Movies

The higher love modeled by The Imitation Game

John Van Sloten

There’s a powerful scene in the Oscar-nominated, World War II drama The Imitation Game, in which the brilliant, code-breaking mathematician Alan Turing (Benedict Cumberbatch) tells the woman he is about to marry (Keira Knightley) that he’s gay.

Her poignant response was profoundly illumining for me. It seemed to embody a love that was bigger than mere sexual orientation.

Alan Turing: There’s something I have to tell you. I’m... I’m a homosexual.
Joan Clarke: Alright.
Alan Turing: What? Men, Joan. Not women.
Joan Clarke: So what?
Alan Turing: I just said -
Joan Clarke: So what? I had my suspicions. I always did. But we’re not like other people. We love each other in our own way, and we can still live the life together that we want. You won’t be the perfect husband? I can promise you I harbored no intention of being the perfect wife. I’ll not be fixing your lamb all day awaiting your return from the office, will I? I’ll work. You’ll work. We’ll have each other’s company. We’ll have each other’s minds. Sounds like a better marriage than most. Because I care for you. And you care for me. And we understand one another more than anyone else ever has. 

Could this be how God loves? For the sake of a greater relational good, Joan was willing to put her sexual self aside - to not make it the ultimate arbiter of what it means to love another human being.

One of the challenges we face today, especially in engaging issues of LGBTQ equality, is that human beings are increasingly defined by their sexual orientation in our hyper-sexualized world - as though that is all that defines who we are. This scene undermines that imbalance and reminds us that people relate in all kinds of ways: through shared thinking, working, valuing, loving, contributing, playing and even code breaking.

Love is so much more than mere sex.

Of course, I’m not advocating for more marriages in which one partner is gay and the other is straight. That’s not a tenable situation. But we do need to consider sexual orientation alongside a bigger view of what love and relationship are. We need to love like God loves. God is above gender and is neither male nor female. God doesn’t love us because of our sexual orientation - whatever that might be. His love is not gender-specific or sourced. God loves with a love that is not sexually oriented or driven. His love is a bigger kind of love, and the love expressed by Joan Clarke in The Imitation Game is a pointer to it.

God loves human beings with a greater-than-sexual, beyond-orientation kind of love.

God loves human beings with a greater-than-sexual, beyond-orientation kind of love. God always operates with this greater orientation. In a sense, He has to because God is above gender. God loves in a way that transcends sexuality. And if God loves in this way, then maybe we can too.

For most of my married life I’ve struggled with Jesus’ teaching about the nature of marital relations on the new earth. He clearly taught that, at the resurrection, we’ll “neither marry nor be given in marriage.” If that’s true, then there must be a love that’s even greater than the kind of love we experience in the best of marriages. And there must be a way of being in relationship with others that’s even holier than matrimony.

If God’s love is above sexual orientation, a love He’s felt for us before the creation of the world and will feel eternally toward us in a not-married new world, then surely this has implications for our relationships here and now.

Topics: Movies, Culture At Large, Arts & Leisure, Theology & The Church, Theology, Home & Family, Sex