Thursday, May 24, 2012

Marvel Comics and Same-Sex Marriage. . . .


Northstar proposes to Kyle

So yesterday the world's comic book fans found out that Northstar proposed marriage to his boyfriend Kyle. A mutant who is a member of the super-hero X-Men of Marvel Comics fame, Northstar and his boyfriend Kyle will be getting married next month when Astonishing X-Men #51 releases on June 27. Writer Marjorie Liu - the one who's penning the Northstar marriage story - knows that the move is controversial. Still, she says it reflects what's happening in our society. She's right. Liu's motivation in writing the story is at least partially fed by what she says is knowing what it means for the world to look down on two people in love. Her dad is Chinese and her mom is American.

The comic book's same-sex wedding is certainly reflective of what's happening in our culture. Our understanding of love, sex, marriage, and homosexuality is all over the place. Differences in understanding and belief run across political, demographic, and geographical lines. It's complex. And if you're a parent or youth worker, you also know that differences in belief and opinion run across generational lines. At times, I'm encouraged by the fact that compassion is growing among the younger generations. That compassion, I hope, is spreading into the church. But compassion is blurring with tolerance and acceptance. That's a trend that's cause for concern.

In his book The Meaning of Sex, Christian ethicist Dennis Hollinger reminds us that a truly biblical and Christian understanding of marriage sees marriage as a covenant between one man and one woman who promise faithfulness within an exclusive and monogamous heterosexual relationship. But the culture-at-large and the culture in the church is changing and changing fast. Now that Marvel Comics is in the game, it will change even faster. No, I don't believe that the Northstar story line is going to precipitate a massive and fast cultural shift. Northstar's proposal to Kyle isn't the catalyst for culture reaching a tipping point. But we can never forget that cultural artifacts (particularly media of all sorts) are not only reflective, but directive. They aren't just a mirror. They're a map. And the map-readers in this case are Marvel Comic book fans. . . many of whom are extremely young and extremely impressionable.

Northstar's proposal to Kyle and impending wedding serve as another reminder of the diligent intentionality that's needed if we hope to counter culture's powerful, pervasive and compelling messages with the design of the One who made marriage. Now is the time to be talking to kids about marriage and about marriage right and wrongs. Northstar's given us an opportunity to get the discussion going. Ask the kids you know what they think about it all? Then, affirm or challenge their thinking by talking about how God designed it all.

17 comments:

PB said...

Something we Christians need to think through: married homosexuals are still invited to trust in Jesus as their Savior. When they do, what do they do about their marriage? The evil one has certainly created a dilemma for the Kingdom of God.

Anonymous said...

I can't do it, Walt. I can't read your blog anymore. As someone with a gay relative, I cannot fathom anything less than %100 "acceptance" of him. And you saying that my acceptance is "cause for concern" makes me feel sick to my stomach. Life is far too short for this.

Walt Mueller said...

The "acceptance" that's cause for concern is the acceptance of sin.

anabedicks said...

You are right when you say that now is the time to talk about it,Walt. I am a Youth Minister in Brazil and during this last month I taught Youth Leaders in 3 different parts of the country (and Brazil is large country)and I did not teach about marriage or sexuality. But after every class there was a leader that wanted to ask for help because he/she was facing same kind of same sex relationship between teens in the church. And they didn't know what they should do.
We must start talking about God's design for it.

Anonymous said...

You speak of compassion and then make a judgment in the same sentence. Doesn't sound much like Jesus to me.

PB said...

On the contrary, read the story of the Rich Young Ruler in Mark 10:17-31. Jesus looked on the rich man with compassion as he revealed the man's idol - what he most treasured in this world - and told the man he'd have to give that up, then come follow Jesus. When the man heard what Jesus said, he left sad because he loved his wealth, and Jesus let him go, although he loved the man.

Anonymous said...

I personally am struggling to find homosexuality a sin, especially in light of so many Christians divorcing and other Christians okay with it. Divorce was a sin Jesus Himself spoke about and yet, many Christians are okay with it and wouldn't prevent divorced Christians from entering their church. Why is homosexuality the big sin most Christians seem to care about? What about gluttony (especially in light of the obesity problem in America)? Just my thoughts on the matter.

Walt Mueller said...

A couple of thoughts in response to prior comments. . . I'm not sure I understand the logic and reasoning of Anonymous on May 29. God has spoken through the scriptures on this. As a follower of Christ, I must endeavor to conform my beliefs to His will and way. . . With humble obedience of course. This is a very difficult issue. Mutual exclusivity is not required to call sin what it is and then show compassion. What always stumps me in responses like yours is the fact that you are making a judgment as well. Judgment is unavoidable in life. . . in fact even necessary. What complicates the matter more is our misunderstanding of Jesus' words on so many things, including the matter of judgment. To Anonymous on June 3. . . the Scriptures do allow divorce under certain circumstances. And, you are right that Christians have loosened up on divorce, for several reasons. But we should not allow loosening attitudes in the church to become our authority over and above Scripture on matters of faith, practice, and sin.

