Religion and Film (religionandfilm) wrote,
Religion and Film

A Line in the Sand...

The Issue of Homosexuality, Christianity, Love, and Judgement.
By Leonard O Goenaga

Movie:The Last Year (Journal 9, 3/25/07-3/31/07)

Before I continue in my journal, I might as well take a moment to express my opinion on the acting in The Last Year:


It was GOD awful (Hahah, I tried to make that into a pun). However, I didn’t watch the film in a homophobic, biased, or immature manner. I personally felt the acting and story dragged on, and continued to beat the message of universal love. It was completely predictable, and the scenes lacked any form of emotional appeal. The only scenes I found worthy in ALL of The Last Year were the ones involving the exchange of scripture between the gay students and the other characters. I could have watched these scenes and spared my mind the mental shrapnel that was the rest of the film, but as a good student I watched it from beginning to end. These scenes in The Last Year held the core idea’s behind the film: That as Christians, we tend to overlook that universal love Christ talked about in exchange with the judgment of sinners.

I can see the problem The Last Year addresses. I see how ‘Christian Cooks’ sprinkle life with biblical sugar, and try to place life in their Christian-cake-molds. Being Christian is completely different (and difficult!), and as depressing as it is for me to say it, some Christians use Christianity to their favor. In no ways am I hinting at this being a majority (I believe it’s an extreme minority), but there are those individuals who call themselves Christians because it makes life easier and brings that social environment. One of my greatest complaints against Christian churches is that Christians manage to cluster with other Christians. Here we have a dying world, desperately in need of that love Christ displays, and his body here on earth (us) is keeping to it’s own kind and restricting it’s output of love. We (Christians) are here on earth to be used by God to love others. The 1st Great Commandment calls for us to love God, and then the 2nd Great Commandment calls for us to love others. I believe you can summarize Christ’ message (Besides atonement and forgiveness of sin) with these two principles. These maintain an authority above anything else in Christianity. If you were to truly love everyone, you’d be in fulfillment of all laws and commandments. Yet how, as Christians, could we do that when we cluster together in our social groups (The Jocks are a good example)? I remember walking out of church and seeing all the little circles of about 5-10 people talking to themselves, and wondering where I belonged. Which group would I walk up to and talk to? I then matured in my faith, and began asking myself why we were standing there talking amongst ourselves to begin with? Why weren’t we, the zealous youth of Gods kingdom, out serving the needs of the poor and suffering after church? Why weren’t we out giving love instead of giving each other mild conversations and gossip? It kinda puts a stark line between what Christ wanted us to do, and what we were doing. Were we exchanging the gospel of love for a gospel of judgment?

“Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye?” (Matthew 7:4) – Dedicated to that Dean.

But it’s NOT that easy! It’s not something we can completely explain..."

On one hand, I find myself agreeing with the message of loving everyone (the pinnacle of being Christian), but does that also mean loving the sin? As I watched the film, I kept forging a moral battle. Of course the WORSE thing to do is push someone away for sinning or being different, but you can’t merely agree with the sin itself (I’m not condoning the Jocks, Fathers, and Deans acts AT ALL!!! They were WRONG!). That clichéd saying of ‘Love the Sinner not the Sin’ explains the point perfectly. Of course you love the gay guy, but as a Christian can you merely just accept that sin? Then again, should you even worry about that persons sin? After all, you’re plagued with your own sins. You’re off sinning your own sins, and the person you perceive to be a sinner isn’t calling out your own sins. It’s terribly complicated to put in question whether you’re there to aid someone in dealing with their sin, or whether you’re there to merely love them. Is it even your problem to begin with?

