There is no better case in point for the urgent need of spiritual reformation in America, Australia and the “Christian” West than this week’s 60 second Superbowl ad called “Foot Washing” by allegedly Christian brand “He Gets Us”.
The Apostle Paul might as well have been writing Romans 12:2 after watching its not so subtle messages to cultures steeped in idolatry of sexual sin, baby killing, race and critical humanism in general.
The message to America from these “Christians” is “You’re perfect exactly as you are: don’t change a thing.“
“He gets us.”
The publishers of this ad claim it’s all about humbly putting aside our differences and valuing the “other”. It’s if only that was all it said. But as with all syncretism (the destructive mingling of true Christian doctrine with false religions such as paganism or humanism), it has elements of good no one can object to.
There are 12 scenes depicted with carefully constructed photographs displayed in a slow zoom in for the few seconds each is on the screen. Some of them are simple and uncomplicated illustrations of Christian servanthood, the ostensible goal of this ad.
The first scene is of a white, middle class, perhaps a little vintage, nuclear family with young adult children. In this scene, a son kneeling to wash his father’s feet. Nothing negative here. What a wonderful world it would be, in fact, if the stereotypical teenage rebellion was more commonly replaced by humble respect of and submission to the wisdom, experience and love of good fathers in every home. Very 50s, and very Christian. This would be a wonderful cultural reformation.
But the second scene is of a Latino cop kneeling before a black man in a dark alley at night, the lights on his patrol car flashing brightly 50 metres back. In isolation there’s nothing at all wrong with this. After all, it was Jesus in all His authority who served His disciples by washing the dust of the day’s journey from their feet.
Yet it’s not isolated; not without cultural context. It’s 2020s America, where all hardworking, good cops are targets of violence, abuse and hatred. It’s a given the overwhelming majority of cops are sacrificial and generally servant-hearted in the choice and continuation of their careers. This message is not counter cultural like Jesus. It’s sermonising. It’s lecturing cops, not the people they most frequently have occasion to interact with, that they need to be more Christian.
Worse, this message is an affirmation of the toxic Black Lives Matter® messages that cops are the problem, never criminals, and every institution and tradition is structurally racist. This was an opportunity missed because the unChristian attitudes that need to be corrected in culture are those of people who think law enforcement officers should kneel before racial minorities in meek submission and surrender. The blacktivist culture that lionises appalling career criminals with long histories of violence and substance abuse needs to learn humility more than any other group.
Simply swapping the roles of who was washing whose feet in humility would have been a powerfully countercultural message, “Don’t hate cops.” No one rejects the message that hateful racism is wrong.
Scene three is of a high school hallway with an attractive but modestly dressed, popular-girl type pouring her water bottle on the feet of a died-hair skater girl who’s obviously not so concerned with traditional femininity – close cropped hair and black finger and toes nails doing nothing for her failed attempts to be an individual. A lovely bridging of angst-ridden teen social gaps.
The fourth scene is a lovely scene again of two men, one white, one native American, and the former washing the feet of the other. I don’t know where they got such a big tub let alone filled it with water in the middle of the desert, but one might be trying too hard to find anything wrong with this scene.
The next scene is really where the so-called “Christian” producers come right off the rails and tell a story of a thousand – demonic – words.
It depicts a very young lady, late teens to early 20s at the most, with her feet being washed by another lady old enough to be her mother. On the wall behind them are the words, right above the motherly lady’s head, “Family Planning Clinic.” Of course, by “family planning”, they primarily mean woman traumatising and baby killing: family destroying. To the right of the picture and some 20 metres away are six pro life Christian activists carrying signs saying “Save the unborn” and “Choice or child”.
It’s plausibly deniable that the group behind the ad intended to contrast the lady washing the girl’s feet with the other Christians holding the signs. It’s undeniable that all Christians should see abortion-vulnerable women with the same compassion as Jesus does… and the vast majority of Christians do. The handful of fringe wackos who hate post-abortive women and claim to be Christian are very few and not at all approved of by Jesus.
But that’s not in fact how most non-Christians are going to interpret this picture when they see it. They’re going to see it as a commentary on the hatefulness of pro life advocates who maintain vigils outside abortion clinics, and a call from some woke “Christians” to instead be more “Christlike” and just leave the poor girls alone as a higher form of loving their neighbour.
That is demonic deception, whether deliberate or inadvertant – the latter being hard to credit to intelligent, strategic communicaters.
Scene six is of a young lady washing the feet of a past-middle age, chain smoking, alcoholic, aneamic woman who hasn’t cleaned her kitchen for a very long time. Yes, this is all positive Christianity – we, like Jesus, love people exactly where they are and despite how they are. It needs to be said for the sake of other the scenes, although merely accepting this woman is a huge first step in her emotional and mental health, it is by no means enough if there no offer of practical intervention in her behaviours and circumstances. Washing her feet isn’t enough.
To leave her as she was found is to hate her, and that is why Jesus never did that to any person trapped in the pathetic grip of sin. That is why we should not withhold the Truth of their behaviours and ideas to any sinners whether they are part of a minority or not. To love them as they are is one thing, but to simply leave them as they are is to hate our neighbours.
Our culture doesn’t need affirmation, it needs a radical reformation.
Scene 7 could be a harmless nod to the self-created divide between radical climate activists already privileged by Western wealth raging against cheap energy and fossil fuels and the rest of humanity. Again, it’s the wrong person practicing humility. The weathered, obviously hardworking man at an oil drilling site in the middle of nowhere is washing the feet of a tender-aged, hippie-looking female with the typically facile cardboard sign demanding “clean air now”. She doesn’t look like she knows the meaning of hard work, let alone the consequences of banning fossil fuels to developing nations who are losing lives to chronic respiratory disease because they burn animal dung every night to cook the family meal.
