similar in that they are dealing with mostly sexual sins in particular. If you want to compare the laws, you should compare them with other acts in those chapters. Acts like having sex with your sister, your cousin, your aunt, or animals. The bible says that these things are detestable, but the film takes out only the one that says that it’s an abomination for a man to have sex with another man. The question that begs to be asked are those other things ok to do now, or are those still bad sexual acts? Who is taking scripture out of context and doing the ‘selective reading’? Then they go on to define the word abomination as “a ritual wrong”, not something “innately immoral”. The definition of abomination is actually describing something that is disgusting, or vile. What they fail to understand or communicate in the movie is that the death sentence in Leviticus 20 was for the Hebrew people in that time in their history. God’s opinion on the behavior has never changed.

    Romans 1
    They say that natural and unnatural was really meaning customary and uncustomary, and it was all about idol worship, not really homosexual relationships. They also say that since there was no word for homosexual in the biblical languages, the few passages used to condemn homosexuality are inappropriate because they had no “concept of human sexuality”. I think the descriptions that are used are clear enough. Paul says men laying with men like one lays with a woman, and inflamed with lust towards one another. The idea is clear here.

    I also questioned the suicide statistic. What is the reason for the suicide? Is it for being socially oppressed. In the case given on the film, Anna Wakefield committed suicide some 9 months after her mother tried to reconcile. It makes me wonder if it’s simply the lack of fulfillment that they find in their choice of lifestyle. This is of course speculation on my part, but it has just as much validity as what the film suggests.

    Comparing any group to Hitler and what he did to the Jews is a must have for any good propaganda film.

    I wish they would take an honest (uncut) look at a biblical view of homosexuality from someone who could articulate it clearly. Since you mentioned you’re from Portland, I really enjoy Pastor Brett Meador’s teachings on this from Athey Creek Fellowship in Tualatin. Just my two cents.


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