What If Jesus Told You to Have More Sex?

05/19/2008


By Becky Garrison

After becoming ridiculously popular on the indie film festival circuit, Forgiving the Franklins comes to DVD today, two and a half years after its reception at Sundance made it look like a breakout hit. Instead it had only a brief theatrical run--in Greensboro, North Carolina, which is where the story takes place--and now hopes for new life via Blockbuster and Netflix.

Here's the setup. Meet the perfect Bible-believing Franklin family--lawyer dad Frank (Robertson Dean), mother Betty (Teresa Willis), football-playing pretty-boy son Brian (Vince Pavia) and potty-mouthed yet pious cheerleader daughter Caroline (Aviva). A fatal car crash en route to a church picnic sends Frank, Betty and Brian upwards to meet the Big Guy, while the daughter remains on earth, merely injured. As the heaven-bound Franklins wander around a surrealistic limbo, they encounter a very unorthodox Jesus (Pop DaSilva). For reasons that remain unclear, but in a very graphic manner (keep your eye on the apples for they will bear some most unexpected fruit), Jesus removes their Original Sin and sends the trio back to earth.

Jesus
Pop DaSilva as Jesus

Once they wake up from their respective coma in varying states of bodily bliss, these liberated souls clash with their dutiful daughter, who now spends her personal prayer time cursing God for destroying her ability to praise Him with her cheers. What follows is not what you would expect. These are not your stereotypical Christians turned free-thinking hedonists. No siree. These three Franklins remain faithful, and they clearly relate to the God who breathed new life into them by allowing them to don new wineskins (that is, when they decide to actually put clothes on at all).

Love on  the Rocks
Love on the Rocks

Now here’s the moment where concerned parents might want to send the little kiddies out of the room unless you’re up for some serious explaining as to why Daddy might be puttering around the kitchen after midnight. Suffice to say that, thanks to the Franklins, and possibly to the houseboat scene in Nine and a Half Weeks, their entire community has gained a newfound appreciation for ice cubes. (A montage brings to mind the LaHaye marriage manuals of the 1970s, thus adding a whole new dimension to being Left Behind.)

Yet, despite a night of communal thawing, the family remains frozen apart from their Stepford-esque, spiritually superior neighbors, as well as the rest of the Christian community. And so the stage is set for an apple-pie ending that once again changes the perception we have of this Americana delight--apple pie, that is, not ice cubes.

Think of this film as the anti-Walden Media flick. If The Passion of Christ caused you to climax, spiritually speaking, then this part-morality tale, part-sex romp satire is not right for you. However, those who share director/screenwriter Jay Floyd’s disdain for ultra-conservative Christians with sugary Southern accents will enjoy this religious roller-coaster ride.

Despite the obvious Bible-Belt bashing, a thread of redemptive grace remains woven into the fabric of the film. Unlike some other filmmakers, who clearly have issues with the faith of their childhood, Floyd doesn’t descend into Dogma by trashing everything that smacks of godliness. According to Floyd, “I do not intend to lampoon Christianity at all. If anything, I wanted to lampoon zealotry. There are good Christians, and awful ones as well. Unfortunately, I think the corrupt kind has had control of the microphone for too many years now, and I think it's time for the other side--my side--to speak up again.”

This nuanced approach to a highly charged subject has already led to some efforts at reconciliation. Fellow Southerner Craig Deitweiler, director of Reel Spirituality at Fuller Theological Seminary, took a group of film students from Fuller and Biola University to see the premiere of this flick at the Sundance Film Festival. He became saddened by the depth of pain seemingly sincere Christians had caused, especially to the largely homosexual audience in attendance. AppleDuring the Q&A, he stood up and apologized to Floyd for anything done to this homosexual filmmaker in the name of God. As Deitweiler recounted that evening, “The audience was literally disarmed. It went from a lynch mob to a love fest in an instant. The Holy Spirit swooped in, surprising us all. The moderator concluded the conversation. Audience members approached me afterwards with hugs. A lesbian couple thanked me. Gay men kissed me. One person said, ‘If that is true, I might consider giving religion a chance.’ Tears were shed far and wide. All it took were two little words: ‘I apologize.’” (Log on to www.purplestateofmind.com to continue this conversation.)

