(Editor’s note: This piece originally ran at the Troubler of Israel blog at Patheos.)
A recent episode of the Disney Channel cartoon show, “Doc McStuffins,” which is aimed at preschoolers, depicts a lesbian couple (who are dolls in a little girl’s imaginary world) teaching kids about emergency preparedness, specifically what to do when there’s an earthquake.
One of the show’s writers, Chris Nee, is in a same-sex relationship herself. “My son has two moms,” she says, “and it’s a huge part of my life as a human being and it’s been an incredible part of the way that I see the world and the way I see characters and the way I want to create characters who are incredibly accepting of each other and whatever is happening in their life.”
Wanda Sykes, a lesbian actress who plays one of the show’s characters, tweeted “So proud to be in this episode. Love is love!” And of course, LGBT activist group GLAAD praised the episode, urging viewers to “thank Disney for elevating LGBTQ voices.”
Christians, there is an earthquake underfoot, and it’s past time to have an emergency preparedness plan. We’ve got to abandon the illusion that we can let the dominant culture raise our children, and still expect them to be meaningfully Christian. This is the choice before parents: You can diligently and wisely regulate what your children consume, or you can bid them adieu. From the moment they can walk and speak, this world begins trying to make disciples of them. It wants nothing less than their souls, and it’s not afraid to fight dirty, using cute, bulbous-eyed digital cartoons as propaganda.
The “Christian Bubble”–that infamous dome of spiritual insulation in which so many of our parents raised us–is no longer optional. Children in preschool simply aren’t ready for the debate over homosexuality. They don’t even know what sexuality is. They don’t think on a rational level, nor are they aware of abstract concepts like teleology or natural law. They simply aren’t equipped to defend the older, Christian picture of the world against the ascendant mystery religion of sexual identity. To them, everything with a smile and primary colors is right, and the other side knows this. The dominant culture wants concepts like “two mommies” and “two daddies” lodged deep within the consciousness of children, shaping their worldview before they’re equipped to make an argument for or against it.
This is how it’s always worked. Anyone who has pored over the arguments for homosexuality–not the legal arguments for same-sex “marriage,” but the philosophical and social arguments in favor of homosexuality as a positive good and a basis for family–knows they’re rubbish. When the dust settles, the case for accepting and “celebrating” same-sex relationships has never and will never be a rational one. It is emotional, built of beaming stock photos, upbeat music, and a glib disregard for the consequences for children growing up with two parents of the same sex, and the grim reality of the gay lifestyle.
Children make decisions, associations, and evaluations based almost solely on emotion. But taking refuge in the “Christian Bubble” must mean more than switching off the Disney Channel or installing a filter on your Internet-connected devices. It must also involve a re-catechesis of adult Christians who never really grew up–who never learned to think very far past their emotional responses. And make no mistake: We’re losing this group, because it takes more than emotions to take a stance you know will make you appear mean.
I’m thinking mainly here of average Christians whose unspoken moral maxim in life is to “be nice.” These are wonderful people. Many of them are by nature quite conservative, too. They’re not blue-haired, never-shave-my-pits social justice warriors. They love Jesus, and they love people. But the moment someone comes into their life and says, “I’m gay, and unless you affirm that, you hate me,” they crumble. The moment they see a happy-looking family with two moms or two dads, they melt. Like children, they lack the ethical or intellectual resources to take a moral stance that will get them called hateful.
That’s why, if we don’t want everything we teach our kids in the “Christian Bubble” to burst on contact with the world, we have to do more than teach them the tenets of a Christian worldview in safety. We have to do more than expose them to the biblical vision of sex before they get the world’s vision. We have to do more than show them how to think rather than emote. We have to teach them, when the time comes, how to cheerfully play the villain.
Most of us who grew up in Christian homes have been okay for decades with being seen by unbelievers as goodie-two-shoes. Everyone knew we didn’t “drink, smoke, chew, or go with girls who do,” they thought we were squares, and we were okay with that. W.W.J.D., right?
But this new role as evildoer, bigot, and hater, assigned us so recently by the dominant culture, is knocking us off balance. The masses of kindhearted Christians who’ve gotten through life by being nice can’t withstand the social sting of losing that image when their classmates or neighbors find out they think same-sex relationships are immoral. I’ve seen it again and again. And it’s persuaded me that lived Christianity requires a functional category for being The Bad Guy.
We must be ready to be called Troublers of Israel, disturbers of the goodly peace and pious picket fences of the new American dream depicted on “Doc McStuffins.” Believing the things we believe about God and creation is the new counterculture. And those beliefs call us to embrace our role as social deviants, just as the namesake of this blog embraced his. Because when you live in a society that calls Baal God and Yahweh an idol, you won’t be very popular. But you will be right.
Image copyright Disney-ABC Domestic Television. Illustration designed by Heidi Allums.
G. Shane Morris is assistant editor of BreakPoint Radio.