WAKE FOREST, N.C. (BP)–With eight Oscar nominations, more than any other movie this year, “Brokeback Mountain” continues to gain momentum. And with the momentum comes increasing interest by evangelicals to see it.
I will avoid the movie like a slug avoids an overturned saltshaker and for the life of me, cannot understand why any evangelical would see it — though there appear to be many. But what is more disturbing to me is that many men and women I know with unwanted homosexual attractions are seeing the movie.
A reporter asked my thoughts about the movie and I obliged. My comments as a former homosexual were made from the reviews I had read — comments which generated numerous emails to me from individuals arguing that I could not make an intelligent comment on a movie I had not seen.
They suggested that my viewing the movie would be beneficial in responding to the reporter’s questions. I told them and the reporter that my going to see Brokeback Mountain would be similar to asking a former alcoholic to go to a liquor store to buy his neighbor a toddy for the body.
Opponents of ex-gay ministries will immediately shout “Aha — so you are still tempted with same-sex attractions!” I do not deny it! Martin Luther said it this way, “If your head is made of butter, stay away from the fire.”
These opponents will also argue that ex-gay ministries “only teach avoidance techniques.” Indeed, avoiding anything which may cause temptation is appropriate and biblical:
— “Do not set foot on the path of the wicked or walk in the way of evil men. Avoid it, do not travel on it; turn from it and go on your way” (Proverbs 4:14-15).
— “You are to abstain … from sexual immorality. You will do well to avoid these things” (Acts 15:29).
— “Avoid every kind of evil” (1 Thessalonians 5:22).
— “Flee from sexual immorality” (1 Corinthians 6:18).
— “It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality” (1 Thessalonians 4:3).
I am aware than an ultra-literalist might argue that viewing the movie does not constitute sexual immorality, but let’s remember that sexual immorality can be a thought as much as it can be an act.
On a more simplistic level, I urge people who are allergic to bee stings to avoid bees; fair skinned women to avoid the sun; lactose intolerant men to avoid dairy products; asthmatics to avoid perfumes; and hay fever sufferers to avoid pollen.
When R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, appeared as a guest recently on Larry King Live he said, “I’m going to say something that is about as counter-cultural as I can imagine, and that is I’m actually convinced that as a Christian, there are certain things I don’t need to see. And that’s the reason why, as a matter of principle, I have not gone to see [Brokeback Mountain]. I wouldn’t encourage anyone to go see the movie. I’m unembarrassed to say that.”
A self-avowed unhappy homosexual man e-mailed me to say he saw the movie and “cried for three days after seeing it.” Why am I not surprised?
Another wrote: “As a man who has struggled with homosexuality all my life, I decided I would face it head on when I first saw the previews.” (Those previews did their work, didn’t they?) Indeed, another wrote: “I would rather face challenges than run from them.” These reasons may sound heroic, and one can imagine a man charging into the theater refusing to avoid this issue which has caused him so much hurt.
But let me ask — is it possible the homosexuals’ continued pain results in part from continued time investment in things homosexual? When Potiphar’s wife was attempting to seduce the godly Joseph, he faced his challenge by running for the exit sign. (Genesis 39:12)
Lest I sound uncaring to homosexuals, let me say (and evangelicals need to hear this also) that I am aware of the unfathomable suffering which is part of same-sex attractions. Despair, depression and darkness blacker than the bottom of the Mariana Trench.
One of the reasons that evangelicals have not made much progress in reaching homosexuals with the Gospel is their failure to empathize with the excruciating pain homosexuals experience.
But to view the movie most likely will reduce one’s defenses from future immorality.
A large man had won accolades from his co-workers by dieting. However, the man walked into the office one day with a half empty box of donuts under his arm. His colleagues, genuinely concerned as to why he had slipped-up, asked why. He told them that in his race to work he took a detour by the local doughnut shop and a blinking “HOT DOUGHNUTS NOW” neon sign caught his attention.
But there was a problem; the parking lot was full! He told his co-workers, “At that moment I told God that if he wanted me to stop and buy some donuts, he would have to open up a parking space right in front of the shop — and sure enough, the seventh time around the block, there it was!”
In October of 2005, The Associated Press ran an article, “Study Backs Out of Sight Out of Mind Theory” The study, led by Brian Wansink, involved placing candy jars of Hershey’s Kisses in close proximity to a select group of secretaries.
Some of the containers were clear while other containers were opaque. Additionally, some of the containers were placed on the secretaries’ desks while other containers were placed six feet from their desk.
Ready for the results?
“Secretaries ate an average of 7.7 kisses each day when the candies were in clear containers on their desk; 4.6 when in opaque jars on the desk; 5.6 when in clear jars 6 feet away and 3.1 when in opaque jar 6 feet away.”
The study went further. “Secretaries rated candy as more than twice as hard to resist when they could see and reach it than when they could not. They were twice as likely to say that they often thought of the chocolates or that the treats kept grabbing their attention if they were visible and nearby. By contrast, secretaries were twice as likely to say they forgot the candy was around if it was hidden and distant.”
I will not spend two hours and 14 minutes of my life seeing “Brokeback Mountain”; rather, I will devote an additional two hours and 14 minutes to my time with God who, when I am tempted, will also provide a way out so that I can stand up under it. (1 Corinthians 10:13).
Wilkens, a former homosexual, is executive director of Cross Ministry (www.crossministry.org), a Christian outreach to homosexuals. He is now married and has three children.