Discussing
Our Ritual Double Standard

Edirin Ibru

CircularReason
April 15, 2009

The Issue of the Double Standard is certainly present, but it is not as clear as you say it is. There are several issues at work here. Let me just preface this by saying that I have a background in theatre and musicals, and also in theology and philosophy. The marriage of this can be quite an interesting relationship.<br>First off, it is good to note that hypocrisy is rampant. And the ultra conservative American Christians who try to judge everything by their Sunday school standards are among the forefront of the hypocrisy race. But it is also worth noting that those who claim to follow Jesus, and his message, and yet support agendas which at their core, are contrary agendas of Jesus, are in a sense, no different than the Sunday school Christians which they condemn.<br>There is one major factor, among quite a few, that you fail to acknowledge in your essay, namely, that there is a significant difference between content and message, between scenes and how those scenes come together to form an agenda.<br>Let’s begin with the former. Different films, books, musical, and the like, have different content. Sometimes there is Sexual content. Sometimes there is violence. Sometimes drug use. Many Christians protest various content, based on it’s moral value. This is understandable, though perhaps no always the best notion. Why? Because we live in a world filled with rebellious people. There values are not the same as God’s Values, no matter how much that ought to be the case. However, it would be wrong of us, as critically thinking people, to say that Just because one movie (or book, etc) has the same content as another one, doesn’t mean that they are equal in their moral value. The most obvious and polarized example of this is say, one movie which promotes an extramarital affair as being the right thing to do if you find true love elsewhere, and another movie which portrays an extramarital affair as being a wrong, destructive practice. Both films have the content of extramarital affairs within them, Though their message about affairs, and thus their agendas, are radically different.<br>But we need not even go that far. We can take an example which is not so polarized. Take the movie Rent, and then the movie Dodgeball. Both films have Homosexual content in them. Rent, it’s content obvious and sprinkled throughout. And Dodgeball, a couple lines, and then a scene at the end. What is the difference between these two films? Should we not be just as outraged at both? Yes and no. Sin is sin, regardless… but some level of disagreement is bound to show up in the content of every film. I don’t agree with every moral judgment of every character in every film I watch. That doesn’t mean I have to make a big stink about it. However, the scene in dodgeball, is just that. A scene. The movie wasn’t based on that scene, nor was it critical to the plot. It wasn’t alluded two, and, most importantly, the writers did not try to suck you into that homosexual relationship to try and develop a moral perspective about it. It was there. It was a scene. But there is a real difference between that scene, and say, a movie like rent.<br>I say a movie, because I have not scene the show live, so my critique is from a purely cinematic point of view. First, we must note that it doesn’t matter what La Boheme was about. It only matters what Rent is about. Just because someone claims that something is based on something else, doesn’t mean we can judge it by the acclaimed source. That being said, I argue my case. Rent does not simply have homosexual scenes within it. It has a strong, clear pro homosexual message. It invites you in. It says, look at me, I am Just like everyone else, actually it goes further, portraying Angel as the Christ-figure in a sense – The homosexual is the pinnacle of love, forgiveness, and morality. He’s not only equal to everyone, and hence deserves to be loved, but he is in fact, above everyone. He’s a shining example. A Model for all to follow. And then of Course, Rent uses the Incorporates the extra emotional propellant that all musicals utilize – That of beautifully scored and written music. (here comes my love hate relationship with theatre) – Put any action to amazing music, and it seems okay. Sing about it in a grand and emotional – or even fun, upbeat kind of way – and suddenly that action is not as bad as it was before. Affairs aren’t so bad now… Cutting up people and putting them in pies for others to consume, isn’t as grotesque as I originally thought, and homosexuality, has just been misunderstood…. All is good.<br>And so, I must wrap this up even though I would like to go on for quite a while. What’s my point. Well, let’s see. (can I get some good music to go with this?). First there is a difference between content and agenda. Most movies have content which is outside of our moral boundaries… but there is a difference between that content being present, and that content being promoted. I believe that we as the people of God cannot escape the presence of that content – but can we really support the promotion of it? Can we really follow Jesus, and support the efforts of Caesar being Lord? And finally, in opposition to what your position may be – Rent – Though beautifully scored – and I mean that, it is really, really well done – Is a film, a musical – that clearly has as one of it’s main points, the promotion, the endorsement, the moral message that Homosexuality is not only okay, but good. And this is a radically different thing that a movie which simply has a homosexual scene in it. Or a movie which has a character who had premarital sex in it. There are other issues in this debate, but I think I shall stop here for reflection. Thanks for the thoughts. And Let’s keep up the good dialogue. <br>