This movie reminds us in a rather twisted fashion that taking a bite of the alleged “forbidden” apple can enable one to be reborn into a life filled with grace. Just keep away from eating too much American Pie.


Comments(82)

JoshH | 02:09 am on 5/20/2008

What about ultra-liberal Christians with twangy accents?

ron | 08:41 am on 5/20/2008

does that kind of paradox exist?!(i keed i keed)

The Enemy Below | 08:10 pm on 5/21/2008

Sounds like the guys behind"American Pie"got religion!!
Or else,they went back in time to 1973 and wound up at a
"Key Party"at Franklin Graham's!!

JoshH | 05:40 pm on 5/22/2008

Nah. I just read lots of Tony Campolo and Jim Wallis while listening to lots of the Gaithers.

St.apostate | 07:39 am on 5/20/2008

WWTPD ( what would the pope do? ) He would probably sprinkle holy water on the film, maybe some smoke from the incense urn,
wiggle his hands around abit and pronounce it 2 thumbs up.

BJ | 12:56 pm on 5/22/2008

Nah, only 1 thumb up. Not enough children in it.

SRebbe | 01:35 pm on 5/22/2008

oh that's wrong... so very, very wrong...

JoshH | 05:45 pm on 5/22/2008

Of course if I ever got to be face to face with James Dobson, I'd probably give him one finger up.

Aaron | 08:41 am on 5/20/2008

"Unfortunately, I think the corrupt kind has had control of the microphone for too many years now, and I think it's time for the other side--my side--to speak up again.”

- Yes, thank you. Nice work.

SRebbe | 09:45 am on 5/20/2008

funny... I never got emails warning me to stay away from this one like the slew I got regarding "The Golden Compass"

won't somebody pleeeease think of the children!!!!

JoshH | 03:47 pm on 5/20/2008

What's wrong Mrs Broflovski?

teddy bear mohammed | 10:50 am on 5/20/2008

will someone do a movie like this about muslims?

that calvinist doug | 02:39 pm on 5/20/2008

Muslims, huh? Yeah but, what with the 72 virgins, that could be a really long movie; take the whole viagra bottle with you when you go see it.

SRebbe | 04:22 pm on 5/20/2008

you really want to watch some poor guy teaching 72 women how to do it for the first time? oy........

or is this the "it's my first time!" scene?

JoshH | 04:54 pm on 5/20/2008

Sounds like someone watches certain types of...movies a lot.

SRebbe | 01:36 pm on 5/22/2008

I told you, I hang around too many guys. besides, the only ones I've seen have been when I traveled in Europe. and they were in German. so there.

that calvinist doug | 03:40 pm on 5/22/2008

Far-fug-nookin, baby, far-fug-nookin

60613 | 09:28 am on 5/21/2008

A recent joke sez the virgins are all in their 80s or 90s!
**Surprise!**

eunuch | 03:20 pm on 5/20/2008

What they don't tell you is that the 72 virgins remain as such for all of eternity.

that calvinist doug | 03:26 pm on 5/20/2008

Check Please!!

SRebbe | 04:23 pm on 5/20/2008

when do the mother-in-laws show up?

Ellen | 04:22 pm on 5/20/2008

I have seen "Forgiving The Franklins" and am a born again Christian.
I believe that Mr. Floyd has captured the heart of Christianity in this fine film. Jesus is believable and it is my opinion that were we able to hear Him, He would say, "Well done, Mr. Floyd, well done!"
"Forgiving The Franklins" is about how we perceive ourselves, our God (god,gods), our sexuality and what an awakening can bring to our lives. If you miss this creative, intellectual, spiritual adventure of a film you have missed a work of art with a profoundly important message.
This is an adult film with adult content which is not for children, so why ask about the children? Isn't it your job as parents to monitor what your children watch? However, having said that, I would far rather have a child watch "forgiving The Franklins" than a great deal of the mental mind pollution that most of the T.V. shows and movies have as fare for our youngsters!
Thank you, Mr. Floyd, for creating this masterpiece of truth, humor and spirituality all in one film!

SRebbe | 04:24 pm on 5/20/2008

Ellen, it was sarcasm.

budda | 07:48 pm on 5/20/2008

Ok, ok, Ellen, what am I thinking right now?

Process Deist | 10:10 pm on 5/20/2008

Wait! She charges $3.98 a minute.
This could get expensive.
A mind as complex?? as yours could take hours to read.

budda | 11:11 pm on 5/20/2008

Thanks, Deist.

