I Have a Problem

RICH12.jpgI know this confession places me in the extreme minority, but I’ll make it anyway: I don’t watch TV. With the exception of faithfully listening to the daily weather forecast every spring (I live in Oklahoma, the land of tornadoes), I don’t even turn it on. I don’t like the jarring noise, the pushy advertisements, or the oily content. In the hospital, I occasionally enter a patient’s room and have to mute the blaring screen before I can even think. I have also turned a painful, deep red at the revolting stories and scenes being regurgitated and then passively ingested by those in the room. To be honest, most of the shows on television make my skin crawl and my heart sick.

Once, I remember discussing my habit of studiously avoiding televisions with my co-worker. She was astonished and asked, “What do you do?”

My response, “Everything that matters. How do you have time for TV?”

Tonight, I was rocking my baby and browsing twitter, and I was reminded once again why I don’t watch TV.

A porn star is being interviewed about her long-lost affair with Donald Trump. Thanks to the President, the reality shows and soap operas I refuse to pour into my mind have now infiltrated the news.

I winced and kept scrolling, then saw a tweet that went something like this: Lots of people will be watching Stormy Daniels tonight, and some of them will even be watching 60 minutes.

And my wince turned to nausea, because this person is right.

Donald Trump has serious problems, but he’s not the only one.

The two primary components of both TV shows and movies are violence and sex. It seems that people never tire of watching one more act of violence, or seeing one more sex scene. Both components are disturbingly present in pornography. And…the vast majority of Americans (and other nationalities) ingest, on a regular basis, one or more of these re-enacted stories promoting both violence and casual, meaningless, consequence-free sex.

This fact makes me simultaneously numb with horror and raw with anguish. What kind of world will my kids be forced to navigate?

Here’s the thing: Repetition reinforces both learning and practice. If you want to learn to play the piano, you sit down and practice. And practice. And practice. Eventually, you will learn to play the piano. If you want to memorize a passage of literature, you repeat it. You write it down. You say it out loud. And you do this over and over again until it’s part of your memory–until it is part of you.

Why do we want explosive violence and seedy sex to be a part of us? Why do we want them to be a part of our children? Why do we insist on consuming entertainment that portrays women as nothing more than objects to be used for sex, and violence as a natural response to frustration or anger?

Have we learned nothing from the endless shootings and #metoo confessions?

What is going on here? Why are we so intent on destroying ourselves, our children, and our societies? Why are we repeatedly lathering ourselves up with filth and relaxing contentedly in refuse?

I have a problem with any show or message that tells my daughter that she is nothing more than an object to be lusted after and used by men (or anyone else).

I have a problem with any show or message that tells my sons that women are nothing more than objects to be lusted after and used for sexual pleasure.

I have a problem with any show or message that excuses violence and portrays it as an expected, acceptable response to someone not getting what they want, when they want it.

Life is about so much more than sex. And violence is rarely the solution to a serious problem.

Don’t tell me that the shows you watch, the movies you enjoy, and the pornography you indulge in don’t hurt anyone. At the very least, those stories are shaping your view of reality and harming you, twisting you into someone you were never intended to be.

Beyond that, our culture’s lust for sex and violence has created an environment where people like Weinstein, Trump, and countless others thrive. They get to abuse an endless parade of women, because we’ve somehow convinced women that they must sell their bodies and their dignity in order to achieve their goals. After all, what harm can come from one night? What’s one more man, or scene, or affair?

That’s a revolting lie from hell.

Your body is part of you. Violence or abuse committed against your body will stay with you for a lifetime. “Consequence-free” sex and affairs routinely destroy relationships, trust, honor, and dignity–not only yours and that of your partner, but also of your (current or future) spouse/family and his or her (current or future) spouse/family.

We have no shame. Anything goes, as long as there is that nebulous word “consent.” But how traumatic and devastating when someone tentatively offers consent only to receive wounds and scars that will last a lifetime.

Also, how on earth did something as vulnerable and private and precious as sex become a casual commodity to be sold, with millions of onlookers ogling a moment that should be known and shared and treasured only by the committed, loving, faithful couple?

I realize that abuses of sex are not new. They’re as old as sin, and sin first happened soon after the world was created perfect and good.

But the horrifyingly easy access to horrifyingly abusive, addicting videos acted out by real people for a profit is a relatively new development. And I think it is contributing to an insidious decay of both people and societies, from the inside out.

People were not made to use and abuse others.

You will not find happiness, contentment, or life by using or abusing others.

You will not find happiness, contentment, or life by being used or abused by others.

The Switchfoot song that says, “Life is more than money” is correct. Life is also more than sex, or power, or abuse, or guilty pleasure.

True life–which is what we were created for–involves thriving, healthy friendships between both God and people, and between people and people.

Life is actually all about love.

Unfortunately, the word love has been diluted and misshapen until we’ve forgotten its true meaning and power.

Love is not sex, or sexual attraction. Love is not simply friendship. Love is not even wanting the best for someone.

Real, true love is infinitely wider and deeper than any of these.

True love is wanting good for someone and then doing that good. Real love is meeting the needs of another even at great cost to oneself.

Real love is when an exhausted mom wakes up in the middle of the night–again–to feed her hungry newborn. Real love is when a family invites their immigrant neighbors over for a meal. True love is an elderly lady faithfully caring for her husband with Alzheimer’s even though he doesn’t remember her. True love is a mom who decides to keep her unexpected, inconvenient baby even though she has no idea how things will work out. True love is a dad forfeiting his relaxing weekend with the guys to take his sons camping.

True love is a husband promising his wife that he won’t indulge in pornography or questionable movies. He won’t look at other women with lust. And if he fails in this commitment, he’ll confess to her and re-commit to loving her and finding satisfaction only in her.

True love is a wife promising her husband that she won’t read books like 50 Shades of Gray or use pornography, imagining the perfect man and ensuring that her husband always falls short.

Real, true love is giving life instead of death. It is shining light into darkness. Real love is shockingly rare and indescribably beautiful.

My Rescuer exemplified real, true love. And He continues to create, grow, and sustain love to this day. He is slowly but surely making all things good and new again. And He will rescue anyone who realizes their need to be rescued.

His name is Jesus.

We need Him. How we need Him.
In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him.
1 John 4:9 ESV

2 Replies to “I Have a Problem”

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