Coming this Friday to a theater near you, End of the Spear. The Voice of the Martyrs Persecution Blog summarizes the movie as "...the dramatic representation of the true story seen in Beyond the Gates of Splendor. End of the Spear follows the life journeys of Mincayani, a Waodoni warrior who led a raid on five missionaries in 1956, and Steve Saint, son of missionary Nate Saint." Stacy Harp concludes the post by saying (in bold), "If you love missions and the gospel, please see this movie and tell all your friends to see it too."
However, others are not as enthusiastic about this film's release. Randy Brandt and Jason Janz have both pointed out that Every Tribe Entertainment has chosen gay activist and actor Chad Allen to play Nate Saint and Steve Saint in the movie. Tim Challies has posted on it twice: here and here. What is the conclusion of some? Boycott! We must not support this movie!
In response, Justin Taylor has posted a much needed reply on his blog. Taylor's main thought? "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." I agree.
Please do not misunderstand me. I do not necessarily deny that Every Tribe Entertainment could have hired a better actor to play the part. I also question hiring someone for this film who is politically involved in the homosexual cause. Additionally, I wonder about the movie's faithfulness to the true story. Nevertheless, I do not believe the proper response is automatic condemnation and refusal to watch the movie.
Honestly, the argumentation from those against the movie leaves a lot to be desired. Here are a few reasons I do not find compelling:
1) The Christian message and the messenger are intricately related. If this movie was being used evangelistically, then this argument may hold more water. But to my knowledge, pastors and others are not using this movie as an outreach tool. I do not see it being used as the Jesus film or a Billy Graham evangelistic movie. It is retelling the story of Mincayani and Steve Saint, and it should be judged in this light.
2) We will be giving a homosexual activist a platform of influence by watching this movie. As Tim Challies says, "...when we accept a movie, and thus accept the actors who act in a movie, we provide them a platform. This may be unintentional, but it is also undeniable." I agree, but I ask: are we to blame for the existence of this platform? Our country undeniably has a "cult of celebrity" problem, but the fact that a number of uncritical entertainment lovers may hang on to the uninformed words of actors and actresses means very little to me. I pray they will see the light. At the same time, my paying to watch a movie is not responsible for the incessant thoughts and ramblings of celebrities. They have a voice because others will (unfortunately) listen.
3) We must clearly hold and explain the biblical truth that homosexuality is a sin. Absolutely! But how does my watching a movie deny this? Is it because of the platform reason mentioned above? Again, I don't think the case has been made. Cannot we maintain both that we love the movie (if it is good) and that homosexuality is a sin?
I fear more heat than light is coming out of this discussion. Why not share with Chad Allen the good news that Nate Saint died for, rather than simply judging him as a rebellious sinner? The later may be true, but only the former will make him right with God.
UPDATE: Tim Challies has included this post in his daily "A La Carte," suggesting that I seem to misunderstand him in thinking he is calling for a boycott. This was not my intent. I included his blog posts with a group of different individuals criticizing the movie, going on to state that some individuals desire a boycott. I was not necessarily including these critics in the call for a boycott. Regardless, to be clear, Tim Challies is not one of the individuals requesting a boycott of this film.