YT
April 15, 2009

Very Interesting<br><br>I have a story to tell. A Christian girl married to Non-Christian man. She had overcomed the advices from her Christian friends that they should be not be yoked together according to the Word of God<br><br>She did pray a lot for her husband, and indeed after going thru lots of difficulties, God's grace fell upon him that he became a staunch believer<br><br>However, as the day goes by, when he is leading the bible study, he can not give a firm answer to a question, whether Christian and non Christian can be yoked together<br><br>Another example for similar situation for a person can not give a firm answer in which the Word of God says it very clear "you shall not"<br><br>A person did spend his singlehood life lustfully, going girl after girl, bed after bed. Finally he repented and accepted Christ. However, he got the same problem as the first example. He can not give a firm answer to a question, Is it right to have sex before marriage?<br><br>Now, if we go back to the discussion about Double Living standard and hypocrisy ... I have a question here ...<br><br>Is it right for a person to shut the mouth due to their past experiences eventhough the Word of God says very clear and loud?<br><br>Or Is it also right for a person to shut their mouth due to inability to live it out the Words in daily life?<br><br>If everybody shuts their mouth because they can not live it out in their daily life, then how we can spread the Gospel since no one is perfect on earth? I think that we will fall into Satan's trap ... It is someone else business ...<br><br>

Bethanykj
April 15, 2009

I agree with your message/content distinction, but I don't think visceral reactions create that distinction. Also, by your standard, shouldn't movies like Oceans Eleven be decried for promoting theft? Why the visceral reaction to Rent and not Rambo? I would argue that promoting love - regardless of who the lovers are - is at least morally neutral, when I see no positive value in promoting violence or torture. My position on the status of gay relationships is definitely more liberal than many who read this site, but even if you do view it as sinful, that doesn't change the double standard of vocally condemning any expression of homosexuality and not other sins.

Rick
April 15, 2009

A big AMEN to CircularReason. That relates so well to the controversy on the Q&amp;A with Kirsten blog that follows. Just as there is a big difference between a film with an immoral agenda and a film that may contain immoral scenes, so is there a difference between someone who sins (no matter the sin) and someone who enjoys, advocates and profits from their immorality.

