The All New Muppet Show, One Million Moms, and Franklin Graham

Choosing discussion over battle is a good thing. Let's do better...

Thursday I began seeing Facebook friends post comments attributed to Franklin Graham about the all-new prime time Muppets Show on ABC. I was surprised….that there was a new Muppet Show not that frontline Christian culture warriors like Franklin Graham and the American Family Association might be against such a show.

I try my best not to react to Facebook posts or articles. I try, rather, to respond after I have all of the facts. From time to time I fail. People notice, challenge me, assert that I am no longer a follower of Jesus Christ, and call me to repentance. I don’t mind being challenged. I need to be challenged and respectfully called out when I make a mistake like overreacting to something or someone. I am a public figure and I should take that responsibility very seriously. I also must repent publicly when I have made a mistake publicly.

I do repent about my hasty decision to call out Franklin Graham for his comments about The Muppet Show before I actually watched the debut. Repent, translated from the Greek word Metanoia, means to change your mind. It didn’t take me very long to change my mind about the rashness of my post. I was wrong to criticize anyone without knowing the full story. I am sorry for doing so.

Yesterday morning I signed into my Hulu account and watched all 21 minutes of The Muppets, which according to the American Family Association’s One Million Moms is “perverted”. Franklin Graham said this:

Tonight ABC is premiering a new “mature version” of the Muppets that reports say will cover a range of topics from sex to drugs to “interspecies relationships” with no subject being off limits. It sounds to me like the whole show should be off limits! Hollywood seems to be in a frenzy to see what new moral low they can reach in their programming. Their agenda is to promote sin to a younger and younger audience. I applaud the group One Million Moms for speaking out against this and urging parents to call on ABC to take it off the air. The Bible says, “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil.” That goes for Kermit the Frog as well!

I was prepared to eat my words. I was hoping, however, to be pleasantly surprised by The Muppets and to be able to introduce the new show to my kids. I won’t be doing either.

Starting with the latter, I found the show boring and the humor stupid rather than clever. I know my kids and they wouldn’t like the show. I’m glad because I didn’t like it and in order for them to watch, knowing there are adult-themed topics, I would have to watch it with them. I’d rather watch something truly mindless with them or something about which we can have an intelligent conversation.

With regard to the accusation that the show is a Hollywood plot to promote sin, I understand why parents who grew up on the show might not let their young children watch this new version. There are adult themes my two 10-year olds wouldn’t get or understand and ones I am not ready for them to get yet, but hasn’t that always been an issue in the world in which we live? Don’t we all shelter our kids from certain realities until we are either ready for the long conversation or until we believe they can make sense of it all? But, I didn’t find it any more perverse than Family Feud.

I am grateful for movie reviews, some watch groups, and others who share information about all sorts of things in an effort to keep kids safe. I think we should err on the side of caution in a number of areas. Leslie and I don’t consider it a burden when the parent of one of our kids’ friends calls prior to a play date or sleep over and asks us how we handle TV, video games, and junk food. But I also think, especially as Christians, we should be far more gracious to others and less sensitive to the things going on in the world around us, with which we might have objection.

If you don’t want your kids to watch certain shows, or TV in general, or listen to certain types of music, or eat junk food then, by all means, impose the restriction. But know this, your friends and neighbors, and very likely the person seated next to you in the pew on Sunday morning, isn’t necessarily going to agree with you or appreciate when you call their favorite show, band, or food evil. Doing so might insight hostility rather than encourage a discussion.

And, in my opinion, I’ll choose the discussion over the battle every time. My uninformed overreaction to Franklin Graham isn’t cause to question whether I follow Jesus Christ. Franklin Graham’s fear-based overreaction, in my opinion, to The Muppets doesn’t justify my screaming (because it was in all caps), “Dear Franklin Graham: PLEASE. RETIRE.”, on Facebook.

We can all do better. I’m game. You?

Alan Chambers: President Obama is right to try to end Reparative Therapy for minors (RNS COMMENTARY)

Religion_News_Service_-_Coverage_of_religion__ethics_and_spirituality_from_around_the_globeToday Religion News Service asked me to weigh in on Reparative Therapy for minors. It is titled, “Alan Chambers: President Obama is right to try to end ex-gay therapy (COMMENTARY).” From the article:

I got married in 1998, and for more than 17 years have found it easy to be faithful to my wife. I am more in love with her today than ever before and enjoy every part of our amazing marriage. But it took me 20 years, 12 of which I served as the president of Exodus International — the world’s largest so-called ex-gay ministry — to realize my story is just that: my story.

While I am thankful for the ministry I went to for support — there was no other place for gay Christians to go in 1991 to admit the truth — I am sorry that they and I prescribed a one-size-fits-all story for every gay and lesbian person. I’m sorry we preached an incomplete gospel and wrongly told LGBTQ people they could and should do more to be acceptable to God. Doing so was deeply hurtful and damaging to many who never experienced the kind of change we thought possible.

For too long, same-sex attraction has been categorized as sinful and in need of repairing. Such stigma has caused LGBTQ people crippling shame and fear. As a child I experienced and as an adult I perpetuated that stigma. I profoundly regret my support for and promotion of reparative therapy.