Anonymous said...

Open your heart and put yourself in other people's shoes. See yourself in those whom you least accept.

Question how your beliefs are hurting people. This article is just putting more material into the world that makes people feel ashamed for being who they are.

Growing up, I would cry nearly every morning in the shower that despite my efforts I couldn't stop 'sinning'. Despite my prayer, despite everything inside of me wanting to change, I just couldn't. I was depressed throughout my teens, and eventually was so riddled with shame I tried to kill myself at 22. I eventually came out of the closet and felt better. My little brother, on the other hand, ended up shooting himself this past February in front of my evangelical Christian father.

I don't expect a word of this to sink in, and frankly.. I don't care. Just felt like getting it off my chest. Practice compassion - not control, judgement, or condemnation. Look at the world with only your open heart.

Anonymous said...

If Scripture is all you care to listen to, Walt, take a look at these: "Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you." - Matthew 7:1-2 and "For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord." Romans 8:38-39. There are others I could add.
We can all use Scripture to back up our personal views. The real test of God's will has to be opening our hearts through prayer and the witness of other Christians. Several other Christians are trying to witness to you about this issue. Be humble and take this issue before God yourself, I know if you truly do that you will see God comes down on the side of love and you don't yet reflect that in your attitude on this issue.

Walt Mueller said...

Anonymous. . . what troubles me most about your use of Matthew 7 besides your faulty exegesis (something that is increasingly widespread) is the fact that your comment to me is a "judgement." I say that with a spirit of humility rather than hubris. This is the kind of justification that I have difficulty understanding.

Anonymous said...

My apologies if you are feeling judged, I was trying to give you some spiritual advice, minister to minister. While I am open to critique, there is nothing out of context with my exegesis of Matthew 7, this is part of Jesus' teaching the Sermon on the Mount, wherein some of his biggest complaints are directed at often hypocritical religious leaders such as you and me. That said, I am now going to defer the anonymous comment posted May 29, and conclude that life really is too short to continue debating this with you. Thank you for your time and consideration. God's grace and peace to you.

Walt Mueller said...

Anonymous. . . I would never downplay the difficulty of this issue for the Christian. If you would know my ongoing struggle with how to best respond in light of Biblical, theological, and pragmatic realities, I would hope that you would find me to be deeply concerned about faithfulness to God's revealed will in the Scriptures to both sin and sinner. . . of which I am one. . . a BIG one. My point in my last comment is that the Jesus and judgement argument is employed but is based on faulty exegesis of that passage. For example. . . is it possible that the same argument will be used, say ten years from now, when the culture has changed and we are debating whether or not sexual activity between an adult and a child is right or wrong?

Anonymous said...

I see your point about the judgement argument to the degree that I feel some righteous judgment welling up inside me at the idea of child molestation being accepted (don't think we're headed that way fyi), but I stand by the idea that we are all sinners and we shouldn't be condemning each other. Again, look in Matthew 7, "“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?" I am just trying to be true to Scripture and to my faith, as I know you are.
I will take this a step further and humbly caution everyone against faulty exegesis and application of passages they see as condemnations of people who are homosexual. For example... in the old testament, when Leviticus 18:22 forbids a man to lie with a man, (haven't found anything condemning lesbians by the way), it also forbids the following: round haircuts (Lev. 19:27), football (Lev. 11:8), fortune cookies (Lev. 19:31), tattoos (Lev. 19:28), eating shellfish (Lev. 11:10), and wearing polyester (Lev. 19:19), not to mention Deuteronomy's condemnations of remarrying someone you divorced (Deut. 24:1-4) and letting people without testicles into church (Deut. 23:1). It seems hypocritical to make everyone adhere to Leviticus 18:22 but not any of these others. Forgive me if you have never had a round haircut, touched a football or eaten bacon, opened a fortune cookie, eaten shellfish, or worn polyester. If so, you're safe and I apologize, judge all you want.
God's judgments are righteous and true, and God looks at our hearts and our actions. I don't think God is really so worried about sexual preferences when we are loving God with heart, mind and strength and loving neighbors as ourselves.

Brian Kirk said...

Walt, you must know that when you turn to the offensive act of making a connection between a discussion of homosexuality and pedophila, you have not only played all the cards you were hiding from us, but you have effectively ended the conversation.

Walt Mueller said...

Brian. . . don't infer that I connect homosexuality and pedophilia. I connect all types of sexuality. . . heterosexuality. . . and pedophilia. Pedophilia is a horribly fallen expression of something good, our sexuality. To be precise, my comment and the reference to pedophilia was in response to take the "do not judge" passage totally out of context.

Walt Mueller said...

Brian. . . don't infer that I connect homosexuality and pedophilia. I connect all types of sexuality. . . heterosexuality. . . and pedophilia. Pedophilia is a horribly fallen expression of something good, our sexuality. To be precise, my comment and the reference to pedophilia was in response to take the "do not judge" passage totally out of context.