Michael H
April 15, 2009

Could not agree more, Circular. I, too, have a background in theatre--in all roles: performer, production staff and audience--and have a certain dissatisfaction with RENT as a musical for the basic purpose of the fact that it is a message piece. The climactic number of the whole show ("La Vie Boheme") is a tribute and glorification of alternative lifestyles, including but not limited to homosexuality. Moreover, the theme of the show ("Seasons of Love") is an implicit message to embrace love in whatever forms it may come. From the opening act, the audience is introduced to judge the show (and "measure a year") not by moral standards, but by emotional appeal and "love."<br><br>Now, I am not saying whether RENT is a good or bad show. I actually think in terms of score, script and story that it is quite good. But I cannot stomach its cultural popularity, which is founded upon its radical chique and homosexual message. (It should be noted that so many of my peers--I'm 21--enjoy RENT without particular regard to its morality simply becaues it's "relevant.")<br><br>And it should be noted that the movie cut a strongly sexual scene--including simulated intercourse on stage by most parties, including the homosexual couples--in the song "Contact". This piece alone, bereft of homosexuality, ought to be worth questioning. But in putting the couples on stage simultaneously, it is an effort to equate homosexuality and heterosexuality.<br><br>RENT is a message show through and through. It does it with a good story and great flair, sure--which is what makes it enjoyable for musical theatre buffs like me--but a moment of thinking will result in the condemnation of its message. Personally, this results in holding two truths in dynamic tension and accompanying inner conflict within my peer group (also theatre kids, who, as you might imagine, are far more liberal than I am). Sometimes I'll get caught up in the viewing of RENT, and suddenly find myself thinking "Oh my, this is terrible!" It is a hard line to walk. But the young man who condemns the show for its homosexual message is not wrong; he is only partially correct.<br><br>As a final note, I think something like SWEENEY TODD (which you alluded to with the commentary on cutting up people and putting them in pies) is of a different vein than RENT. It is certainly a dark comedy, but the act of murder and cannibalization is not treated amorally. The show condemns Miss Lovett and Todd himself, and they get their temporal punishment. Toby, in discovering the truth, goes mad as it is an act of depravity he cannot fathom. RENT offers none of the consequences of homosexuality. One might say Angel died of AIDS, but Mimi and Roger are also dying of AIDS (as the lone heterosexual couple in the show), and thus the consequences of sexual sin is upon all of them. There is no recognition that the sexual attraction is wrong or even DIFFERENT. It is suggested that it is all the same, and Angel himself (often referred to as "herself" in the play/film due to his transvestism) is held as the pinnacle of sacrifice and love.

alvin_tsf
April 15, 2009

i believe the thread has become too focused on RENT and the message of its content and other such films, books and shows that go against our Christian values. but i think what Edirin is trying to point out is the hypocrisy and double standard arrogance we christians put out to the world. <br>"If the problem with RENT is one of morals, shouldn’t have this angry young man been equally as upset with Knocked Up, Good Luck Chuck, and Role Models?" many of the coments here are outraged with the message of RENT but the thing is, shouldn't we expect this from the world? <br><br>"What I can’t stand is a largely negative and judgmental attitude completely birthed out of personal preference, but announced under the guise of theologically grounded frustration"<br><br>this is what the real problem is right now. this judgmental attitude that christians have is what drives people to "de-baptize". and what are we doin about it? our personal preferences become doctrine just because we are so very theologically correct at the same time experts in culture, philosophy, media and the arts. and that our point of view should be heeded because of this combination. we need to be transformational, but i sincerely believe we are going about it in the wrong way. if the world can produce something aesthetically beautiful like RENT, shouldn't we as christians come together and produce something that portrays our Beautiful and Magnificent Lord in that way? instead of thrashing these movies outright, why not engage our non-believing friends and acquiantances in meaningful conversation regarding the message? it seems everyone on this blog is eloquent and theologically and culturally competent enough to do it. <br><br>one thing that stands out in my mind is the fact that during Jesus' earthly ministry, the one thing that He consistently and constantly met head on with stern words were not the lepers (present day HIV positive people), or tax collectors (investment bankers? ), adulteress/fornicators (people from the East Village?) but those of the religious elite. if Jesus were doing his ministry today, where do you think He would hang out? my personal opinion? in a bohemian coffee shop engaging angtsy, goth poets and gay theater majors and the band Korn,while sipping Latte and telling them about the Kingdom of Heaven....waving to the evangelicals who are picketing outside to join him for a cup or a muffin, and we would probably blog about Him, and say things like...“I just don’t like the way He's making all that stuff out to seem okay”<br><br>all by God's grace! peace to everyone.<br><br>

