It may not be the best movie ever made, from a technical standpoint, but “‘For the Bible Tells Me So’ is a must see for LGBT people
The documentary I saw last night, “For the Bible Tells Me So,” hasn’t bowled over critics with its aesthetics.
The New York Times reviewer wrote the feature-length movie “won’t win any prizes for technique.” The Hollywood Repor-ter noted it displays “little more in the way of technique or style than would be employed in a typical television newsmagazine.”
But I don’t care if critics find it as artless as a velvet Elvis. This is a movie that needed to be made. In this country, nothing makes life harder for homosexuals than Christian antagonism, and “For the Bible Tells Me So” is a thorough response to that religious rancor.
If critical of the art, The Times also said the movie “fills a need,” and The Reporter stated it “makes its passionate case with conviction and intelligence.”
Any gay person who has struggled to reconcile faith and orientation will see themselves somewhere in this film. Any gay person who hasn’t will learn a few things sure to make arguments with homophobes more fun.
For instance, as talking heads in this film mention, there’s that fundamentalist Christian penchant for selective reading. In Leviticus, where it says if two men lie together they’ve committed an abomination, it also says that it’s an abomination to eat shrimp. I’ve yet to hear a Christian bemoan the American fondness for shrimp cocktail.
Concerning that word “abomination,” the impressive Rev. Dr. Laurence Keene explains that when it “is used in the Hebrew Bible, it is always used to address a ritual wrong it never is used to refer to something innately immoral. Eating pork was not innately immoral for a Jew, but it was an abomination because it was a violation of a ritual requirement.”
Try that one out on a Pride protester, even if it only makes him yell louder.
In addition to experts putting the Bible’s so-called clobber passages in historical and cultural context, the film includes a segment on how science points more and more to gayness being inborn.
And then there are the families. More powerful than a locomotive or a diesel dyke, the personal stories of five Christian American families weave throughout “Bible.” Former Congressman Richard Gephardt and his wife Jane speak about their relationship with daughter Chrissy, who tells of leaving a straight marriage and hitting her father’s presidential campaign trail as an out lesbian.
Chrissy Gephardt was raised Catholic; Jake Reitan grew up Lutheran. When he came out in high school, his parents were far from cheerleaders.
Now, not many years later, they’ve passed cheerleader and become criminals for the cause “Bible” has fascinating footage of the three Reitans being arrested after trying to deliver a letter to James Dobson at his Focus on the Family headquarters.
David and Brenda Poteat, African-American ministers, haven’t fully accepted daughter Tonia’s lesbianism, but they’ve come a long way.
David Poteat utters one of the great lines in this documentary: “When my kids were growing up, I said, “‘God, please don’t let my son grow up to be a faggot and my daughter a slut.’ And he did not. He did not do that. He reversed it.”
Gene Robinson, internationally loved and loathed as the Episcopal Church’s first openly gay bishop, is also included, as are his homespun Kentucky parents, whom Robinson calls “probably the two best Christians I know.”
I’ll never forget Mary Lou Wallner. When her daughter Anna came out, Wallner rejected her. A faithful fan of James Dobson’s, Wallner couldn’t reconcile her religious beliefs with her daughter’s lesbianism. Anna killed herself.
That’s why Wallner is also in the footage protesting outside Focus on the Family. She’s now doing fiercely for other gays what she couldn’t do for her daughter. That’s redemption of Biblical proportions.
Leslie Robinson is a syndicated columnist. Past columns are available at www.GeneralGayety.com
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition November 16, 2007