February 05, 2006

You Pick Your Battles ... or, What's Really Important?

Since I haven't been to the movies in a while, I thought I'd do a little posting on what kind of immoral trash they're circulating these days under the guise of "entertainment." So, two days later, here's what I recall being exposed to:

»»» Two non-extensive episodes of pre-marital sex
»»» Two shots of a woman's bare breasts
»»» A couple shots of a guy's backside
»»» Occasional use of the f-word as an expletive (as opposed to a common adjective)
»»» Some drinking and smoking, neither to great excess
»»» An extra-marital affair, occuring every couple years or so
»»» Perhaps two minor fist-fights
»»» A disemboweled sheep

I tell you, the garbage they're putting out these days in the movie theaters, it just makes me sick. Can you believe it? Can you believe that they were actually able to produce this movie, and make money on it? I mean, really! And they managed to do it with an R-rating. Incredible!

Because, if you think about it, there are PG movies out there "worse" than this. Whole heck of a lot more sex, drugs, violence, and language. As movies go today, this was a pretty clean film. And yet it was R?

Oh, that's right, I forgot to mention .... the "affair" involved two men.

Ah, what a difference gender makes.

Explain to me, please, why the "morality" of this film warrants more uproar than the "morality" of a film like "The 40-Year-Old Virgin."

I'm totally serious here. How many movies today (as well as TV shows and video games) glorify violence, and relay the message of "Shoot whoever gets in your way"? How many promote the idea that sex is for pleasure and if your spouse isn't cuttin' it, then feel free to look elsewhere? How many encourage the objectification of women (or men) as something to merely be used for one's own pleasure? How many support the attitude of "Money is Everything" and that it's completely OK to do whatever is necessary to get it?

And yet this film, with its minimal nudity, minimal violence, and minimal language, is the biggest threat to our society today?

OK, fine. You don't like homosexual activity being presented in such a fashion. You're entitled to your opinion. But please answer me this one question:

Is it the worst?

I remember when I worked at a boarding school; the motto of the principal I worked with was "You pick your battles." You can't fight everything, so you decide which is most important and/or most fixable, and focus on those issues.

And so I ask again:

That listing of "offensive content" with which I began this post .... does this listing demonstrate the most depraved content of American entertainment today?

I don't think so. Heck, if it was between a guy and a girl, it'd get a PG rating and no one would want to go see it because it's so clean-cut.

But putting the affair between two guys, all of the sudden it becomes worse than all the shoot-em-ups in the world.


I have a problem with this, because I have a problem with the priorities that it shows.

If you're choosing your battles, people, then how can this movie be the biggest battle? At least this movie doesn't encourage killing anyone. At least this movie doesn't glorify illegal substances. At least this movie doesn't turn people into things. But ... it does show an unattainable love.

Here's the deal, folks. There are gay people out there, whether you like it or not. You can argue nature versus nurture, you can debate if it's changable or not, but the fact of the matter remains. There are gay people out there.

And again I ask: Is this the worst problem facing our world today?

Then tell that to the parents of the 7-year-old girl who was shot at her daycare center in an upper-middle-class suburb of Washington, DC, last week. She was shot by an 8-year-old classmate whose father, a convicted felon, had shown him just the day before how to cock and release the hammer before pulling the trigger.

Tell that to the Southern Baptists of Bibb County, Alabama, who had no church to attend this morning, since someone had decided that torching five area churches would be fun.

And all the world-wide violence erupting over the Danish cartoon of Muhammad?

But no. Apparently, the biggest issue facing our world today is who is allowed to love whom.

Which, in and of itself, is thoroughly absurd. It's not like the world is overflowing with this massive surplus of love and we need to cut back or else we'll drown in a flood of kindness.

I'd put good money on even the most adament advocates against this movie knowing someone to whom this movie has spoken. They might not be aware of it, but I bet they know gay people. You know why? Cuz they're just like you and me. Oh, sure, some of them really buy into the "gay culture" and make a big deal out of it, but you know what? There are a lot more who are just normal people, living with the one they love. Heck, I've got some different friends where I'm not even sure. Are they just good friends and roommates, or are they "good friends" {wink wink nudge nudge}?

Does it even matter? In the grand scheme of the world, does it even matter?

