Disney’s Onward, coming to theaters on March 6, will feature an openly LGBTQ animated character. This follows a same-sex kiss in last year’s The Rise of Skywalker and the portrait of LeFou as gay in the live-action Beauty and the Beast remake.
We should not be surprised. Disney World has sponsored Gay Day at the park since 1991. Disney Co. began offering benefits to gay partners in 1996. The company has long been on the front lines of normalizing LGBTQ behavior through its cultural influence.
But this is just one example of a much larger narrative every Christian needs to understand today.
“Hierarchies and power structures”
If you’re like most evangelicals, you’re discouraged over the moral trajectory you’ve seen in America across recent decades. I’m old enough to have witnessed the sexual revolution of the 1960s, the legalization of abortion in 1973, the rise of no-fault divorce and its damaging effect on marriage and the family, the popularization of gay characters on TV and in movies, the explosion of online pornography, the legalization of same-sex marriage, and the proliferation of euthanasia.
What connects these dots?
Writing for the Federalist, Nathanael Blake offers an explanation I’d like us to consider today. He notes that many in our secular culture “are not likely to think in ancient terms of personal virtue and vice” and do not subscribe to Christian teachings on original and personal sin. Yet “the imperfection of the world, the social order, and ourselves remains a fundamental human reality that all daily experience.”
So, many have constructed a substitute worldview: “The theories of intersectional leftism, with their analysis of power, privilege, and oppression, function very similarly to Christian doctrines of original sin. According to these ideas of social justice and injustice, what is wrong with the world is that we are divided into hierarchies and power structures built around race, class, gender, sexual identity, and so on.”
We are all born into these structures, which function as a kind of original sin in our culture. But “we can identify our privileges and work to deconstruct and dismantle the systems of oppression they are derived from.”
Such “efforts at diversity and inclusion of the marginalized” are necessary to “atone for our unavoidable participation in general systems of oppression and for the particular wrongs we have committed under the influence of these systems.” Just as Christians would say that no one is exempt from original and personal sin (cf. Romans 3:23), so these advocates would say that no one is exempt from systemic discrimination of the marginalized.
As a result, advocating for abortion rights, LGBTQ rights, or euthanasia rights is akin to advocating for civil rights for racial minorities. They are all part of the same struggle against societal oppression of the victimized. Or so we are told.
Harvey Weinstein and victims of oppression
Am I suggesting that systemic victimization does not occur in America? Absolutely not.
Harvey Weinstein’s conviction yesterday points to the epidemic of sexual abuse in this country. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than one in three women and nearly one in four men have experienced sexual violence involving physical contact; nearly one in five women have experienced completed or attempted rape.
Katherine Johnson’s death yesterday reminds us of the racism she and other African American women experienced at NASA when they were helping to land men on the moon. (The terrific movie, Hidden Figures, tells their story.) In an interview with our team, Jemar Tisby eloquently shows that racial discrimination is tragically persistent in our culture. My website paper on racism makes this point as well.
The Bible clearly states that God sides with victims of violence (Psalm 11:5), poverty (Proverbs 17:5), oppression (Psalm 103:6), and racism (Acts 10:34–35). Jesus repeatedly sided with the marginalized (cf. John 4) and victimized (cf. Matthew 8:28–34; Luke 10:25–37).
But as the victimization narrative collides with biblical morality, what will society do?
Conservative students fear the consequences of their opinions
Abortion advocates claim that women are victimized by pro-life supporters. Pro-life supporters claim that innocent babies are victimized by abortion. Transgender activists see people with gender dysphoria as victims. Those who view gender as binary and assigned at birth (cf. Genesis 1:27; Matthew 19:4) see those who submit to transgender ideology as victims.
And what about those who are victimized for their religious beliefs by victimization advocates? According to a new report in the UK, eight out of ten people working in the arts or culture say sharing conservative opinions could mean “being professionally ostracized” or bullied. A study on college students in the US likewise reports that two-thirds of conservatives “kept an opinion to themselves in the classroom . . . because they were worried about the potential consequences of expressing it.”
“In the world you will have tribulation”
We will continue this important discussion tomorrow. For today’s, let’s note that paying a price for our convictions is nothing new for Christians. From the apostles who were beaten and murdered for their faith (cf. Acts 5:40; 7:58–60) to Protestant martyrs who were burned at the stake to believers who face persecution at genocide levels today, Christians have long known the truth of Jesus’ warning, “In the world you will have tribulation” (John 16:33).
But courage under persecution strengthens our witness. The greater the price for our faith, the more others see the sincerity of our convictions.
And the greater our suffering for Jesus in this world, the greater our reward in the next (cf. Revelation 6:9–11; 7:14).
Are you paying a price for following Jesus today? If not, why not?