The Sex Scandals

December 15, 2017

If you are not familiar with The Babylon Bee, it is a parody news site. Parody exaggerates for comic effect, but comedy to work and to especially make biting social commentary must contain an element of truth wrapped in its exaggeration. The current celebrity sex scandals have been a ripe field for the Babylon Bee.

One of the first such headlines to catch my attention read: “Another Actress Accuses Kirk Cameron of Treating Her with Respect.” The “article” goes on to quote this fictional actress as saying, “I never felt threatened, and I always felt safe and respected.” Another line states that women were treated “like fellow humans with inherent value, and not as sexual objects to be exploited.” Those are great lines.

Christian ethics do teach us to treat people with respect and not exploit them using them as objects. The Bible views sexuality as created by God and beautiful, but it is to be reserved for the relationship of marriage, marriage of a man and woman. We are taught not to lust (Matthew 5:27-28). So, when Christian ethics are lived it will lead to chaste behavior.

I will admit that there have been sexual scandals among Christians including ministers and church leaders. But whenever such things happen, they are the result of sin and weakness. They are examples of not living the faith, and they are aberrations — not what happens most of the time. Christian ethics lead to chaste and respectful behavior.

Another parody headline reads: “Sexual Revolution Working Out Great, Reports Nation Full of Perverts.” This is the headline for an article dealing with all the sex scandals. It raises the question of whether we should be surprised by sex scandals after a sexual revolution that encouraged sexual license. The secular moral relativist has a problem. The sexual predator is working with an ethic of might makes right: power and prestige allow a person to take advantage of a young woman or man and get away with it. We are understandably going through a period where there is a backlash to that, which I applaud as a Christian. But we can ask the moral relativist: why is might makes right wrong? If there is no ultimate standard, objections become more like I prefer chocolate over vanilla.

The sex scandals are troubling in many ways. The “casting couch” has been a cliché all of my life. People knew such things went on but didn’t expose them. Exposure is good, but we as a nation are in need of repentance that really turns to God. Further, the very people in entertainment and government engaged in this type of activity have often pushed the sexual revolution as a social agenda. The wreckage of the sexual revolution is all around us if we have eyes to see. Finally, there is another inconsistency. As men in entertainment are being outed, the entertainment being produced is still often sexually explicit. There is much that we as Christians should not watch. Does not this material make us into a nation of voyeurs? Are not voyeurs just another kind of sexual predator? Why condemn one kind of predator and not challenge the other? The final question is: where does this all end? The Bible’s answer has always been repentance or judgment.

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Fifty Shades of Grey

February 27, 2015

Fifty Shades of Grey was the number one rated movie in the U.S in its opening weekend. In its first week, it grossed over $300 million counting domestic and foreign box office sales. According to reviewers, it has 20 minutes of sex scenes and a great deal of nudity. Clearly large numbers of people are seeing this movie.

I’ve mentioned this movie to raise a question. Do Christians draw a line at not seeing certain kinds of entertainment? Seventy-three percent of the US population identify themselves as Christian. So if I combine demographic information with box office sales, I would have to say a large number of Christians draw no lines and have no qualms about viewing any of this.

But should we? I think what is at stake is our purity of heart and our clarity of thought — Christian thought.

Sexual immorality, adultery, murder, and warfare are a part of many narratives including the Bible. The question becomes one of how are they portrayed. My concern is not just with sex but with violence and profanity as well. How are these things handled, and what do they do to our hearts and minds?

I do not want my entertainment to make me a voyeur. The definition of voyeur is “a person who gains sexual pleasure from watching others when they are naked or engaged in sexual activity.” I do not want entertainment with simulated (or real) sex or nudity. How can I watch something like this and not be turned into a voyeur? Jesus warns about the danger of lust (Matthew 5:27-30) and the danger of having sexual immorality and adultery in our hearts (Mark 7:21-23). How can this kind of entertainment be consistent with following Jesus?

I do not want my entertainment to harden me to violence and suffering. I don’t know how I can keep that from happening, if I am shown every kind of violent act graphically. I realize that violence is plot point to much drama, but I’m concerned about how it is portrayed. I’m concerned about how much of it I consume.

I do not want my entertainment to shape my worldview. I want my worldview to be shaped by the Bible. That means even in the things that I watch, I need to evaluate the message of the film. All kinds of non-Christian messages are present and must be evaluated critically. We must be active viewers. I’m not wanting to withdraw from culture but to engage it.

I have found some tools helpful in making informed choices. The Internet Movie Database (IMdb.com) web site has a Parental Guide which allows you to see content advisory information. It is helpful to parents, but it is helpful to anyone trying to make good decisions. Dove.org provides movie reviews. Their main concern is to help people find family friendly films, but their reviews also give detailed information on sex, language, violence, drugs, nudity, and a category they label as other — lead characters that exhibit disrespect for authority, lying, cheating, stealing, illegal activity, witchcraft or sorcery and whether there are any consequences to this behavior.

What I am suggesting is that we need to be a lot more black and white in our moral view towards entertainment and a lot less fifty shades of grey.


When the Flower Withers

August 23, 2013

The statistics indicate a moral change in our society that many of us have witnessed during our lifetime. The violent crime rate in the US was 160.9 per 100,000 population in 1960. In 2011, it was 386.3 per 100,000. The divorce rate in 1960 was 2.2 per 1,000 population. It reached its high point in 1981 with 5.3 per 1,000 and in 2009 was 3.5 per 1,000. If the divorce rate has dropped since the 1980s, cohabitation (“living together”) has increased. In 1960, there were 439,000 cohabiting couples. In 2005, 4.85 million cohabiting couples were reported by the Census Bureau — up more than 10 times the rate in 1960. In 1960, out of wedlock births were 5.3% of the total births. In 2007, they were 40% of the total births.

Elton Trueblood in his 1969 book, A Place to Stand, made an important observation on the moral decline of Western culture:

Always men have broken laws; that is nothing new. What is new is the acceptance of a creed to the effect that there really is not objective truth about what human conduct ought to be. The new position is not merely that the old laws do not apply, but rather that any moral law is limited to subjective reference. While this has been the position of a few individuals in various generations of the past, our time differs in that this has suddenly become the position of millions. Some of them still have a slight connection with the Judeo-Christian heritage, but the obvious conflict in convictions will, if it continues, finally dissolve even the mild connection that still appears to exist. If there is no objective right, then there is not even the possibility of error, and intellectual and moral confusion are bound to ensue.1

Trueblood calls ours “a cult-flower civilization.” His analogy means that when people first began to cut themselves off from Judeo-Christian ethics, they initially behaved in moral ways. Like the cut-flower exhibiting life though cut off from its roots. Such life though eventually withers, and in the same way, cut from the roots of Judeo-Christian ethics, our society undergoes a moral decline.

So what does this mean for Christians and the church today? It is easy to be a bit depressed, and certainly the cultural shift is lamentable. But it does not change our mission to share the good news. In fact it means that the difference between the lifestyle of a truly, biblical Christian is going to be even more distinct from the world around us. We face a culture much more like the one that Peter and Paul faced. They saw opportunity. The good news went out into that kind of world and turned the world upside down. When the flower withers, the good news is needed all the more.

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1Elton Trueblood, A Place to Stand, p. 15.