Yes, it’s very Christian to love your enemies, and this drill worker is an exemplary Christian, but he’s not the one who created the polarised divide with arrogance and petulance.
Scene 8 is of a typical American housewife washing the feet of a Latino lady fresh off the bus to Chicago cradling a baby in her arms with what may be all of her wordly possessions in a large garbage bag on the ground beside her. The implication is criticism of an open borders policy is “obviously” hate, because Christian humility would be to have no border security, quarantine regulations or immigration measures. Everyone from everywhere should be welcomed of course, which includes free healthcare and voting rights.
This ad is making the Gospel partisan. Yes, the Kingdom of God is political, but it’s not Democrat or Republican, Australian Labor/Green or Liberal partisan. Yes, Jesus would have compassion on the stranger in our midst, but He also created nations and their borders and authorised governments to punish wrongdoers – such as those who break border, quaratine and immigration laws carefully designed to protect citizens. It’s not as simple as this lovely picture suggests.
Scenes 9 & 10 are somewhat benign, yet over and again this ad depicts the left wing narrative of the perceived “powerful” humbly washing the feet of a person typically “othered”, a member of an arbitrarily selected minority group. No red heads, southpaws or vertically challenged people are being humbly served by anyone, and no protected minority person is washing the feet of someone with less intersectionality points.
Scene 11 is perhaps the most wholesome, least semantically loaded picture of them all. Two senior men, one white and one black, each have a foot soaking in a tub, with a bottle of something within reach, relaxing on the porch of a wood cabin which appears to be a very rural cafe. Lovely, but brace yourself.
The final scene before the advertisers tell us what they really think most people think about Jesus care of most Christians they’ve met, is of a white, presumably Roman Catholic priest, washing the feet of a black male whose personal styling decisions and poise give one the impression he is either sexually or gender confused – or both.
The subtextual yet clear message to culture is a demonic lie:
“Your sexual behaviour doesn’t matter to Jesus.”
First, let’s get something straight (no pun intended): Jesus never washed the feet of unrepentant sinners. He washed the feet of His disciples, those people who had committed their lives to following Him, obeying Him, and submitting to His Lordship. Yes, this included Judas Isacriot would later betray Him, but the message in that is that Jesus doesn’t condemn you before you’ve betrayed Him. Your free will is yours until your own behaviour condemns you.
Second, although Jesus didn’t condemn the woman caught in sinful sexual behaviour (in her case, adultery), Jesus never came even close to doing what the producers of this ad’ seek to do – affirming that behaviour. He said to her, and He says to every sexually/gender confused person or porn addict or adulterer struggling with their feelings:
“Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.”
He left her in absolutely no confusion about the reality of her sinfulness and the imperative of necessary changes in her behaviour. So by refraining from condemning her, He clearly wasn’t shrinking from criticising her. “Condemn” in that specific story meant execute – stone to death as required by the Law of Moses.
Don’t do that. But people using this account to teach silence about immorality let alone “affirmation” read far too much into it.
Of course Christians, the people of God, are meant to know right from wrong and warn those in darkness lest they stumble. And as voters and citizens of a democracy, how can we not say “Amen!” to the prayer of Solomon?
“Give [me] an understanding heart to judge Your people, that I may discern between good and evil. For who is able to judge this great people of Yours?”
We need a spiritual reformation in Christianity where we pray for God’s understanding of every issue so we can recognise the difference between right and wrong, for without His wisdom and righteousness there is no one qualified to govern or decide public policy.
The false premise of this syncretistic preaching is that most people think Jesus taught hate, and the advertisers clearly place the blame for that on orthodox, traditional, mainstream, historically faithful Christians.
They feel that if only people knew Jesus “washed feet”, they would start thinking Jesus is nice.
They declare with confidence in their final statement:
“He gets us. All of us.”
But does He? Does He get all of us?
I mean that question in a biblical way, but cannot credit the intent of the ad’s final statement with anything more a woke salute to diversity, equity and inclusion dogma.
They mean Jesus understands – and therefore approves of – every single one of us.
I mean that Jesus as your personal Lord requires Jesus getting 100% of you – all of your values, politics, ideas, beliefs and behaviours. So I ask again, does He get all of us? Because that is the only way Jesus wants you. He is a jealous God, not willing to share you with your idols, chains, sins and condemnation. Jesus is not always nice, but He is always good.
We need a spiritual reformation in this nation to stop preaching this namby pamby, limp-wristed, compromised and diluted, woke gospel. Yes, broad is the way that leads to destruction and tragically far too many people will say, “No, Jesus – you don’t get all of me.”
We weren’t called to be popular or “winsome”. We were warned against being conformed to this world.
Yes, Jesus and we His people accept you, sinners of any predilection, as you are; just as we were invited into the Kingdom of God and accepted in our condition. But we then agreed to the miraculous exchange of our unrighteousness with His righteousness, and devoted all of our identity to His Lordship. You can’t confess you’re drowning and then demand the Lifesaver leave part of you in the water!
He really wants all of you. The question then is, will He get it?
Dave Pellowe is a Christian writer & commentator, founder of The Good Sauce, convener of the annual Australian Church And State Summit and host of Good Sauce's weekly The Church And State Show, also syndicated on ADH TV. Since 2016 Dave has undertaken the mission of arming Christians to influence culture through events from Perth to Auckland, videos, podcasts and articles published in multiple journals across Australia and New Zealand. [more]
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