By Catherine Segars, Crosswalk.com
Last December, I wrote an article giving five reasons to be careful when watching Hallmark Christmas movies. Overall, the article was a light-hearted endorsement of this network which has remained committed to family entertainment. The concerns weren’t deeply disturbing. They simply highlighted areas where one ought to be cautious.
Now, there is a sixth reason to be careful.
In August, the Hallmark Channel debuted its first film featuring a same sex wedding ceremony. They have hinted around at same sex relationships in earlier offerings, but they never featured a gay wedding or prominent relationship in one of their films, until now.
Hallmark was one of the few bastions of agenda-free, family-friendly programming left on television. It’s not surprising that this cultural shift has found its way to the Christmas movie capital of the world.
How should Christians approach this issue in our culture and this change in programming on a station known for wholesome entertainment?
We Should Approach This Issue with Truth
First and foremost, we must recognize that objective truth exists, and we must know where to find it. History shows us that societal truth shifts from generation to generation. But God’s truth is eternal, and it is found in His Word.
Scripture shows us that God is our Designer, and only the One who created us is qualified to determine how we are made to function.
In the second chapter of Genesis, God created man, and from man’s rib, He created woman. The two sexes complete one another, representing all the attributes of God and the spiritual union of Christ and His church. Marriage between a man and a woman is sacred and symbolic. It is God’s design for humanity—not to harm us—but to protect us (Genesis 2:24).
The Bible’s promotion of traditional marriage is not just seen in the verses that clearly condemn other sexual activity, including homosexuality (Genesis 19:4-25, Leviticus 18:22, Leviticus 20:13, Romans 1:26-27, 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, and 1 Timothy 1:9-10). It is seen in God’s plan for humanity from the beginning.
As Believers, we must recognize that biblical truth is universal and eternal. It has always been counter-cultural. It trumps man’s truth, which shifts like sinking sand. As Rosaria Butterfield wisely wrote on this topic, “I only know who I really am when the Bible becomes my lens for self-reflection.”
We must use the Bible to determine our identities and to define our sexual relationships, because Scripture is the lens of truth.
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We Should Approach This Issue with Sound Theology
Hallmark films say to “follow your heart.” Our culture tells us that “love is never wrong.” Scripture, however, tells us that the heart is deceitful and love can destroy us if we love the wrong thing, or the wrong one (Jeremiah 17:9, Proverbs 7).
God’s design for our relationships often goes against our natural desires, whether that desire involves sex outside of marriage or marriage with the wrong person. King David confirmed our corrupt cravings in Psalm 51:5 saying,
“Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.”
This is a radical thought. How can a child in the womb be sinful? Are our hospital nurseries filled with adorable little reprobates donning pink and blue caps?
Obviously newborn children are innocent. They lack the understanding to comprehend sin much less the ability to commit it. But Scripture clearly shows us that the desire to sin is present from our earliest moments of life. That means our natural desires are inclined towards what harms us.
God’s word shows us that we cannot rely on our desires to determine what is right.
So the “follow your heart,” “love is never wrong” philosophy of our culture may be in line with our natural desires, but our natural desires are set against God. If we indulge them, we will be led astray.
“For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want.” (Galatians 5:17)
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We Should Approach This Issue with Discernment
In a recent interview on the Eric Metaxes Show, Lance Wallnau warned that the spirit of this age is deconstructing “the boundaries and the borders that God put around marriage, sexuality, gender, identity” and “family” (43:17).
Why did God establish these boundaries?
To protect us. To keep us in right relationship with Him. To prevent the cancer of sin from destroying us. And to help us fulfill our God-given purpose for existing.
We see these protective walls crashing down when the one network on television resisting the agenda to redefine marriage and the family finally caves. Hallmark was the last secular station standing.
Wallnau went on to say that this agenda is expanding into the lives of our children and the next generation with such aggressiveness “that if we do not actually become a firewall now, then we have allowed box cutters to storm the cabin of the plane while we sat in the aisles listening to Hillsong music.”
That—is a sobering thought.
Wallnau is right. Much of the church is reclining with our tray tables down, eyes closed, earbuds pumping some righteous tunes while the enemy takes over the plane. Our culture is going down, and we’re having a worship siesta.
A recent study found that 35% of evangelical churches no longer discourage homosexual behavior, and 56% of evangelical believers between the ages of eighteen and thirty-five support same-sex marriage. That is a 25% rise for evangelical churches and a 22% rise for young evangelicals in the past thirteen years.
