Watch Aaron in the film Holy Wars

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Conscience over faith?

Over the weekend, my wife and I watched one of the best films we have seen in a long time. The film is called Water and is directed by Deepa Mehta. Water is set in the 1930's against the backdrop of Ghandi's rise to power in India. The film tells the story of an 8 year old girl who is sent to live the rest of her life in a commune with other widows due to the death of her husband (whom she never met). In Hinduism, a woman is considered half of her husband, so, when a man dies, the widow has three options: Burn herself alive with her husband, marry his younger brother, or live an ascetic life of self denial with other widows for the rest of her life. The young girl befriends a beautiful young woman (who is also a widow) and by chance introduces her to an idealistic young man who despises his society's treatment of widows, but has to choose between his faith and his conscience.

The making of Water set off a firestorm in India. For four years, Hindu extremists did nearly everything to shut down the production of the film, including riots and death threats. Finally, the director decided to make the film in Sri Lanka when she realized it was not safe to make the movie in India. Although many Hindu extremists consider the movie anti-Hindu, the director denies that the film is anti-Hindu. Instead, she declares that the story is about the "universal" struggle between faith and conscience.

Forgive me, but I have to interject that I can not relate to the "universal" struggle between following the dictates of my faith and following the dictates of my conscience. If anything, watching Water helped to confirm what my conscience has been telling me my entire life, namely that following Jesus is the most moral path a person can take. The characters in Water had to choose between an obvious flaw in their religion and doing what their hearts told them what was right, especially regarding the fate of an 8-year old girl whose spirit was being crushed by the oppression. Interestingly, Ghandi is portrayed in the film as standing up for the rights of the widow and the outcast. One person in the film said, "Ghandi is one of the few people in the world who listens to the voice of his conscience." If this is true, then Ghandi was a far more remarkable man than I have previously realized. This would mean that Ghandi chose to give dignity to the poor and the outcast despite what his religion taught him. This does not surprise me because there is, in fact, a tradition of pagan saints in Scripture (see Romans 2).

Watching this film made me appreciate in a deeper way the moral life of the founder of my religion, Jesus of Nazareth, the man who came to set the captives free.

7 comments:

Pete said...

Aaron,
You make an excellent point that faith and conscience should not be opposing forces. That's so sad that some people don't understand that.
Pete

Anonymous said...

Pagan saints?

I don't belive that is what Paul was referring to.

marhaban said...

I know Jesus never personally took a stand on homosexuality, but it is probably safe to say that the majority of Christianity condemn it.
I often find myself torn between my consious and Christianity on this issue.

Pete said...

Marhaban,
I think that once you look at what God intended for sex you will see that homosexuality is immoral.
God created sex to be between a man and a woman who were committed to each other ( i.e. Adam and Eve )
Anything outside of God's plan for sex is AGAINST his will. This is why the Bible speaks often about sexual immorality.
Now some people will say that if someone is born with homosexual tendencies than it is unfair to say that acting on it is sin. WRONG!!!!
I was born with very heterosexual tendencies. Now the Bible never strictly says that one has to be married in order to have sex, but that is the precedent that God set and expected His people to follow and at the age of 23 I have fought hard and sometimes struggled to keep from going outside of God's will in this area. Why can't a person with homosexual desires fight his flesh in order to do what God asks as well?
It is important to note that there is a major difference between conscience/faith conflicting and flesh/faith conflicting. Sex was designed by God to be great and work just the way he designed it to, but outside of his plan it is sin.
There's two cents from the soapbox for ya, hope it made sense.
Pete

marhaban said...

Pete,

I think we will have to agree to disagree on this one. The bible has examples of people that God used/loved who were not "moral" by today's standards. How about David? It is my personal opinion from my personal studies, that God doesn't care that much about sex.

Anyway, I think teaching hate towards someone because of their sexual orientation is wrong.

I think that people have singled out homosexuals as the last group of people that we can despise. We justify it with scriptures, but it doesn't make it correct.

Pete said...

Marhaban,
I agree that you CAN disagree. However I think that you are missing the bost on this one. God only used people who were living in sin when they made a change in their life. For example, Rahab chose to fear God even as her entire city mocked the Jews. David paid dearly for his sins and was generally loved and blessed by God because he genreally loved and blessed God.
If you think that God doesn't care about sex.....I'm going to have to question your logic. The bible speaks repeatedly about the subject, and the entire book of Song of Solomon is devoted to it.
Now I CAN agree that teaching hate towards homosexuals is wrong, but I certainly never said that it is okay to hate homosexuals. Furthermore, I highly doubt that this is being taught by any God fearing pastor.
Homosexuals enjoy more acceptance than I believe is needed in America. Even though they represent less than 1% of the population you can hardly turn on the television without seeing homosexuality being tossed about and several state senates are all in a hubbub over homosexuality right now like it is the number one issue on their plates!
Sin is sin. I don't see anybody running around talking about how we should all be more accepting of corporate fraud because lies and greed are just part of who these people are. Hate the sin! LOVE THE SINNER!
Pete

Aaron D. Taylor said...

Believe it or not, I think you're both right-in a way.

From what I understand, yes, the Bible does not permit homosexual sex. I do not believe the Bible condemns homosexual orientation and that is a huge difference.

I think that Christians who say that those with homosexual orientation must have chosen it, therefore must be intrinsicially perverted are wrong. Many Christian leaders use this to create fear in their followers by saying things like "gay people are more likely to molest your children than hetorosexual people." That is hateful, intolerant, and statistically speaking, flat wrong.

I think the proper Christian response is to encourage those with a homosexual orientation to, either live a life of celibacy or, to those who may have a bisexual orientation, to pursue heterosexual marriage. To those who choose celibacy, we should provide a climate in our churches where those who struggle with same sex attraction can find meaningful relationships without being condemned for their orientation.

We need to be more sensitive to the spiritual needs of those who struggle with this issue. A person with homosexual tendencies can live a very meaningful Christian life if Christians will simply give them a chance. Thankfully, there are a few churches out there that recognize this.