The premise is simple. Four “committed” couples are flown to a tropical island and immediately separated, sent to opposite ends of the island. There they mix with attractive members of the opposite sex especially chosen for their temptation value.
During the following two weeks, each of the original eight people must go on five dates with the hired tempters.
Cameras are there to record it all in weekly episodes. Adding to the voyeuristic interest is the producer’s use of videotapes sent back from the other end of the island so each islander can see his or her partner’s behavior, in some cases provoking anger and jealousy.
Temptation Island is the latest hit television series in the United States, boosting its network’s ratings to a record high for a single show. Many people probably watch it just to see the scantily clad sexy young adults who are the stars of the program. Most viewers are soon hooked on the series, watching to see which couples stay faithful and which do not.
New twist on selling sex
The series is controversial, condemned by parents, profamily organizations and religious groups. Seldom mentioned is that the couples participating in the series are not married but were living together before they journeyed to “Temptation Island,” which is really Ambergris Caye, off the coast of Belize in Central America.
Whatever the intentions, the effect of the show is to encourage promiscuity. Soap operas have done this for years. The difference is that most people realize soaps are fiction, but this show is fact. It portrays a promiscuous way of life as exciting and fun. It legitimizes the destruction of relationships purely for sex.
The irony is that the participants are obviously searching for meaningful long-term relationships, just like everyone else.
The program does great harm in this area, not just for those on the show but for its viewers. With a constant emphasis on physical appearance and pleasure at the expense of everything else that’s involved when two people commit themselves to each other for life, loving relationships are made far more difficult if not impossible.
This is the point we have come to at the beginning of the 21st century: All too many people in Western countries seem incapable of remaining in a committed lifelong and loving relationship, even though most people profess to want one. They have little idea how to achieve their desired goal. Shows such as Temptation Island only make it more difficult.
The constant emphasis on sexual adventure that is a daily feature of television programs and movies is a startling reflection of the apostle Paul’s prophecy about society “in the last days.” “For men will be lovers of themselves,” he wrote. They will be “boasters,” “proud,” “unloving,” “without self-control,” “lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God” (2 Timothy 3:1-4 2 Timothy 3:1-4 1 This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.
2 For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,
3 Without natural affection, truce breakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good,
4 Traitors, heady, high minded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God;
American King James Version×).
Of course, people have always broken God’s laws that define morality, but the rampant pursuit of sensual pleasures with so little regard for the consequences seems to have reached unprecedented levels in the modern West.
No recent precedent points to where these trends may lead. Almost all cultures down through history have had marriage customs and laws to protect the unique relationship of marriage. Although divorce under certain circumstances was permitted in ancient Israel, Jesus said this was anything but the ideal (Matthew 19:8 Matthew 19:8He said to them, Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so.
American King James Version×). This had not been God’s intention, although He permitted Moses to allow divorce “because of the hardness of [their] hearts.”
Few have a concept of fidelity, defined in Collins Standard Reference Dictionary as “faithful devotion to duty, obligations or vows.” This includes the marriage vows. The Bible, God’s instruction book for mankind, gives us the Ten Commandments, which include the Seventh Commandment, “You shall not commit adultery.”
Adultery is sexual relations with someone other than one’s spouse. While the Seventh Commandment specifically prohibits a married person from having sex with someone who is not the person’s spouse, in principle it covers all forms of sexual sin.
Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 6:18 1 Corinthians 6:18Flee fornication. Every sin that a man does is without the body; but he that commits fornication sins against his own body.
American King James Version×, “Flee fornication” (King James Version). He comments that “he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body”-a warning of the possibility of sexually transmitted diseases and of the anguish of broken relationships.
A contestant in the Temptation Island show cried when he saw pictures of his partner’s intimate involvement with another man on the other side of the island. Why would anyone want to hurt the one he loves? When this kind of sin is repeatedly indulged in with various partners, eventually people are devoid of feelings and find it almost impossible to form a lasting relationship.
