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?

Ready, Set, Pick Your Gender!

transgender blog 2Ready, set, pick your gender! Yes, that’s right. British school children as young as 4 have begun switching genders. According to the Telegraph as many as eighty 3-5 year-olds in England will want to dress and act like the opposite sex. Admittedly, 80 British primary students do not constitute a statistically significant number. (There are more than 900,000 primary students in Great Britain). But the number and the increasing number of non-profits supporting kids with transgender feelings signifies that the transgender debate is gaining steam. Are we ready to parent our kids through these choppy waters of the sexual revolution? Here are three things to consider.

Three Biblical Responses

  1. We don’t need to panic or start throwing our transgender neighbors overboard. We need to extend love and compassion to them, realizing that their struggles are very real. And then, we need to offer them the hope of the gospel.
  2. We need to start charting a biblical worldview for our kids. We need to teach our kids the full counsel of God. When it’s time to read Genesis 1-2, I Corinthians 5:1-5, and Ephesians 5, we need to talk to our kids about gender, sex, and marriage. Instead running for the topsails when our kids bring up sex, we need to thoughtfully engage them and encourage them to keep the questions coming. We need to foster of spirit of openness with our children. And then, we need to teach our kids how to sail through life by modeling male leadership and demonstrating biblical femininity within the home. We need to show our kids about God’s view of gender. Jesus doesn’t think gender is a choice. Let’s make sure our kids know God’s plan.
  3. Let’s be patient. Studies have shown that around 80% of kids with transgender feelings will re-identify with their biological gender. Practically, we don’t need to panic when our son puts on a play dress. Nor should we worry that all of our little girl’s friends are boys.  At 4, most kids have no clue what they are doing and have no clue what being transgender means.  And we shouldn’t expect them to. There is a reason why preschoolers have parents and can’t apply for credit cards and mortgages. What adult in his or her right mind thinks preschoolers can understand the ramifications of hormone replacement therapy or a sex change operation? Instead of asking our kids to make decisions they cannot hope to fathom, we should patiently teach them biblical view of gender. We guide our little boys to be masculine, selfless leaders and our girls to be feminine, thoughtful helpers. And in time, most kids will embrace their God given gender.

What About The Other 20%?

But what about the other 20%? How do we help children who honestly feel that they are trapped in the wrong body? How do we help our kids and their friends overcome their angst, their fears, and their suicidal thoughts? Shouldn’t we want all kids to feel happy and fulfilled?

And the answer is a resounding yes! But according to Jesus, happiness and fulfillment are not found within. As Christians, we should never encourage people to recreate God’s will so that he matches their feelings. Instead, we should call people to recreate their feelings to match God’s will. Notice what Jesus says in Mathew 16:24 ““If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” Bending the world to match our mental perceptions does not bring us closer to God. Self-realization actually only brings separation and harm. Just ask Jewel Shuping who had her psychologist pour drain cleaner into her eyes, enabling her to fulfill her lifelong dream of being blind. Steering our lives by the stars of human ingenuity always leads us away from the peace of God and often into physical harm. To find the joy of eternal life, we have to abandon our earthly desires and set our minds on the things above. Nothing else will make us right with God. Nothing else will must us happy.

Recently, the former psychiatrist-in-chief of John Hopkins Hospital, Dr. McHugh, noted that those who undergo a sex change do not gain peace. They continue to struggle with depression after surgery.  After all, a sex change cannot truly change one’s biological nature. Hands, hips, chromosomes, and a whole host of other things cannot be remade this side of heave. Salvation cannot be achieved with the scalpel…only destruction. True hope is found in Christ alone!

In 2016, we will continue to see more and more stories about transgender kids. And some of us will directly encounter a child wrestling with transgender leanings in 2016. But, we don’t have to be scared. The Bible clearly and compassionately speaks to gender. We have access to real hope: Jesus!  Are you and your kids ready for the transgender debate?

Target, Transgender, and the Sexual Revolution for Kids

Transgender BlogTarget’s decision to remove gender-based signage is the latest attempt to make our kids’ lives more balanced i.e. gender neutral.  The retail giant is following the example of TLC who recently replaced the Duggars with I AM Jazz. And TLC is following the lead of several state legislatures who passed laws that permit kids to pick their sports’ teams and restrooms based upon one’s gender expression. And as a recent serious of blogs by the Huffington Post further reveals that the sexual revolution has zeroed in our kids via the transgender debate.