When we follow Christ, it means to walk away from sin. Sin is what separates us from God, and Christ in his perfection was free of it. In this way we too are to emulate his walk away from sin. Where does that put the gays in The Last Year? Of course we all sin, but do we merely overlook it? Then again, as pointed out in the film, Jesus never truly mentioned homosexuality as a sin. Yes, lust is obviously sinful, and so is adultery, but where does this put a gay Christian? If Gods plan for marriage is between a man and woman, and sex is only acceptable in the eyes of God within marriage, what do we say about a homosexual? Maybe the point of the film is that we don’t say anything, but rather take after Christ and His love.

If it were only as easy as the film suggest. Sin ruins lives. Then again, is being gay a sin? As the Last year points out, is there even enough evidence in the bible that a gay person is sinning, and even if they are sinning, are we to say that Gods grace and forgiveness isn’t enough to forgive them? Some even go to the extreme of saying they cannot enter the kingdom of God, but once again we’re left at the beginning of wondering if it’s a sin to begin with? If it is, then you can’t say it’s an unforgivable sin, since that would assume Jesus’ sacrifice only forgave some sins.

These are the themes that make the bulk of The Last Year. Have mainstream Christians made the mistake of keeping their love amongst themselves and select others? Do Christians sometimes make the mistake of loving and accepting some, while passing judgment on others? What does the biblical narrative mean when it says that we shall not judge others, yet then tells us to judge one by their fruits? Do we, knowing sin separates man from God, merely overlook it and love? Or rather do we maintain a moral high ground in society and openly reject sin? I would say the movie assumes we merely love all, and worry about dealing with the sin in our lives (unless asked by others for our aid).

Even though the issue is terribly difficult, and I’m not an authoritative person on the issue, I can make the claim that the Christians in The Last Year were in the wrong. The Jocks, the Father, and the Dean we’re trashing the very idea of humility and selfless love by using their Christianity for selfish purposes. In this way, they were hypocritical, and followed the very legalism that Christ came to speak against! In some attempt to balance this, we are given two Christians that seemed to understand Jesus’ message of love (The Straight Best Friend [AWFUL ACTOR], and the Female), but was that enough? Sadly we’re not given enough evidence that our gay characters are actively sharing a relationship with God, and are left questioning whether they maintain a belief in Christ as their savior. The film even ends in the two running off together, without telling us if they’re including God in their plans. It’s all a difficult moral mess, and even though it does it’s hit job of pointing out the hypocrisy of some Christians, it doesn’t offer a solution beyond “be yourself” and “love”. If God hates sin, where does this put sin? Do we merely look over it in our pursuit of ‘being ourselves’?

In the end, we’re not given enough information to see where the main characters stand. After all, the greatest commandment is to love God, and this should hold priority over everything. Are they merely pursuing their own goals, or do they include God in their lives? Maybe that’s not up to the audience to decide, but after sitting through 1:45 of it’s awful acting and mind-numbing dialogue, we get the point:

We’re here as an extension of Gods love; not his judgment. “Judge not, that ye be not judged.” (Matthew 7:1)

What complicates things is our hatred for Sin. Do we just overlook it in our love? Is it not loving to hate evil? God does tell us to hate evil, and sin is evil (Evil as defined as the opposite of goodness, and God embodies goodness):

“Ye that love the LORD, hate evil: he preserveth the souls of his saints; he delivereth them out of the hand of the wicked” (Psalm 97:10)

We’re not to judge, but we’re supposed to examine fruits. We’re not to be judges, but we’re to be fruit inspectors. We’re not to judge people, but we’re to judge bad fruits.

We’re also to follow his commandments (“He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.” John 14:21), so where does this leave us?

Where do you draw a moral line in the sand? It’s a difficult question that I’ve yet to have an answer to.

“Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.” (Matthew 7:19-20)

-Leonard O

Questions: I ask you these. Feel free to answer one or all:

1) What is your take on Gay Christians? Is there a place for it in Christianity? Is it merely the by-product of religious bigotry?

2) Which other films do a great job of showing a religious stereotype, and combating this?

3) Which films best express love, grace, and mercy? How?

PS: Be civil and kind to others opinions. No mudslinging.
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