D.J. Tanner is back! Actually according to the first episode of Fuller House, she is back twice over. It turns out that Stephanie Tanner is a not only the world’s coolest aunt but also an up and coming D.J. whose stage name is D.J. Tanner. This revelation working in tandem with a few low cut dresses and dialogue that mentions Boobs, the Karma Sutra, and homosexual marriage has Christians all turned around. What was once a platform for good family values has now descended into the cultural abyss of unrestrained worldliness. Or at least that is what Christians are writing in their reviews of the show. What happened to those good old Tanner values?
Not a lot; and, yet everything. In short, the Tanner values grew up with the culture. In the 80’s and 90’s, America was beginning to embrace the sexual revelation. Divorce was just becoming common place. Homosexuality had begun to infiltrate everyday culture. Sex outside of marriage and cohabitation remained on the fringes of late twentieth century morality.
Today’s culture has progressed well beyond those 90’s limitations. Homosexual marriage is legal, almost 50% of American adults are single, and an ever growing number of babies are born out of wedlock. Fuller House is simply taking place on a new cultural stage. All those famous Tanner hugs now occur in a world where conversations about homosexuality, the karma Sutra, and sex outside of marriage have become normative. The show reflects the culture once again.
I think Fuller House has disturbed many Christians because it shows just how much our world has changed over the last 30 years. The show dashed the evangelical world’s last hope for a new Leave It To Beaver sitcom. The age of the moral majority has faded into the past. In short, Fuller House has revealed that Christians no longer even get to set the stage for conservative, family values. After all the new D.J. Tanner clearly did more than D.J. at all of those parties. Fuller House has the pulled back the curtain on good o’l fashion American values and revealed a society driven by self-actualization via sexuality. Understandably, Christians hoping to finally have a wholesome show that reflected their conservative values were disappointed.
But despite their disappointment, Christians are still watching. Fuller House still has all the hugs, the loyalty infused dialogue, and cheesy dance moves that families love. Even those Christians complaining are looking forward to a better second season. As one fan wrote, “I’m hoping season 2 is more family friendly.” Such expectations reveal that the convictions that drive some Christens to complain do not drive same Christians to actions. Netflix knows this. As Candace Cameron Bure said in response to the criticism, “it’s been proven that any press is good press. — even with the overwhelming amount of negative reviews, the show landed a Season 2 renewal less than a week after its launch.”
How Do We Respond?
So how do we respond to the cultural shift taking place in Fuller House? How do we respond to the show in a real and meaningful way?
First, we need to move away from the panic buttons. We shouldn’t complain that our sinful world is sinful. After all, Satan is the ruler of this world.
Second, we don’t have to retreat. We need to avoid the temptation to start forming monastic communities built around Fire Proof movie nights.
Third, we need to engage the world with love and truth, realizing that the media world and that most of our neighbors don’t share our values. To love this lost and dying world, we must love people where they are (not where we want them to be). We must seek to reach the people we can influence. Once our neighbors embrace Christ then and then only can, we start moving them to a Christian worldview. Then and then only can we be surprised when they dress and talk like the world. If we try to reach people by jamming 1990’s morality down their throats, we will become more annoying than Kimmy Gibbler.
And while no one has to watch Fuller House, those Christian who do interact with the show need to learn from the family comedy. We need to realize that our culture has changed. Our neighbors have more in common with the world of Fuller House than Full House. Instead of fuming in anger, we need to lovingly reach out to the people of today’s world. Change will not come via the message boards. Change will come via the kitchen table.
The Tanners are all grown up. Are we ready to engage their world…our neighbors?