Perhaps you caught the news item a few years ago about the death of actor David Carradine.
He died in Thailand by asphyxiation. Self-induced. Hung himself. But that’s not all the story. From a Christian worldview perspective, this story is off the charts. Weird and wacked out. So, why would I (a Christian pastor) be writing here about this?
In the words of gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson, “when going gets weird, the weird go pro.” We are surrounded by an increasingly sexualized culture. Those of us who are conservative and hold to traditional values are shocked at the weirdness. Yet day by day it grows.
David Carradine did not commit suicide. He hung himself seeking some sort of near-death sexual “whoopee do”. It was a fantasy that went too far. This territory is major league screw-ball messed up. But, it is far too easy for us to dismiss this as the fringe-element of “non-normal” America. If anything should be evident, deviant is becoming mainstream. Morality and decency (and sanity) are fading fast.
Whether it be David Carradine or Michael Douglas, Miley Cyrus or Madonna, the tenor of our day is toward what Ed Stetzer calls “The Pornification of Our Culture.” In his July 2011 Christianity Today article, he reports that the frequency of high profile celebrity scandal and exhibitionism plus the easy availability of pornography via the internet has produced a super-heated environment in which sexual addiction is passé. The weird and vulgar have gone pro. Patterns are being played out before our eyes to push us to the breaking of all sexual taboos.
A few weeks ago, October 25 of this year, the Life section of USA Today featured an article entitled “The New Norm in Hollywood: Hypersexed”. Authors Ann Oldenburg and Arienne Thompson reported that Hollywood has hit a new low. In order to survive, artists now stoop to unprecedented levels of raunchiness. It was in this vein that 21 year old Miley Cyrus jettisoned her Disney Hanna Montana image in her now infamous VMA Awards show performance this past August. She and partner Robin Thicke advertised “twerking” to a watching world.
We are facing a torrent of pornographic filth. Matters that years ago would have been considered crude are now called cool. This oversexed environment has produced a new and growing vocabulary including “twerk” and “sexting.”
Using smart phones, texting now includes explicit self-photos and videos along with a phenomenon called “phone sex.” This is not a foreign concept. It is happening very near you right now. There are the high profile examples such as football’s Bret Favre and New York politician Anthony Weiner. But, make no mistake, “sexting” is mainstream. Kids and adults are taking pictures of themselves and hitting the “send” button.
Speaking of vocabulary, in the words of social commentator Tom Wolfe, a new “patois” has arisen around the “F” word. It is filling our speech these days in the form of verb, noun, adverb, adjective, and imperative. This vulgarity seems to accompany all communication. I have even heard an internet preacher use the “F” word in a sermon! — for emphasis!
Witness also, the runaway success of bestselling author E.L. James. Her trilogy, Fifty Shades of Grey, Fifty Shades Darker, and Fifty Shades Freed, has sold over 70 million copies and is still growing. This is undiluted pornography dealing with sadomasochistic bondage by a Dominant and a Submissive! These have stayed at the top of bestseller lists for weeks on end. What does this say about our culture?
The tragic victims of this pagan resurgence will be our youth. Internet pornography has now invaded not just Junior High but Elementary School. Most adults of my generation recoil in denial. But, such credible Christian spokesmen as Josh McDowell are crying out for us to wake up. In a message delivered to a national Christian counselors conference entitled “One Click Away”, he described this flood of filth as the greatest challenge facing the Church today.
1. PURE WITHOUT PRUDISH
We need role-models of biblical purity. There is such a melt-down in our society that the modern mantra is “I’m not perfect.” “Don’t look at me! I’m no angel.” From fear of being hypocrites, we have lowered the standards. Purity is considered an unattainable ideal.
Years ago, Saturday Night Live comedian Dana Carvey gave us the Church Lady. For many, biblical purity equates with her laughable narrowness. Everyone knows her buttoned-down “cleanness” only masks a sour, judgmental interior. She is a prudish hypocrite.
We need more role models like Tim Tebow. Incidentally, it is almost impossible to find good role models for girls these days. Let’s produce some.
The essence of hypocrisy is role playing. Our outward standards must be matched by inward convictions. Those inward convictions must be based on consistency and honesty. In reaction to a puritanical or fundamentalist past, some have rebounded in a lawless approach to life. This has opened doors to a three-letter word that is definitely un-cool to use in our enlightened day — SIN.
Our loss of sensitivity to sin has produced a lack of discernment. When we lose the ability to know right from wrong, we become rudderless ships destined to crash on rocky shores.
It is time to re-examine our basic beliefs about God’s standards. It is possible to get cleaned up. It is possible to live a life of integrity. It is possible to break bad patterns. Never has it been more crucial. The operative word is REPENT.
There is power in numbers. One of the reasons decadence is so dominant is that nothing stands up to stop it. There was a day when God’s voice was heard through His people. Today, church attendance is at an all-time low (despite the rise of mega-churches). The loss of influence by the church parallels the rise of immorality in our culture.
Scripture says the keys of Kingdom advance have been placed in the hands of the Jesus-led, Spirit-empowered church. It is not enough to simply go to a church building. It is VITAL to be united with a body of Bible-believing, faith-filled followers of Jesus. If we unite in His Name, no force of Hell can stand against us.
4. WAKE UP AND WISE UP
Parents particularly can no longer hide their heads in the sand. Powerful forces are at work in our world seeking to seduce our kids. NO ONE IS IMMUNE.
Any child (or adult for that matter) with access to the internet or to a cell phone is in danger. In the words of Genesis 4:7, “Sin crouches at the door. And its desire is to snare you and rule you.” I do not mean to engender paranoia. I know we can conquer this foe. However, when we assume that our little darlings could never do such things, we are setting ourselves up for a huge shock.
Install all needed monitoring technology to assure the devil is not sneaking into your house.
It is time to let our voices be heard. Remember, the pro-pornography forces want to picture us as prudes who are out of step with reality. In whatever way possible, a chorus of millions of voices needs to rise up saying, NO MORE.
Our culture has been powered by the slogan “Sex Sells.” What would happen if enough people stopped buying? If a rape were taking place in the street in front of your house, what would you do? Would you pull the shades and say, “That’s their business, not mine.” Among other things, you would probably call the police, yell, shout, and proceed to stop the rapist.
Our culture is being raped — in our schools — in our living rooms on our TV’s — on our billboards — through the devices you are now viewing. Brave voices must be raised. When good people do nothing, evil has open season.
DEATH or LIFE
David Carradine died seeking sexual thrills. He may be a parable for our culture. His life ended in the closet of a hotel room in a far away country. Tragedy.
A similar fate is unfolding for countless others if a change does not come. The final line of the Oct. 25 USA Today article comes from music industry mogul, Kenny “Babyface” Edmonds. He says of our over-sexed culture, “I just think it’s kind of a sign of pop culture and the time that we’re in.” And, he adds, “You think this is bad, wait ’til 10 years from now.”