Times up, Ellen, I was thinking about the 72 virgins as previously mentioned. Doesn't appeal to me actually. Maybe I'm just lazy, but that seems like a lot of work.

Siarlys Jenkins | 08:03 pm on 5/21/2008

So whoever said that sarcasm can't be truth, humor and spirituality all in one film?

BJ | 02:35 pm on 5/22/2008

So, Ellen what's it really like to be a gay woman in Hollywood? BTW your girlfriend is hot.

JoshH | 05:48 pm on 5/22/2008

Time will tell if she's crazy like the last one was. She would've done well with the last one if she would've been willing to give her a "wiener taco"* from time to time.

*"Church Lady" ref. Mega-points for those who actually remember it.

Michael Mannske | 02:29 am on 5/21/2008

I read the review and while it contains a lot of words, I still can't figure out what this movie is about. Can somebody else give it a try?

Anonymous | 07:29 am on 5/21/2008

Hear, hear, Michael!

RB | 09:28 am on 5/21/2008

Interesting that the reviewer references 9 1/2 Weeks. He betrays the fact that he watched it, that he watched it enough for him to remember it, and he assumes that those reading this review will remember the ice cubes.

They were cold. But they melted nicely. Kim Bassinger managed to enjoy them, and Mickey Rourke taught us all how to use them.

I'm not sure it was a redemptive use of ice, however.

RB | 09:29 am on 5/21/2008

Interesting that the reviewer references 9 1/2 Weeks. She betrays that fact that she watched it, that she watched it enough for her to remember it, and she assumes that those reading this review will remember the ice cubes.

They were cold. But they melted nicely. Kim Bassinger managed to enjoy them, and Mickey Rourke taught us all how to use them.

I'm not sure it was a redemptive use of ice, however.

Process Deist | 09:45 am on 5/21/2008

HE / SHE .....hey we are all gender neutral here.
You don't haave to re-post to correct it.

kjml | 01:26 pm on 5/21/2008

At last! A religious movie my husband might be willing to watch!

SRebbe | 01:39 pm on 5/22/2008

hell, a religious movie that I might be willing to watch...

TheDonQuixotic | 02:03 pm on 5/21/2008

But here is the thing I have a problem with. Fornication is not a "liberal Christian" thing, nor is it not a "conservative christian" thing. Its just not a Christian thing period. No matter your interpretation, Jesus and those who followed after made it very clear that fornication is wrong. Sex is a good thing, and its stupid how people get all in a twist about it, but saying "oh fornication is fine" doesn't fix that because its going about trying to fix the problem but not really actually fixing the right thing. The problem isn't that people don't fornicate, its that they don't respect sex enough, or understand its beauty.

Siarlys Jenkins | 08:05 pm on 5/21/2008

I haven't seen the movie, and I probably won't make it a priority, but I had the impression this couple being accused of fornication were married. If you're married, to each other, its not fornication, is it?

TheDonQuixotic | 01:11 pm on 5/22/2008

Yes, that is true, but the implication of the trailer I saw was that the sun has sex with his coach. Now barring any sort of even homosexual issues, that would still be fornication. And illegal. And kinda dangerous.

budda | 08:29 pm on 5/21/2008

"Fornication is not a "liberal Christian" thing, nor is it not a "conservative christian" thing." -Don.
Your right Don, It isn't a "christian" thing, it's a "fun" thing. (and biological) If you keep that in mind, it might answer a lot of questions about human behavior, christian and secular.

However, which part are you referring to, Don? While I haven't yet watched it, (yet) I believe the couple in question does indeed stay faithful and monogamous. I think that is probably the whole point. I think they go back to an Adam and Eve thing where they have no shame and get-it-on all the time, and in public or something of that nature. But 'cause they are married see, you can't wag your finger at them or else the finger wagger has a problem. I think that is the twist, what the film makers were going after.

TheDonQuixotic | 01:15 pm on 5/22/2008

A fun thing... fornication may be a fun thing by the real question is also, is it a right thing? Yes of course you can make the cry that its a party pooper principal, but I am only pointing out that it is one that is very grounded in the Christian belief. If one accepts the principals put forth by Jesus as true, then this is one of them. I really don't think it is grounded in killing someone's buzz though. Its really that sex is something good, but must be given respect.

