Is Milk Really That Good For You?

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Some weeks ago, I penned a piece on Ref21, arguing that the trendy Christian infatuation with cultural interaction was problematic at a number of levels.  Well, a review of the film, Milk over at the Gospel and Culture project is good evidence of a number of my points.  You can find it here.

The reviewer describes the film as a must-see for Christians.  This despite the fact that it apparently depicts homosexual contact, and celebrates the gay lifestyle. As I said in my original article, I'm not sure how watching this kind of thing can be exegetically justified in light of Eph. 5: 1-3 etc.

Further, I am not even sure how to respond to the comparison of gay outing to Christian witness and commitment.  The reviewer's use of the `a' word -- `authentic' and its cognates -- is surely crucial here.  It is, after all, the postmodern cliche most beloved of trendy Christians.  But it is, ultimately, an existential, or even better, aesthetic category, not an ethical one.  Indeed, it is devoid of moral content in any biblical sense.  If honesty and consistency between belief and action, even at personal risk, are the criteria for judging that somebody is worthy of emulation, then what is to stop a spoiled eight year old screaming for the latest toy, or Adolf Hitler, or even serial killers from being such?  All offer examples of sincerely held beliefs in action.   I well remember hearing  perhaps the most consistent postmodern Nietzschean I ever came across opining on how serial killers were the most honest and authentic people in the world -- because they acted on their impulses.  Good point -- if existential `authenticity' is the be all and end all.  But sometimes it is not acting on impulses, not conforming public behaviour to inner drives and instincts which is appropriate -- particularly, for Christians (at least one would hope), when those drives and instincts are opposed to the teaching of scripture.  Being sold out to the wrong set of beliefs, be those beliefs white supremacy, exploitation of the poor, in-your-face gay lifestyle, or wife-beating, is not admirable.

The review is most instructive.  It indicates what happens when culture takes over and gospel all but vanishes.  Milk's life was a tragedy -- not least because he was tragically murdered.  No-one deserves that -- as the word of God makes clear.  But, for any Christian thinker, the tragedy of Milk's life (and of his legacy for California) is surely much deeper than the way he departed this earth.  It was also the way he lived and what he left behind.  Yes, as the writer points out, he bequeathed a legacy -- and what a legacy, as any church in California that has struggled to hold firm against the litigious militancy of the gay lobby can attest. Authenticity is not enough.  And to say that Milk's personal life `poses challenges for a Christian audience' is an understatement worthy of the British Foreign Office.  

That this film can be puffed by the Gospel and Culture Project as a must-see for Christians is very disappointing and bodes ill for the future. As Elvis might have said, `A little less culturation, a little more gospel, please!'

Posted February 22, 2009 @ 2:43 PM by Carl Trueman
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