The Oscar favorite’s portrayal of black, gay experience is at odds with a biblical sexual ethic—but for some, it might be worth the discomfort.
In a few days at the Oscars, we’re likely to see director Barry Jenkins’s acclaimed film Moonlight up for numerous awards, including Best Picture. It will also likely bring home many of those awards. Yet, as Christians, most of us won’t be sure what to do with this film about a young, gay black man, despite the fact that it may just be the best and most needed movie of the year—especially for the church.
It’s certainly no easy task to live out the cultural mandate in a Genesis 3 world. Until Christ comes back and makes all things new again, Christians will be seeking to understand what it means to be “in the world but not of the world,” to figure out what is simply “permissible” and what is actually “beneficial.” Sure, we’ll have models and guides to help us along the way—Niebuhrs and Benedict Options—but in this lifetime, we’ll spend our dying days still striving and still failing to faithfully create, sustain, and consume culture in a society plagued by sin.
This is especially true for Christians dealing with something as complex as art. And though it doesn’t appear that we’re headed toward hell in a handbasket, as if the Christian story were a cynical story of declinism, every era and movement of culture presents a number of new and unique challenges—and opportunities. Two of those within our current cultural landscape center on the issues of race and sexuality.
Moonlight, which brought home Best Drama Motion Picture at the Golden Globes, takes up both of these issues and has garnered significant attention not only for focusing on them but also for doing so in a compelling way. The film functions more as an exploration …