The image on the screen was of the Supreme Court ruling in favor of gay marriage. Is an image of a happy couple- straight or homosexual- a promulgation of child abuse? That is what one Christian radio host would have us believe. Host Bryan Fischer remarked upon the most recent cover of The New Yorker saying, “This is grossly irresponsible for The New Yorker to promote this,” Fischer concluded. “They really are promoting child endangerment and they are promoting child abuse.” The image showed Bert and Ernie cuddled on a couch together watching TV.
Why does it matter if a TV show character is gay, straight, or otherwise? Children will come into contact with same-sex relationships whether they see it on television or in their daily lives. Since it is estimated that 1/10 people worldwide are gay, and those 1/10 of us have children, parents, spouses, grandparents, aunts, uncles, friends, how can it be child abuse to show two people loving each other, and wanting to marry and raise a family? Is showing a perfume ad with a beautiful couple kissing child abuse or a woman packing a child’s lunch box while her husband wraps his arms around her child abuse?
Straight marriage is also shown on Bert and Ernie, yet no one claims this is ‘straight marriage propaganda’. So Bert and Ernie in a happy relationship shouldn’t be considered gay propaganda. The show does not discriminate between types of couples, but promotes healthy relationships; something our children need more examples of in our society. Love. Don’t we all crave it and need more of it? Isn’t that the reason for our lives? The purpose of our lives is love, relationship, family, and learning. Love us, love–gay, straight, bi, and transgender. Come on Bryan Fischer, you are a Christian! Isn’t Christianity based on love? Would Christ be happy with your anti-love, anti-family, and anti-commitment stance?
If others share the same view as Bryan Fischer, a high concern is that their children will somehow be ‘turned gay’ by watching such shows that display homosexual relationships. It is simple: you can not “turn” a child or individual gay, anymore than you can “turn” brown eyes into blue. What is shown on Bert and Ernie, and what our children should take away from it, is a message teaching love and acceptance of everyone. We all want to be loved and accepted. We all want to form family, be part of a loving family, be accepted by our communities, work hard, and raise our children. Why is showing love and marriage child abuse? In a world where the 50% of all marriages end in divorce, why are we demeaning the beauty of marriage between couples who love and support one another?
For the sake of argument, let’s say allowing your children to watch Bert and Ernie is child abuse. If that is the case, then every romantic comedy would be child abuse, every perfume commercial, Valentine greeting, wedding, television advertisement, romance novel, showing straight love and/or marriage, a form of child abuse. Furthermore, don’t all of these cultural “norms” advocate for, propagandize for straight love, straight marriage, marriage between a man and a woman? Isn’t that a form of “propaganda?” If every form of media is a display of propaganda then no show, advertisement, novel, magazine, is safe. However, why is only same sex love considered propaganda? At one time, interracial couples were shunned because they did not follow societal norms. Yet now, interracial couples are greeted with love and acceptance. Why are we unable to extend that same love and acceptance to same sex couples? What is so threatening to people such as a Christian radio host about same sex marriages?
Christians seem to be at the forefront of opposing gay marriage. However, I learned that Jesus promoted love for all of God’s creation. “Love thy neighbor as thyself.” He encouraged his followers to see himself in our fellow man and to treat others with dignity and respect. We need to take his advice and extend kindness and compassion to straight couples, same-sex couples, interracial couples, and so on. Jesus hated cruelty and behavior that lacked love and oneness. Jesus would, in my opinion, support any union between adults that consisted of love and commitment.
As someone who has been a victim of child sexual abuse, and child abuse, and on behalf of all victims of child abuse, please do not confuse same-sex marriage with child abuse. Child abuse is violence committed by an adult on a child, against the child’s will. Child abuse is not an act, done by two consenting adults, in furtherance of love and marriage.