In the fall of 2009, the ABC Network introduced a new show called Modern Family. The show highlights multiple angles of family dynamics. There is your traditional suburbanite family with three kids and a dog whose mindless father is a continual source of comedic fodder set against a controlling, authoritative and overbearing mother. There is the family with previous marriages who balance the load of multiple family influences. There is also a homosexual couple who personifies the “opposites attract” formula. All of this is packaged in two loaded and important words:
The message is clear. Despite God’s Genesis 1 and 2 design of one man and one woman married for life, the idea is that distortions of this reality are not only prolific and descriptive of the modern world, but they are prescriptive for what we should now consider a “family” to be.
Recently, the children’s television show Arthur, which debuted on CBS almost 25 years ago, gave its own introduction of the modern family. In a recent episode, Arthur, the third-grade aardvark from Elwood City, and his classmates learn their teacher is getting married. While the episode centers around the children’s idea that their teacher, Mr. Ratburn, is marrying a disagreeable woman named Patty, the show presents the children with the new and modern concept that Mr. Ratburn is actually marrying a man. The show apexes with Mr. Ratburn and his husband being married before a now-understanding and supportive class and community.
Arthur is not the first (or last) show to normalize the idea of the homosexual home for children. The new Amazon Prime show Bug Diaries features a young worm who has lesbian moms. Another Amazon original, Pete the Cat, featured a Christmas episode with gay parents. None of this is necessarily new. Sesame Street and Reading Rainbow have included gay couples with children in family montages for decades. Nickelodeon and Disney have also introduced new themes to children all indicating the same message: the homosexual family is right and good.
So what should Christians do about children’s programming and its effort to normalize the homosexual home for our kids? Here are three ideas:
Gone are the days when we should be surprised that secular ideologies are infiltrating communication channels into our homes. It is the responsibility of parents to know what our kids are taking in. Fortunately, there is a growing number of resources available to parents. Websites such as pluggedin.com and commonsensemedia.org provide parents with information and resources to make informed decisions about children’s media.
Most children’s programming is very positive and presents strong morality and values. However, when the morality and values of those who make the shows differ from ours, as parents, it can create problems. Just as you wouldn’t leave your kids with a babysitter you don’t know, don’t set them in front of a show you don’t know.
Present Biblical Truth
When confronted with questions about marital distortions and accommodations, Jesus did not bend to the tide of cultural normalcy. He also didn’t go on an offensive against every kind of distortion that did, or could, take place. What He did was hold up the truth from Genesis 2 about God’s design and purpose for marriage.
Instead of waiting for every new distortion to pop up like a parental game of whack-a-mole, make sure your home is a place where Gospel-centered marriage is exalted. Husbands and wives must model biblical relationships with each other, and continual talk about God’s design for men and women, as well as marriage and sexuality, should be a normative point of conversation in the home. Talk to your kids about TV – both the role it should serve, the right things to be embraced, and the dangerous pitfalls to be avoided. We shouldn’t shy away from the realities our children will face as they encounter new pockets of the world. Equip your kids with discernment. Hold up what is right and true, and your kids will identify the counterfeits.
Unplug as Necessary
No episode of Arthur or Bug Diaries can replace real one-on-one time with a parent. Build trust through time. That may mean you as a parent need to put down the phone, remote or cut back on Netflix. If we show that entertainment plays a dominant role in our lives, it will play a dominant role in our children’s lives as well. If we show them we are willing to bend to what media tells us, they will consider the screen a trusted voice as well. Remember, what we allow in moderation, our children will embrace in excess.
May our children see that the best form of the modern family is one that adheres to the timeless truths of God’s Word and purposeful design. Modern families may be changing, but biblical families stand the test of time.