Film: Christians, Gays, and Reconciliation
Grant Taylor was only 10 years old when his father came out of the closet as gay. Refusing to accept his father's lifestyle, the young boy chose to cut him out of his life, a choice he would reconsider and regret later in life.
The provocative story is played out in "Reconciliation," a new film that tackles what few Christian films have addressed – homosexuality. The film, which is partially based on a true story, takes on the challenge of not only encouraging forgiveness and reconciliation but also giving an authentic voice to the gay community.
As Grant (Eric Nenninger) expects his first child, he wonders if he will be a good father or abandon his family just as his father had to pursue same-sex relationships. While shuffling between anger, embarrassment and childhood memories he is informed that his father is terminally ill and his last wish is to see his son.
After 16 years of separation he decides to go see his father, whom he repeatedly disowned for many years. Although he remains reluctant, Grant begins to wonder if he had done the right thing by ignoring and yelling hateful words to his father, who made numerous attempts to reconnect with his son.
The writer and director for the movie, Chad Ahrendt, best known for working on "Jerry Maguire" and "As Good As It Gets," shared with The Christian Post that working on this film touched him on a personal level because his father also came out as gay when he was a young boy.
As a young child in the 70s and 80s, Ahrendt didn't know what to make of his father's homosexuality. People often said derogative things toward gays.
"I think that in a young age we are educated according to what people say," he said. "Some people were saying that perhaps it was genetic and wondered that perhaps I too was gay. By seeing how people were treated all I knew was I didn't want to be treated that way."
Although he didn't grow up in a religious home, it was when he went to church with his friends that he heard the pastor say that homosexuality is a choice.
"At that point it hit me pretty deeply. First I thought it was genetic, and then I thought it was a choice," Ahrendt recalled.
"It was hard for me to see why my dad would choose to leave our family and perhaps fulfill his passion and feelings over me," he said. "So I think at that point early on when I heard those things, it turned into more anger and then that anger boiled up inside you and turned into hatred."
He is now proud to say he reconciled with his dad and it is that testimony that led him to write and pursue his first directorial debut with "Reconciliation," now available on DVD.
The movie has been well accepted by the public. Last week, it won the People's Festival Award at the 2011 John Paul II International Film Festival. It has also received positive feedback from the gay community.
While the movie portrayed homosexuality as sin, it also reminded people that sexual brokenness can be found in anyone.
"Everyone has some kind of sexual brokenness. We need to really think deeply into what the chaplain is saying in the movie about being transparent about brokenness and repenting from it and repent. In doing so, we can have a better understanding and hopefully be more compassionate to those who don't know the Lord," Ahrendt said.
According to Ahrendt, some gay people had a chance to watch the film and were pleased with the film's attempt to break stereotypes.
It was applauded for portraying gay men as loving people whose sin is giving in to temptation (and the same could be said of any another person). The film was also lauded for giving the gay community a voice as to how they feel and how much they are misunderstood. Finally and most importantly, it was commended for reminding people that by hating homosexuals, believers too are sinning for pushing them away from God.
"The church is a refuge for broken people; it's not a place for saints," Ahrendt stressed. "It is where we come and surrender everything to the Lord."
On the web: Reconciliation Movie Website