I. Homosexuality in film
First there was Brokeback Mountain, then there was The End of the Spear. The latter has precipitated a debate within the Evangelical community, with different Christians taking different sides.
We could approach the issue by posing a series of escalating questions:
Should a moviemaker cast an unbeliever in the role of a believer?
Should a Christian moviemaker cast an unbeliever in the role of a believer?
Should a moviemaker cast a homosexual in the role of a believer?
Should a Christian moviemaker cast a homosexual in the role of a believer?
Should a moviemaker cast a homosexual activist in the role of a believer?
Should a Christian moviemaker cast a homosexual activist in the role of a believer?
Should a moviemaker cast a homosexual activist in the role of a believer at a time when the liberal establishment is working overtime to mainstream sodomy?
Should a Christian moviemaker cast a homosexual activist in the role of a believer at a time when the liberal establishment is working overtime to mainstream sodomy?
On a related note, Alan Kurschner has attacked the film on the grounds that sodomy is an especially heinous sin. It would be possible to agree with Kurschner on the moral status of sodomy, yet deny that this is reason enough to attack the movie. However, some have also challenged Alan’s operating premise.
These are all important questions. It’s possible to answer all in the affirmation, all in the negative, or to draw the line as we move up the scale.
II. Homosexuality in Rom 1
For purposes of this post I’m only going to consider one answer to one question: Is Alan right to single out sodomy as an especially heinous sin?
The locus classicus is Rom 1, where St. Paul does, in fact, single out sodomy to illustrate a more general point. With all the sins to choose from, why does Paul seize on this sin in particular? There are two interrelated reasons:
i) Paul is laying the groundwork to establish the universality of sin as well as the culpability of sin.
Although it’s controversial in some Christian venues to say so, Paul is moving within a tradition of natural theology.
In the Mosaic Law, both sodomy and blasphemy were capital offenses, but blasphemy was a religious offense.
There is, of course, a sense in which every sin is religious in nature, but every sin is not known to be religious in nature.
For purposes of Paul’s argument, he singles out sodomy, in part, because it represents a transgression of natural law—unlike blasphemy, false prophecy, or Sabbath-breaking.
ii) But another reason is that Paul regards sodomy as the natural law equivalent of idolatry, and idolatry is the archetypal sin in Scripture.
So, on Scriptural grounds alone, I agree with Alan that sodomy is an especially heinous sin.
III. Homosexuality in society
Now I’d like to elaborate on that point. Common grace may restrain it to one degree or another, but sodomy is, at least in principle, uniquely disruptive of the social fabric. Carried to its logical outcome, it undermines the social bond as no other sin. Why is that?
Well, at the most elementary and elemental level, it strikes at the root of the social order, which is the pairing of men and women.
When you think about it, it’s remarkable just how much diversity is generated by this simple, binary division and reunion. An unrelated man and a woman become husband and wife, father and mother. From this issues the father/son and father/daughter relation, as well as the mother/son and mother daughter relation, as well as the brother/brother, brother/sister, and sister/sister relation.
This, in turn, gives rise to all of those social roles and relationships which have no direct basis in blood ties, but are modeled upon those natural relationships, as peers, superiors, and subordinates.
In particular, it also gives rise to same-sex friendship as well as romantic bonding between the sexes.
At this point I’d also like to comment on the role of touch in social bonding. Sight is our dominant sense when it comes to navigating the sensible world.
Sound is central to communication. The spoken word is mother to the written word. It is key to the accumulation and transmission of knowledge.
But touch is central to our emotional life and well-being. Perhaps the first example that springs to mind is the role of touch in sexual social bonding. And that is indispensable.
Yet equally indispensable is the role of touch in asexual social bonding. Consider the emotional need that children have for physical affection from their parents.
Moreover, this is not something we ever outgrow. Human beings have an emotional need for affection from members of the same sex as well as the opposite sex. And this includes displays of physical affection. It occurs between fathers and sons, between older and younger brothers, between older and younger sisters, as well as friends of the same gender.
Interestingly, it’s often in the most macho subcultures like the ballfield and the battlefield that men feel free to be openly affectionate to one another.
However, this is prized on an unspoken code code. If there were any hint that the display affection was sexual rather than asexual, it would trigger the very opposite reaction.
BTW, this is one reason why it’s fatal to unit cohesion to introduce homosexuals into the military.
While we’re on the subject, the introduction of women is fatal to unit cohesion as well, but for a different reason. At that point you have men fighting for the attention of the woman. They become rivals rather than comrades.
One thing that makes a movie like Brokeback Mountain so subversive is that it deliberately co-opts a cinematic genre which is classically associated with male camaraderie, and renders that natural male-bonding sexually suspect.
IV. Homosexuality in art
The antisocial effects of sodomy can be illustrated in Western art. As a painter, Da Vinci is sympathetic to women. He can paint beautiful women beautifully. And in a painting like the Madonna & Child with St. Anne, you can even say that he is able to paint he female models lovingly.
Yet you have only to compare his work to, say, Botticelli, Renoir, Vermeer, or Rembrandt, to see that something is missing. He can draw women without being drawn to women.
Where Renoir and Botticelli are concerned, you might say that they look at a woman the way a boyfriend looks at a girlfriend—with raw sensuality and sheer infatuation.
Botticelli is especially instructive. After his conversion under the fiery preaching of Savonarola, he gave up his classical allegories and turned to religious subjects. Yet it’s the same woman, the same unforgettable face that pops up in every painting, whether she depicts Venus, Flora, or the Madonna. Like Dante, Botticelli immortalized the love of his life in his art.
In the case of Vermeer and Rembrandt, you might say that they look at a woman the way a husband looks at his wife and the father of his children. The sensuous appeal remains—that lingering and longing look—but there is more: an emotional complexity and domesticity that comes of living with a woman in matrimony, for richer or poorer, better or worse.
Turn from this to Michelangelo. Not only does he not find women appealing, he finds them repellent. As time goes on, he’s incapable of even painting or sculpting a womanly woman. Instead there is a raging and insatiable appetite for the male physique.
A modern counterpart to Michelangelo is Gore Vidal, a man who, at least in his younger years, united a passion for men with a passionate loathing for his own mother.
It’s not coincidental that you find in this one man a vortex of sodomy, misogyny, and atheism. Sodomy, when ripened to its full and fatal flower, poisons every aspect of social life—both male and female, human and divine.
Ironically, the homosexual suffers from a desperate and unrequited emotional need for the sexual affection of a woman, and the asexual affection of a man.
What the homosexual does, instead, is to merge his natural need for asexual male affection, as well as his natural need for sexual female affection, into an unnatural lust for men. This leaves the homosexual man emotionally stultified in all respects, losing out on both the sexual and asexual affection they crave, but deprave.