Superman Comes Out

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What if Superman was gay?

Apparently, he is. Well, sort of.

DC Comics announced today that the latest iteration of Superman—Clark Kent’s son, Jonathan Kent—is bisexual. DC illustrated the news with a panel of the younger Superman kissing another young man. That story is playing out in the pages of the new comic Superman: Son of Kal-El, which launched in July.

That part of the new series’ storyline is just one element that feels as if it could have been pulled directly from today’s progressive social media blasts. Jonathan has also fought wildfires sparked by climate change, stopped a school shooting and joined protests for immigrants being deported, according to a summary of the comic book in dynuz.com.

Superman—at least his younger iteration—is hardly the first super-powered comic character to come out. Marvel’s Northstar did the same thing all the way back in 1992. And many others have followed since then, including, most recently, Tim Drake (aka, Robin) in the August issue of Batman: Urban Legends. Ditto Batwoman, back in 2006 and more recently on the CW show of the same name.

But Superman’s LGBT reveal is bigger. Superman—even if it’s not Clark, but his son—feels different. Superman is the icon, the template, the archetype for the entire genre. To make Superman gay in the comics illustrates the depth to which the LGBT worldview has permeated and infused popular culture.

“It is not Northstar, who your aunt has never heard of,” Glen Weldon, author of Superman: The Unauthorized Biography, said. “It’s not Hulkling. It’s not Wiccan. It’s not Fire and Ice. It’s not Tasmanian Devil. It is Superman. That counts for something—just in terms of visibility, just in terms of the fact that this is going to attract attention.”

Indeed, I can’t argue with Weldon’s logic here. “Superman Is Gay” is the kind of headline that gets attention because it confronts us with the reality of an icon from an older era fully embracing the ethos and mores of the current one. This is a big deal because Superman is known for  pursuing “truth, justice and the American way.” And the man holding the title Superman now is gay.

Many in mainstream culture have celebrated this culture shift. Those of us who maintain a traditional, orthodox biblical conviction with regard to sexuality increasingly find ourselves on the defensive, especially when it comes to raising children in this confusing age. So how should we respond?

First, and this is hard for some of us, realize that the proverbial genie isn’t going back in the bottle. We may wish it was 2005 or 1985 or 1955 or earlier, as if that would solve the problem. But it’s not, and it won’t. This is the cultural moment in which we find ourselves, a moment that is desperately looking for transcendent purpose and meaning in sexuality—not unlike the cultural environment that the Apostle Paul faced in cities like Corinth and Ephesus. We might wish that the culture was more in line with what we believe, but it’s not and it’s not likely going back.

Second, it’s important to understand how we got here. This cultural shift hasn’t happened overnight. Rather, the seeds for our current moment were planted, in different ways, in the Enlightenment and Romantic Age. They were watered and fertilized again by modernism and the rejection of God in the 20th century and especially the 1960s. And they have now born fruit in today’s anything-goes, radical individual sovereignty that defines our era. It’s more than a simple embrace of all things sexual; that stance itself is merely a symptom—albeit an important one—of the fact that we’re built for a transcendent experience with God but have largely rejected the possibility of His existence or a meaningful relationship with Him.

Third, we must recognize what’s at stake and commit to engaging in this philosophical and theological war for our children’s hearts, minds and souls. The world’s self-oriented perspective on sexuality permeates so many of our entertainment stories today. And if we hope to equip our children with a worldview that can resist our culture’s constant catechism in this area, we have to be ready to talk and teach. Gone are the days when perhaps one uncomfortable conversation or two about sex would suffice to set our children on the right path (if those days ever existed in the first place!). Our culture is having a conversation with our kids every day in this area. And we must be ready and willing to wade into it, too, as parents.

Fourth, our conversation with our kids, as uncomfortable as it may seem, must be built on a theological foundation that understands the purpose and place of sexuality as God has designed it. These two questions are critical: What is the purpose of sex? And who gets to decide? As Christians, we believe and embrace the idea that God created us, male and female, in His Image. A man and woman’s sexual expression in marriage reflects that image, unifies that couple in an incredible marital bond and yields something profound: new life. That’s God’s design. His intent. Our culture, in contrast, believes that sexuality is primarily about pleasure. It’s not about God, marriage or children at all—but about self-fulfillment and actualization. To instill a lasting, Christian ethic in our children will require engagement with these issues at a level that goes past a “birds and bees” talk.  

Finally, those philosophical cornerstones lead to practical and concrete considerations.

Some stories are simply toxic, in both their imagery and their worldview. We will avoid those, even as we look for opportunities to teach and critique the culture’s worldview in other areas, embracing what is true, noble, beautiful and good (see Philippians 4:8) and teaching our children to recognize distortions of those virtues.  

So … Superman has come out. Surprised? Don’t be. But at the same time, realize that you, too, have a chance to be a superhero in your family as you help your children to learn what God had in mind when He created male and female, gave them to one another in marriage, and declared it very good.

Adam R. Holz

After serving as an associate editor at NavPress’ Discipleship Journal and consulting editor for Current Thoughts and Trends, Adam now oversees the editing and publishing of Plugged In’s reviews as the site’s director. He and his wife, Jennifer, have three children. In their free time, the Holzes enjoy playing games, a variety of musical instruments, swimming and … watching movies.

18 Responses

  1. -Two things wrong with this blogpost:
    1. It was revealed yesterday, not today
    2. Johnathan is bisexual, not gay

    Anyways, it feels like a cheap move for DC to do this, to say that Superman is gay but to then find out that it’s not actually Superman who’s gay but rather his son. It almost feels like a publicity stunt, if that makes sense.

