My wife and I were having a lazy Sunday morning, probably hiding from our children this weekend, and scrolling through Facebook, each spying on each other’s feed, as we like to do, and stumbled across an article posted in one of our “married same-sex couples” groups we are subscribed to. (Cool fun fact, this particular group was established to give married lesbians a safe place to post wholesome, uplifting, and family-friendly posts while encouraging each other in the vein of nurturing our marriages, just to set the tone of where this post is going…) The article was about the controversy that The Hallmark Channel recently aired a commercial featuring, gasp, a lesbian couple getting married. What’s worse, is that this commercial (from an on-line wedding planning company, Zola) actually showed them….you know…kissing. Apparently it was quickly pulled from the air after a Christian group, One Million Moms, complained and threatened that the majority of The Hallmark Channel’s viewers are Christian women and would be boycotting the channel if they didn’t.
At first glance, things like this deserve not much more than a shrug to the old, “What can ya do, people be crazy, just another controversy.” It saddened us to read that this battle is still happening, people still get up in arms, and companies cave to the sounds of money walking away instead of being in the moral right. As someone who doesn’t watch that channel I could have easily scrolled on through, not really caring as it doesn’t directly affect me. Maybe the One Million Moms are right, I get to have my own genre on Netflix of approximately 8 not-that-awesome LGBT movies made just for me, and they should get a Channel where they don’t have to deal with same-sex couples being “thrown in their face all the time.” But I didn’t scroll on by. I read the article. And I read the headlines this morning that after GLAAD got involved, Hallmark wants to reverse their decision and is asking the Zola company to come back and air the commercial anyway. It issued an apology to their viewers and admitted it made a serious mistake they want to correct. Whether it happened that way or more likely they chose whichever group will make their lives the LEAST miserable may never be known, but at least in action they corrected a mistake.
Every year it seems that there has to be some type of controversy over Christmas. In 2015 it was Starbucks “obvious” war on Christmas when they decided to go with a simple red cup, causing conservative evangelical Christian groups to assume it was a blatant “hatred” of the true meaning of Christmas. Other years it’s the tired old argument that if you dare say “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas”, it’s an attack on the true meaning of Christmas. I’m just going to leave these right here at the beginning of this blog and let you all know I am giving a hearty eye-roll to this as I type and want to assure all Christians, myself included, that this is DEFINITELY not what Paul was talking about when he said you will be persecuted for your convictions. As I stop laughing at that notion here in a minute, I also want to assure Christians that even if this WAS what Paul was referring to, he said to bear all things with love, joy, and peace, being content with anything life throws your way. Mind you, he was actually in prison when he wrote this, for preaching the good news. Another aside about Paul, was the way he was preaching the good news ACTUALLY was about preaching the Good News, not hell, fire and damnation to the world at large. (Good News=Jesus came to show us how to love each other and live a life that brings Heaven on Earth to your own soul.) But enough about Paul, for now.
This year the LGBT community is the target. While not exactly tied to Christmas this time, it comes in the holiday season, where many people are likely to sit down and binge on Hallmark Channel movies.
The One Million Mom group complained to Hallmark and claimed the ad went against the network’s promise to be “family friendly.” Their statement said, “Shame on Hallmark for airing commercials with same-sex couples…Parents need to know they could now come face-to-face with the LGBT agenda when they sit down to watch the Hallmark Channel.”
I couldn’t help myself. I went to the One Million Mom website to find out more. Maybe they were being misrepresented. Maybe I like to hear both sides of the argument. Maybe I get it. I used to believe the same thing. After all, isn’t this just about boundaries? When one person has a boundary and the other person has a different one, who’s to say which one is “right”? And after all, if people are uncomfortable, the uncomfortable people should get to voice their discomfort and get their way, right?
I found the website and started scrolling. It didn’t take me long to find the topic of the Hallmark Channel and what I read made my heart sink. This afternoon it was updated to include the reversal of the decision, and both this morning and this afternoon’s post on their site is a little bit heartbreaking, calling for a huge boycott, (which, who really cares, that’s not the point, i.e. Chic-Fil-A is too delicious to boycott) but the more concerning issue is how this group is still using the language that is so offensive to so many.
