This year's Golden Globe award winners and nominees highlight the fact that Hollywood portrayals of "alternative" lifestyles, from homosexuality to transgendered to transexuality, are increasingly being shown as natural, beautiful and even heroic.
"Brokeback Mountain, says Al Mohler, "represents something new in mainstream America-- a celebration of homosexual romance on the big screen." The tragic story of homosexual cowboys who conceal an ongoing affair from their families won four major Golden Globe awards last night, including one for its director, Ang Lee, one for Best Picture (Drama), and another for its screenplay.
Other wins and nominations included Philip Seymour Hoffman's win for Best Actor (Drama) as gay author Truman Capote; Felicity Huffman won Best Actress (Drama) for her characterization of a preoperative male transexual; and Cillian Murphy, who was nominated as Best Actor (Musical or Comedy) for his role as a transvestite cabaret singer in "Breakfast on Pluto". Murphy did not win -- the prize went to Joaquin Phoenix, as the late Johnny Cash, in the film "Walk the Line".
Hollywood, of course, has for years been very liberal in its attitudes towards homosexuality and alternative lifestyles. But the dominance of gay and transexual-themed movies as winners of these major film awards signifies growing mainstream acceptance. The Golden Globe winners are also seen to be fairly reliable predictors of which films will win at the even more influential, more highly regarded, Academy Awards.
What is the effect of all this? These types of films send forth a false but democratic-sounding message. It sounds "tolerant" and "enlightened" (certainly politically correct) to say that homosexual, transgendered or transexual people are merely acting out "who they truly are", and that it is right and courageous for them to do so. Or to say that "love" stories ought not to depict only traditional heterosexual models, but rather that the cinema should show the beauty of love between two people, wherever it is found.
The critical and media celebration of Brokeback Mountain, through positive reviews, awards, slanted reporting, etc., reinforces the idea that the movie's message about homosexuality is true and legitimate. Some in the media have promulgated the idea that Brokeback Mountain is being well-received across America, but this is not really true, since the film is playing in fewer theaters across America than the biggest box-office draws.
A false message is being sent out on other fronts as well. Many young Americans students are taught in school that homosexuality is simply an alternative-- that homosexuals are "born that way" and merely act upon natural desires. In Britain, homosexual unions were not only recently legalized, but prominent politicians and celebrities have publicly thrown their weight behind the measure. In the United States, the still remaining natural repugnance (Christians see this as the moral conscience) most Americans feel towards homosexual behavior has meant that widespread acceptance of homsexuality and other alternative lifestyles has not progressed as much as in Britain or Europe. Nonetheless, the cultural trend in America seems to also be rapidly moving towards acceptance and "normalization" of homosexuality and alternative lifestyles.
"The real significance of this movie", said Al Mohler in a recent radio program, "is that by presenting homosexuality and homosexual sex on the big screen so blatantly... it is an effort to alter, to transform, the American conscience, individual by individual, viewer by viewer... to change "normal"... such that the conscience is no longer inclined to respond with the wisdom of repugnance."
Of course, the American church has also felt the inroads of the trend, as some major denominations have ordained homosexuals, and others have debated doing so.
How should Christians respond?
I am not qualified to give a full answer on this, but I offer some thoughts.
1. This is a very tough area for Christians, particularly because a healthy sexuality has not often been cultivated within the Church. Christians have often been uptight and hypocritical in their sex lives. We need to be able to present a model of healthy sexuality, one that positively demonstrates the wisdom of God's design.
2. We need to continue to speak out on the cultural front on these issues, despite the pressure of having to be "politically incorrect" and facing the wrath of those who argue the popular notion that "whatever two consenting afults choose to do behind closed doors is their own business." We need to be able to show why this is false, while being respectful and kind in our attitudes towards those who disagree.
3. We need to show compassion and love for those caught up in homosexual and alternative lifestyles. We should not show a judgmental attitude, but rather try to understand. We should cultivate relationships with people who are pursuing homosexual or alternative lifestyles. As someone who has struggled with sexual sin, I know how compelling sexual sin is and have no desire to condemn those who struggle with homosexuality.
4. We need to offer resources and help to those who want to change. Some resources include the following ministries:
Another Way Out
Evangelical Resources on Homosexuality (includes links to Articles, websites, etc.)
Setting Captives Free
Homosexuality is a tragic lie. As Mohler says in his radio prgoram, "people can learn to lie to themselves" so that their consciences are longer repulsed by the idea of homosexuality, but doing so does not make the gay lifestyle into something good and beneficial.