Sermon in the Sewer

Robert F. Turner
Burnet, Texas

When men refuse to' glorify their maker and recognize their dependence upon Him; when they .become fools in their vanity, and worship and serve the creature more than the Creator, God gives them up to their own lusts. (Rom. 1:214) God gives them up unto vile affections, and "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 recompense of their error which was meet."

"Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind .... shall inherit the kingdom of God. (1 Cor. 6:9-10, emph. mine. rt) "Effeminate" is from malakos which Arndt & Gingrich Lexicon defines as: "especially of catamites, men and boys who allow themselves to be misused homosexually."

In 1 Tim. 1:10, among that which is contrary to sound doctrine, is listed "them that defile themselves with mankind." (arsenokoites--"a male homosexual, pederast, sodomite.")

So men make a movie of this sordid thing, call it "Midnight Cowboy," and John Allen Chalk, "nationally-known minister of the Highland Church of Christ in Abilene" was asked to see and write a review of the film. We quote from The Abilene Reporter-News, May 22, 1970, front page and 2-A.

"'Midnight Cowboy' poignantly describes the classic disease of our materialistic, impersonal era--loneliness. The story reveals the redemptive power in one meaningful, mutually helpful human relationship. Unfortunately, many will view this film as standard entertainment fare rather than as strong, socio-psychological commentary on basic human need-- religious ~ed, I might add."

"The explicit scenes of both heterosexual and homosexual relationships (not as many as one would see in some 'R' movies) are, in my judgment, unnecessary and, therefore, both personally and artistically unacceptable. But the mature adult who goes knowing that 'Midnight Cowboy' is an X rated movie can come away with a deep concern for the loneliness in his own life and a greater awareness of the lonely people all around him."

The news-paper article continues: "In an interview with this reporter, Mr. Chalk enlarged on his impression of what he called the "redemptive quality" of the film."

"The character 'Ratso' (played by Hoffman) is a striking Christ-type figure," he said, "--beaten down and hopeless -- but offering the possibility of redemption to the formerly self-center, materialistic 'Joe Buck' (played by Voight.)"

"Mr. Chalk repeatedly praised the impact and the powerful message of the film, noting that, viewed in the proper spirit, it offers a stronger sermon on true brotherly love than any sermon he has ever delivered as a minister."

John Allen Chalk's 6omments are copied, word for word, from an article by Sam Pendergrast, in the May 22, Abilene Reporter-News, headed "Minister Critics Reject Obscenity Label for 'Cowboy.' "We take the word of others when we say the chief characters are a homosexual and male prostitute, with "explicit scenes of both heterosexual and homosexual relationships."

John Allen Chalk does not commend homosexuality--just the "true brotherly love" he thinks the characters portrayed. He does not commend the "explicit scenes" of what God calls "vile affection burning lust" "unseeming" and "defiling"-- or he says they are "unnecessary and, therefore, both personally and artistically unacceptable." He sees the movie as a "socio-psychological commentary on basic human need--religious need."

I admire bro. Chalk for the courage he displayed in frankly stating his views on such a controversial subject--but there my admiration comes to a screeching halt. His description of the character 'Ratso' as "a striking Christ-type figure" makes me sick at my stomach. My feelings are not helped by remembering that a hippie school of modernists have tried to cast Jesus in that role.

And if you have read the slick-sheet pictorials and news magazines of the past few years you know that the big "defense" of pornography and obscene movies and plays is the "redemptive qualities" these smut-peddlers claim to find in their plots. We are asked to consider the "social message" or "artistic value"; "just watch the hands---the story is in the hands." The story of what??

Jesus taught "true love" for vile sinners (Jno. 8:2-11) without minimizing the sin, or casting the sinner as a "Christ-type figure." True gospel preachers today need not go to the sewer for materials or examples by which to preach His message.


October 1, 1970