You are correct about the marriage thing, but that is not what I am talking about. And no, I am not finger wagging. I am stating disagreement and inconsistency. Painting me as someone's grandmother doesn't address the issue.

budda | 02:42 pm on 5/22/2008

Don, I know orthodoxy says sex is a no, no, but could you show me where Jesus says I can't get it on with a consensual adult? I can't find it. Paul may have, but couldn't we just say that it was just his opinion? Like telling the women folk to sit down and shut up.

I didn't call you a finger wagger, I said that I thought that the film makers were setting people up so that if they objected to all the sex, they would be finger waggers. Of course if that is you, objecting to all the consensual, married sex, I guess to some people you would be a finger wagger.

Finger Wagger. That is kinda fun to say. You finger wagger, you. Oh, stop yer finger waggen. I'm not a finger wagger, you are. Ok, thats probably enough. sorry.

that calvinist doug | 03:44 pm on 5/22/2008

Not my discussion, but hey, that's never stopped me before. If you're gonna argue along the lines of "it was just little ol' Paul who said (whatever the topic is), so show me where Jesus said it" then you're obviously discounting about half the NT. I just can't go there with you.

Consider my finger wagged.

budda | 08:02 pm on 5/22/2008

I know, but a man can dream can't he?

TheDonQuixotic | 12:53 am on 5/26/2008

Can dream? Do mean to say that you believe it illogical? I am kinda confused because on one hand you make an argument, and on another you say "well its just wishful thinking". Neh?

Anyway to answer your question. Yeah Jesus says it. I know that some people hate it when people quote scripture on The Door, but you asked me about the words that Jesus said so: "You have heard that it was said, 'Do not commit adultery.' But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart"

budda | 12:31 pm on 5/26/2008

If you must be difficult, I will be as clear as possible.

I said "dream" 'cause I haven't had sex in a while and I would like to. Very, very much. I would not like to get married right now, (unless I found the right match) but I would like some hot monkey love. (not so picky about that) I understand right and wrong, Don, thus the dry spell. If I didn't care about morality I could be rocking the lady next door tonight. But I do. So I don't. But I can dream 'cause the reality, the biological, amoral, honest to god, not ashamed, plain jane, basic truth is that I want a little 'lovin. You can be as theological as you like, Don, but there aint nothing wrong with sex and there ain't nothing wrong with liking it and wanting some. I would go so far as to say it's healthy.

How you go about getting it depends on your interpretation of scripture, social customs, and personal hygiene.

I don't mind the scripture stuff if I asked for it, and of course I did, but I'm not married, Don. I believe Jesus was all about the family and the holiness and sanctity of relationships, so adultery is very, very wrong. I am not so concerned with sex between two consenting adults, it depends on the circumstances. Example: I have some friends who are not married but they have lived together in a committed, monogamous relationship for 6 years. They don't believe the state has any business in their personal relationship so they chose not to be married. They have a great relationship and are christians (recovering catholics-their words) and love God. I'm ok with that. Banging the lady next door for the one time fun of it, not so much.

TheDonQuixotic | 01:17 am on 5/27/2008

Haha, difficult is a bit in my personality. So yeah, I guess I should be clear on my definition of marriage. I am not calling state certificates marriage. So by my personal definition, your example is the real spirit of marriage. Thanks for clearing up what you meant by dream. I getcha, and I am in the same boat as you. Sorry if I insulted you, I did not mean to. I do want to be clear that I am not being some stodgy theologian. I am merely stating my disagreement, and engaging you in discussion. Had I not done that I wouldn't have been able to understand you better, or realize that we really agree, though perhaps we say it differently. Thanks for the discussion!

budda | 02:28 pm on 5/27/2008

No problems, Don, I enjoy the ongoing discussion too. I apologize if I insulted you, particularly over on the Jay Baker posts. I like a vigorous debate. I don't take any of this too personally, though I have grown quite attached to our little community here. I really appreciate this place and everyone's opinions. This is what i wish church was like.

TheDonQuixotic | 12:05 pm on 5/28/2008

Yeah tell me about it. Then again church isn't a building, so in a way this place is church. Haha

budda | 08:32 pm on 5/21/2008

And Pop DaSilva is one of the more inspired casting decisions in recent memory. I would want to see it just just for that.

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