“Seventh-Gay Adventists” chronicles the lives of Marcos, Sheri, David, and their respective same-sex partners as they yearn to find their place in the church. It is a raw depiction of the hopes, fears, and struggles of real homosexuals, with an emotional tug sure to convince many Christians wondering “What Would Jesus Do” that anything less than full, unconditional acceptance of non-celibate homosexuals into the church is un-Christlike.
Churches and Christians featured in the film are those who invite gay folk to “come as you are” and “stay as you are”—or, as Bonhoeffer would put it, to “Christianity without discipleship” which, he more bluntly stated, is “Christianity without Christ.”
The film’s homosexuals tell of wanting to change, trying to change, and pleading with Jesus to make it happen, all without effect, before concluding that God must be okay with their homosexuality and the church should be too. It is an argument that could play equally well for the alcoholic, substance abuser, compulsive gambler, sex addict, or person with [fill-in-the-blank] “orientation.”
Missing from the central characters is any conviction that Jesus’s call to repentance might apply to them. Or that “denying self” might mean that we must not pursue satisfactions contrary to nature and God’s Word.
Instead, what comes across is their desire, their choice, to be accepted and live “just as they are,” and the denial their loved ones must endure because of that choice.
Sheri and Jill chose to become mothers, because, as Sheri says, they wanted children. Consequently, their daughters are denied a relationship with their biological father, parents who can credibly teach them how to understand their own sexuality and relate with the opposite sex, and a family structure that is best suited for their nurturing and well-being.
David, after years fighting against his homosexuality, chose to embrace it by taking a lover, moving in with him, then getting “married.” That caused heartache for his parents as well as difficulty for them as prominent leaders in a conservative denomination. During the film’s “wedding” sequence, they valiantly try to balance supporting their son against condoning his lifestyle and the transmogrification of a sacred ceremony they are obliged, as loving parents, to attend and witness. Of the film’s central characters, David alone is shown considering those costs. Yet, in the end, like Sheri and Jill, he deems his own needs more important.
Then there’s Marcos who, after an adulterous affair with a man, chose to leave his wife and family, denying his two children an intact family headed by their natural parents. Ironically, toward the end of the film Marcos is shown grieving over the breakup of his own childhood family, wondering why his parents couldn’t have stayed together for the sake of him and his siblings. Why, indeed?
The featured homosexuals are all “good” people: They pray, read their Bibles, and serve in their congregations. They love their families, they love community, they love their churches. But they love up to a point, the point of agape, other-centered, sacrificial love—falling short of denying themselves what they believe will bring them happiness, for the sake of others. Instead, their choice not to live celibate lives trumps the feelings, needs, and even well-being of people around them.
Not surprisingly, the film also gives voice to a revisionist exegesis of Scripture: namely, that biblical injunctions against homosexuality refer to temple prostitution, pederasty, forced sex, and the like, not what goes on between “committed” same-sex partners. It is a fashionable reading based on a contrived contextualization that goes against the plain meaning of the text, 2000 years of church teaching, and millennia of moral norms and social tradition. What’s more, it fails to consider what Jesus had to say about sexual morality.
In one “red letter” passage, the sin of adultery is expanded to include lust—entertaining sexual desire for someone other than one’s spouse. With no provision for same-sex marriage within the culture of the day or Holy Writ, that sin would include all unrestrained homosexual desire.
On another occasion, when the subject of marriage was raised, Jesus reaffirmed its heterosexual design and went on to say that, for reasons of nature, nurture, or the kingdom, it is not for everyone. Although He mentioned eunuchs specifically, the exception would apply to homosexuals who, like eunuchs, can form emotional attachments, but cannot fulfill the purpose, nor conform to the design, of marriage.
But even if we let pass what the Bible says, we are faced with what nature says. Considering the design of sexuality, uniquely suited for life's most essential function, reproduction, we are left to conclude that: 1) homosexual orientation is not normal, 2) homosexual sex is dysfunctional, and 3) same-sex “marriage,” as it originates from the mind of man rather than the design of nature, is unnatural.
All that said, I was profoundly saddened for everyone in the film.
I was saddened for Sheri, David, Marcos, and their partners, whose smiling faces couldn’t hide their fear, doubt, and internal conflict as they pursue a path at odds with the natural order, church teaching, and societal expectations.
I was saddened for family and friends who must sacrifice something while their loved ones pursue that path.
I was especially saddened for the children who are denied parents who can adequately model what it means to be a man and woman in a normal, natural context.
I was saddened for churches that offer membership to non-celibate homosexuals in the sincere belief that it is up to God to judge, not us, and that the love of Jesus requires unconditional inclusion. To such churches, I would simply pose the following questions:
Did Paul contradict Jesus when he told the Galatians: “if someone is caught in sin, you who are spiritual should restore him”; or when he told the Corinthians, “Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside.”
Could it be that the popular proof text “do not judge” is not a command against judging, but a caution against doing so without acknowledging one’s own sins?
Is it possible that Jesus’s intervention for the woman caught in adultery was not because of people judging her, but because of their condemning her and failing to bring the other party (the man) into account?
If churches should receive homosexuals without regard to their lifestyles, what about polygamous and polyamorous families, man-boy couples, cohabiting heterosexual couples, or families headed by transgenders or any of the 54 gender identities that Facebook, for example, now acknowledges? Once the biblical standard is jettisoned, is there a criterion by which a church should, or could, exclude any menagerie of relationships that man can imagine?
Do you think we should be loving people by helping them live in accordance with their design, however imperfectly, rather than affirming them in lifestyles that conflict with it?
Finally, as the Church’s mushy stance on heterosexual sin has contributed tragically to the “tearing asunder what God has joined together,” do we want to become equally culpable for the consequences of “joining together what God has left asunder”?
Just some things to ponder for churches considering how to receive homosexuals and heterosexuals biblically, redemptively, and Christianly into their fellowships.
Image copyright Watchfire Films.
Regis Nicoll is a freelance writer and a BreakPoint Centurion. Serving as a men’s ministry leader and worldview teacher in his community, Regis publishes a free weekly commentary to stimulate thought on current issues from a Christian perspective. To be placed on this free e-mail distribution list, e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.