Sunday, January 6, 2013

Behind "The New Normal"

               While reading the reason behind this display, tears almost came to my eyes.
I remember seeing a new NBC show advertised at the end of the summer.

The New Normal caught my attention because its purpose was to substitute the "normal" family (i.e. male, female, children) with a "new normal" family (i.e. a gay couple preparing to have a child).  I wanted to see the show when it came out, but life was busy, I forgot about it, and only remembered it last week.  I found the show and began watching it.

The show does not attempt objectivity.  It creates tension between those who are gay and pro-gay and those who are anti-gay.  Two extremes are shown, with very little/to no balance.  Situations that occur are thought provoking.  The stereotype of Christians, especially conservative Christians (that, sadly, is often true), is written into the show.  Political propaganda and jabs are made throughout many episodes.  The homosexual lifestyle is lauded and placed in the best possible light, while the heterosexual marriages shown or alluded to have either fallen apart or are currently falling apart.

Does the show make me uncomfortable?  Sometimes.  Is the content thought provoking and educational?  Very.  The family on the screen is kind and loving.  I would like to know them.  The show brought issues to light that I have not thought about.  The struggles and prejudices that are faced by anyone not "normal", even by other people not considered "normal", but in a different way, are saddening.  People need to be loved, regardless of gender, sexuality, age, race, culture, ability or disability, etc.

All through college I found myself interacting with the questions of homosexuality.  Early freshman year a group called Soul Force visited my school.  A group of students, including me, spent several hours visiting with this organization advocating the acceptance of LGBT(Q) (Lesbian, Gay, Bi, Transgender, and most recently added, Queer--those confused and figuring out their sexuality).  There were large groups talking in circles, small groups sitting around conversing, and cliques of two and three people chatting over open Bibles.  Our school provided lunch for everyone as we learned more about each other and our beliefs.

To round off my university career, a Christian, gay man named Wesley Hill came to speak at my church.  He wrote a book called Washed and Waiting (that, for the record, I intend to read...just haven't yet) that addresses the challenges of being gay, celibate, and a Christian.  The statement that most stood out to me from his talks, and is ingrained in my mind, is that we (Christians) should be accepting (of homosexuals--in and out of the church, but especially in) but not affirming (of the non-celibate, gay lifestyle).  Listening to Wesley talk blew my mind.  My thoughts about homosexuals and homosexuality were challenged.  I was not a gay hater, but I didn't know how to interact with a gay person while disagreeing with their lifestyle choice.  By no means have I figured it out, but I have a new perspective.

Back to the show.  As a result of my various experiences in college, I want to think I was filtering the show through different lenses.  Yes, aspects of the show made me uncomfortable, but as a Christian I cannot veil myself from the things I do not like and/or agree with.  The show has positive points.  It portrays many of the ways our culture and sub cultures are prejudiced, and not just towards homosexuals.

One of the most important things I learned in college is to think, and to think critically.  It takes practice, but while watching The New Normal, it was my goal.

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