Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Perversion and Culture

I am utterly amazed at the acceptable perversion in our culture. I get the privilege of listening to kids 8-12 play in the pool and not only use some of the vilest language, but also comfortably navigate all types of sexual innuendo. I know this is no startling revelation, but I have been coming across teenage girls more and more that seem innocent enough, but will match any boy of equivalent age in sexual and coarse joking.

It seems our American culture is at an impasse of sorts. We want to be open and free with all forms of ..I've heard it said in the good tradition of European sexuality). But we still have some remnants of a previous age's morality. There is an invisible line that dictates acceptable standards of content for broadcast material, yet all forms of media are not trying to walk that line, but significantly push it. After all, some of the "best" television is "edgy", "pushing the standards", etc. This might be all in the name of a freer sexuality, but the end result is always a more blatant sexuality.

We could lament our culture and predict that this is the worst humanity has ever gotten, and the parousia must be around the corner. I do not think this is the best line of reasoning. A friend of mine once argued that it is almost better the way things are now, because apparently people still thought the same way 50 years ago, they just were forced to act and think in hiding. It was a sexually repressed culture after all.

I do know whether this is true or not, but I definitely cannot agree that it is better with "everything out in the open". First and foremost, a culture that is so openly vulgar and perverse can only move in one direction. Western civilization has lost any conscience, and all that is left is only the most minimalist morality. It is sad that children are growing up in a society where they experience not only peer pressure to have premarital sex and unheard of young ages, but also that they are quickly conditioned into the mindset of unrestrained freedom and entitlement to acting in the most degraded ways. This "open" and "free" environment might seem ideal because depravity isn't being hidden, but I think it is worse because its not only encouraging, but I think forcing many into bad lifestyle choices. Its like we're trying to socialize ourselves into thinking that whatever we want is okay, kids should be having sex, and if you are a guy with even the slightest bit of effeminacy you should rightly choose a gay lifestyle.

Of course humanity is naturally depraved, and this isn't just about sustaining an empty idealist facade. But it is sad to see a society fall as low as we have, especially one that was built on Christian virtues. Perhaps no society is immune to this, but we certainly have made a lot of progress in falling over the last 50 years. Just because this does not relate to salvation does not mean it is acceptable, it is still a sad state of things, and I think at some level something we should try to reverse.

Christians are called to endure evil societies, and live as lights in them. This does not mean that Christianity is about Christendom, but it does mean that if the church is functioning, one would hope to see a positive effect on society. At some level, it is hard not to wonder if the church has failed rather miserably, and the quick degeneration of Western society is the result. Sinful humanity will always be sinful outside of Christ, but shouldn't we see progress in the church instead of regress? I am no historian, but I can easily think of a few areas where this has been clear.

First, the enlightenment and later modernistic movements brought some terrifying blows on the church. It seems especially in the early 20th century that many Christians took a defensive stance rather than went on the offensive. We "turtled" up, removed ourselves from society, and did everything we could to protect our children from the world. The more extreme side of the fundamentalist movement clearly demonstrates this, though the original movement was itself a good thing). It is almost as if, as soon as some powerful and dangerous ideas entered society, we quickly gave up and tried to hide.

They tried to kill God, and we surrendered. Again, this is only my impression from a limited knowledge of history, maybe I'm horribly wrong. But it deeply bothers me that some of the most profound thinkers during this same time period were shunned by many Christians (Lewis immediately comes to mind). In all honesty, it seems like the church is only recently beginning to recover from the initial attack of the enlightenment, and only now beginning to get together a counteroffensive. It only took us 200 years.

I think the battle against wrong ideas is important. It won't save people, but it will help affect the world for better, and who knows what kind of seeds this will sow? In the same light, I think we need to fight the battle for American culture. We cannot continue with an attitude of retreat. I doubt we will be able to transform culture, but I think we can at least expect to make an impact. There is no excuse for Christians giving into the cultural peer pressure on issues like morality. As Christians, we should never be ashamed of Paul's words in Phil. 4:8:

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

Christians who are in the film industry should not give in to compromising their morality in order to be "edgy". Nor should we sacrifice ideals of purity and righteousness in the name of not being legalists. Legalism and righteousness are very different things: one is an attitude of doing what's right for credit, another is doing what's right out of love. We need to stop acting like rebellious children who want to act in whatever way they want. We need to spiritually grow up, start being men and women of God who stand up for truth and purity.

I'm speaking as much to myself as to anyone else. I tolerate far too much, and have become desensitized to things that should be revolting. I've bought into the lie that "its not really that big of a deal", I've succumbed to this childish attitude of rebellion against all standards, and trivialized purity.


So, a bit of a harsh blog, and a bit random… perhaps I'm randomly connecting things that shouldn't be connected, I dunno.

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