Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Same Sex Ads

Last week I got an email from a good and well-meaning friend. It was a forwarded letter from The Canada Family Action Coalition, a group which seeks to “protect traditional family values.” There’s a phrase that gets me nervous right off the starting line. Whose tradition are we talking about? Even allowing for a “Biblical standpoint” is this the family as the North American Evangelical Christian reads into their Bible, or is this the sort of family the Bible actually talks about? Take Abraham’s family as an example; when your wife can’t conceive, use a woman from your household (read ‘family’) as a surrogate to bring forth progeny to carry on the family name. Is that the sort of ‘traditional’ Judeo Christian family the CFAC is talking about?
I’ve put my foot deeply in my bias already. Nevertheless, I’m more than sick and tired of the way in which the ‘family’ has become the fourth member of the Godhead in North America. In the name of the Father, Son, Holy Spirit and the Almighty Family…pardon me, ‘traditional family’; the kind that’s only been around for roughly a century, but is apparently ‘Biblical’.
Anyhow…the email was about Famous Players Theaters reportedly running an ad promoting same sex marriage. I say reportedly because I have to take the CFAC’s word on this one. I myself have seen no such advertisement. Like most emails I get concerning the same sex issue, I was strongly encouraged to contact the powers behind Famous Players and let them know that I think that Famous Players is “using undue influence to unfairly target men, women and children who are not expecting to be accosted with such indoctrination but only want to see a movie."
Now, I’d like to make it clear that I don’t have an answer for the same sex issue. I have several strong opinions based on a mix of my own subjective feelings stemming from my long friendship with a gay man, my religious views based upon current linguistic evidence concerning “what the Bible actually says” (another phrase I’d love to somehow do without) and my stance on the division between church and state. Those have nothing to do with why this email pissed me off.
I couldn’t quite place my finger on it until I was sitting in a movie theater again, waiting for the movie to start. And as the advertisements began to roll, I realized why I had been non-plussed about the email.
The first advertisement was for some car. I don’t remember the make of the car, but it was shiny, and apparently, I need it. We all need it. If we didn’t need it, why else would someone go to the trouble of making such a fine advertisement wherein this vehicle was demonstrating its obvious superiority above other vehicles I couldn’t possibly need as much?
The second advertisement was for the Canadian Armed Forces. The young man doing the voice over (who really ought to quit the Armed Forces and consider a career in doing voice work) informed me that this wasn’t like any other job, which I’m not sure I complete agree with. Having your identity erased so you can become part of a larger, well oiled machine is somewhat like working in fast food, only you don’t get to learn how to utilize weapons of mass destruction. Nevertheless, I’d have to say that it looked like the folks in the Armed Forces were having a really good time rappelling out of helicopters and tracking UFOs on radar screens.
The third advertisement was for Dove’s new “real beauty” campaign. I have nothing sarcastic to say about this advertisement, because not only was it really damn good, but I didn’t have to buy a car when it was over. It features a number of women, with headers that say things like “she thinks she’s fat” or “doesn’t like her freckles” concluding with “let’s tell her she’s wrong.” The whole campaign is about redefining beauty, which I’m totally in support of.
So what’s my point? I didn’t see the same sex ad, so what’s this all about?
I guess I’m wondering where my forwarded email is from some concerned Christian group telling me to contact Famous Players about that car commercial. Where’s the email citing the countless number of verses concerning greed, not trusting in possessions and storing up treasures in heaven with a phone number I can call to protest this consumerist indoctrination?
Or where’s my forwarded email about telling Famous Players I’m sick of propaganda that makes a stint in the Canadian Armed Forces look like an extreme sports outing? Where’s the email that talks about the horrors of war and how we ought, as Christians to be looking toward peaceful solutions to the violence in the world?
And where’s my forwarded email that I can send straight to Dove to applaud their “real beauty” campaign, seeing as the Bible tells us that God judges not the exterior, but the heart of a person, and that virtuous Christian women are beautiful not because of their appearance, but because of the radiance of a godly life?
I’m not going to get those emails, because as usual, North American Evangelicalism has its priorities all screwed up. Boycott first person shooters, because they’ll teach you how to emulate the Columbine shootings; become involved in hockey instead, where you can participate in real violence – you won’t kill anyone, but you’ll learn good fighting skills for when you’re out at the bar after the game kicking the shit out of each other. Don’t read Harry Potter, you’ll open yourself to spiritual oppression, but feel free to shop the mall until you drop, because nothing builds a Christian up like decadent consumerism. And remember everyone, that while it may seem like some catty gossip in your congregation spreading lies and rumors about other members is an awful thing, its not. The real evil we Christians need to oppose is gay people, because apparently they sit around plotting the demise of the ‘traditional family.’
I’ve got news for the people who run CFAC – Jesus didn’t come to bring the ‘traditional family.’ To be truthful, he couldn’t even really be said to have been a strong supporter of ‘family values.’ Making statements like, “Think not that I have come to bring peace to the earth; it is not peace I bring but a sword. I have come to set son against father, daughter against mother, daughter-in-law against mother-in-law; a person’s enemies will be the members of his own household.” Matthew 10:34 When his mother came to visit him during a time of preaching, he dismissed her and his brothers saying, “who is my mother? And who are my brothers?” Or how about this gem in Luke 14: 26-27:“If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters – yes, even his own life – he cannot be my disciple. And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.”
Now, before anyone spams me…I’m aware that Jesus was not an enemy of the family. But it doesn’t seem to rate very high on the list for “things needed for the Kingdom.”
North American Evangelicalism, through well meaning groups like CFAC and the famous Focus on the Family, has somehow become synonymous with white picket fences, a happily married couple, two kids and a dog. Yet the founder of this faith called Christianity never married, never made any really strongly supportive statements regarding marriage, never had kids, and never said anything about same sex marriage.
He did, on the other hand, comment on the use of money, how to respond to violence, and the concept that what made a person holy was not what was happening on the exterior.
So all I want to know, is where are those other emails?