This was published today in “The Geneva Courier” — newsletter of The Geneva School.
“Singing the Wrong Tune”
A couple of years ago I read a book, produced by the Barna Research group, entitled UnChristian: What a New Generation Really Thinks about Christianity . . . and Why it Matters. After thousands of interviews, the book analyzed the views of current 16-29 year olds. Their conclusions: young people outside of Christian faith think American Christians act in a manner that is, in their opinion, “un-Christian” in numerous ways. Among the leading ways Christians are not like Jesus: they are “anti-homosexual.” In the minds of a new generation of American young adults, people ought to be able to love however they wish. “Who are Christians,” they ask, “to tell some people that their affections and expressions of love are wrong?” I mention this as a preface to the following comments that I have been mulling for some time now.
One evening over the Christmas holidays, I was scrolling through TV channels when I came across “Glee.” Here’s what I posted (rather impulsively) on Facebook a few minutes later:
Wow — flipping through channels tonight I stop for 15 seconds on “Glee” — got to give the show this much: they don’t just promote immoral behavior like so many shows, they openly mock belief in God in the dialogue — and really, it was only a few seconds. And so many young people I care about are so taken by this program.
Through what I read in social media and what I hear in in conversation between our students, I have rising concern that for some if our older student community, there are far too many casual comments about homosexual activity, and I see far too many students “gleeful” at the prospect of the next episode of this show. So at the risk of appearing “anti-homosexual,” let me tell how these concerns are related to this television program.
The show appeals to a specific target group: teens feeling alienated from their peers, left out, marginalized; in short, teens who think they are “losers” – thus the symbolic finger/thumb L. So in the “Glee” club they find acceptance. Sadly, the script of the show paints, as one critic said, “an aggressively ugly picture of Christians” as intolerant, mean, and judgmental. Oddly enough, Christians in the show are often portrayed as the ones who ostracize others. But we know that more often in our culture, students who seek to pursue virtue, godliness, and chastity are the ones mocked and ostracized.
Music is a profoundly powerful medium, stirring the soul in a manner as persuasively and convincingly as almost any other medium. Jonathan Edwards said, “The best, most beautiful, and most perfect way that we have of expressing a sweet concord of mind to each other is by music.” By all accounts, the music in “Glee” is fantastic and it’s the draw for many young people. But the goal of the show is not music. The goal is to normalize behavior that has never (until this generation) been considered normal. And there is the rub. Despite what our students might think, a constant barrage of such ungodly morals will, over time, have a toxic effect on the soul of even the most stable and informed young heart.
At Geneva we seek to cultivate that which is good, true, and beautiful. We aspire to help our student community embrace the truth of God’s Word and world. At this place like no other – the expression of human sexuality – the world seeks to turn God’s design upside down. We, however, seek not to be “anti-homosexual,” but to be people who whole-heartedly embrace God’s profound design for relationships and the expression of human sexuality. In God’s created order, there is beauty, social stability, and lasting contentment. Tragically, homosexual expression, as sincere as it may be, is a disordered and broken reflection of God’s intention for men and women. And this is not a strictly “Christian” doctrine, it is a creation order.
The prevailing cultural reasoning says “If you have these affections, these feelings, desires, then they must be good and you should be allowed to pursue them.” But I have many feelings and desires that should not be pursued because they are inconsistent with God’s design for his world. If one wishes to change three thousand years of Judeo-Christian tradition, one should have much more to base such a radical change on than one’s personal experience. If nine hundred ninety-nine of one thousand Frenchmen said 2+2=3.5, such an overwhelming popular opinion does not change the reality. The reality is (and secular social theorists reluctantly agree) children are most well-adjusted and successful as adults when raised by a father and a mother. Yet to reference such self-evident truth when homosexual couples seek to adopt children (since they can never produce children by natural means – again self-evident) is considered mean, inflammatory, and “anti-gay.” Of course such a position is actually the most loving position to hold and articulate because it is, quite simply, the truth.
At Geneva, we seek not only to strengthen the minds of young people. A person can “know” all the right information. But the things we “love” shape our souls in a profound manner. Disordered loves of the heart are, in fact, at the heart of our battle against the temptations of the cultural in which we live. Let us help our students hear the siren song of “Glee” (and so many other stories) for what it is – not a beautiful expression of truth, but a discordant attempt to justify rebellion against the goodness of God’s design.