Attract, Not Attack (Part 1)

Image source: Yahoo! Philippines OMG!
Disclosure #1: I haven’t watched a single episode of the daring gay-themed “My Husband’s Lover” (MHL) teleserye. GMA-7 TV Network took a risky, bold move when it came out with the series about three weeks ago. “The controversial series tells the story of Vincent ([played by actor] Tom Rodriguez), a closeted gay who chose to marry his girlfriend Lally (Carla Abellana) after he got her pregnant in college. But Tom’s heart only beats for his greatest love, Eric (Dennis Trillo).” (Source: Yahoo! Philippines OMG!I don’t watch the series not because of its storyline but because I simply have no taste and time for soap.

Disclosure #2: I have gay and lesbian friends. We agreed to disagree. I believe they know my stance regarding the homosexual lifestyle. They know I am a pastor. However, I treat them with loving respect. And I felt the same in return.


Image source: Remate
Predictably, the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) immediately questioned MHL. Fr. Kunegundo Garganta, the executive secretary of the CBCP’s Episcopal Commission on Youth executive secretary, cautioned the writers of such shows. In an interview over Catholic Radio Veritas, Garganta called for restraint. “Malaking pag-aaral ang dapat na gawin sa mga bagong teleserye tulad ng My Husband’s Lover na sana maisaalang-alang na nasa isang bansa tayo na mayroong kultura na pinapahalagahan ang usaping moral o mga bagay na saklaw ng moralidad. Ito ang dapat na isaalang-alang ng mga gumagawa ng teleserye.” (In English, “Exhaustive studies should be done on new TV series like ‘My Husband’s Lover.’ Hopefully, it would consider that we are in a country where we value moral issues or matters about morality. Those who produce these TV series should take that into consideration.”) (Ibid)

GMA-7 defended the show. “We believe that our program, while tackling sensitive real-life situations, is produced with utmost prudence and in good taste. …[The Kapuso Network] would like to assure the Filipino audience that we will continue to produce relevant and entertaining programs.” (Source: Rappler) The Movie and Television Review and Classification Board gave the series an SPG (strong parental guidance) rating.


I feel that it’s premature for the CBCP to criticize MHL. The series is only more than three weeks old. And we don’t really know how the story would play out in the end. It only skyrocketed its already high ratings and it caused an unwanted backlash against CBCP.



GMA-7's reaction to the CBCP. From the Facebook page of "My Husband's Lover."
Image source: Rappler

MHL is a classic “art-imitates-life.” In short, it only portrayed what’s going on in the society. I don’t have statistics as to how rampant it is, though. But, no doubt, there are MHL situations. 

Of course, I believe CBCP is only doing its moral duty. CBCP is afraid that it would encourage more people to experiment on such a lifestyle, that life would end up imitating art. It is a “would,” not a “could.” It’s not an “if” but a “when.” It’s not an unfounded fear. In her “Gays, lesbians and soap operas” posted on her “At Large” column, Rina Jimenez-David opined that “pop culture is often a harbinger of culture change. Weeks before the US Supreme Court struck down antigay marriage laws, Time magazine ran an article tracking the speedy and dizzying change in American public opinion regarding gay marriage, mentioning gay-themed TV shows or at least shows with prominent gay characters. … maybe, and this is a faint hope, the TV audience has moved on from its obsession with social acceptability and now dares explore social issues that challenge our previously ironclad verities? These are valid questions that go way beyond TV ratings or the creative process behind TV dramas.”  (Source: Philippine Daily Inquirer



Image source: Starmometer
So, how do we respond to this moral culture clash? (To my gay and lesbian friends, this is the point where I preach to the proverbial choir. You may read on but please bear in mind I’m talking to them, not you.) I believe we should attract, not attack. We should pull, not push. We can be aggressive without being abrasive. The Gospel is offensive enough. (1 Corinthians 1:18) Our Lord Jesus Christ’s call to follow Him indeed challenges our pride. But we are not to make it more offensive with the way we deal with those who disagree with us. Yes, the truth hurts. Yet, we must not rub salt on the wound.

The Apostle Paul commanded us, “Live wisely among those who are not believers, and make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be gracious and attractive so that you will have the right response for everyone.” (Colossians 4:5-6, NLT) I am not saying that the CBCP was not gracious. (I haven’t heard the radio interview. Garganta might have spoken in a loving tone.) What I am saying is that there is a much better way to express our principles. 


Instead of merely condemning the MHL lifestyle, I think we should concentrate on strengthening the Filipino family. When we call people to abandon their lifestyle, what do we offer as an alternative? If they look at our marriages, would they like what they see? Or, would they say, “I think I prefer mine over yours”? Would they see that call as a jump from the frying pan to the fire? Or, would they see it as a better, if not the best, choice over what they are enjoying now? When we practice what we preach, we could preach what we practice. We earn the right to be heard.


