One of the most-watched television programs in the United States in the summer of '03 was Queer Eye for the Straight Guy. NBC ran the program on its cable outlet and was surprised by the audience it drew. So, NBC executives decided to air a re-run on their regular network stations, which is backwards from the way this usually works. The response again surprised them, so they aired yet another rerun.
This is but one of many family-hour television shows whose programming catapults over the barrier of what used to be thought of as taboo only a few years ago. Gay themes dominated the summer programming in cable and reality channels. In addition to the above, the following were gay or had overtly gay themes: Boy Meets Boy, The Amazing Race, Chained, Survivor and Big Brother.
I think of the summer of 2003 as the time when America lost its moral mind.
It was the summer of "the kiss." Madonna, Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera were performing at the annual MTV awards. Madonna turned to Britney and they exchanged an open-mouthed kiss, after which Madonna turned to Christina and they did likewise.
I did not watch the awards program, but was listening to a cable news show the next morning while preparing breakfast. When the reporter said, "Things got a little out of hand at the MTV awards last night," I reflexively looked up at the screen. I was sorry I did.
Network news, cable news and entertainment news shows repeated the scene countless times in the following days—and in doing so, lent credence to the deed as being newsworthy, as well as fit for viewing. In fact, neither is true.
This fall sees the addition of It's All Relative, a sitcom with a homosexual "couple." And cable will introduce the first lesbian-themed show, The L Word.
Brace yourself for worse still
Cable television launched a new channel in the late summer, "Spike TV," designed to go even further than the sleazy summer programming went. Read what John Motavalli wrote about it in "Spike TV: Pushing the Limit."
"Pushing aside prohibitions on bad taste, sex, naughty language and general prurience, Spike TV plans to test the limits of what is acceptable on basic advertiser-supported cable TV in a big way...
"This kind of programming—a mix of violence, sex and sophomoric stunts—is bursting out all over basic cable, which is not regulated by the Federal Trade Commission and is therefore, theoretically, reined in only by concerns of cable operators and advertisers" (Television Week, Sept. 1, 2003, online edition, emphasis added).
A false virtue
What's happened in the United States—a country built upon Judeo-Christian values? Subjects that were once taboo and considered inappropriate for public discussion are not only spoken of, but are presented as everyday actions. I have a theory. I believe that a generation of people grew up being taught, whether in so many words or by example, that the highest virtue of all is tolerance. By that, I mean never condemning anyone for anything. We constantly hear of lawsuits and court rulings that punish any action or even an implication of intolerance.
Make no mistake—tolerance is a godly virtue or value. My point is that it does not supercede or cancel out all other values God gave mankind in His Word. Intolerance can be truly damaging. Intolerance of different racial or ethnic groups is wrong. Intolerance of opinions different from your own is boorish. Looking down one's nose at passersby on the basis of what they "seem like" to you reflects the pettiness of a childish bully. Leaping to negative opinions of others based upon sketchy information or assumptions is loutish behavior.
However, tolerance of evil is wrong in itself! I realize that many people have a great issue with calling any action "evil" or "sin"—but this is evidence that they embrace the false premise that tolerance trumps all other standards of behavior that God revealed to mankind in His Holy Word.
These "new Americans" undoubtedly have opinions that certain actions are wrong; everyone does. But they purr, "We mustn't judge anyone," because that is what society has trained them to say. A friend of mine quipped, "Some people are so open-minded that their minds should be closed for repairs!"
Sadly, many people who would describe themselves as believers of God have accepted the theological mush served to them by today's Christendom. Consequently they, too, gullibly believe there is something wrong with thinking in terms of moral law (that is, God's law) governing human behavior.
People with horrible values and trashy standards vigorously promote their way of thinking, as evidenced by the seismic shift in television programming over the past summer. And many people bit their tongues, because, "We must not judge."
A different Christ from what some think
Some cite Christ as an example of one who tolerated anyone and everything, which intrigues me. I am guessing these people don't read the Bible. "Jesus did not judge or condemn anyone," they declare, but they are wrong. He said to the woman caught in the act of adultery, "Sin no more" (John 5:14).
He did not say or intimate, "Oh, adultery is no big deal; everyone is doing that sort of thing these days. I mean, it's not like you killed someone or anything as serious as all that."
Further, He did not attempt to parse wrong behavior with, "Well, it depends on what your definition of 'adultery' is." Nor did He make a case about consenting adults. And He didn't announce that He was basing His judgment on community standards.
He made a judgment that her behavior was wrong—and told her to stop it!
Today, people like to pretend that some wrongdoing is "social sin" and therefore not serious. If some sins are "social," do we mean that other sins are "unsocial"? That's ridiculous babble! In an attempt to excuse wrongful behavior, people parse the concept of sin in odd ways. "If it doesn't hurt anyone, it's permissible." "If every party involved consents to an action, it is OK." "When one is an adult, he can decide right from wrong on his own."
This kind of thinking spells trouble for our people. I appreciate the fact that U.S. President George W. Bush often says, "May God continue to bless America," but I think: "We cannot expect that to continue, Mr. President, if our society persists on its present course."
I believe that Mr. Bush means what he says, but many other prominent U.S. politicians routinely tag an appeal line for God's blessing at the end of their speeches. In comparing notes on this topic with John Ross Schroeder, our British correspondent, he reminded me that this customary plea for a divine blessing has no parallel among British politicians. And yet, he remarked, Sir Winston Churchill did not shrink from saying plainly that England's people needed the strength of God.
"We don't do God"
In stark contrast, Alistair Campbell, former assistant to Prime Minister Tony Blair, once quipped, "We don't do God." That's too true. So, how long will He continue to do for us?
Let's go back to the situation between Christ and the woman. By speaking of her adultery as "sin," He acknowledged that there is a divine law that governs human behavior. If you believe in Christ, you must accept the fact that there is right and there is wrong. You must also accept the fact that defining right versus wrong behavior is not a matter for the community, the courts or the individual. Rather, it is God's sole prerogative.
Many who consider themselves Christian accept a stand that actually is no different from those moral relativists who believe they can and should decide right and wrong for themselves. The nominal Christian version is, "Christians will know right from wrong by nature." But they do not realize the Bible teaches that even Christians have a nature inclined to spiritual destruction and that they, too, need the guideposts of the law of God. (See our booklet, Transforming Your Life—The Process of Conversion for the full story.)
Proverbs 29:18 says, "Where there is no revelation, the people cast off restraint; but happy is he who keeps the law." The King James Version has "vision" for "revelation" and the Revised Standard Version has "prophecy." All mean the same: if people receive no knowledge from God and/or reject His authority, if they look to themselves for standards, they will cast off all restraint.
Well, Americans either aren't hearing God or they have indeed rejected His guidance, for the majority of the entertainment industry and millions who drink in the brews they concoct have assuredly cast off all restraint. The shift in television programming to championing immorality, filthy talk and violence, coupled with the public appetite for it, makes me think that the summer of 2003 was when America lost its moral mind.
Where do you stand? Do you have "a moral mind"? Is your authority Hollywood's standard, community opinion, your own ideas—or the supreme, beautiful, wise and merciful law of God?
Read, request or download The Ten Commandments to discover how God's law pertains to the Christian and to all aspects of everyday life. You may be surprised to learn how relevant every one of these laws is today. And, like the Proverb promised, genuine happiness will come to those who live by God's moral standard. —WNP