OpEd: A Lesson From ‘Sesame Street’

by | Aug 15, 2011 | Charisma Archive

ap_Sesame_Street_Bert_Ernie_photog-Beth_A._Keiser_FileAP Images/Beth A. Keiser

Just when you think things couldn’t get more bizarre, they have.
This past week a petition was launched calling for the marriage of
two iconic characters from Sesame Street, Bert and Ernie. The
petition asks that the marriage be executed in a “tasteful” way
in order to “Let us teach tolerance of those that are different.”

The petition was filed on the activist site Change.org that
has become the equivalent of a national blacklist registry of
individuals and organizations who hold to a conservative view on
marriage and sexuality. While the site has had some success in
intimidating organizations such as Apple and most recently Starbucks
to comply with their demands, Sesame Street held strong and
stated that Bert and Ernie are best friends and as puppets, they do
not have a sexual orientation.

My question is how far will
this go? A
recent Op-ed
in the New
York Times
called for
the legalization of polygamy between loving and consenting adults.
Will we see a petition launched for the marriage of Kermit, Miss
Piggy and the Cookie Monster to teach that love between consenting
individuals, no matter how many, is acceptable and should be
celebrated? Of course, this is an extreme situation. But is it?

The situation with Bert and
Ernie is a prime example of an attempt to indoctrinate children and
use them as pawns in a cultural agenda. Do we really believe that
toddlers and 4-year-olds are struggling to make sense of a fictional
relationship between two felt puppets? The innocence of a child
should not be required to wrestle with the complexities involving
same-sex orientation. Nor should a parent be forced to educate their
child on these issues before that child is mature enough to
understand and cope with those complexities.

Unfortunately, the current culture is going to force parents and
church leaders to address the issues surrounding homosexuality and
same-sex marriage with younger and younger kids. When Tommy comes
home from preschool and asks, “Why does my friend Jennifer have two
daddies?” we must be ready to provide sound answers grounded in
compassion and truth. Theirs will be a generation that must face an
assault upon their innocence unlike any generation before.

For families to be prepared, the church must not only be ready but
courageous. What does it say when Sesame Street shows more
resilience and resolve in the face of intimidation than some church
and ministry leaders?

I have recently read statements made by leaders saying that the
biblical message of homosexuality is a difficult case to make in
today’s culture and it does not work on a social level. Really?
What biblical message isn’t a difficult case to make in today’s
culture?

There is a growing trend to become more vague and ambiguous and
leaders who promote this strategy are gaining greater influence. The
new ministry model for the church is to become coy and clever when it
comes to questions about homosexuality.

Of course we’re not going to reach the LGBT community by
introducing ourselves with “Hi, before we start this friendship,
you need to know I believe homosexuality is a sin.” We begin by
loving and serving the gay community and those individuals God places
in our lives. However, we will not be stewarding the power of God’s
transformational truth by cloaking ourselves in a shroud of
ambiguity.

Yes, I agree that the church has a poor report card in ministering
to the gay community. But I am concerned about a drastic pendulum
swing of compromise that is being made by some church leaders.

Many are behaving like parents who have been harsh and unloving
towards a child and subsequently feel guilty and realize their sin.
In an attempt to make up for their bad behavior, they begin to
overcompensate and compromise healthy family values and convictions.
From this point on, the family values quickly become family secrets.
Likewise, some churches have become embarrassed by what Scripture
says about homosexuality and have hidden it in the closet.

In 1991 I decided to leave homosexuality and pursue a life in
Christ. I experienced transformational freedom in my life because I
found a church that was committed to loving me and being graciously
forthright with the truth of God’s word. It’s because of their
loving commitment to the truth that I was able to find freedom. That
is what Exodus International believes every person should experience
in the local church—an opportunity to be transformed by the message
of the gospel.

As the Body of Christ we have a responsibility to be a prophetic
voice in the culture. So many are looking for hope but they will
never hear Christ’s message of grace and truth unless we say the
words!

As the culture shoves its message of sexuality into the face of
this younger generation, how we will respond? Are we helping them by
being coy and clever? That’s an easy road. Today Bert and Ernie
remain just friends but tomorrow could be a different story. We know
this generation has questions. The real question is, “How will we
answer them?”

Jeff Buchanan is the executive vice president of Exodus
International, an interdenominational ministry assisting those who
struggle with same-sex attraction to live a life congruent with the
Christian faith.

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