And that’s why I stand with President Obama in calling for a ban on this practice for minors and for greater measures to protect adults seeking this niche therapeutic intervention.

Click here to read the full article which shares about my journey and explains more of my reasoning behind my agreement with President Obama.

Towards Peace & Conversation

 

The world is fraught with bad news. It has been since the beginning and will be until the end. Ironically, after however many thousands or millions of years (depending on your theology, or lack thereof) humans are still surprised wars continue to happen, that people die, and senselessly bad things happen to really good people. We don’t expect this reality. Maybe because God didn’t create the world or its inhabitants to experience the decay that has been unstoppable since Adam and Eve fell in the garden. Our expectations match what was to be our original perfect reality and not what became our actual reality post fall.

Andy Crouch, prolific author, speaker, and Executive Editor of Christianity Today, says it like this,

“We live in a bad news to bad news reality in the church. We start in Genesis 3 (the fall) and end with Revelations 20 (the lake of fire).”

Andy’s point is that even the Church, the entity Pastor Bill Hybels calls the hope of the world, has succumbed to this grim, joyless, and visionless existence. As Believers we live like the rest of humanity, in shame and defeat, with a poor image of God the Father, Redeemer, Creator, Author, and Finisher. And, we become a poor reflection of Him.

Happy ‘I Tolerate You Day’

question mark heartNothing says love more than telling gay sinners how much we ‘luuuuuuv’ them and how much we HATE their sin.  I think that is why there are so many Christians who have deep friendships with gay and lesbian people.  Tolerance is a compelling gift to the gay and lesbian community so anxious for Christians to half-heartedly embrace them with the limp, lukewarm hug of Jesus.

Can you just feel the love?

Before I go too far with the pretense that I am an expert on this subject, please know this pep talk is for me as well.  I am relatively new on the scene of wholeheartedly embracing all people, period.  Even typing that sentence was full of deep conflict for me.  I so badly want to qualify my own superiority in all of this by sharing the type of people I am embracing—compelled to make the comparison between my morality and theirs so that you will know how amazing it is that I, a good (a.k.a. morally superior) Christian, am embracing…well, them (a.k.a. poor things lost in sin).

The Art of Japanese Kintsugi

We’ve all broken dishes at one time or another.  Leslie and I are avid collectors of family artifacts and have inherited hundreds of pieces of china and other breakable mementos.  Because we display these rare treasures rather than store them, some have been broken.  Because of their sentimental worth we try to fix these pieces.  In some cases we simply put them in a box with other broken wears in hopes that we can do a mosaic with them later.

You see, even broken heirlooms are of high value to me.  Yet, until today I hadn’t considered the deep value of the actual fracture.  I have long preferred fixing these items in such a way that their brokenness is masked, which is how so many of us treat our own personal struggles, weaknesses and failures.  We go to counseling or support groups to “fix” ourselves and then try to pretend nothing ever happened.  Like that’s even possible.

Evangelism Overhaul: Practical Grace

Last Sunday Alan gave a powerful and practical sermon at Grace Church Orlando titled Evangelism Overhaul: Practical Grace. You can listen to the sermon through the player instance at the end of this page. Here are the notes for his sermon if you would like to follow along.

Evangelism Overhaul – Practical Grace by Alan Chambers

August 26th, 2012 

I. Repent/Recommit

A. Repent of our own immorality and recommit to holiness.

1. Samson Story

B. Repent of Hostility and Recommit to Bold Love

1. Jonah Syndrome

2. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another (John 13:35)

John 13:35 (NASB) – 35 By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.

1. Anger vs. Hostility

Relinquishing My Role As The Holy Spirit

This post appeared as a Grace Church Orlando blog post back in February. I wanted to publish it here as well. I hope you find it helpful.

Relinquishing My Role As The Holy Spirit

I had a dream last night that my wife, Leslie, and I were in a Life Group at church and a gay couple joined.  The two men were friends of mine from 20 years ago and had since adopted children.  They obviously knew me, how my story had evolved, and joined the group anyway.  During the group one of the members awkwardly blurted out, “Alan, tell the group about your ministry.”  I knew what the man was trying to do.  He was reacting in a way that most evangelicals often do.  We see a sinner and right away jump into “convert” mode with no thought of getting to know them or simply relating over common interests. Our default is to share our biblical conviction and immediately try to win them.  We allow our performance-oriented Christianity to impact the way we interact with unbelievers.  We approach them as projects to be managed and conquered instead of as people to be in relationship with.  We are uncomfortable with what appears to be messy and challenging and want to put it in some religious order as soon as possible.  We are ready for people modify their behavior before we have even introduced them to the One who died to change more than that behavior.

CNN.Com on Exodus, me and Prop 8

Check out the CNN article today on Prop 8 related to Exodus and me.  All in all it's a good article.  I am glad they ended the post with my main point.  At the end of the day the most important thing isn't whether we win or lose political battles, anyway.  What matters is people's hearts and to whom those hearts are surrendered.