Now, the arrival of the transgender debate into our grade schools while shocking is not totally unanticipated. Studies have shown (and all the articles and T.V. specials on transgender kids I’ve watched indicate) that many of the kids who struggle with the gender identity come from dysfunctional families. Their fathers have either physically or emotionally abandon the family. And their moms (either because of necessity or because of their temperament) are strong (even at times overbearing) leaders in the home. These kids have never seen a man biblically sacrifice for his family. Nor have they seen a woman bionically encourage her husband to lead. They don’t know that men are generally strong and aggressive and that women are generally more nurturing and introspective. The growing number of broken and dysfunctional homes has opened the door for the transgender discussion. In short, our kids are confused about how to express their gender because their parents and grandparents are confused.

And, our culture welcomes the confusion. America has increasingly made sexual freedom the apex of civilization. The freedom to express one’s sexual preference has even begun to trump the freedom of religion and the freedom of the press. Up till now, kids had no way to be included in the sexual revolution. Grade-schoolers can’t meaningfully declare themselves to be heterosexual or homosexual. But they can grasp what it means to a boy or what it means to be a girl. By saying they want to switch genders, kids can instantly become defined by sexuality well before puberty. Our culture welcomes such declarations. Transgender kids are given their own reality T.V shows, are praised in blogasphere, and catered to by Target. Secular society wants everyone including kids to defined by their sexual choices.

As Christians parents and grandparents, we shouldn’t fear #JazzHands and the transgender revolution that is descending upon our kids. But, we need to be ready to talk about it. Our kids will have questions. Thankfully, the Bible has a lot to say about gender.

What the Bible Says:

The Bible clearly states that God assigns gender and not humanity. We ready in Genesis that God created people male and female (5:2). And Jesus reaffirms Genesis saying, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female” (Matthew 19:4). Gender and sexual expression are determined by God from the beginning of time. My wife is a woman and I am a man because we were biologically created by God to be a woman and a man. Everything from our hormones, to our blood cells, to our sexual organs declares that my wife and I are uniquely female and male. We didn’t choose our gender identity. We were created with it.

And this inheritance is a beautiful thing. Both males and females are created in the image of God. Both are uniquely valuable. According to the scriptures, no one needs to change their gender to find meaning and love. Rather the opposite is true. We find happiness by expressing the gender God has given us. The more we follow God’s principles as outlined in the bible, the happier we become.

For a boy to choose to be a girl or for a girl to choose to be a boy, they must reject God’s design for their life. They must, as Bruce Jenner did, declare God to be a mistaken creator who carelessly sticks women in men’s bodies. To be transgender is to ultimately say that you are wiser than God. It is an expression of pride that separates men and women and boys and girls from the love of Jesus Christ.

How To Respond:

First we must not over react. A boy who loves to cook spaghetti is not necessarily a girl at heart. Nor should we think that a girl who has a killer three-point-shot is really a boy in disguise. Because both genders were created by God to enjoy his world, both boys and girls can have similar interests. Yes, men were designed to lead the family. And women were designed to nurture. And the bodies of little boys and girls are different. But such distinctions of purpose do not make all sports masculine or all artistic expressions feminine. Ultimately for the Christian, our humanity and purpose is not derived from our sexuality but rather from God’s character. God created the arts, the sciences, and the physical world. We should fully expect members of both genders to enjoy math, oil painting, and football within their masculine and feminine paradigms.

Second, we need to love transgender kids. We should not minimize their connection with the opposite sex. Their feelings are real. And we must treat them with respect and sympathy. We too were once hopelessly lost in sins.  

But love also demands that we declare the truth of the gospel.  We can only find salvation and joy by overcoming our natural, sinful feelings through the power of the cross. When we encounter Jesus, the porn addict becomes pure, the liar tells the truth, and the boy who wants to be a girl embraces biblical masculinity. The most loving thing we can do for a transgender child is to call them to repent.

Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life  – John 13:24-25

Lastly and most importantly, we need to follow the gospel. Kids are confused about sexuality because previous generations have abandoned God’s plan for the family. Men have failed to lead. Women have failed to follow. Both men and women have removed sex from the safety of marriage. In so doing, they’ve haphazardly shattered numerous marriages via divorce. The best and only way to combat our culture’s view of sexuality is to embrace the biblical view of marriage, sex, and family. Only once we (Christians) embrace Christ commands for the family, can we expect our kids to understand and embrace God design for gender.