Cullen Webb
April 15, 2009

I agree. Mostly.<br><br>Christians who openly pass judgement on a specific sin, and then take part in a sin all their own, have turned the world against us. The world will watch them, and justify their own lifestyle by it.<br><br>However, I would not condone that play. I hope you do not view me as just another guy, who can pass an easy oppinion about a matter without looking at my own life. But I have to say, RENT should have no place in Christian homes. If it endorses Pre-marital sex, or homosexuality, we should not go to see it. It is filth.<br><br>I say this, not because I have made rules for myself. But because scripture has. <br><br>Thats all I have to say. Although you did have a very nice point and case about hypocrisy.<br><br>Prayers,<br> Cullen

Cullen Webb
April 15, 2009

Promoting love? What love?<br><br>For everything God has given us, Satan has made a counterfeit. Love, has Lust as its counterfeit.<br><br>When lovers come together in a sinful way, you will know it is false love. Temporary, Empty, Lust.

Bethanykj
April 16, 2009

you are very dismissive of the way others might sincerely love and care for each other. Do you think that God cannot work within relationships besides marriage relationships, or loving friendships that have no relationship to sex? I think that God does it all the time.

CircularReason
April 16, 2009

A few things to address.<br><br><br>First, Good thoughts – I always enjoy thoughtful responses.<br><br><br>Next, let me address them in reverse order.<br><br><br>Cullen –<br><br>It sounds like you have a particular distain for this so called ‘filth’. I would be careful in how you describe such things, and would advise you to ask the question which Alvin proposed – Where would Jesus being hanging out if he were to come back right now? I fear for your sake, that you may never see him if he didn’t come back, because you would be embarrassed to set foot in the establishments he chose to frequent. Don’t take this as an insult, but as a loving tap on the shoulder from a brother in Christ who wants to see you live as the true people of God.<br><br>Alvin – <br><br>I Wholeheartedly agree with your question, and to some extent, your answer to that question. I also agree that when it comes down to it, we need to be asking the question ‘so what do we do about all this’ rather than ‘how bad is this really?’ That being said, I think there is a time and a place for everything, and I would venture to guess that you just read the post on de-baptizing prior to posting on this thread, and are getting your questions confused. The original post was about the double standard that people present when they dislike things like RENT and like Things such as Knocked Up. My point was that a double standard certainly exists – but not in all the cases presented, as there is a difference between a film like RENT which actively promotes a pro homoerotic agenda, and some other film, such as Dodgeball (I use Dodgeball because I have not seen Knocked UP) which simply depicts homoerotic behavior.<br><br>Hark – <br><br>My reference to Sweeny Todd has less to do with agenda, as in, ‘they are promoting cutting people up and putting them in pies’, and more to do with my pet peeve of what Musicals in particular do when they portray immoral things with great music. They Desensitize you to it. If we were to just see some guy doing these acts, in would be at one level of distaste. But somehow, because we put great music to it… songs which then once you buy the cd, you sing along too without even realizing the full implications, suddenly, now killing people and putting them in pies isn’t as bad, or as shocking, or even as taboo as it was before – Even if they show the bad consequences in the end. Not the same thing as Rent, but Just another issue I have with musicals. Again, It’s a love-hate thing.<br><br><br>Bethany – <br><br>You make a very good point about Oceans Eleven. Oceans Eleven I would say, is a Far better example of something to be compared with Rent than Say, Knocked up or Dodgeball. Why? Because Oceans Eleven spends time getting into the minds of Thieves… it promotes Stealing as a fun, action filled thing to do. Even more so in The Italian Job. And it’s a shame, because I found those films entertaining. But the truth is, they are promoting ideologies which are contrary to that of Jesus. They are the Same as RENT. Now, I will have to take issue with your ‘morally neutral love’ vs Violence distinction. And Unfortunately, I don’t have the time to get into all the details. But this so called ‘love’, needs to be questioned before the author and embodiment of love, to determine whether or not it is in fact love, or some shattered echo of what Love was always supposed to be. The Love argument for homoerotic relations fails miserably when put to the test. On the flip side of that, to say that violence has no place within the framework of our history and future is simply mistaken. We see that in that past, God used violence to accomplish his will, and we see that in the future, Jesus himself will use violence to accomplish the final tasks. How do we deal with such things? The typical attitude towards violence seems to say that Violence is not the answer, or that there is a better way, a more mature way of handling things. Can we say that about God? When Jesus comes back, and we see him wiping out the wicked, are we going to stand there shaking are heads, saying, ‘that Jesus, He could have handled this in a much better way…?’ So if God is love, and everything he does is the most loving and best way to handle things, then we must conclude, even if is beyond our understanding, that sometimes, in some cases, that Violence is the most loving, just, and good thing to do. Now let me be clear in saying that I don’t think many of us have the wisdom and discipline it takes to determine when such situations occur. But it would be equally wrong for me, as a follow of YHWH, to take an anti-violence position. I do not want to look on my Lord with Eyes of Judgment when the day comes. Some things to think about and work through.<br>

