"Sad Story Selling Sodomy"
What You Need To Know:
BOY ERASED is well-acted, written and edited, with fine performances from the leading cast. The movie accurately depicts some real-life abuses that take place in some Christian gay conversion therapy programs. Eventually, the harm to children done by such programs was later confirmed. That said, the movie clearly comes from a viewpoint affirming homosexuality, which is also unbiblical. It’s a mixed bag with some sincere moments of faith and very messy hypocritical Christians. BOY ERASED also has some foul language and a graphic, gratuitous depiction of homosexual rape. Media-wise moviegoers will reject BOY ERASED.
BOY ERASED is a tragic drama based on a true story about a 19-year-old homosexual boy, Jared, who comes out to his Christian parents, who then decide to put him in a “gay conversion” program. The movie jumps back and forth between his two weeks at the homosexual conversion program called Love in Action, to his time entering college where his homosexuality first started exhibiting itself.
Jared Eamons is a 19-year-old starting college. His dad, Marshall (Russell Crowe), owns a car dealership and is preparing to become the pastor of a local Baptist church. His mother, Nancy (Nicole Kidman), supports her husband in everything. They’re a normal Arkansas Christian family. What Jared hasn’t told his parents is that he’s attracted to other men.
At Love in Action, Jared meets the head therapist, Victor Sykes (Joel Edgerton), a high-energy smooth-talker who convinces Jared and all the other men, women, boys, and girls in the program that they’re valued, but that God can help them change. The program is very strict, with no phones, a strict dress code, and a policy that children can’t discuss what happens with their parents. While Jared stays at a local hotel with his mom and only goes during the day, others stay in housing close to the program.
The first day has Jared optimistic about his time there, but as the days pass, Sykes becomes more and more cruel. Eventually, the program’s methods are revealed to be terrible and ineffective.
In flashbacks to college before he came out to his parents, Jared’s first real sexual encounter is when a Christian male friend who was nice to him rapes him in his dorm room. Traumatized by the experience, the boy who raped Jared panics and calls Jared’s parents and outs him on his homosexual leanings. Jared denies it when his parents ask him if he’s a homosexual, but eventually he admits that he thinks about other men. After this, Marshall speaks to the church elders who pray over Jared and advise that he attend Love in Action.
In the end, the Love In Action methods turn out to be harmful, and Nancy pulls Jared out of the program. Years later, Jared decides to live out his homosexual lifestyle in New York City. Jared’s mother has “accepted” her son as he is, so the movie ends with Jared asking his dad to change, to which Marshall says he’ll try.
BOY ERASED is very well-acted, well-written and well-edited movie, with fine performances from the leading cast. The direction is also good, but multiple scenes are overdramatized, with pointless slow motion and anything but subtle music emphasizing characters’ feelings.
The portrayal of everyday Southern Baptist Christians is startling accurate. Not everyone is portrayed as bigoted, hateful people like many in the mass media would like viewers to think. Many, if not most Christian characters, are shown to genuinely care about Jared and also care about the Christian faith and biblical values. While this is the case, other Christians, like Victor Sykes who leads the conversion program, are extremely misguided, both in their counseling practices and theology. This is even more so confirmed when it’s revealed that Sykes (or the man Sykes is representing) is homosexual and married a man after leaving Love in Action.
Another problematic scene claims Love in Action tried to masculinize the boys, showing them how to stand and sit like a man, do push-ups and hit a baseball, all of which is completely ridiculous and unrelated to same-sex attraction. Sykes biblical understanding is shown to be all over the place. At the beginning, he gives a terrific message telling the young people on their first day that each of them are valued by God, and no one can take that away, but later in the program his tune changes completely and his theology becomes one of works righteousness instead of Gospel transformation.
The filmmakers behind BOY ERASED have a very deliberate agenda and set of beliefs affirming homosexuality. That’s clear and unsurprising. What’s also clear is that programs like the Refuge program by Love in Action, and other ministries similar to it have unintentionally harmed children and adults, and in many real-life cases pushed them further away from faith in Jesus Christ because of unbiblical counseling methods. One doesn’t need to affirm homosexual lifestyles to also know that this is tragic and to acknowledge that people have been wronged. All that said, while some, or even many, have misused the Bible for harm, their actions don’t overturn the biblical foundation of marriage between one man and one woman, nor do they overthrow the Bible’s teachings against all extramarital sexual activity and lust. Two wrongs don’t make a right.
BOY ERASED also has some foul language and a graphic depiction of homosexual rape, making the movie excessive.