Many of you will think this post is strange, but I am the paterfamilias of a show choir family.
My first two sons sang in the youth musicals at church, but never caught the show choir bug. It all started in my third son’s freshman year. I had coached him in both basketball and soccer in middle school and he was headed to high school with his father’s high hopes for a good athletic career.
His world, and mine, changed when a friend invited him to show choir tryouts. Show Choirs always need guys so Ben went and auditioned. They made him dance captain that day (thats basically the team captain). My Baptist son was a song and dance man. He went to basketball practice every morning at 5:45 and did his best. He was making progress and I sure enjoyed watching his games.
But then one day he came to me and tore my heart out. “Dad, I’m going to quit basketball and concentrate on Show Choir.” What a blow to Coach Miller! But Ben went on to a very successful show choir career which gradually led him to the path he is now on. I’m hoping that you will soon be able to buy the CD of his band, “Unfading” in your local Christian book store (or at least online). It was a shock when he dropped basketball, but he found the place God wanted him to be, and that’s really all we can ask.
Ben’s foray into show choir inspired his little sister and now she is a senior and is part of “The Headliners” – the varsity show choir at East High School in Sioux City. As a matter of fact (and yes, I am bragging), her show choir has just been voted on Parade.com as one of the three Favorite Show Choirs in America. If you’d like to see a performance by the Headliners, here is the link. This one happens to be from the year after my son graduated and before my daughter made it in.
That’s what my life has become. Show Choir. Song and dance. Ben’s sophomore year, I tried to play judge at a competition and rated the six finalists. My favorite choir was judged the worst. The one that won I thought was not so great. Obviously, I knew nothing about it. Now, I’m a (minor) expert. I know the difference between Mike Weaver and April James choreography. I can tell if a choir is clean, if it is more of a dance group or just doing “hand karate.” And I know way more show tunes than I ever thought I would (or wanted to) .
A Show Choir Show!
So, as a show choir family, we were excited when Fox announced that they were doing a show called “Glee” – about a show choir (I think it’s in Ohio). I knew it would not likely be realistic. I’ve been a basketball and soccer coach for a long time and I know that sports movies often have little to do with the way sports are really played. Glee has nothing to do with actual show choir. Every show choir learns about 6 songs and performs the same show all year long. Headliners has a week of music and a week of choreography in the summer, then practices 3 nights a week until performance season begins in January. Learning a new show every week is ridiculously unrealistic.
But putting all the reality issues aside, I thought Glee might be a fun treatment of the Show Choir life. And since many people had never heard of Show Choir, we thought it might raise the profile of an activity that has become so much a part of our lives.
I have been bitterly disappointed. In fact, I’m about ready to delete the show from our DVR’s series recording list. Essentially, it is an hour-long advertisement for immorality and perversion every week. And that doesn’t even factor in the regular blasphemy. Last week’s episode was called “Grilled Cheesus.” One of the characters found a picture of Jesus in his grilled cheese and prayed that Jesus would help him get to second base with his girlfriend. When his prayer was answered, he thanked Jesus for helping him!
Of course, the most prominent aspect of Glee is its promotion of homosexuality and its condemnation of anyone who does not approve of that lifestyle. There is a relentless drumbeat of pro-homosexuality propaganda. The idea that someone could be opposed to homosexuality and still be against bullying or the persecution of gays is not even considered. If you do not approve of homosexuality, you are an evil oppressor.
Sexually immorality and promiscuity are rampant and even encouraged on this show. Mix and match bed partners. Threesomes. Just about every form of deviant behavior is both practiced and discussed. And this is a show primarily targeted at teens!
And, of course, Christianity is always portrayed in a negative light. The show opened with the story line of a girl who is the campus “mean girl” (another word would be appropriate, but I don’t use it) who is head of the “abstinence” club and is now pregnant. Interesting how the worst person in the club is also the Christian. Of course, there have been some appropriately liberal, tolerant Christians shown in a more positive light, but Bible-believing Christians are shown relentlessly as hypocrites or ignorant, homophobic jerks.
