In 2005, a promotional video which showed SpongeBob along with other characters from children's shows singing together to promote diversity and tolerance, was attacked by an evangelical group in the United States because they saw the character SpongeBob being used as an advocate for homosexuality. James Dobson of Focus on the Family accused the makers of the video of promoting homosexuality due to a pro-homosexual group sponsoring the video.
The incident led to questions to whether or not SpongeBob is homosexual. Creator of the character, Stephen Hillenburg, had previously denied that SpongeBob was gay in 2002 when SpongeBob's popularity with gay men grew. He clarified that he considers the character to be "almost asexual". After Dobson made the comments, Hillenburg repeated this assertion that sexual preference was never considered during the creation of the show. Tom Kenny and other production members were shocked and surprised that such an issue had arisen.
Dobson later asserted that his comments were taken out of context and that his original complaints were not with SpongeBob, the video, or any of the characters in the video but with the organization that sponsored the video, We Are Family Foundation. Dobson indicated that the We Are Family Foundation posted pro-homosexual material on their website, but later removed it. After the controversy, John H. Thomas, the United Church of Christ's general minister and president, said they would welcome SpongeBob into their ministry. He said "Jesus didn't turn people away. Neither do we".
Did it ever occur to anyone that SpongeBob is just a silly cartoon? Certainly, there is a lot of trash on television, but I can honestly say that SpongeBob is one of the few clean shows available for all people, young and old. I think that this controversy brings up a pretty important issue. Many groups and organizations, it seems, want to find support for their agendas in everything they see or experience. Why?
In my opinion, SpongeBob was barely the issue for any of the different groups mentioned in the passage above. There were three groups with three agendas, and these three groups wanted reasons to bring attention to themselves. Firstly, the Focus on the Family spokesman saw the SpongeBob ad as a way of promoting his organization. I don't doubt that he was worried about the moral statement the advertisement seemed to be making, but he was more interested in bringing attention to himself. He later even said that he wasn't even criticizing the show. He just wanted to find a way to attack the gay community and promote his own organization. The gay community was of course trying to find a way to get its agenda across: acceptance of homosexuality. None of this would have been an issue if the gay community was not trying to find a "gay" character to support its cause. And finally, the UCC minister was trying to advertise his denomination. In 2005, the general synod of the UCC officially recognized gay marriage. Rev. Thomas probably did not care much about the SpongeBob ad, but since the issue arose he used the controversy as a way of promoting his church.
But why is this important? Often, when we read and interpret the Bible we become guilty of eisegesis, defined by wikipedia as "misinterpreting a text in such a way that it introduces one's own ideas". The issue in the SpongeBob controversy is not who was right or wrong, but the reason behind the controversy in the first place. Obviously, no one, except the creator of the show, pointed out that SpongeBob was merely a sponge and that promoting homosexuality was not the intention of the maker . There would have been no controversy if the show was seen the way it really was intended to be seen.
So when we read the Bible we must ask the right question. What was the intention of the Creator? What is God trying to tell us, and not what can we find in the Bible that will support our cause? I sometimes find that I am looking for something in the Bible to support my belief and prove it to others instead of allowing the Bible to speak for itself--- instead of allowing God to speak. Let's open our hearts to what God has to say. You may be surprised at what you hear.