Why Fuller House Is Failing Christians

fuller house blogD.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?

What Happened?

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.

fuller houseBut 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?

The Forgotten Culture War

When you hear the term “Culture War” what pops into your mind? Gay activists yelling on the steps of the Supreme Court, Christians praying in front of abortion clinics, or perhaps politicians arguing for the removal of a nativity set? Typically, we don’t think about little Johnny lying to his mom. But, we should.

A World of Lies

Every cultural and spiritual battle is ultimately a battle of truth. Think back to Genesis 3. The snake deceived Adam and Eve. Lying blogSin arrives via the snake’s lie that God is not good. And sin continues to spread via the lie.

We get angry when we pick up another loss in fantasy Football or when our spouse forgets to empty the dishwasher, because we think victory or an empty dishwasher will bring true happiness. For that moment, we believe a lie.

And we spread lies because we don’t want to insult grandma’s cooking or because we don’t want to suffer the penalties that come with embezzling from our boss. We believe that lying will helps us avoid consequences. But it doesn’t because the perfect Judge sees everything and will hold us accountable when he returns.

Not too surprisingly our world which is ruled by the father of lies, Satan, is dominate by liars. Some researchers estimate that 1 in 5 adults are habitual liars. And this is not a new trend for these grownups.  Around 90% of people master the art of deception by the time they turn 4. It turns out that the little white lie is not so little after all. It’s a plague that infests our culture.

Why Kids Lie

As parents, pastors, and lay leaders, we should not be surprised to see kids lie. It happens all the time because most kids are living a lie. Many kids live for good grades, for softball championships, or for having tons of friends. They believe that something other than God can will make them happy. As the apostle Paul wrote, they as are all unrepentant sinners controlled by “deceitful desires” (Eph. 22).

Kids living for a lie will quite naturally be liars. They will lie about report cards and about breaking the lamp. Out of the heart the mouth speaks. When kids have corrupt deceptive hearts, lies will pour out of their mouths. That’s all they know to do.

The solution is truth. First, we have to begin telling the truth. Many kids keep lying long after 4 because their parents lie. “Honey, tell Grandma I’m in the shower.” We have to be faithful truth tellers in our everyday life. Jesus is, “the way the truth, and the life” (John 14:6). To follow him we must proclaim the truth. We must tell others that Jesus is the only way to heaven, and we must take grandma’s phone call.

Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another. – Eph. 4:25

Next, we have to confront our kid’s lies. Their lies are not cute or insignificant. They may be bizarre. I had a young family member once tell numerous people that Shamu ate him. Please don’t start punishing kids for being fanciful, but do help them understand that such stories are not true. Even at an early age, kids can learn that truth resides in God and cannot be made up. Reality cannot be remade on a preschooler’s whim.  And that which is unnatural cannot be made natural by the Supreme Court. We need to help our kids understand the limits of imagination when confronted with God’s reality.

And lastly, we must discipline our kids for deliberate lies. I lied all the time as a kid, including doctoring my 6th grade math report card for an entire semester. Needless to say my parents were surprised to see that my standardize test ranking was in the 60th percentile. Yeah, turns out all those A’s were not so real after all. I spent the next several summers doing summer school. And as I wrestled with my punishment, I was acutely aware that I was sinner. By punishing me for my lies, my parents took on the lies that were controlling my heart. They showed me that true life and happiness is not found in escaping school work. It’s found in Christ.

By confronting a child’s lie, we can reach past their verbal message to the core of their heart. By championing truth in our homes, we show our kids that they need the savior of truth.

If we want our kids to embrace what the scriptures say about sex, abortion, and money management, we have to affirm truth in our lives and homes. Only truth of Christ can overcome lies of the snake.