Rick
April 16, 2009

Paul says in Ephesians that we should not even talk or joke about sexual immorality. Bawdy plays were common in Paul's day as well as dirty jokes. I just cannot sit through some movies and plays that seem to wallow in sexual immorality. Here's what Paul says:<br><br>But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God's holy people. Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person—such a man is an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God's wrath comes on those who are disobedient. Therefore do not be partners with them. For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord. Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. For it is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. <br>

Narriag
April 16, 2009

It's amazing how we make circles about a matter that has been answered in the Bible. Practicing homosexual relationship is a sin, not worse than other, but clearly a sin. We don't have to argue about accepting or rejecting that practice. We are not to judge or hate homosexuals but to condone homosexuality is quite a different matter. It seems that christians are afraid of standing in Bible principles. We are not to feel ashamed quoting what God says in his word about the subject. In other hand we are not authorized to change what God says. Wrong is wrong. This sin is not worse than lie or proud, but is still a sin that must be forgiven and washed away for Christ blood, whta will happen only after confession and repentance of the sinner.<br>Please, consider what God says in Roman 1 verses that I quote below.<br><br>26Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. 27In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.<br> <br>I don't think there is place for a doubt about God thinking in this matter. You can follow God's directions or reject them, it's your right, but if you don't believe what God says you are not a christian.<br><br>Romans 1:32 has a picture of the argument we are having now. You can see who is who. There is a condemnation for people who " APROVE OF THOSE WHO PRACTICE THEM"<br><br><br>32Although they know God's righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them"<br><br>1 Corinthians 6:9 (New International Version)<br><br> 9Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders<br><br><br><br><br>This comment has nothing to do with feeling myself better than anybody. I'm a sinner who desperately needed Christ sacrifice as the only way to obtain forgiveness and salvation. I'm trying to say that we can't approve for ourselves or other what God so clearly condemns.<br>God bless you,<br><br>Nelson

alvin_tsf
April 16, 2009

circular reason<br><br>thanks for your feed back. yes, somehow i veered away but i do somehow find a connection between the double standards that many of us christians have and the de-baptize issue. i think the de-baptize thing is partly a reaction from the world with regards to our judgmental attitude that unfortunately we voice out eloquently more often than talking about grace, peace and love (God's love). i must admit, i did like Oceans Eleven, Twelve and Thirteen without reflecting too much on what it's really saying and many other movies and music and books as well. in that aspect, i think we should be very discerning about these things, which i think you pointed out. and it is quite proper for us to exegete these from the culture. but we should also be wary about getting our preferences get the better of our passions. many people in this site have had negative reactions to the music festival and RENT and people getting de-baptized and U2 singing about God in Letterman and backed up their points of view with bible verses. but this is really not the point of us being the Light. yes, God's righteousness in us often blinds the world's evil value system, but that Light in us should also enlighten those who are in the dark and lead them to the Way and the Truth, not the other direction.<br><br>thanks again and i pray that our thoughtful discussions in this site would lead us to be more like our Lord and Savior Jesus.<br><br>have a blessed day!

