Saturday, January 14, 2006

The End of the Spear: Is the Messenger the Message?

Tim Challies posted an article last week on the fact that Chad Allen--who plays both Nate Saint and Steve Saint in The End of the Spear--is gay. Some have expressed shock and frustration that an openly gay man would be cast in an evangelical film.

But I have trouble seeing the big deal here. Film acting is a sophisticated form of make-believe. Good-looking people who talk and memorize well are paid lots of money to act out stories. In my mind, the main issue is whether they do a good job with the task.

Most of Hollywood is out of step with most of America. But at the same time, most of us simply don't care about the political or moral views of Hollywood. What does Sean Penn think about the Iraqi insurgency? What does Alec Baldwin think about the President's legitimacy? What does Tim Robbins think about civil liberties? What does Barbra Streisand think about the ethics of House Republicans? Few care! Most of us want to send them a copy of Laura Ingraham's appropriately titled book: Shut Up and Sing.

On a personal level, of course, I wish that Chad Allen would find satisfaction in the way that God has designed him. But in watching the film, my concern will be with whether or not he is doing his vocation well. As one commentator pointed out on Tim's site, Ian Charleson--who famously played Eric Liddell in Chariots of Fire--was gay. (He died of AIDS in 1990.) But I don't believe that the messenger is the message.

Update: Jason Janz has an extensive, quote-filled article arguing that this is a big deal and a serious mistake on the part of Every Tribe Entertainment.