    It will be interesting to see if this translates into increased sales in comics. Personally, I haven’t bought a Superman comic in two years, mostly because I felt the new writers made the story uninteresting (I REALLY miss Dan Jurgens).

  2. -This article was an absolute pain to read. Superman isn’t gay, his son is bisexual. Which already in that case feels like a feeble attempt at representation. Yet, this article seems to think that this means we are all deviating from God oh no! You can be bisexual, gay, etc, and still be Christian.
    Sexuality isn’t just pleasure, it’s a fundamental part of who someone is. Someone who is a gay man is only attracted to men. Meaning they fall IN LOVE with men. This doesn’t just mean sex. In fact, many people are gay AND asexual, meaning it has nothing to do with sex at all.
    I was genuinely interested in this article, but I feel like you are attacking people’s identities.
    If a man and women falling in love can be discussed with children than two women and two men can be as well, otherwise romance should never be a part of children’s media because you find it inappropriate.

  3. -I’m sick and tired of all this acceptance junk that’s been going on for years now. Whether it’s accepting homosexuality, transgender people, or recently people who don’t claim to be anything no matter what body parts they were born with it’s all getting ridiculous and downright sickening to me. Sometimes I wish people still believed in the Bible like they did in the good old days of the 80s and 90s.

    1. -The ’80s, when Prince and Boy George were all the rage? The ’90s, when Kurt Cobain would perform in dresses, Ellen came out, and the concept of genderqueerness went mainstream?

      Watch out for false nostalgia.

      1. -All I know is that Christian music was alive and well back then with people like Carman calling out America for all it’s wrongs it was doing, but as soon as the 2000s started acceptance seemed to be the new thing and it’s only gotten worse as time goes on.

      2. -I still remember gays and transgenders being called out back then, but nowadays we’re supposed to love everyone and accept people for who they are, blah blah blah. Brokeback Mountain being a huge hit and Bruce Jenner turning into a woman was just the start of it unfortunately.

    2. -Lmao the 80s and 90s? You must be a 2000s child if you think the 80s and 90s were “good old fashioned Christian society”.

    3. -Michael I totally agree with you. I too am getting sick of this world becoming complacent and totally okay with everything wrong and totally un natural/messed up and otherwise not as we were created or intended to function. Although the author makes some good points and overall I think was trying to say that even if the world is totally lost and clueless right now, it doesn’t we can’t stay true to what God really wants and the real values and concepts we’re supposed to have (male and female in beautiful only for each other, fully fulled marriage with the chance of new life etc.) Yes, i think the world has reached it’s not turning point back like Sodom and Gomorrah, but I also agree that I too wish we were in the olden days where at least if it happened it wasn’t so in your face, front and center, and literally pushing in every area. At least back then they weren’t try to teach our kids in kindergarten how to have sex or hey you can be any gender you want but have no clue about crap.

    4. -Michael I totally agree with you. I too am getting sick of this world becoming complacent and totally okay with everything wrong and totally un natural/messed up and otherwise not as we were created or intended to function. Although the author makes some good points and overall I think was trying to say that even if the world is totally lost and clueless right now, it doesn’t we can’t stay true to what God really wants and the real values and concepts we’re supposed to have (male and female in beautiful only for each other, fully fulled marriage with the chance of new life etc.) Yes, i think the world has reached it’s not turning point back, but I also agree that I too wish we were in the olden days where at least if it happened it wasn’t so in your face, front and center, and literally pushing in every area.

    5. -Have to say, I am getting sick of this world becoming complacent and totally okay with everything wrong and totally un natural/messed up and otherwise not as we were created or intended to function. Although the author makes some good points and overall I think was trying to say that even if the world is totally lost and clueless right now, it doesn’t we can’t stay true to what God really wants and the real values and concepts we’re supposed to have (male and female in beautiful only for each other, fully fulled marriage with the chance of new life etc.) Yes, i think the world has reached it’s not turning point back like Sodom and Gomorrah, but I also agree that I too wish we were in the olden days where at least if it happened it wasn’t so in your face, front and center, and literally pushing in every area. At least back then they weren’t try to teach our kids in kindergarten how to have sex or hey you can be any gender you want but have no clue about crap.

  4. -Reading a comic book with a bi or gay character is not going to turn your little fundy bi or gay. If he or she already is, then he or she already is, and no amount of propaganda or threats is going to change that. Besides, it’s my feeling comic book collectors aren’t kids under the age of 12 any more.

    1. -Yes, I imagine the typical fan of paper comic books is in the 20-50 range and well set in their ways, gender-wise.

    2. -Yeah, well just cause my kid may dress up in a dinosaur costume doesn’t make him a dinosaur and no it may not turn him homo, but if he is at a young impressionable age which alot of comic book readers and basically where most of this stuff is being targeted- then yes it could greatly influence his already very impressionable and stil developing not even reached full puberty mind. Just saying.

  5. -“Anyways, it feels like a cheap move for DC to do this, to say that Superman is gay but to then find out that it’s not actually Superman who’s gay but rather his son. It almost feels like a publicity stunt, if that makes sense.”

    Given that they made the announcement on “National Coming Out Day”, I don’t see how it could be interpreted as anything *but* a publicity stunt.

  6. You do know that scholarly treatments of the six or seven so called “clobber” passages in the Bible used to defend a fundamentalist view of homosexuality are growing in acceptance in Christianity, don’t you? These arguments use solid exegesis to place those passages in perspective, just like fundamentalist do with other parts of the Bible. FotF mistakenly assumes that being a Christian means agreeing with their set of fundamentalist views. Not surprising that this article preaches the dangers of the dreaded homosexual agenda – it’s their favorite boogeyman.

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