Sesame Street posted a colorful image on Facebook, showing a rainbow of Muppet arms and hands linking across a white background. As you might guess, since this is June, the image represents a furry version of the familiar 6-striped LGBT pride flag.
Accompanying the image is a message in support of LGBT pride month, “On our street, we accept all, we love all, and we respect all. Happy #PrideMonth!”
Some Facebook readers spent a lot of time and effort trying to figure out whose fuzzy arms were used in the hand-holding rainbow. One red arm is clearly Elmo. But is the other Telly? Or Louie? And is that purple Abby Cadabby – or some other? And whose purple hand is Abby holding – the Count’s? Or maybe Zari, the feminist role-model in the Afghan version of the show?
Seriously, that discussion went on for a long time. And I’m still clueless about many Muppets mentioned in the thread, such as Narf, Murray, Honker, Phoebe, Mel and Google. It’s time been a long time since I watched the program.
A few commenters complained that Burt and Ernie weren’t holding hands, as their Muppet sexuality has been the subject of speculation and rumor for years. Some complained that it was too little, too late. A couple Christians replied with Scripture or complained that LGBT pride was “gross and hedonistic.”
But most people on the Facebook post were thrilled and supportive. Comments gushed with approval and praise for how wonderful it was that Sesame Street supported gay pride:
- Sesame Street is literally the best thing that ever happened to this planet!
- Pride month. I love that Sesame Street promotes love and acceptance of everyone. Great example of program for children.
- Thank you for choosing to make a difference and choosing to promote love and acceptance! Love is love.
- The letter of today is A, for Acceptance.
It’s difficult to know how to respond. Even as I’m writing, I can envision some of the angry comments on The Daily Citizen Facebook page. Some folks will call for a boycott of Sesame Street. Some will comment based on the headline – without reading the rest of this article.
I’m not looking to foment a backlash of outraged comments on the Sesame Street Facebook page, either. The social media platform isn’t the best venue for nuanced, thoughtful, kind discussion of difficult issues. The rainbow post got me thinking, how should we respond? Here are a few random thoughts on that question.
First, Sesame Street’s endorsement of LGBT pride simply illustrates what many of us already knew: The major institutions in our society – education, media and entertainment, business, government, and even many religious institutions – endorse and celebrate sexual expression and identities that are in opposition to God’s design for human identity, relationships and sexuality.
To take jut one example, big business firmly supports homosexuality and transgenderism. The largest LGBT activist group in the U.S., the Human Rights Campaign, creates an annual report of companies, ranking them based on support for LGBT inclusion in the workplace. In their last report, almost 700 U.S. corporations scored 100%.
We should expect and be prepared when that support trickles down to affect our children. We can be angry and saddened by this, but I think it’s helpful to have a realistic view of our culture – and how much our Christian faith is at odds with it.
Second, we know that Sesame Street’s post isn’t honest: The company says they love, accept and respect all. But Christians know that that’s not exactly true; those of us who believe what the Bible teaches about identity, marriage and relationships are generally excluded from all that love and acceptance. Just think of the ugly response to Samaritan’s Purse, even as the organization attempted to help and heal those with COVID-19 infections.
Third, Sesame Street’s celebration of pride month brings up an interesting paradox, which Christians would do well to remember. LGBT activist groups paint their members as a poor, beleaguered minority. At the macro level, this clearly isn’t true, as LGBT activists and their allies have huge influence. These are politically powerful and influential organizations. Hardly an oppressed, marginalized group.
At the same time, at the individual level, many LGBT-identified individuals have been wounded – spiritually, emotionally, sexually and relationally. I’ve spent years in ministry with those struggling with homosexuality and transgenderism, and I’ve seen a lot of abuse, hurt and brokenness. In my own journey out of homosexuality, there were many wonderful believers who loved me and brought deep healing, even as they held to God’s truth about biblical sexuality.
We do well to understand that this issue is difficult. It’s very hard to speak the truth about sexual sin and its devastating impact – while reaching out in love to those who struggle with deep, painful issues.
Finally, as we respond to Sesame Street, and the many other individuals and groups celebrating homosexuality and transgenderism, it’s good for Christians to think through the question, “What are my goals in engaging this issue?”
That question is difficult, because Christians have a variety of goals. First and foremost, we want to bring LGBT-identified individuals (and “straight-identified” sinners, too) into the kingdom. At the same time, we want to influence the culture, to protect free speech, religious freedom, parents’ rights, life and children. We want to raise children who love God and follow His commands.
In addition to all that, we know that this is a spiritual battle, as we grapple with sin, death and spiritual forces of darkness that hold people captive. None of this is easy or simple, and we’ll need grace, courage, wisdom and truth as we engage in different arenas.
Resources and related articles:
Focus on the Family Broadcasts:
Loving My (LGBT) Neighbor: Being Friends in Grace and Truth, by Glenn T. Stanton
Photo from Sesame Street