Sunday, January 18, 2009

For the Bible Tells Me So

I think everyone in this country should be forced to watch For the Bible Tells Me So. Even if it doesn't change anyone's opinion or open anyone's mind, at least they'd have to sit there and listen to these very human, very normal, very emotionally complex stories about love, family, understanding, and acceptance. They'd have the chance to witness the real impact homosexuality has on individuals and families in a country that still doesn't truly understand what it means to be homosexual -- in a country where the Bible is used (misused) selectively and inaccurately to exclude and judge. Maybe they'd be able to understand how flawed our human interpretation of the Bible is, how much we still don't know about its context, its intent. Maybe they'd see that the energy so many people expend denouncing and denigrating homosexuals might be better spent educating themselves and learning a little grace and tolerance.

I know I keep harping on this subject, and I normally don't like to be so serious and single-minded, but films like this really need to be promoted and recommended. The filmmakers did a beautiful job presenting such incendiary material without resorting to angry, liberal polemic. The film was clear-eyed, rational, and passionate without coming across as preachy. I was moved to tears several times -- with compassion and with outrage -- and was disappointed when I realized it was over. I wish more people would give this subject the consideration that it deserves.

I think it's a real problem that religion seems to shut down dialogue about important subjects in this country; that people can invoke "the word of God" and think that it's the end of the discussion. This film proves that we should be doing the opposite -- that we should be examining what the Bible really says about homosexuality and reconciling that with what we know about the subject in today's society. I think most Christians -- most people -- would be surprised by what they learn when they take a hard look at the actual verses and their historical context. It's not as black and white as some people would have you believe.

Jerry Falwell and Jimmy Swaggart and their ilk are committed to a message of hate, intolerance, and exclusion. They think they can bully people into submission by promoting fear, distrust, and closed-mindedness. The people behind For the Bible Tells Me So are committed to promoting clarity and understanding, hope and healing. You tell me: who's doing a better job of upholding the tenets of Christianity?

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