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And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet. (Romans 1:27)
There are a lot of things that are mysteries to people, and that is mainly because people tend to not take the time to study up on a certain subject. The movie Latter Days brings to light two things that to most of the world remain great mysteries. One is Mormonism and the other is homosexuality.
The movie revolves around LDS missionary Aaron Davis who is from Idaho and is sent to Los Angeles, California. The shock of the big city seems to overwhelm him at first and this is especially true when he sees someone holding up a sign saying, "Welcome to Hell."
He and three other missionaries move into an apartment that happens to be across the way from a very open and very promiscuous homosexual named Christian. Christian makes a bet of $50.00 with coworkers that he can make one of the LDS missionaries gay. He unfortunately succeeds.
There are some humorous lines in the movie. At one point Davis' missionary companion looks at Christian during a missionary discussion and states that "God hates fags" only to have Davis lean in and exclaim, "And the French! God hates the French. Doesn't everybody?"
There are also some touching scenes, particularly when Christian visits a man dying of AIDS and finally starts to realize that some things are more important than sex. In addition when Davis' mother slaps him after Davis says, "What if it is who I am?"
However this movie is not a very accurate portrayal in my view of life as an LDS missionary. I am a former LDS missionary, having served an honorable full-time mission for two years in New York City. Although I am certainly not gay, but rather a Christian missionary now, I have to be honest in that I found this movie hard to believe. For one thing, missionaries are rarely alone and Davis is frequently shown alone with Christian. Second, the entire part of the movie where the missionaries are teaching Christian and his friend, a young up and coming singer, seems ridiculous. I know of no missionaries that would ever teach a discussion like they do in this movie. Missionaries don't use the kind of language that they use in this movie in the presence of non-members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
What is accurate though is that missionaries do face a lot of temptation in the mission field. Some missionaries face more than others, but it really depends on the area that they are serving. Where I served in New York, there was a lot of temptation all around me. As a missionary I knew the council of Paul in 1 Corinthians 10:13, that there was no temptation uncommon to man and that God would provide a way of escape. Elder Davis in this movie appears to not have known about that wise council. The fact that his fellow missionaries allowed him to remain alone so often only leads me to see how he could have given into that kind of temptation.
The movie ends with Davis trying to commit suicide, and at one point in the movie it implies (because his mother said so) that he had been successful. Instead, he eventually goes back to Los Angeles to be with Christian and they live happily ever after, however... they really will not.
The problem with this movie is that it presents homosexuality as a normal lifestyle and presents anyone who claims belief in Jesus Christ to be bigoted and mean. While there are many areas that Evangelical Christians disagree with Mormons on, one area that we are in complete agreement is that homosexuality is a sin that will lead to misery for all involved. This movie really is a clever propaganda piece to get people to accept the idea of homosexuality being a normal lifestyle when in fact it is sin and repulsive in the eyes of God. The movie also portrays Mormonism as just a religion that hates gay people, blacks, and women when in fact nothing could be further from the truth. By implying that Mormons accept the Bible as infallible (which the LDS Church does not) it also creates an atmosphere that could prove hostile to the Evangelical Christian. Once someone has seen this movie and had their opinion shaped by it, the natural reaction would be to group Evangelical Christians and Mormons as just a bunch of bigots. Truth is, both groups really do care about the souls of sinners, although both groups have serious conflicting basic doctrines that are so serious that neither group fully accepts the other as having full truth.
Would I recommend this movie? I would if it was edited and I had to fast forward through the kissing and sex scenes. The movie though was well made, and although it probably had a low budget, it was not noticeable. I would not recommend this movie to anyone who has no knowledge of Mormonism, Christianity, or even homosexuality, because the movie does such a great job of making the first two into something bigoted and horrible and the last one as something wonderful. It would be easy to convince someone ignorant of these subjects that this movie preaches something akin to the truth. Bad language and sexual situations mean this is not a movie children should see.
The cast was well chosen. The actor who plays Davis, Steve Sandvoss, is an actor whose work I have seen before. He looks like an LDS missionary in the movie, as does the other missionaries. The music (some of it) was nice to listen to, but overall this movie is really nothing more than a tool for the gay community to promote an agenda that Mormons and Evangelical Christians can agree is anything but praiseworthy.
June 14, 2005