What I've found rather interesting in the last week or so of blog-surfing is discovering people's shifting understanding of gays and lesbians. Faggots on the Third Floor have been detailing the major health issues of their son, The Chuzzle, and the illegalities of the donor bank with whom they worked. Here is a brief snippet of an e-mail Estelle recieved from an unknown lurker:

I'm guessing you & I could not be more different, I am a married, conservative, Christian, rebublican wallflower. I honestly always dissaproved of children being raised by same sex couples & I never considered the woman who did not bear the child a mom. Until you. I read your blog to learn about Charlie's rash & I found myself desperate to take the pain away from your son. .... As I continued to read, my sympathy grew for you as well. I could also feel your pain in your words and it hit me: this is a mommy desperate to help her child, who cares that their family is different then mine? This woman is fighting so hard to help her family, just as I would. ... Wishing you all health, happiness, and the joy that only mommy's and their sons can share.
ham & cheese on wry has also been posting an episodic presentation of a friendship that, much to her surprise, became much more than "just" a friendship; one of the comments on Part V said:

Very, very nice piece of writing Curly. I've never had those feelings, and honestly, couldn't see how two females could fall in love. I feel ashamed to think that I was so naive to think that love didn't "happen" the way it did with straight people. You've opened my eyes and changed my perception and I am grateful for that.
Heck, even Focus on the Family editor Gary Schneeberger has a bit of a conversion of heart. Granted, he's ultimately promoting the "We Can Change Them" program, but he still brings up an excellent point:

It's only been in the last couple of days that I've realized where this kind of thinking had illogically led me: to the conclusion that I have all the moral high ground. And it's only been in the last several hours, as I've wrestled with getting these thoughts out of my head and onto the computer screen, that I've realized how dangerous — and shameful — such thinking is.
In the cultural and policy battles we fight every day, particularly on issues like the normalization of homosexuality and the availability of abortion, it's easy to take on airs of superiority like those I've been wearing. Maybe it's because we have the truth of Scripture on our side; maybe it's because we're fallen human beings prone to arrogance and pride and every other sin under the sun — just like those on the other side of the ideological aisle. Most likely, it's a combination of the two.
Whatever causes it, though, there is no disputing it cripples our witness for Christ — no matter how we wind up faring on the Culture War scorecard. A victory won gracelessly or gloatingly is no victory at all; even if we eventually succeed in making abortion no longer legal, what have we really accomplished for the Kingdom if our tactics and attitudes drive the people who most need God further away from him?
To watch a film like "Brokeback Mountain" and react the way I did does not please the Lord. He loves those who laughed at that tragic scene I described earlier precisely as much as He loves me. He longs to heal their hearts. If I hope to be a tool He uses to do so, and that ought to be my goal as someone who has felt called to work at a Christian ministry, I've got to do more than sniff at the insensitivity and immaturity of those gay men and women I watched the movie with. I've got to do more than be disgusted at the subject matter of the film. I've got to consider why they laughed — and, in the larger context, why they view this film as such a watershed moment for themselves and their movement.
And so again I ask .... is this truly the biggest issue facing our world today? Are these people like Estelle and Curly single-handly contributing to the downfall of Western Society as we know it?

One of the couples who got married when the whole thing first exploded in either San Francisco or Boston was these two women who had been together for 54 years.

Explain to me how their committed relationship does more damage to the idea of "marriage" than Britney Spears' 55-hour marriage -- brief enough that the headline includes both the wedding and annulment.

I have one student who, in her introductory paper for me, explained that her parents and stepparents have all been divorced, her uncles are all divorced, one brother is divorced and the other is in the process of getting divorced. During Vocations Awareness Week, one of our sisters was asking her kids about the four vocations (priest/deacon, religious brother/sister, married, single) ... except the four they remembered were "priest/deacon, religious brother/sister, married, and divorced." Hmmm. And the 54-year commitment of those two women caused this?

I'm all about making marriage mean something. But shouldn't we start with the pre-nup? The "I'll say I'm doing this for life, but when we split up, I'll get this and you can have that." The quickie Vegas chapels? The overabundance of divorce attorneys? The media messages that say, "If it's broke, don't fix it. Just throw it out and buy a new model"?

An yet, even with all that, I find it hard to see "the sanctity of marriage" as the biggest issue facing our world today. I'm curious about the amount of time, energy, and money that is being spent on the idea to "change the constitution" so that its definition of marriage matches mine, or to say what movies can and can't be shown.

And is that really the best use of that time, energy, and expense?

There's no bigger need?

What about the troops who don't have the right armor? What about the folks in Missippi, also destroyed by Katrina but in the shadow of New Orleans? What about those on Medicaid who can't get their prescriptions right now because the kinks in the new system haven't been worked out yet? What about all the people living on the streets of our Nation's Capital -- supposedly the richest nation in the world? What about the rural kids getting way too involved in meth? What about the miners who have to risk their lives to put food on the table?

We're so worried about who can share a house that we don't consider those who don't have a house. We're so worried about who can share medical benefits that we don't consider those who don't have medical benefits. We're so worried about who can raise a child that we don't consider those kids who don't have someone to raise them. We're so worried about who can visit the hospital that we don't consider those who don't have someone to visit them.

Is that really where the focus should be?

I teach my Social Justice kids that we need to be meeting people's basic needs. Once the world has been clothed, and fed, and housed, and given their rightful dignity, self-worth, and value .... then we can worry about who's allowed to like whom. Until then ....

Let's worry about what really matters.

[cross-posted at Narrow at the Outset]