The Imitation Game: Does Homosexuality Take Away Your Talents, Contributions, and Identity?

The Imitation Game: Does Homosexuality Take Away Your Talents, Contributions, and Identity?

The Imitation Game is a film about secrets. Secrets which determine life, death, morality, and identity. From one perspective it is a spy film, from another it's a war epic, and from another it's activism for "gay" rights. There is also a hidden spiritual dimension of the film that slowly unravels. It is this generations “A Beautiful Mind” and is one of the most important films you will see this year.

Alan Turing is a puzzle solving mathematician who enlists in the British military to help the government crack the unbreakable Nazi code, Enigma, on which all of the German intelligence transmits their secret messages and planned attacks during the Second World War. With a team of four other cryptologists, Turing builds the world’s first computer that deciphers the Nazi’s secret decryption.

The film is brilliantly written, edited, and pieced together like its own unique crossword puzzle, shelling out clues frame by frame. The film's non-linear storyline provides an extra shroud of mystery as we jump back and forth from 1951 when Alan Turing is arrested. We are told one thing via Turing's opening voiceover, "Pay Attention". We then begin a flashback about Turing's interest in building a machine to break the Nazi code at the start of the war, and then a third storyline of Turing's childhood days with his best friend Christopher. Each story unfolds beautifully revealing deeper truths to a film layered in meaning.

While Turing successfully deciphers Enigma, he struggles to solve the puzzle of his own life and identity. We discover that from a young age he has stood out as an odd ball in the social circle of his preparatory school colleagues. They criticize him, nail him under the floorboards of a classroom, and treat him as an outcast. All his schoolmates, with the exception of Christopher, his best friend and mentor, see nothing of value in him. It is Christopher who reminds Alan that "It's the people who no one imagines anything of that do the things no one can imagine." From a social perspective, Turing's colleagues would have preferred him to imitate someone he was not in order to fit the mold of "normalcy". 

The title "Imitation Game" is befitting for every scenario in the film. From the actual machine Turing builds that imitates the Nazi code (which he names Christopher) to Turing's “imitation” of a straight man during his marriage proposal; the “Imitation Game” is played by almost everyone in the film. Everyone has something to hide or information another person wants. Even the film itself plays an imitation game with it's audience. It imitates the kind of war film viewers expected to watch all the while revealing its hidden identity as the film progresses. One must in fact "pay attention" in order to piece these clues together to decipher its message.

While on the surface you are watching a war story of the intelligent minds behind the destruction of the Nazi regime, you are also discovering an ironic prejudice behind the British government. As the Germans were persecuting the Jews for not fitting into a specific identity, England was forcing homosexuals to hide their identity under penalty of law.

We are given a clue early in the movie about how to decipher the film's message. It is given upon the discovery of a transcribed code from a Russian spy amongst the group of cryptologists. The spy used the Gospel passage of Matthew 7:7 as the key to decrypt the hidden messages and I believe that it is also the key to the film. "Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you." It is a passage about discovering one’s identity and purpose in life which Alan Turing sought throughout the film.

After he successfully breaks Enigma and discovers the Nazi's plans of attack, Turing is forced to keep it a secret within a tight circle of individuals. In fear of the Germans discovering their code breaking, the content of each deciphered message is first analyzed meticulously to figure out which German attacks to allow through and which to stop.With the power of life and death in his hands it is Turing's decisions that ultimately bring the war to an end, shortening it by at least two years. Winston Churchill would later say that Turing “made the single biggest contribution to the allied victory in World War II”.

Despite his natural born genius, his gifted analytical thinking, and beautiful mind, Turing still struggled to find his identity within the film. He was unable to reveal that he was the man who ended the war and had to go back to his life of secrecy. He was a gay man in a time of major prohibition of "same-sex attraction". The only person he could ever be himself with was Christopher, who suspiciously died of bovine tuberculosis when they were in school together.

As the film jumps back to 1951, Turing is arrested for indecent exposure with another man. When he is being questioned, he asks the detective to play the "imitation game" with him. After telling the detective his entire life story he asks him to judge whether he is a machine, a person, a war hero or a criminal?

This is a critical part of the film's message. When the detective says that he cannot judge him, Turing sadly states, "Well then, you're no help to me at all." Turing was looking for someone else to help decipher his own identity. He was looking for a judge. Everyone else had failed him, his parents, classmates, people, and his country. He finally looks to the law to find some sort of fair judgment on his life and receives none. There is only one fair judge, qualified to reveal the purpose, identity, and mission behind any of us. This is where the film's spiritual message seeps through. 

God usually gets a bad wrap when it comes to homosexuality mainly because of human confusion and misunderstanding. God is love and creates everyone unique and unrepeatable. It wouldn't make sense for Christ to suffer on the cross for all except for those who are "gay". We need a serious reality check here. In Turing's case, those who were judging him were the same people he was willing to fight and risk his life for. He had never seen his talent and passion for justice as God-Given, at least not in the film, but those very qualities are gifts imbued in his identity. 

Does homosexuality take away your talents, contributions, and identity? Turing needed to be recognized as a person, not as a machine or a war symbol. He needed the righteous judgment of his Creator. Turing never looked to God, but looked to his own creation. The only person he could relate to was Christopher, his code breaking mentor. Without Christopher around to affirm his identity he then built a second Christopher, a code breaking machine that he could dedicate his life to. How could we possibly come to the conclusion that just because someone is gay that makes them less of a person to identify with? 

Turing was on a journey of self discovery, but had poor guidance. Rather than shun each other we must support one another along our individual journeys to understanding our own purpose and missions in life. We all must ask, seek, and knock in order to have our identities confirmed and recognized within the recesses of our soul.

Much like Turing, we all hide a part of ourselves because of some fear, whether it is imprisonment, rejection, or persecution, we all play a part. We know how to act in front of parents, friends, family, managers, colleagues, or strangers. We find it difficult to be who we were born to be on display for others to see. 

We all yearn to know where we belong and how we fit in. This is especially true still to this day within the LGBT community as it was for over 49,000 men in Great Britain who were imprisoned for homosexual activity under the gross indecency law up until 2003.

Turing reminds me of Jesus in this film for so many reasons, one being that he was rejected for his innate identity. Yet Christ was a person who was always himself around everyone. He even went to his hometown and tried to perform miracles there even when they disbelieved. He was a man who lived his identity in every area of his life up to the point of death. He knew where he belonged.

Turing is definitely a Christ figure in the film for he knew he had a talent that was to be used outside of himself and despite the many years of humiliation, pain, and suffering from others he persevered to succeed in his mission. He tells the detective in a voiceover as we watch a young Turing being nailed into the floorboards by his schoolmates, "People like violence because it feels good, but take away the satisfaction and the act becomes hollow." That is the perfect description of Christ's sacrifice on the cross. Rather than face imprisonment for indecent exposure, Turing chose chemical castration, a daily dosage of medicine aimed at curing his "gay" tendencies. This innocent victim took upon himself a chemical crucifixion that has not until recently begun bringing about fruits for the thousands of victims persecuted by the British government during this time. Whether this chemical obstruction was directly linked to his suicide or not, Turing was a victim of societal prejudice. And like Jesus, Turing was a man no one imagined anything of, but accomplished the thing no one could imagine.

Turing was pardoned in 2013 and you can check out the petition to support the pardoning of the 49,000 men convicted of being gay under British law. 
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