In 1 Thessalonians 5:22 1 Thessalonians 5:22Abstain from all appearance of evil.
American King James Version×Paul tells us to “abstain from all appearance of evil” (King James Version). This includes the popular practice of living together, even if not sexually active. It gi ves the ap pearance of fornication, which is condemned in the Scriptures.
Changing times and definitions
With the rapid decline in morality that has affected Western countries since the sexual revolution of the 1960s, even definitions of words have changed. An 1828 dictionary barely mentions sexual activity in its defi nition of pr omiscuous: “Mingled; consisting of individuals united in a body or mass without order; confused; undistinguished …; common; indiscriminate; not restricted to an individual; as promiscuous love or intercourse …”
The Collins dictionary (1982) emphasizes the sexual application of the word: “showing little or no taste or care in choosing; specifically engaging in sexual intercourse with many persons casually; without plan or purpose; casual.”
A new definition was cited by the Centers for Disease Control in announcing AIDS figures on World AIDS Day in December 2000.
According to CNN television news, the CDC defined promiscuous as “having six or more sexual partners a year.” The 1828 definition was “not restricted to an individual,” meaning that having even one partner outside of the marital relationship meant one was promiscuous. Now, according to some, one must have at least six partners a year to be defined as promiscuous.
Lead us not into temptation
In Matthew 6 Christ gave us a model prayer that includes the words “Lead us not into temptation” [or “Put us not to the test”; Revised English Bible] and “deliver us from the evil one” (verse 13).
Satan is the evil one Scripture describes as “the prince of the power of the air” (Ephesians 2:2 Ephesians 2:2Wherein in time past you walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now works in the children of disobedience:
American King James Version×). That’s significant terminology. When Paul wrote those words 2,000 years ago he understood that Satan can powerfully influence our attitudes, moods and emotions.
Today we can understand a completely different, additional significance of Paul’s description of Satan as the prince of the power of the air. Television, radio and the Internet come to us through the air or via cable or telephone lines. As with many other inventions, we can find good and evil in each of them. Christians must choose the good and turn from evil (Psalms 34:14 Psalms 34:14Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it.
American King James Version×).
Shows like Temptation Island should be the furthest thing from our thinking. Instead, we should be asking God to help us focus on the good things of life and avoid temptation.
Watching such moral and mental sewage violates the instructions of Scripture. Paul reminds us in Philippians 4:8 Philippians 4:8Finally, brothers, whatever things are true, whatever things are honest, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.
American King James Version×that we should let our minds dwell only on “whatever things are pure.” He ends the verse by saying: “… If there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy-meditate on these things.” Watching shows such as Temptation Island only makes such behavior seem more acceptable and normal rather than ungodly.
Regrettably, the show’s economic success no doubt will encourage other television producers to produce more programs like it or exacerbate the downward moral spiral by producing shows that are even worse. We already have plenty of mental pollution; we don’t need any more.
Particularly sad are people whose lives are so empty and devoid of meaning that they seek one titillation after another. It is even sadder, in many cases, that they don’t know any better. This is the world they have grown up in, often without any spiritual instruction.
Jesus taught us to “mourn” for this spiritually diseased and sin-sick world (Matthew 5:4 Matthew 5:4Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.
American King James Version×) and the suffering, including hurt feelings, that people are subjected to through disobedience to or ignorance of God’s laws of true love.
Jesus also taught us to pray to the Father “Your kingdom come” (Matthew 6:10 Matthew 6:10Your kingdom come, Your will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.
American King James Version×). When God’s Kingdom comes, the world will be “full of the knowledge of the LORD” (Isaiah 11:9 Isaiah 11:9They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.
American King James Version×).
That time is still ahead of us, but you can learn how to have a happy, lasting, loving marriage now-and how to avoid the emotional pain of casual relationships such as those depicted on Temptation Island . For sound biblical advice on how to have a successful marriage and family life, please write for our free booklets Making Life Work and The Ten Commandments . GN