Wow. Disney’s “gay moment” in the film Beauty and the Beast sure has stirred up feelings among Christians. Calls for boycotts. Closed doors. Angry urgings to quit being “nice.”
That last came from comments on my Stream article last week, The Beastly Beauty of Disney’s ‘Gay Moment’ — And How We Should Respond. Apparently some readers thought I was suggesting we back out of the conflict. I’m not. I’m talking about our strategy as followers of Christ.
Another comment on that article asked for more specific thoughts on what to do at a time like this. Jesus told His disciples to “be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.” (Matt. 10:16) Our forays into pro-gay culture must likewise be marked with both strategic savvy and godly action.
So I’m going to make some observations here on what gay activists want, what God wants, and the strategic lay of the land. Based on that, I’m going to suggest several conclusions.
1. What Gay Activists Want
What do gay activists want from us? That’s easy. The most useful thing we can do for them is play into their picture of hateful Christian conservatism. They’re painting us as intolerant haters, because that image helps them win. I can’t prove it, but I suspect it serves their purposes even more than if we were to lay down our arms and slink quietly away.
2. What God Wants
Not surprisingly, God wants exactly the opposite of what gay activists want. He wants us to:
Stand firm. He doesn’t want us to slink quietly away. Over and over again, Christians have changed history by standing for righteousness in culture.
Fight God’s way. The “weapons of our warfare are not worldly,” but have power over strongholds, arguments and every proud obstacle. (2 Cor. 10:3-5)
Be quick to speak, slow to anger. The anger of man does not accomplish the righteousness of God. (James 1:20)
Be human. Sean McDowell wisely urges us to avoid an us-versus-them mentality. We’re all created in God’s image, so we dare not treat others inhumanely; we dare not dehumanize them.
Be persuasive. Christianity is a religion of persuasion through love, and through preaching, teaching and explanation. Some misguided believers have tried to advance the faith through power; they have gained only corrupted ground. True Christianity has covered the globe through persuasively speaking the truth in love. (Acts 17:1-3, Eph. 4:15)
Be relational. God is a God of relationship from even before creation: the three Persons of the Trinity have always related to in perfect love. He created us to love Him, our neighbor and even our enemies.
3. The Lay of the Land
To be wise in battle requires knowing the terrain. We have to recognize that the pro-gay forces control most of the persuasive power centers in our culture. They’ve got Disney Studios and so much more: education, music, the major news media … I could go on, but you already know it. They own the heavy artillery.
What do we have on our side? We have the Church and we have prayer.
From a strictly social/cultural perspective the Church is huge: it’s the ground organization to beat all ground organizations. Obviously it’s hugely under-equipped and under-deployed, but more on that in a moment.
Meanwhile prayer is the spiritual analogue to “air power” in relation to the ground game we’re all engaged in. Prayer flies even higher than our opponents’ artillery.
How Not To Fight
So yes, we fight, but not by the world’s methods, and not without being wise to the strategic realities. Here’s what won’t work.
We’re not going to win this in the media. We don’t control enough of it. We can win some persuasive battles here and there; certainly enough to be worthwhile — let’s do all we can! — but realistically, not enough to turn the tide. (The more crucial role played by The Stream and similar media is to equip and encourage our own.)
The same goes in spades for “not being nice.” Even if being not-nice were a godly idea — which it isn’t — we’re outgunned anyway. The other side is (thank God!) way better at it than we are. For us it’s a failed, hopeless and wrong tactic.
Persuasion, Action, Deeds and Prayer
Instead we must stand for truth by persuasive speech, righteous action, loving deeds and prayer.
Persuasion means knowing the reasons for our position. Do you know where to find the five key Bible passages on homosexuality? Can you state several reasons man-woman marriage is healthier for society than gay marriage? Have you listened to opponents’ objections thoughtfully, and are you prepared with answers?
I almost hate to introduce this word into polite conversation, but getting ready for this battle means doing some homework.
Righteous action could certainly include boycotting a film like Beauty and the Beast. It also includes speaking up. It also includes loving our enemies.
Loving deeds are the real challenge, because it’s impossible to love from arm’s length. Gays and gay-affirming people can continue to believe Christians are haters only as long as we let them. We can’t argue them out of it; the way to stop them thinking it is by loving them. We certainly don’t need to agree with their views, but if they’ll let us, we can be friends anyway. Not all of them will welcome our friendship, but many are actually hoping for it.
This is the ground game we are uniquely positioned to engage in; for which our huge, under-deployed ground organization, the Church, must become equipped, and in which each believer must become active.
Finally, Prayer. We have the privilege and the obligation to pray for ourselves. We must pray fervently for the Church. We must pray for Disney and all others who may be arrayed against God’s truth.
The battle is the Lord’s. He isn’t on our side (don’t ever be mistaken about that!) but we can be on His, if we fight for His goals in His way. (For more from the author of “Godly Strategy in Response to Disney’s ‘Gay Moment'” please click HERE)