Documentary Delves into all sides of the issue hoping to engage the church in open discussion
It took a while for me to wrap my head around this documentary by Kent and Brad Williamson. It introduces us to members of the Metropolitan Community Church who have been or are still living GLBTQ lives. Even to write this article, I realized that I had not kept up with the times. I did not know that Queer had been added to Gay, Lesbian, Bi-sexual and Transgender.
Stained Glass Rainbows is designed to sensitize us to the issues appurtenant to Christianity when it comes to GLBTQ issues. The hope of the producers is that the will generate a discussion within the church. If you have a list of issues that you think of when you consider GLBTQ people, this documentary will most likely expand that list.
Consider the fate of children, when their same sex parents dissolve their relationship. You will see several clips with Lisa Miller, a birth mother who ultimately fled the country with her child, when courts ordered her to permit her ex same sex partner visitation. You will hear Shirley Phelps-Roper from the Westboro church explaining why she feels she needs to stand on street corners with signs that say things like “Pray for more Dead Soldiers” and “Thank God for 9/11.” You will hear the temperate views of Professor Robert Gagnon, Pittsburgh Theological Seminary. You will be inspired by the commitment of Jonathan Ervin.
There are also “Man on the Street Interviews” with people on the street. Some of these interviews are with the public in general and some are with people in the GLBTQ community. The perceptions that they have concerning the church and concerning whether it is sin may give you some pause. And a question is raised, if we as the Church are to win people to Christ, can we do that while hating the very people who need to be saved?
Stained Glass Rainbows points out that thousands of people have died from AIDS. No one coming from the Church comforting them in their last hours. Many churches unwilling to even hold the funeral for the deceased. How compassionate is the Church? Professor Gagnon discusses some of the considerations that people may wish to think about when they are considering this form of sin. Are all of us sinners? Do all of us need Christ?
The film closes with a where are they now. I will let you meet the others in the film and find that answer at the end, but there are three that I will provide spoiler information. Professor Robert Gagnon, who is not gay, is still at the Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and still teaching about the complexities of these issues. Lisa Miller and her child are still beyond the reach of the authorities. Shirley Phelps-Roper is still on street corners with her signs. And, Jonathan Ervin, to whom the film is dedicated, lived the rest of his life with AIDS, faithful and thankful to God for helping him to come to know Jesus until the day he died.
This film is not entertainment. The film is not difficult to watch, but it is difficult to watch as a Christian without thinking about how we treat GLBTQ people. I believe it will be a valuable tool to use to open a discussion among Christians. Beyond the Church, some may realize how much the Church is wrestling with this issue. Stained Glass Rainbows is not for everyone and certainly not for children. But, if you want to broaden the spectrum of your ability to discuss the relationship between the Church and the GLBTQ community, it may be for you.