One Punk Under God, Episode 3: The Cost of Taking a Stand

The more of this miniseries I see, the more interesting Jay Baker’s story becomes.

In episode 3, we see the cost of Jay’s taking a stand: finances.  Jay’s ministry takes an offering, but the bulk of his support comes from one conservative foundation.  We’re treated to a shot of a spreadsheet which shows red ink beginning to flow.  The gentleman from the car shop that is on the board of Revolution, Jay’s church, does not chide Jay for his stand, but attempts to guide him.  Jay talks about preachers being persecuted and judged, but that it’s all for God’s glory.  For His…responds his mentor…or you?

Jay is seen taking a speaking engagement at an all-black Baptist church.  The amens! and hallelujahs! are plentiful…until the issue of his stand for pro gay marriage.  “I don’t believe that homosexuality is a sin.”  Dead silence.  I’m talking FOREST LAWN in that church.  Jay flips through the pages of his Bibles, nevously, “It sure got quiet in here.”  He tries to finish, then declares “Let’s pray.”  I was, by the end of that scene.

Jay’s wife Amanda is applying for college in New York: pre-med, I think.  When Jay is asked whether or not he’d give up his ministry for his wife, his face clouds with the internal struggle.  “We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it,” he says.  The previews for next week show that Amanda has her answer from school and while they don’t necessary spoil it with a “yes” or “no” in the trailer, it’s pretty obvious that Jay’s going to have to re-visit this question in next week’s episode.

One of the most fascenating aspects of this series is, to me, the fact that Jay and his father haven’t seen each other in two years.  Armando, Jim Baker’s assistant, has a pretty accurate bead on the whole situation.  He says that in many ways, Jay is in competition with his father’s ministry.  He tells Jay at one point not to make the same mistakes that his father has made: love your church, but love your family first.  Jay finally connects with his father and makes the trip from his home in Atlanta to Branson, Missouri.

He doesn’t know at this time that his primary donor is considering withdrawing their support to his church.

“Is he hiding?” Jay asks several times before finally coming upon his father.  Jim Baker has aged considerably since we’ve seen him last.  Frailer, balder, grayer — he puts on a game smile, but the sheer level of uncomfortability in the room ratchets up fifty points when Jay and his dad embrace.  Later, Armando’s observations seem quite accurate in that the two simply don’t know each other any more.  Jim Baker’s theology is all about books and nothing relational; Jay’s theology is all relational and no books.  Armando wishes that the two would quit being afraid the other would reject them and just come together.

Stunning fact: “The New Jim Baker Show” is seen in over 150 countries.

Later on, Jim and Jay are discussing world view: “You don’t need to say you’re liberal.  If Jesus isn’t a Republican or a Democrat, why are you?”  “Social issues, mainly, ” says Jay.  Jay wants to go pray, but a graphic shows us that Jim asks to have the remainder of this conversation in private.  It’s not entirely clear what Jim’s true motives are in this conversation.  Is he concerned about his son’s liberal point of view?  Or is he coaching his son on what stand to take so that his ministry isn’t affected?  Or his Jim’s concern that Jay disabuse himself of a political stand so as to take a more biblical stand, attempting to separate the church from politics, unlike the current lamentable situation in this country?  Again, the motives aren’t clear and I’m hoping that somewhere in this series, we might get a clearer idea of how Jim Baker’s changed in the intervening years.

Jay is going to appear on his father’s show.  As Jim and his wife are in makeup, at one point the makeup woman is finishing putting the man-tan on Jim and says, “You need to go see your son’s ministry.”  Cough*choke*say what?  We weren’t ready for a statement like that and it’s bloody clear that Jim wasn’t either.  Welcome to the documentry, Jim.

The episode’s credits roll as Jim Baker’s show begins: YOU DON’T HAVE TO JUDGE ANYBODY! said statement by Jim who was judged by the world also draws a straight connecting line between father’s Jim’s experience and son Jay’s theology.  I somehow doubt these two would be comfortable with as stark a connection between the two of them as this.  I’m aching to see next week’s episode where Jay is on Jim’s show.  What will these two talk about?  Will the gay issue come up?  Does a baby go “goo”?

The previews for next week show that indeed, Jay’s final donor pulls out from his ministry.  And Amanda does hear back from NYU.

Larger consideration: while I’m not happy that Jay’s taken the stand that he has—he’s throwing a millstone around the necks of broken people too blinded by lies to know their condition—I’m sorta intrigued by such a dramatic example of the cost of taking a stand.  I think Jay enobles the sacrifices he’s had to make as part of his ministry.  Yes, I know how to suffer for the sake of the gospel! but it’s also clear that he doesn’t truly appreciate that while God does love everyone, God is also just.  God is also angry at sin.  He will not simply sweep away unrepented sin and let His children into Heaven on a technicality because they went to church.  The whole idea of a relationship with God is letting Him in, into the deepest, most painful, darkest areas and paying the cost, no matter what it is, of being closer to Him.  It’s a standard so freaking few of us reach because of our own senses of delusion, denial and distrust.  We seem to feel that we have a right to be happy when the truth is closer to the idea that we are so easily satisfied.  We want a love that we feel more connected to by our own standards of connection, broken and sick as they are.  We don’t want a sense of health or wholeness or completion on someone else’s terms, even if those terms are better for us than we might originally believe.  We don’t open ourselves up to things we’ve never known, for the sake of staying with what works.  Even when it clearly doesn’t.

