BELLFLOWER, Calif. (Christian Examiner) -- Four years after releasing the viral pro-life film "180" that changed minds on abortion, evangelist and author Ray Comfort is tackling an even more divisive issue – homosexuality – in a new Hollywood-style film, "Audacity," he hopes can have a similar impact.
It spotlights a young Christian man convicted by what the Bible says about homosexuality but who is surrounded by friends and acquaintances – including a young woman he likes, and gay and lesbian couples -- who accept it as natural.
Comfort began working on the film well over a year ago, although the movie's timing couldn't be more perfect.
Living Waters Publications released it online in late June, two days before the Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage nationwide. For now it can be downloaded for $19.99 – purchasing it will help offset the cost of making it – but on Aug. 19 it will be posted for free on YouTube. Churches also can screen it prior to its YouTube debut.
"This is a polarizing subject," Comfort told Christian Examiner. "You've got pastors who are supporting homosexuality. How much of a denial of Scripture is that? Doesn't that show a wolf among the sheep? This issue is purifying the church. It's doing us good. It's like when Saul of Tarsus created havoc within the church, and those who were scattered abroad went everywhere preaching the Gospel. That's what we should be doing as the church in the last days."
Comfort acknowledges bad acting can kill a movie but promises Audacity is free of anything "cheesy." It stars mainstream talent Travis Owens ("Friday Night Lights"), Molly Ritter ("Atrophy," "Madison") and Ben Price ("Australia's Got Talent").
"Thousands" downloaded it in the first 24 hours, and he wants it eventually to impact "millions of people" around the world.
Christian Examiner spoke recently with Comfort. Following is a transcript:
Christian Examiner: What led you to want to make Audacity?
Ray Comfort: I didn't want to make it. I told the guys who were asking me to make a movie on homosexuality, "It's not going to happen." They said there's such a need for a movie, people don't know how to handle the issue. I remember I was flying from Germany to London about a year and a half ago and I sat down next to a middle-aged gentleman and I said, "You got a family?" And he said, "Yes, I have a husband." I didn't stare out the window for the next hour and half. I just chatted with him and we got along really well. But I thought, "How awkward must this be for the average Christian, who doesn't interact regularly with people like I do with the Gospel?"
There are two reasons I didn't want to make this movie. Number one: Anyone who looks sideways at homosexuality nowadays is vilified on par with a man who is a racist, and I really didn't want that. And number two, how do you make a movie on homosexuality and make it interesting?
But I was on my way once to Huntington Beach (Calif.) to open air preach as I do each Saturday, and I saw two young ladies walking toward me kissing each other. I stopped and asked them, "Would you like to do an interview?" And to my surprise they did and they gave me a 14-minute interview that blew me away. They said at the end of the interview, "This has been great. Thank-you for not condemning us." And I had not compromised the Gospel in the slightest. All I had done was the biblical principle of not addressing the intellect, but addressing the conscience. It was phenomenal, and I thought, "Wow, it seems that God has placed in my hands the foundation of a movie." So that night I wrote a script, sent it to the producer of our movie 180. He wrote back immediately and said, "Wow! Wow! Wow! I cannot believe this is the first draft of a script." A year later we have a movie, and it's being very, very well received. I am delighted. It seems that Christians have had enough of being vilified as hateful, when they're actually being loving.
CE: Did you plan on this coming out at such an opportune time, with the Supreme Court having legalized same-sex marriage?
Comfort: We didn't plan that, although we did have a choice in the last few weeks of when it could come out, and I said, "Man, it would be great if it came out when the Supreme Court issued their ruling." But we had no idea a year ago this was going to happen. It really seems to be timely, and we're even thinking that perhaps God may be in it.
CE: Do you fear we're losing the next generation on this issue?
Comfort: We've lost them. They're gone. Homosexuality in the early 1960s was a criminal activity in all 50 states. How has this changed in the past 40 years to the point where it's glorified, it's celebrated? However, where sin abounds, grace does much more abound. There's nothing too hard for God. The Gospel transforms the human heart. We're past the "sign-the-petition" stage. When you look at all the big companies such as Nike and Microsoft and Apple and Target – all these companies that are supporting homosexuality, I believe we're even past the boycotting stage. What are we going to boycott next -- oxygen? We've got to go back and say, "What did the church do in the book of Acts?" They didn't have their hope in politics, in signing petitions, in boycotting. Their hope was in the Gospel, because if you want a nation to be righteous, you don't do it politically – even though it's great that we vote and we elect godly leaders – but our hope is to transform the human heart. And that's what we want to see: people saved from God's wrath on judgment day. We're not really out as Christians to clean up America and get it back the way it was in the early 1950s.
CE: You have now made documentaries on abortion and homosexuality. It seems the homosexual issue is a little harder to "win" in public than the abortion issue. Would you agree with that?
Comfort: Yeah, I think so. If you look at Romans, when someone gives themselves to homosexuality, God gives them over to their sin. There is a hardness when it comes to this particular sin. But nothing is too hard for God. So what we're going to do is lift up our heads and rejoice, and as a church stand up and be salt and light. Bill Bright in his book The Coming Revival said only 2 percent of the contemporary church in America regularly share their faith with others. This is a polarizing subject. You've got pastors who are supporting homosexuality. How much of a denial of Scripture is that? Doesn't that show a wolf among the sheep? This issue is purifying the church. It's doing us good. It's like when Saul of Tarsus created havoc within the church, those who were scattered abroad went everywhere preaching the Gospel. That's what we should be doing as the church in the last days.
CE: The main character in the movie showcases the love that you say is necessary when talking to a gay person. Was that intentional – you were trying to show how it should be done?
Comfort: Yes. We deliberately did not vilify homosexuals or stereotype them. The lead character is filled with love and compassion, which every Christian should be. His attitude is of meekness and not argumentative. We're delighted we were able to find actors who were able to act and not have any cheesy acting, which can destroy a film.
CE: You used man-on-the-street interviews in the film. What was the purpose behind that?
Comfort: It was a huge risk. The reason we did it is because of the fact that those street interviews fascinate people, and non-Christians watch them. They're unobtrusive. They're not in your face. They're in somebody else's face, and you're sitting there like a fly on the wall. That's what makes them fascinating. When we had pre-screenings of Audacity, the reaction of Christians in the audience was that they wanted more character development – so we filmed three more scenes – and they wanted more street interviews. That blew us away. And so we added more street interviews, but we did it in a way that flows with the story, and I think it really worked.