alvin_tsf
April 16, 2009

cullen, <br><br>there should be no place for us christians to pass judgment on each other. and i agree to a certain extent that we must be very careful not to let the filth of the world blemish us. and that Scripture is the only basis for this. but we should also be very careful how we define what filth is. some people can watch a play like RENT and appreciate the art and not be affected by its message. some people can listen to U2 and leads them to reflect on God. some people need to listen to Chris Tomlin only. others can have a good laugh at Oceans Eleven without having the urge to steal. others can only watch kirk cameron. different strokes for different folks. and as you said, Scripture, and may i add, the Spriit is the only thing that can bind and blend us together amidst our differences in tastes and preferences. this unity is what the world needs to see right now if Jesus is to be lifted up.<br><br>together with you in Christ, <br>alvin

Jim Lynch
April 19, 2009

If we can't look with love and empathy on sinners, what's the point? Rent's a great musical; it also presents gay folks without slurring or exaggerating them, which is important for Christians to see. And if today's Christians, whose savior declared a Year of The Lord's Favor, can't stand to hear about a "season of love", we're finished.

Pcg
April 21, 2009

Your comment is very dismissive of a Biblical definition of Love (agape) in favor of a lesser version (philios or eros, both of which are not what we are ultimately called to). Only God can impart the ability to agape, as we are incapable of that on our own. This includes the Godless homosexual, as well as the Godless heterosexual.<br><br>And your question is spurious, as no one is claiming that God cannot or does not work in non-marriage or sex-less relationships. The point, rather, is that the world offers something clothed as Love, but which is ultimately lust or self-interest. It might be a very good imitation of Love, but without God true Love is impossible.<br><br>Finally, your logic is deceptive in that the article is not about Rambo or Oceans Eleven. The article is about RENT, so naturally the conversation is going to center around the themes contained therein. If you want to get into a discussion about why Rambo might be an archetype of justice, or why Oceans Eleven doesn't proclaim the thieves morally pure, there are probably better areas to do that. But to do it here merely conflates the ideas and muddies the waters.

Rekidk
June 30, 2009

Just a thought: isn't it worthwhile to hear -other- points of view, even if we disagree with them? I frequently read websites such as this one even though I often disagree with their content. I believe that it's important to listen to the opinions of others. Yes, that means that it's worthwhile to see a play such as RENT, which definitely has a pro-gay message. Why? Because it allows you to see the issue from a different perspective which may lead you to a better understanding.<br><br>Blindly quoting bible passages is not righteousness or morality. To develop your morality, you must engage in prayer, internal thought, and external exploration. If you limit yourself only to what the Bible or the Church is telling you, then you're missing out on a variety of alternative perspectives which might help you better appreciate exactly what you believe in.

Ludwig
November 10, 2009

With the good comes the bad. There cannot be one without the other. Every concept that man creates in their minds is entirely based upon relativity, and therefore not one human being has the right to say what is essentially right or truly wrong. Everything is one together, but conflict is what breeds the reality we exist in right now. If we are to move on to the higher plane we must end the conflict within ourselves and, in turn, the conflict in our environment. Jesus teaches the greatness of acceptance, and only through those teachings of tolerance and understanding can we reach the goal of the creation of Heaven on Earth. Jesus loves everybody because he is one with us and we are one with him, every single one of us. Without the bad there is no good, without the dark there is no Light. We are all vessels and representations of God because he is the Good and the Bad, the Alpha and the Omega, and so is everyone on this planet, and everything in this Universe. The waves of reality have their ups and downs as any wave does, but it can be a vicious cycle. Hate and Fear lead to blindness, an open Heart and an open Mind leads to salvation. With an open heart we can all break this vicious cycle and focus our energy on what is truly important, Love.

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