Another new report found that 22% of evangelicals now believe in gender fluidity.
These are studies of the part of the church that has historically stayed true to God’s standard in Scripture. Christians are aligning themselves more with our culture and less with our God. Many who once based their beliefs on biblical truth are now looking to secular values for their definition of right and wrong.
As Pastor Tony Evans recently declared, “Until the Church gets it right, the culture can’t get it right.”
Unfortunately, the church is on a rapid decent with our culture. At best, many are ignoring the warnings. At worst, we are complicit in the coming crash.
We Should Approach This Issue with a Clarion Call
Scripture makes it clear that God’s followers are responsible to build protective boundaries that delineate right from wrong. Good from evil. God called Nehemiah and the Israelites to rebuild the walls around Jerusalem, but most said it couldn’t be done. Or shouldn’t. They didn’t see the need.
To be clear—we do not build these walls to keep people out. Everyone is welcome regardless of sexual preference or gender identity. There must be no barrier preventing the lost from receiving our love, service, ministry, and message of freedom.
But we must create theological boundaries to protect those within from false theology and false practice.
And another critical point of clarity—we don’t want to save our culture so our kids can live in the pristine environment of our preference. No, we want to save our culture because one day every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord (Philippians 4:10-11). And we want those people to know Him before they confess Him on that day, so they can spend eternity with the found. Not the lost.
The Apostle Paul warned his young disciple, Timothy, that “the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.” (1 Timothy 4:3-4)
We must build a firewall of truth so that itching ears will not turn to myths.
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We Should Approach This Issue with Godly Compassion
Truth and love are not incompatible. In fact, they must go hand in hand if they are to accomplish the desired goal of redemption. Christians who adhere to God’s standard for marriage and the family are often accused of hate. I cannot count the times this accusation has been levied at God-fearing, lost-loving believers.
We must reject the limited view of love that insists on agreement. After all, if God had agreed with man’s definition of right and wrong, Jesus would not have had to die. God loves us lavishly—all the while disagreeing with our sin.
We must reject the false definition of hate that simply speaks the truth. As I wrote in a recent article on this topic,
“Love without truth is a lie.”
You cannot love someone if you lie to them. But then I acknowledged another fundamental fact with equal certainty.
“Truth without love is a weapon.”
The truth we speak must be uttered with complete compassion. You cannot reach someone with God’s truth in a spirit of hate. Nor can you expect to speak truth into someone’s life if you have not first given them something of value. Jesus healed the lame and sick in the hopes of reaching their hearts. He healed their bodies so that He could heal their souls.
That lost person you know isn’t a project. He is a deeply loved child of God.
We must build relationships with the lost. We must truly love them expecting nothing in return. And then, when they need and are ready to receive a word of truth, we can give that message with compassion.
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We Should Approach This Issue with Courage
We live in a culture that cancels God’s truth, and it cancels those who dare speak it.
Speak it anyways.
Not on a street corner wearing a sandwich board while screeching through a bullhorn. Few lives are reached that way. Few lives are transformed from a tweet or a Facebook meme.
But a life can be changed through a loving friend with a compassionate voice. Your lost friend needs to know that God’s grace can transform her in this life, or God’s standard will judge her in the next. It is her choice.
As C.S. Lewis realized, “There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, ‘Thy will be done,’ and those to whom God says, in the end, ‘Thy will be done.’ All that are in Hell, choose it. Without that self-choice there could be no Hell. No soul that seriously and constantly desires joy will ever miss it. Those who seek find. Those who knock it is opened.”
As believers, we must courageously present this choice to the world in the hopes that God’s lost children will find Him. The enemy wants to keep this decision shrouded in darkness. He wants people to arrive at the final judgment convinced of their purity saying,
“Lord, Lord, did we not…”(Matthew 7:22)
Then they will provide a healthy list of things that they did in God’s Name. They will think that they knew Him. Jesus’ response is heartbreaking. It is an answer we don’t want any person to hear:
“Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’” (Matthew 7:23)
We must offer the world light and truth, even if they despise us for it. The lost cannot choose the light if we refuse to let it shine through us.
So, should Christians be concerned about the new direction of Hallmark Films?
Yes we should be if we care about biblical truth and sound theology. We should be if we care about our children and the next generation. But most of all, we should be if we care about the lost.
We must issue a clarion call for believers to return to biblical truth, and we must profess that truth with compassion and courage. For one day, each believer will be held responsible for how they guarded the truth God gave them.
Guard it well, as if someone’s life depends on it.
Because someone’s life does.
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