Secular media is having a gay old time
On April 14, 1997, American comedian Ellen DeGeneres made history when her character “came out of the closet” on ABC’s sitcom Ellen. Millions of viewers tuned into the highly anticipated episode, while Time magazine featured the “Yep, I’m Gay” cover story of the real-life Ellen in its April issue.
The decision to “out” a lead character on mainstream television was considered groundbreaking for the time. It paved the way for programs such as Queer as Folk, Queer Eye, Friends, Roseanne, Spin City, ER and especially the widely acclaimed gaycom Will & Grace. Although Hollywood’s advocacy for homosexuality began decades earlier, it was not until the late 1990s that sitcoms brought greater cultural visibility to gay and lesbian characters in prime time.
Television has played an instrumental role in the push to normalise homosexuality. The sense of intimacy that it breeds with its personalities and programs, its immediacy and, more recently, 24-hour accessibility make it a powerful shaper of public opinion. Unlike the movies or theater, television comes into the home and reaches individuals directly. It has become, for many, the key source of information about the world and is influential in creating and maintaining a common set of values among its viewers.
In the last 15 years, television has become awash with pro-homosexual content. And Hollywood executives, producers, writers and actors have not been shy in admitting there is a strong gay agenda at work. Leading the way in advocating homosexuality as completely normal and uncontroversial is musical comedy-drama Glee, which has also been unashamedly bold in pushing the sexual envelope.
Popular shows such as Grey’s Anatomy and Modern Family, and countless Hollywood movies including Brokeback Mountain and Milk have been enormously influential in placing the issue of gay marriage at the forefront of public debate.
Traditional marriage has been around for more than a millennium while same-sex marriage is not even as old as the Internet, so the rate of moral and cultural change in our society is nothing short of revolutionary. Christians face an uphill battle against the powerful forces of political correctness if they are to resist conforming to a modern secular worldview of sexuality.
Unfortunately the threat of social isolation and legal defamation has led many Christians to abandon their convictions and accommodate a secular understanding of homosexuality and same-sex marriage. After all, no one wants to be labelled an intolerant bigot!
Some professing Christians question the infallibility of Scripture and its relevance in addressing sexual orientation in the 21st century. Others struggle to commend a Christian worldview of sexuality in a loving and attractive way. As society becomes more approving of homosexuality, how can we be effective Christian witnesses and make the most of our opportunity to model a counter-cultural alternative?
If Christians desire to show love to the LBGT community, then we must share the gospel of Jesus Christ with clarity and courage. We need to be clear that the gospel is good news for everyone. Not only are we sinners, but we are all sexual sinners, so we cannot come to the issue from a self-righteous position. But we should also be careful not to remove the sharp edges of the gospel in an attempt to be tolerant and inclusive. Not only is this unloving and sinful, but it denies our friends the hope of salvation and redemption from their sin.
Finally, if we are to commend the gospel to our watching world and be an effective family of believers, we must take seriously Jesus’ command to “love one another” and embody the gospel in our own lives. We may not have the most impressive bandwagon of celebrities to advocate our worldview, but we should have the most attractive and loving relationships.
Madeline Turner attends Ashfield Presbyterian Church, NSW.