An advertisement for a trip to Yellowstone National Park

For years now the American Family Association based out of Tupelo, Miss., has been the self-appointed watchdog of all things moral in the media.

This vigilant band of TV, movie and magazine detectives has kept a close eye on anything overtly sexual or profane that may make its way into our fragile consciousness.

Apparently they are worried that if we see or hear anything of a sexual nature, it will corrupt us. So much for Paul, Augustine and John Calvin.

There are two things that intrigue me about groups like this.

First of all, in order to make their case about the moral depravity of television, advertising and movies, they actually offer clips of the offending material on their website.

It seems to me that this only serves to further provide access to what they deem as unseemly materials by making examples of it available to whoever may want to view it.

If we shouldn’t see it, then maybe we shouldn’t show it.

That, of course, raises my second intrigued reaction to groups like this.

Where does the impulse to control the behavior of others come from? Do we really instill right behavior by restricting access to what some groups decide is taboo? Do we instill morals and a sense of moral rightness by deciding for others what they can or cannot see? Is character instilled by censoring what is deemed immoral or by the introduction of wisdom?

The experience my wife and I had with our children involved a multifaceted approach that involved the mute button, the channel changer, the off button and serious conversation.

Our children grew up knowing that not everything they were seeing on television and at the movies was worth their time. And that seems a better approach than simply closing the blinds and saying, “You can’t look at that.”

The AFA has branched out lately into other culture war issues, but the base issues remain the same. Their most recent campaign involves criticizing an event that takes place today called “Day of Silence.”

The idea behind the Day of Silence was to encourage middle and high school students to avoid and discourage hate language directed toward gays, lesbians, bisexual and transgendered individuals (LGBT).

The idea behind the Day of Silence was to call attention to the pain inflicted on LGBT individuals by bullying, mean-spirited jokes and harassment.

The AFA encouraged parents to take their children out of schools that were supporting this observance. Apparently, in the skewed AFA view of the Christian gospel, making fun of people is a way of showing the love of Jesus.

Regardless of where Christian individuals stand on the issue of homosexuality, there can be no defense for condoning attacks on people – verbally or otherwise.

The suggestion by AFA that parents withdraw their children from efforts to restrain verbal and other assaults is a tacit blessing of promoting verbal and other assaults. And from my perspective that is totally unchristian and they should be ashamed.

Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered individuals remain first and foremost human beings. And the God who became human and dwelt among us has made it abundantly clear that there is profound love for the human species – all of us.

These are human beings and they are loved by God. The failure of the Christian community to express love and grace toward them represents a failure of our faith.

James L. Evans is pastor of Auburn First Baptist Church in Auburn, Ala.

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