Below is an article from Sojourners magazine.
What cause do you suppose could bring more than 25,000 evangelical Christians together in San Francisco this past weekend: Immigration? The Iraq war? Climate change? Nope, a celebration of "virtue."
The two-day rally branded itself as Battle Cry for a Generation and fits into a broader national campaign to provide Christian youth with alternative entertainment - Christian rock and rap - and teach clear values.
The moving force behind the campaign is Ron Luce, host of the cable television show Acquire the Fire and author of literature geared for Christian teens. Luce freely uses the language of warfare to express how youth are under attack from a culture that celebrates wanton violence and sexual promiscuity. Corporate commercial centers target youth with a "virtue terrorism," Luce charges, and are winning the battle for their souls. Luce frames his efforts as a culture war, and wants to arm Christian youth with Bible-based solutions for life. The red flags and slogans he uses for Battle Cry for a Generation are revolutionary chic and emotive. Luce is savvy enough to realize that if you are going to resist mainstream pop culture, you have to provide youth a compelling alternative.
Despite my misgivings about the onward Christian soldier motif, I share the concerns that inspire the Battle Cry movement. As a father of four children quickly moving into adolescence I am painfully aware of how advertisers and entertainment outlets hone in on their demographic. The sexualization of youth culture is a primary tool to motivate their desires for consumer behavior. At first blush, that statement appears to be an oversimplification. It's not - titillation is the engine that drives the commercial machine.
So when Luce bemoans the MTV stereotypes of attractive young women and the celluloid images of manhood packed with violence, I am ready to raise his red flag of counter cultural resistance. I, too, do not let my kids run loose on MySpace and closely monitor the DVDs they bring into the house. So much of pop culture is a values cesspool, and I want my kids to understand how those distorted values corrupt a healthy soul.
Of late there have been some encouraging trends in pop culture. A relatively new film company, Walden Films, is making family entertainment that embeds meaningful values. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and Charlotte's Web are two of their initial forays into the theaters. And at a time when marketers tell us that only promiscuous sex and violence sell, a rather wholesome "High School Musical" has become a pop phenomenon. These successes hopefully will spawn a new wave of media that I will be happy to see make its way into my home.
Thus, it saddens me to see an event such as the Battle Cry for a Generation rally detour off its original path. It throws itself into the polarized debates on same-sex marriage and abortion. Ostensibly, that is why San Francisco was chosen as the site of the high profile rally last weekend. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, the Battle Cry invitation stated, "[Come to] the very City Hall steps where several months ago, gay marriages were celebrated for all the world to see."
Predictably, advocates for a libertine culture came out of the woodwork to host a counter-rally. The San Francisco Chronicle ran a front page story covering the conflict - protesters were quoted as calling the event a "fascist mega-pep rally." In the scuffle, the profound range of issues that the Battle Cry raises are lost. Opposition to gay marriage drowns out all concerns about greed, materialism, and the assault on our kids' innocence.
Lamentably, the media fans the flames of the conflict. The Chronicle knows which story will sell papers in San Francisco, in other words. But I also fault the narrow vision of those who stand behind the Battle Cry. If you want to make a symbolic stand, why not go to the town where Desperate Housewives is filmed? Or host the rally in New York City where Sex and the City is set. A gathering outside the studios of MTV also would be rich with symbolism.
I simply cannot understand why so many evangelicals consider same-sex marriage as the prime threat to the virtue of heterosexual families. Honestly, which has ruined more marriages: The extramarital affairs that are so brazenly celebrated on Desperate Housewives or the decision of two men or two women who love each other to make their lifelong commitment public? I don't think there is any doubt about the answer to that question. Yet most discussion of sex and values in the church veers inevitably to the gay and lesbian issues.
I have a proposal: Let's do an honest appraisal of teenage sexuality and lifestyle. Let's evaluate how the values of youth are shaped, and what forces are at play to move them in one direction or another. And let's ignore those political blocs that want to utilize vital family issues for their own agenda.