Bert and Ernie, Sexual Orientation, and Humanness

There have been heated internet discussions over the last couple of years related to the sexual orientation of the beloved Sesame Street Muppets “Bert” and “Ernie.”  Some are making the case that since both Muppets are male, live together, fight like a couple, sleep in the same room, etc, that the obvious fact should be realized – Bert and Ernie are gay.  You can even find an online petition to have Bert and Ernie admit their homosexual relationship, come out of the closet, and get married.  Well, all those discussions, petitions, and desires have finally been met with an official response from Sesame Workshop, the non-profit organization that is the mastermind of Sesame Street.  In a statement on, where else, Facebook, Sesame Workshop wrote:

“Bert and Ernie are best friends.  They were created to teach preschoolers that people can be good friends with those who are very different from themselves. Even though they are identified as male characters and possess many human traits and characteristics (as most Sesame Street Muppets™ do), they remain puppets, and do not have a sexual orientation.”

I find the response by Sesame Workshop to be fascinating.  On the one hand, their response points out the obvious fact that a Muppet is not defined by human sexual orientation, male or female, and therefore any attempt to invoke intimate human sexuality in the activities of these make-believe creations is not only folly, but simply impossible.  On the other hand, you could argue that Sesame Workshop took the “easy” way out by not offending either side, opting for the “hey, Muppets aren’t humans” position.  In this case, it just so happens that the easy way out is also the correct way and it is a beautiful thing when those two elements coincide.

The real interest in Sesame Workshop’s response is the unfortunate parallel in their appeal to the lack of gender in a Muppet to our culture’s similar desire to distort the created order’s intended differences between male and female.  For many, the Sesame Workshop description that Muppets “do not have a sexual orientation” is exactly the intended destination of an open sexual orientation position.  The final victory is not when folks begin to “accept” homosexual and transgendered behavior.  The final victory is when folks do not notice any difference.  Any step, regardless of how small, toward that kind of an end result is a dangerous attack on the very nature of humanness – that God has created us male and female.  In the world of Christian faith, those small steps come in the form of an unbiblical approach to gender roles and disregard for Scripture’s repeated teaching on sexual identity.  No matter how counter-cultural or personally difficult the topic of sexual behavior might be to intelligent thinking Christians, becoming a Muppet is just not an option.  We must trust God, trust His Word, and refuse to teach something as good which in the eyes of God is sinful.

Muppets do not need a Savior.  Humans do.  If we reach a place where we ultimately deny our humanness, then even the central teaching of Scripture, the Savior Jesus Christ, will be denied.  As my good friend the Apostle Paul was prone to say – “May it never be!”  May it never be indeed.            

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