Swearing on Amazing Race

Last week I was watching Amazing Race. One of the contestants this season is Mel White, whom many look at as the founder of the gay Christian movement (he founded the gay Christian organization Soulforce, an activist organization that works for the “freedom for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people from religious oppression through the practice of relentless nonviolent resistance.”) Before he came out, Dr. White was a ghostwriter for the likes of Billy Graham, Pat Robertson, Jim Bakker and Jerry Falwell. I know, some lightweights, huh?

When White did come out he was vilified, and publically hated within the Christian community at large, and I have absolutely no idea what that must have been like for an entire population of folks whom you love and serve, so quickly and so publically turn their backs on you—even as I don’t believe Christ would have turned His back on White in the same situation. I don’t know Mel White personally, but I do know some people who call him a friend. And they have nothing but great things to say about a man who has been through what only very few could imagine.

Back to the Amazing Race…I was watching the episode above and at the time of 7:56 in this video, on national TV Mel White swore in anger. It was so pronounced that they had to fuzz out his mouth so no one could read his lips. Now this is NOT a judgment on him. I was just shocked to see it.

I have a friend who knows Mel ask me not to write something like this about him because of the effect it might have on a potential future relationship with him. But isn’t iron to sharpen iron? To be honest, it’s not just Dr. White. I cringe whenever I hear any believer swear. Maybe I’m just that old school? But as a professor of mine in seminary says,

“The world doesn’t read the Bible, they read Christians.”

I long that the world can read Christians and see a unique group of folks who put Jesus’ hands and feet to this earth in not only what we do and how we do it, but also with what we say.

Much love.
www.themarinfoundation.org

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About Andrew Marin

Andrew Marin is President and Founder of The Marin Foundation (www.themarinfoundation.org). He is author of the award winning book Love Is an Orientation (2009), its interactive DVD curriculum (2011), and recently an academic ebook titled Our Last Option: How a New Approach to Civility can Save the Public Square (2013). Andrew is a regular contributor to a variety of media outlets and frequently lectures at universities around the world. Since 2010 Andrew has been asked by the United Nations to advise their various agencies on issues of bridging opposing worldviews, civic engagement, and theological aspects of reconciliation. For twelve years he lived in the LGBT Boystown neighborhood of Chicago, and is currently based St. Andrews, Scotland, where he is teaching and researching at the University of St. Andrews earning his PhD in Constructive Theology with a focus on the Theology of Culture. Andrew's research centers on the cultural, political, and religious dynamics of reconciliation. Andrew is married to Brenda, and you can find him elsewhere on Twitter (@Andrew_Marin), Facebook (AndrewMarin01), and Instagram (@andrewmarin1).

  • adam mclane

    Certainly, I’m no saint on this issue! But as a fan of the show I have two thoughts.

    First, I love the back story on the contestant. Very interesting… they are my sleeper favorites right now to win.

    Second, it’s one of those deals in a reality show. I can imagine, in context, it was a comment that just came out via frustration. Just a few frames later his son says the “safe equivalent” of a cuss word. :) I think its just one of those things that slipped out and with the joys of editing they put that on the show. Of course, he may not have cussed and they may have just bleeped it out!

  • Andrew Marin

    oooooo, good call on the “he may not have cussed and they may have just bleeped it out” part.

    I didn’t think about that…I guess I just take “reality” shows as actual reality, not realizing there might be trickery involved in things like, “hey, let’s bleep out the Christian guy’s mouth so people think he swore.” Drat! My wife always tells me I’m not cynical enough…

    Though I still believe in my main point about swearing in general (and I still LOVE you to death Adam!!!! no judgments, just my thoughts).

    And yes, they’re my sleeper favorites as well!

  • Matthew McNutt

    I'm going to jump in, too, with a "maybe he wasn't actually swearing" comment, too. I was on season three of Biggest Loser and this happened to one of my friends. She's very religious, and careful … but her friends, family, everyone was shocked to see her getting bleeped out all the time. She was actually saying 'frick,' but they had editted her into a villian type and it made her look worse to bleep her – she came across as a vulgar, hateful person. Shameful editting, especially since they don't have a problem with the word – others were not bleeped using it on the same season.Something even worse happened to Tammy Faye when she was on that reality show with Vanilla Ice, etc. I think it was called 'Surreal Life'? If you watched it, there was one episode where a couple house mates were skinny dipping in the pool, then they cut to Tammy Faye sitting by the side of the pool watching them. She had actually had no idea anyone went skinny dipping – but they took footage of her sitting by the pool and put it into the episode to make it look like she was.So, just some food for thought. Reality TV is generally a far different version than what happened … something I thought I knew before I went on Biggest Loser, but was shocked to find out just how manipulated and editted what we see on TV actually is. : )

  • Andrew Marin

    Hi Matthew! If there is ANYONE who knows about this it's my favorite reality TV start friend!!! I love your words and expamples…thanks for your thoughts. You have influenced my thoughts on this quite a bit.Go Biggest Loser!

  • Anonymous

    That poor guy(re: the coming out situation)! Is there any way the Marin Foundation can reach out to him?

  • Anonymous

    You have got to be kidding–

    Yes, “iron sharpens iron”, but since when is it ever beneficial to do it on a blog? and for someone you don’t even personally…how did you possibly “sharpen his iron”? If you want to slam him, then slam him, don’t pull the “iron sharpens iron” line.

    Next time when your friends tell you not to do something…listen to them. Surely you have bigger things to be concerned about.

  • Andrew Marin

    Anonymous #2:I totally see your point…and the broader point I was trying to make was regarding swearing in general. The "iron sharpening iron" comment…that is a face to face situation – one that I was trying to (and poorly I now see) make the point that regardless of who we are, we should all represent our faith the best as we can. But as my reality TV star friend pointed out in his earlier comment, well, just read his comment and it sums it all up. I am sorry how it all came across. And as I said at the end of the post, the "big idea" point I was trying to make was:"But as a professor of mine in seminary says,The world doesn’t read the Bible, they read Christians.I long that the world can read Christians and see a unique group of folks who put Jesus’ hands and feet to this earth in not only what we do and how we do it, but also with what we say."Forgive my inability in this post to communicate that more clearly.

  • Matthew McNutt

    I don't think I agree with slamming Andrew for talking about this on a blog; if someone does something in a public medium, for example, television, then they are inviting a public response to what is communicated.


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