Since people now dare to discuss sensitive social issues, (or in David’s words, “challenge our previously ironclad verities”) we should not miss out by default on this opportunity. We are to engage the culture. With the MHL as a springboard, we can launch intellectual but interesting discussions on such issues with the LGBT community. In my experience with my friends from that community, they are willing to listen if we are also willing to do so. Both sides must get rid of stereotypes and engage with mutual respect.

My take? Attract, not attack. 


Read Part 2.

Comments

  1. Hello Pastor Eyrich,

    Thank you for your blog post. This very same issue has been brewing in our homeschool community. There are many families who are bothered by this show. I haven't watched it myself so I was surprised with the reaction. I'd like to share with you what I wrote in response:

    Hello Homeschoolers,
    Thank you for your letter. If it weren't for concerned citizens like you, we probably won't notice things like this already happening in our society.

    I have thought more about this issue since reading this yesterday.

    I believe what's needed is strengthening the foundation of our families, and not going on an 'attack' on the gay/lesbian society.
    They have been with us even during Bible times, and will be with us up to the end. Personally, I know several gays and they deserve to be respected by society. While I don't like what they are doing, I don't like it all the more when they are subjected to verbal, sexual innuendos. Granted, some of them initiate the sexual innuendos, but most also just want to live and be respected.

    Looking further, none of us can say that it's only the gays/lesbians who have a negative effect on society. Abusive men and fathers hurt the people they live with. Liars, thieves, manipulators live among us. The thing is, are we not among their number, too? We all are also sinners, born to die. It is only by God's grace that we can live with peace and know that we have eternal lives in Christ.

    What do they need? They also need the grace of Christ that can be shared by us. They don't need condemnation, they need to find the path to Christ.

    Remember the woman caught in adultery in John 7:53 - 8:11? She was caught in the act itself. How horrible that was! The law that time states that anybody caught in the act of adultery will be stoned to death. But the people brought her to Jesus Christ, and amazingly, Christ forgave her.
    So let me go back to my first statement, that is, we need to strengthen the foundation of our family. Just like Vikki said, the TV and movies are bombarded with these things. Don't many men, including Christian men, just love The Fast and The Furious by Vin Diesel? Well, Vin Diesel's character and his cohorts are big-time thieves. Doesn't that movie glorify thievery? It's so popular, it's already on its 6th installment. In fact, when Vin Diesel visited the Philippines last summer, he said he wants to film the next Fast and Furious here.

    We don't even have to watch the movie and TV, right where we are, sin is all around us.

    If we strengthen our family's foundation, which is the foundation of society, then we can stand strong and live righteously in the eyes of God. We can extend our grace to those who are not yet saved and show them the way to Christ.

    You know our previous neighbors were a bunch of squatter-like people. I say squatter-like because the owners of the house right beside us rented their spaces to several families all together. It got so bad, there were about 40-50 families living in a 300 sq mtr lot.

    We had to deal with them hanging their clothes right in front of our house, people asking us for water, etc, etc. Despite trying to talk to them civilly, they just don't get it. Nakakainis talaga! But at the point when I am so angry at them, I always tell myself, even for these people, Jesus Christ died for them, too.

    It's really the same thing we teach our children. Everyone deserves to be respected, whatever their status is, because Christ died for all of us."

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for your comment! You really thought through the issue. Feel free to share my article with your homeschoolers. Again, thank you and God richly bless you!

      Delete
  2. It has already been shared by one of the parents. :)

    ReplyDelete
  3. Nice point, it really surprises me and even wonder why this has been sensational all of the sudden when most LGBT roles done in TV are often more scandalous and demeaning. With sex as content, I ask why CBCP is hitting to a local TV series that has been airing nearly a month.
    It is not in my nature to argue but rather imply that gender and sexuality are too critical for people to judge.
    It's not who you are, it's what you do that defines us.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for your comment! I agree with you. We should all join hands against scandalous and demeaning portrayal of people, no matter what the sexual preferences are. That's a good start.

      Delete
  4. If the Holy Spirit convicts but not condemns, then who are we to condemn our brothers and sisters or our brothers who wanna be our sisters, right? =p =]

    Love your post about this. Perceptive, sensitive, sensible.

    =)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for your kind words ;-D We have a long way to go to eliminate discrimination. It starts really with mutual respect.

      Delete
  5. "When we practice what we preach, we could preach what we practice." - Yun na yun! =)

    Well written, as usual.

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

“Ubus-ubos Biyaya, Bukas Nakatunganga”

“Racy Religion”

Things We Christians Can Do To Help Our Country (Part 3)