For several years I have compiled a resource guide of videos and books for the Reconciling United Methodists of North Carolina. Somehow I missed the 2006 film “God and Gays.” I found it on Netflix and watched it recently. Apparently I wasn’t the only one who was late learning about it because it barely registered on IMDB. My guess is that film faced distribution problems and thus had little impact.
It follows the usual documentary format of people telling their stories, but this time it seemed different. The discussions had more theological depth to them. Perhaps that was because some of the interviewees were ministers. Most came from a fundamentalist background and told of their difficulties in coming out. That process was not just a public statement but also a period of spiritual growth and development for them. They didn’t deny their faith and then recover it. As they came to know and understand themselves, they also came to have a closer relationship with God.
They didn’t debate the Biblical scriptures about homosexuality or how they learned to re-interpret the scriptures in a new way. Their testimonies were about how they grew in their faith and understanding of religion and how to relate with God. Through their internal conflicts, they drew closer to God.
Apparently this film made the round of a few LGBT film festivals, but it didn’t make it to our area. The founder of SoulForce is prominently featured in the film, but I don’t recall seeing anything about it in their publications. Perhaps that was because it was not one of their projects, and they focused on what they were doing.
At that time, the LGBT community and organized religion were such poles apart that neither side wanted to acknowledge the other. In the meantime, several Protestant denominations (except the Methodists) have made major strides in changing their policies about LGBT issues. I recommend the film for many reasons. It is not just about reconciling mainstream religion and homosexuality. It demonstrates that the LGBT community through their struggles can offer a guide to a deeper personal relationship with God rather than just going through the routine rituals of religion.
I doubt that either the opponents or supporters of the LGBT community will change their beliefs after seeing this movie, but it offers an opportunity for discussion that isn’t limited just to rehashing a few scriptures over and over again. The people in the movie experienced a process of discernment that not only enabled them to grow in character but also in faith.When our faith is challenged, it either grows or dies. Unfortunately, a lot of LGBT people have lost their faith because of these difficult challenges.