From the site:
“Hallmark can no longer be trusted”
“Same-sex relationships are still extremely controversial”
“Viewers will be disappointed to learn that Hallmark intends to not only air commercials with LGBTQ content but is open to producing LGBTQ movies in the future” (GASP!!!!!)
“This is one of the very last channels that families could go to and not be bombarded with politically correct commercials and LGBTQ agenda”
“Family entertainment is not the outlet in which to be politically correct by forcing tolerance and acceptance of homosexuality-a sinful lifestyle that Scripture clearly deems as wrong. You can read so in Romans 1:18-32.”
It goes on and on in it’s self-righteous talk. This is where my heart gets sad. Not because they don’t agree with me or I don’t get to see a commercial with a lesbian couple and I should.
It’s sad for so many reasons. First, let’s look at the “same-sex” side and then I will go into the heartbreaking disconnect of what they are actually representing.
If I could change this blog to an open letter to the American Family Association/One Million Moms, it would go something like this:
I just wanted to reach out to you to connect about this whole Hallmark Channel controversy, but first, let me introduce myself. I’m Sarah, I’ve been married to my wife for 4 years, and we have 5 kids. We are very much a family, who tries to be loving, gracious and teach our kids how to grow up and be moral, loving people. We are just like you. We worship God, try to live as Christ lived, raise kids, one of us works and one of us stays home. We deal with homework, and orthodontists, and what we should or shouldn’t let them watch. My kids are loved and, while this may differ from other same-sex couples and families, they also get to enjoy relationship with dads that love them just as much.
I want to point out a few things. First, please don’t assume all families are hetero like yours. They aren’t. Not by a long shot. This has never been the case. So “family friendly” is a misnomer used by you, but could more aptly be called, “hetero-family-only”. We know so, so, so many lovely, beautiful families with same-sex parents, raising beautiful, lovely children, just like yours.
Second, my family and representation of my marriage to my wife is no one’s “agenda”. It’s just a fact of life. Same-sex relationships have always existed. It’s been legal for 5 or more years across the US to be legally wed. It’s been happening since the beginning of time. People committing to each other, promising to love, you know, that sort of thing, has never not existed.
I was raised in a home where my parents loved us kids, we went to church several times a week, we went to Christian schools, accepted Jesus into our hearts as teenagers, and were sheltered from all the “agendas” out there. We watched nothing but G or PG movies, we didn’t listen to secular music. We weren’t exposed to the secular world. We saw nothing racy. My parents could have led a class in how to shelter your kids from the world. I don’t want to put that down. Each of us gets to raise our kids how we see fit, and I’m sure I benefitted from some of that sheltering.
But my point is this: 2 out of 3 of their sheltered children were gay. And guess what? We were gay from the beginning. We were gay when we were 4 and 10 and 16. There was no point where we weren’t and we somehow became gay. We didn’t become gay because of something my parents did or didn’t do. We didn’t become gay because of what we saw or didn’t see in a movie or on tv. We didn’t become gay because we finally saw a same-sex couple kissing and figured, “what the hell! Why not!” (And to make a point, kinda wish I had, which could have saved a whole lot of heartache trying to be in a straight marriage, but I digress.) It just doesn’t work like that. And while I wasn’t allowed to watch sex-scenes, I saw plenty of hetero couples kissing. It didn’t make me straight. I can watch straight people kissing every day, and it won’t change anything, just like if your children see lesbians kissing after (by the way, they are kissing after they say “I do”!) they get married. Because chances are, your children have seen it. Not because it’s being “shoved down their throats” by people pushing their “agendas”. But most likely they have a kid in their class with 2 moms, or 2 dads. They see people holding hands. They see real people that they know and love, most likely friends and family, unless you have shunned them from your lives.
And guess what? Children don’t really care. They are OVER IT. If you were to ask a child what they think if they see 2 girls holding hands, chances are they will wonder more why you are even asking them such a bizarre question instead of voicing their concern or confusion of what they saw.
