taking the words of Jesus seriously

Matthew McConaughey won the Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role category at Sunday night’s Academy Awards for his performance in Dallas Buyer’s Club, and he accepted the Oscar with a wonderfully gracious speech. Here is an excerpt:

“First off, I want to thank God, because that’s who I look up to. He has graced my life with opportunities that I know are not of my hand or of any other human hand… When you’ve got God, you’ve got a friend, and that friend is you.”

His response was heavier on God and more faith filled than any acceptance speech for a leading role that I have ever heard, and it was a nice reminder that Hollywood still has faithful A-list talent. However, I am perplexed at the number of my Christian friends who have posted bits from his speech on Facebook and have sent tweets regarding the righteousness of his words.

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I happen to know that many these friends of mine are on the socially conservative side of the Christian doctrine, and I doubt that they could hardly sit through the very movie which McConaughey won his award for. I personally had a conversation a day before the Awards with a fellow Christian couple (whom I love and respect) who walked out because of the sexual content the film portrayed.

Additionally, a minister friend of mine went on to praise McConaughey’s faith laced acceptance speech, paying him accolades for having the right perspective. Further down the timeline, however, are reposted articles commending the faith of the Robertson family featured in A&E’s Duck Dynasty. It then dawned on me that this minister likely agrees with both Phil Robertson’s awkward commentary on homosexuality in his GQ interview and McConaughey’s Academy Award acceptance speech.

And here is where we really begin pumping irony. McConaughey won the award for his genius portrayal of Ron Woodruff—a bigoted, grimy, drug-riddled, sex-addicted rodeo rat turned radically inclusive champion of AIDS victims (many of whom were gay). Socially conservative Christians have not been too fond of gay rights and have often allied themselves with the wrong side—thus setting social polarities between their churches and homosexuals who might otherwise join their fellowships. McConaughey stood on a platform accepting an award for his depiction of a man who was confronted with his own prejudices after being discriminated against by his own people for having a disease commonly thought to infect predominantly homosexual men.

Related: Duck Dynasty, First Amendment Rights, and Christian Values

But perhaps this is the inherent genius of McConaughey’s performance in Dallas Buyer’s Club, and the beauty of Ron Woodruff’s story, in that it blurs the lines of morality and asks what kind of behavior is more impactful—voicing strong opinions about personal definitions of morality and sexuality, or participating in social justice activism for the dispossessed and the weak?

A look into the gospels might reveal some valuable clues…

Photo Credit: Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times

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