I have faith in God’s storytelling ability and that we are one of His best stories.  We are unfinished and untold until the day that death translates us into a completed work.  We must have faith that our fellow characters are all on journeys through their story to the final moral of the tale.  Characters that never change or learn aren’t very interesting, and I believe Jay has a great deal of change and growth to undergo in his story.  I’m willing to stick with the story on the way to its finish, knowing that Jay’s desire is for God to be glorified.  He will, even though it may just cost Jay everything.

Episode 4 is going to be good.  I can’t wait.

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~ by WriterRand on December 30, 2006.

7 Responses to “One Punk Under God, Episode 3: The Cost of Taking a Stand”

  1. Yeah, I’m looking forward to episode four tomorrow night as well. Although they may have left us hanging at the end of episode three, I have a feeling that Jay will hand Revolution over to Stu, his prime source of funding and father figure. If you haven’t seen them yet, you can find clips of episode 4 here:
    http://tv.com/one-punk-under-god/show/66927/summary.html?tag=tabs;summary
    If Stu does take over the leadership of Revolution, I wonder if he will respect Jay’s wishes and keep Revolution a pro-Gay institution, or remain against the idea as he has previously stated in the first three episodes of One Punk Under God. Sundance has definitely hooked me with this show…Hope It comes back for a second season to continue Jay’s spiritual journey to New York.

  2. EXCELLENT resource, Devon. Thanks.

    (Although, to warn other readers here, there’s a brief synopsis of each episode which does contains spoilers.)

  3. I’ve since seen preview clips for the next episode. Ep. 4 promises to be very, very interesting. There will be a side of Jim Baker seen that I’ll bet people thought didn’t exist.

    I guess it airs on the 10th. It seems so far away.

  4. I have seen this show and it is crazy that people are condemmed for what they beleive! I was raised Apostolic Pentecostal, got married at a young age and knew I was GAY from the day I can remember. I cried and prayed!!! I did not want this in me, these thoughts! I fought them and even became a preacher and a main person in the church! When I divorced my wife to finally be happy, which I am now living with a MAN, the church has turned their back on me completely!!! I had preachers that told my parents to pretend I was never born and never speak with me again. Thank God, they still have love for me and speak to me, but this took a long time. You can walk into a church and say you are a: Murder, Drunk, Wife Beater, Theif, but Christians are BOGGLED when they are faced with a person that comes to their church that says openingly, I AM GAY! This is not a choice!!! I would have never choosen to be GAY! It is part of my genetic makeup! I have cried enough in my life, and I am only 29, to completely fill the Nile trying to understand why because I am having these thoughts and why does people say that GOD hates me for it! I still talk to God and he talks to me! The same GOD that loved me before still loves me today. I do feel peace in saying, God knows all, and he knows it is not my choice (JUST LIKE A PERSON CAN NOT CHOOSE THEIR RACE), he understands and he loves me just as I am!! I do not have to live a lonely life!! God wants me to be happy, and I know this, because he told me so!!!

  5. This is in response to what Ray said. It’s funny to read what he says and feel like I wasn’t the only one. I am also 29yo, and my parents are ministers/missionaries — they have been my whole life. I was raised with a mic in my hand and a stage to stand on. I sufferred sexual abuse at a young age (by 2 men in the church & also by my female 13yo cousin)needless to say my sexualuity has always confused me on top of what I was being raised to belive in.
    After many years of self destructive behavior i finally decied to stop and seek GOD’s Love on my own terms and not by the what the Christian church says.
    I can’t say that I’m all there — I doubt not only myself but the exsiatence and meaning of it all.
    Tho my replationship with my father and mother is good now — the sxuality issue nver comes up — Oh i forgot to mention that I am gay. — It’s tough becuase I want to love GOD and I want to love a man and have relationsuip with one and know that I’mnot gonna burn in hell and be cast aside — all of this is stuff i’ve read before but now it rings true for me.
    It was pure joy to see Jay Baker preach and take a stand for, well, for someone like me. I couldn’t stop crying and still get emotional thinking that maybe, just maybe — the church has it wrong and always has been wrong and I am still loved.

  6. Joe, You are not alone! I have found out that there are many people out there, some who have never stepped foward and expressed their feelings! It is not wrong to be gay! God loves us all just as we are! If you have a relationship with your God, He will not cast you into a lake of fire to burn forever! God has more love than that, and unlike those judging Christians, He knows your heart! Keep your head up and always know that you are not alone and follow your heart!

  7. Ray, God is not only love, but he is truth and he is justice. He wants to heal and restore gay men and lead them into something they’ve never known before. But he also does not love sin and deals with it appropriately. Whether WE deal with it appropriately is another matter and it’s one that I’ll write on soon. Next, even.

    Obviously, I need to put the book down and get busy on a post explaining why God is love, but not ONLY love.

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