When I first read that the Hallmark Channel had rejected an advertisement that featured a same-sex couple kissing at their wedding, I thought, “ruh roh, Scooby. Hallmark is in trouble. With a capital T.” Within 48 hours the channel, known for it sappy, sugary-sweet entertainment offerings, had retreated in the face of withering criticism, offering multiple apologies for their blunder. Chalk up another win in the culture wars to the opponents of Biblical Christianity.
For the record, I don’t watch the Hallmark Channel nor do I have plans to. EVER! Well, maybe that last one will need to be revised. My wife recently admitted that since I have been living in New Mexico, while she and the boys stayed behind in Virginia to sell the house, that she started watching movies on the Hallmark Channel. In almost 28 years of marriage, I don’t think she had ever really watched that channel. What’s a fella to do now, but that’s a discussion for another day.
Back to the issue at hand. Now that the Hallmark Channel has beat a hasty retreat and is safely back on the “right” side of cultural opinion regarding same-sex marriage, many viewers, including One Million Moms, a division of the American Family Association, are calling for a boycott:
One Million Moms is asking once again for Hallmark to stay true to its family friendly roots that so many families have grown to love, and to keep sex and sexual content – including the promotion of homosexuality – out of its programming,” the group added.
Perhaps my assumption about Hallmark Channel movies is completely off-base, but I thought that kissing would be an integral — almost mandatory — part of every movie that Hallmark broadcasts. Certainly One Million Moms is not arguing that kissing is “sex and sexual content” that must be kept out of Hallmark programming. If that were the case, the channel would be off the air immediately.
I do not want to minimize the concerns that One Million Moms and others have about Hallmark’s decision to reinstate the controversial advertisement. However, our response, particularly for those of us who claim to be followers of Christ, must demonstrate grace and truth. Danny Akin, President of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, stated the truth of the matter clearly in a recent tweet:
Christians can, they must, love and show grace and kindness to LGBTQ persons while at the same time opposing the LGBTQ agenda. We must share and show the gospel while we also call sin what God calls sin. This is basic Christianity 101.
— Daniel Akin (@DannyAkin) December 17, 2019
Basic Christianity 101 is rooted in both grace and truth. If we want to model Christ to our culture, we must follow His example. And, for us to do what Jesus would do, even when many (perhaps most) reject the Biblical view of marriage, we cannot respond with hate or threats.
We must also never confuse or conflate an entertainment channel’s mission with that of the church. Hallmark, in the wake of this kerfuffle, not only apologized for their earlier decision, but restated their mission to the viewing and advertising public:
Our mission is rooted in helping all people connect, celebrate traditions, and be inspired to capture meaningful moments in their lives. Anything that detracts for this purpose is not who we are.
Let me translate. The mission of Hallmark and their parent company, Crown Media, is plain and simple — to make money. As much money as they can for themselves and their shareholders. Money is the bottom line. Anything that “detracts from this purpose” will not be tolerated. I may not like Hallmark’s mission or business model, but the corporate suits at the network will have to live with their decisions.
Regardless of what movies or television commercials that Hallmark decides to run in the future, Christians and the Church must never lose sight of our mission, which is to “seek and to save those who are lost” by loving God, loving our neighbors (even the ones with whom we disagree), and impacting our culture through the life-transforming message of the good news of Jesus Christ. Neither the government, the Hallmark Channel, nor Chick-fil-A (sorry) can do what the Church and followers of Christ are called to do.
When people adopt lifestyles that are contrary to what we believe Scripture teaches and, when businesses make decisions that seem to adopt the prevailing, non-Biblical views of the culture, don’t be angry. Don’t be surprised. Rather, be both sad and determined. Sad for those who have never embraced the grace and truth of Jesus Christ and who are living in darkness. And, determined to do something about it.
That might mean we spend less time watching — or leading boycotts — of the Hallmark Channel and more time getting to know and love our neighbors as ourselves. When we love people unconditionally, they will be much more willing to hear the truth. Perhaps Jesus knew what He was doing and teaching after all.