Ellie Goulding generated headlines yesterday with her announcement that she would boycott the Dallas Cowboys Thanksgiving halftime show unless the Salvation Army makes “a solid, committed pledge or donation to the LGBTQ community.”
The singer had agreed to perform at the nationally televised show. Then fans on Instagram accused the Salvation Army of discriminating against LGBTQ people and condemned her for supporting the organization.
She immediately made her announcement, adding that “supporting an anti-LGBTQ charity is clearly not something I would ever intentionally do. Thank you for drawing my attention to this.”
David Hudson, the Salvation Army’s National Commander, responded: “With an organization of our size and history, myths can perpetuate. An individual’s sexual or gender identity, religion, or lifestyle has no bearing on our willingness to provide service. We stand firmly behind our mission to meet human needs in His name without discrimination.”
Later in the day, the Salvation Army confirmed that Goulding would perform as planned. Hudson thanked the singer and her fans “for shedding light on misconceptions and encouraging others to learn the truth about The Salvation Army’s mission to serve all, without discrimination. We applaud her for taking the time to learn about the services we provide to the LGBTQ community.”
The Army’s campaign is now in its 129th year and brought in $142.7 million last year to help those in need.
The growing percentage of LGBTQ characters on TV
I have spoken at Salvation Army events and supported their work for years. Their service to those in need is both urgent and effective. However, the controversy sparked by Ellie Goulding’s announcement is not the focus of my article today.
Rather, I am concerned about the dramatic degree to which LGBTQ activism influences our culture.
According to the Associated Press, the percentage of LGBTQ characters regularly seen on primetime broadcast television this season reached an all-time high of 10.2 percent. This achieved the 10 percent goal the advocacy group GLAAD set for the networks by 2020.
This percentage is twice as high as the number of Americans who identify as LGBTQ, estimated at 4.5 percent. Nonetheless, GLAAD now wants the television industry to reach 20 percent representation of LGBTQ characters by 2025.
Sociologist James Davison Hunter demonstrates in his persuasive book, To Change the World, that culture changes when people achieve their highest place of influence and use that influence to advance their mission. We saw this principle at work in yesterday’s Daily Article as Karen Pence used her position to defend religious liberty.
But we also see it at work for unbiblical morality when advocacy groups persuade media leaders to use their powerful influence for unbiblical purposes.
Beware the “scepter of wickedness”
In Psalm 125, the Lord states: “The scepter of wickedness shall not rest on the land allotted to the righteous, lest the righteous stretch out their hands to do wrong” (v. 3). The English Standard Version Study Bible explains that the “scepter” to which the psalmist refers is “kingly power held by Israelites who do not serve God and his people.”
This verse identifies the pervasive pattern in Scripture and human history whereby people follow those who influence them, for good or for evil.
For example, Moses could lead the Israelites out of Egyptian slavery, but Aaron soon led them into idolatry (Exodus 32:1–6). King Hezekiah led the nation to remove its idols and return to the one true God (2 Kings 18:1–6), but his son Manasseh led them into horrific immorality that resulted in their destruction (2 Kings 21:1–15).
“Spot the lie”
Two life principles result.
One: Evaluate carefully the influencers we allow to influence us. Paul testified: “We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5).
A good friend of mine plays a game with his children when they watch television called “spot the lie.” When an actor says or does something unbiblical, his children compete to see who can be first to identify it. Let’s do the same with the media we consume and the leaders we follow.
Two: Seek to use our influence for Christ and his kingdom as effectively as we can. It is by God’s providence that you are alive where you are and when you are. Whatever your gifts, aptitudes, and resources, someone knows who you are and how you live.
You may not have Ellie Goulding’s platform, but you can lead others to make Thanksgiving not just a holiday but a transforming spiritual experience.
Our Father will use all those who want to be used. Are you in their number today?