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From our readers3.22.2006

By

‘Brokeback Mt.’ Made Mole Hill
That Personal Sin Causes Pain
By REV. MICHAEL P. ORSI
Although it did not win The Oscar for best picture Brokeback Mountain did garner more attention than any other film this year. In the end it won three awards for best director, adapted screenplay and original score. It should also have received one for exposing a theological hoax that social sin, in this case homophobia, is the cause of evil.
The concept of social sin came in vogue during the later part of the last century for the most part in consort with Liberation Theology. It played down personal sin as the cause of human pain and alienation and instead made them the product of repressive social constructs based on custom, politics, or religion. It sees these dehumanizing structures as culturally imbedded through generational prejudice, misunderstanding, and ignorance.
Social elites contend that these structures limit the total freedom which they believe humans need for self-fulfillment. The general public acceptance of this film is the culmination of the efforts of social engineers to legitimize homosexual relations.
By mainstreaming the topic, they believe they have staged a coup. However, in Brokeback Mountain these cultural subversives have effectively hoisted themselves on their own petard.
Far from promoting the efficacy of gay love, the movie wittingly portrays the damage that illicit and unnatural sex has on the principals involved as well as on their marriages and the families. The movie’s beautiful cinematography and excellent acting merely provide a false veneer for the personally destructive behavior of Jack Twist and Ennis Del Mar, the two main characters.
While many may perceive this movie as a call for tolerance toward homosexual love and ultimately for gay marriage, it is in fact a failed attempt at undermining a traditional theological principle – that human tragedy is wrought by personal sin.
The film attempts to portray the frolicking on the Brokeback Mountain campsite as idyllic – another Eden, if  you will. The message that the writers try to convey is that the story’s tragic ending is the product of societal prejudice that will not allow the two men to love each other.
The discerning viewer, however, will readily see the root of the evil here is not social sin. It is rather the personal sins that Jack and Ennis engage in – sodomy, lying and infidelity – that lead to their mutual destruction. It is not the social sin of homophobia. It is the wrong choices they make that destroy them and their families.
One of the plays used in the movie to hoodwink a less than discerning audience is to portray the ugly as beautiful. All spiritual writers warn that sin parades itself as being a good. How else could it seduce humans?
However, we have been given the gifts of reason and grace. With a little guidance people will be able to see through the lie on which the movie is based. Although I don’t encourage anyone to see this movie, those who do see it should know that it is open to another better and far more accurate interpretation as to its tragic ending.
With some instruction, pastors and theologians have an opportunity to expose the lie of social sin and evil structures in this case, homosexual acts – and redirect the viewer to the root cause of Jack and Ennis’s problems – the one that wrecked the first Eden – the personal sins of Adam and Eve. I hope that those responsible for shaping social thought will not pass this opportunity by.
 (ED NOTE: Orsi, a priest of the Camden Diocese, has had numerous assignments in Cape May County. He is a Research Fellow in Law and Religion, Ave Maria School of Law, Ann Arbor, Mich. and a Senior Fellow, Linacre Centre for Bioethics, London. This piece first appeared in the March 10 Catholic Star-Herald.)

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