Where Did Discernment Go?
Here’s my problem. I know a lot of Christian show-choir kids and have not heard a single one of them give any indication that glee was anything other than a great hour of entertainment. I hate legalism and I’m not telling anyone what to watch, but when did we abandon the idea that some of the things this sinful world spews out as entertainment are not appropriate for Christians, young or old? The pendulum has swung far since the legalistic days of the 50’s and early 60’s. I’m glad it has. I hate the idea that Christianity means “I don’t drink, smoke, cuss or chew and I don’t go with girls who do.” But is it possible that the pendulum has swung a little too far the other way? Do we need to be reminded that we will give account to God one day and must do all we do on earth to glorify him, honor him and please him?
We saw what happens recently when Christians try to exercise a little discernment. Al Mohler wrote an article about his view of yoga. I’ve never done yoga, and frankly, I don’t know if like yoga or not. But, goodness, you would think he advocated the murder of cuddly puppies the way some people responded. I appreciated the way in which he approached a difficult subject with biblical truth. I don’t even have to agree with his conclusions, but I appreciate that someone tried to view yoga from a biblical perspective. Shouldn’t we do that for everything?
Millions of teenage girls (and a few guys) have become caught up in the Twilight Saga. Many of those girls are Christians. Team Edward? Team Jacob? Again, many people do not like Mark Driscoll, but I was deeply appreciative of the fact that he dealt with the Twilight series and other such entertainment from a biblical perspective. Do you have to agree with him? No. But I appreciate that someone is picking up a Bible and saying, “Does this match with God’s Word?”
The Question to Ask
I think Christians have had a legalistic approach to movies, TV and other entertainment. We judge movies by the amount of cussing, sexual behavior or violence in the movie. Several stories of the Bible would not get approved by a lot of Baptists these days. I am no fan of cussing and immorality, but I think there is something a little more important to ask. What is the point?
Most TV shows and movies are like the ancient morality plays – they are not just fun stories but they are designed to make a point, to change opinions. Make no mistake about it. Tolerance. The acceptance of immorality and perversion as normal. The denigration of conservative Christianity. These are regular themes in entertainment today.
When is the last time you saw a conservative, Bible-believing Christian portrayed positively on Network TV? Christians are either liberal (Seventh Heaven) or evil hypocrites.
When is the last time you saw a person with convictions about remaining pure till marriage NOT be presented as either a hypocrite or as someone who eventually sacrifices their convictions?
Have you ever (well, in recent years) seen someone who opposed homosexual behavior presented in a positive light? I doubt it.
Christians just seem oblivious to the fact that they are being preached to with a message of religious pluralism (and the evils of sectarianism), sexual promiscuity (and the silliness of abstinence) and lifestyle tolerance (and the hatefulness of those who oppose homosexuality).
Not only do we exercise little discernment, we often attack those who do. We treat them as embarrassments to the cool, modern Christian persona we are trying to portray. We have, I believe, begun to make the doctrine of grace an excuse for careless Christian living. Paul warned against the abuse of the doctrine of grace in Romans 6 and 7 and made it clear that God’s grace should never be used as an excuse for sloppy Christian living.
I’m not trying to impose rules on anyone. I am making one point. It is time we exercised biblical discernment. We live in a sinful world in which the lies of Satan have supplanted the truth of God. We are strangers in a strange land. We cannot blindly accept everything that is funny or entertaining as if it is good or even morally neutral. If I wanted you to eat poison, I might hide it in something that tastes really good. I believe our enemy has hidden some really dangerous poison in some really entertaining shows!
Okay, blast away. I’m an old fogey now. I understand it. But this old fogey thinks that it is time for Christians to exercise some biblical discernment. I’m not calling for a legalistic set of rules imposed on everyone. But I am suggesting that Christians need to realize that not everything this world throws at us is honoring to God. Get in the Bible and get some discernment. Make some choices. Walk out of a movie for Jesus! Turn the channel to honor our Savior!
Romans 14:9-10 “For to this end Jesus both died and lived again, that he might be Lord both of the dead and the living…For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God.”