Saturday, April 5, 2014

Same-sex couples and Honey Graham Crackers

I discovered some interesting hoo-haw on Facebook this morning about a graham cracker advertisement created by Nabisco. It features a variety of families—same-sex, tatted and pierced, interracial—and makes the following promise:

“No matter how things change, what makes us wholesome never will. Honeymaid: Everyday, wholesome snacks for every wholesome family.”

Nabisco claims that, while they received a great deal of positive response to the ad, there were also a significant number of outraged responses, especially to the depiction of the same-sex couple.

So, rather than attack their critics, Nabisco did something that I found astounding. They brought in a couple of artists who printed off all the responses, rolled them into little tubes, and formed the word “Love” out of the negative responses, and created a background out of the positive ones.

In all the recent controversies about marriage (and other major issues as well, such as immigration, economic reform, and so on), I’ve been troubled at the harsh reactions from some of my Christian brothers and sisters. I realize that it’s difficult when things we hold dear are challenged and even taken down, and I understand the emotion that results when we become ideological enemies with other people.

But we have already been given our response to this situation. Jesus said,

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:43-45)

Jesus spoke into a cultural and historic reality that allowed for all kinds of enemies, not the least of which were the Romans. He didn’t, for example, endorse the Romans’ occupational oppression of Israel, but instead recognized it as something real and unavoidable. And into that reality he called for his followers to love and pray.

I didn’t hear Nabisco endorsing any particular brand of family. I did hear them recognizing, as they said, that things change. And indeed they have. For them, such change hasn’t altered the mission of their Honey Graham’s department (or whatever it’s called). They still make graham crackers for kids to eat, regardless of their family environment.

We Christians also live in a changing environment. Like it or not, things we have held dear have changed, but our place and mission in the world has not. We are still called to join the apostle Paul in proclaiming that

“. . . in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them . . .” (2 Corinthians 5:10)

And we are to do that as ones who love and pray for our so-called enemies.

Why is it that we have trouble with this, but Nabisco seems to get it?

Nabisco. They make and sell cookies and graham crackers and the like.

Some might say that we have nothing to learn from popular culture. I would suggest that we have a great deal to learn, even if it comes from a cookie company.

If we have ears, let us hear.