I get it. We as parents all take the responsibility of what we “expose” our children to very seriously. But there seems to be a weird obsession that anything that has to do with gay people is clearly weird, deviant, promiscuous, dirty sex that we have to protect our children from at all costs. The fact is, most gay people simply want what you have claimed as your own, someone who will love them in this life, children, a white picket fence, the piles of laundry, and the family dog. That’s it. They want to throw a wedding and celebrate. They want to watch a romance movie that warms their heart as well.
It saddens me to think that you may have a little gay child in your home at this moment who is hearing you rail against the outrageous sinful lifestyle of that lesbian couple exchanging vows on the Hallmark Channel and is sinking deeper and deeper into the closet, into self-doubt and self-loathing, coming to grips with the fact that they cannot change who they are and who they are attracted to and at the same time, receiving the message that who they are is wrong. Did you know that children who are gay growing up in a Christian home have disproportionately high rates of suicidal behavior? That up to 40% of homeless youth are LGBTQ? (And the majority of them from Christian homes they were forced to leave when they came out to their parents). Most in homes such as the ones represented in One Million Moms groups? That statistically there are the same percentage if not more than the general population of LGBTQ kids in Christian homes? Not because Satan is at work in your home, just that that’s how statistics work. That over 85% of LGBTQ adults grew up in a Christian home?
I just wanted to point out that while I get that you really believe you are fighting the good fight against what you believe to be immorality, your website saddens me. It saddens me because you are forgetting something big. You are forgetting the Fruits of the Spirit. You are forgetting the people involved that you are called to love regardless of your beliefs (that frankly aren’t as clear in the Bible as you assume, but we won’t go there today.) You mock the Hallmark Channel for apologizing for “the hurt it has unintentionally caused,” (LGBTQ people) as if you are the judge and jury for other people’s experiences. You literally call people to intolerance which makes no sense to me, even if we could agree to disagree. I don’t believe any of that is actually in the Scriptures.
I read no love in your website. No call to action for standing up for the oppressed. (Hint, it’s not you who is oppressed.) I read no compassion or understanding. I read no call to compassion, care of the broken hearted, or call to be a witness to the Light of Christ by word and action in yourself. I saw scripture used as a weapon. I saw it misquoted. I saw it used in ways it was not written nor intended to be used.
I get that this site hopefully represents a small minority of people in our culture. It would be easy for me to justify treating them the same way and rail against their language of intolerance, and frankly, hate. But I hope to call them in to a conversation to share, to be heard and to hear. I can treat them with the compassion I hoped to see in them. Not to side on my side, but to stand up IN LOVE. That is what the Bible calls us to do. That’s it. I won’t point out that the Bible specifically tells Christians to stay out of “worldly issues” but I won’t because to me my life and my family aren’t worldly. I want to stand in truth and light and love and I call all Christians to do the same.
(P.S. To sum it all up, ya makin’ Christians look bad and not helping your mission)
As I close up this blog post I can see in the past few months as I am embarking on a journey of deconstructing my assumed belief system and diving deeper into Christ-like faith and hope and love, the stark contrast of what I am seeing the Bible really saying and how it’s being represented. I don’t want to lose hope or put all evangelical Christians in a box. I want to believe it’s different, yet at the same time, this is what the Bible talks about…if you are the underdog, the lone voice, the voice of love, the voice without power, chances are you are doing something right.
So here is my call to action for true social justice for the oppressed (again, not probably you as a white, hetero, evangelical Christian): If you are a Christian, choose to stand IN LOVE regardless of your own personal beliefs. Choose to speak up to a friend (in love of course) when you hear them rant and rave about the Gay Agenda. Choose to listen to an LGBTQ couple’s story without judgement. Choose to be someone safe that a kid (or adult) can come out to, and just listen. If you aren’t a Christian, choose compassion for those who have twisted their religion. Choose to be an example of love anyway. Choose to love. Period. Because love really does win.
(And everyone, if you like watching mushy Hallmark Love stories, just do it, because we all need to see more love in the world. Who cares what statement you are making by refusing to watch or not! We all need more love stories!)