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Friday, December 7, 2012

Does “reality TV” truly reflect reality?  Is “The New Normal” TV show actually representative of the new normal in our society?

I intended to wrap up my series on how to have a counter-culture marriage with a post on how the mass-media and the arts and entertainment world (mis)treats marriage. There is no doubt that the enemy has had his sights on the media and entertainment world for a long time. These are two of what Os Hillman calls “The Seven Mountains of Influence.” Especially for young people, these are huge influences in our culture.

So when I first started preparing for this post, I gathered a bunch of blatantly anti-biblical, marriage-maligning examples from today’s media and entertainment industries. It was easy to find tons of atrocious examples of such shows and movies. For example, the new TV show, “The New Normal” advertises itself this way: “Two gay dads and a baby mama create a totally new kind of family comedy.” Family Comedy? Normal? Really?

Suffice it to say that examples like this are everywhere.

But then I came across an article by Os Hillman that struck me rather dramatically.  His article opens with this thought:
Christianity has become a sub-culture that is more known by what we don't like than what we believe. In the eyes of the secular world we have become a right wing political action group instead of a loving, caring Church of our Lord Jesus Christ. Our message has been shut out because of the way of the messenger. We still have the right message, but we have failed to deliver it in a manner consistent with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Jesus modeled love and mercy and sought to change the hearts of people before He expected to see change in their behavior. Few people are attracted to Christ through a boycott.
That’s a pretty stinging indictment, and it really convicted me. Protests, boycotts and even blog posts filled with outrage will do little to reclaim our culture.  So, I decided there is little point in me writing a rant against today's movies, TV shows and music. For the most part I’d be preaching to the choir anyway.

So What Do We Do?

I’m calling you to consider a different kind of action: be salt and light. That’s what Jesus calls us to be. In Matthew 5:13-14 He put it this way:
"Let me tell you why you are here. You're here to be salt-seasoning that brings out the God-flavors of this earth. If you lose your saltiness, how will people taste godliness? You've lost your usefulness and will end up in the garbage.  Here's another way to put it: You're here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We're going public with this, as public as a city on a hill.”
I don’t mind if you feel compelled to write letters of objection to networks or to boycott advertisers of certain shows that you find offensive. Do what you feel is right. But I agree with Os, these actions will do little to actually change the hearts and minds in our culture.

And it’s hearts and minds that God is after. When hearts and minds are changed, behavior follows. That's the way Jesus did it where he walked here on earth.

Start with Your Own Marriage!

First and foremost being salt and light for marriage starts by you having a great marriage yourself.

Nothing promotes marriage like terrific marriages!
So here are a few of my thoughts on how to counter the media's negative marriage messages with your own marriage:
  • Know what you believe about marriage and why. Explore the fantastic biblical truths about marriage how God designed it to work. Read the Bible. Read what trusted authors and scholars have to say. Talk about it with your spouse. (My own "What I Believe About Marriage" series starts here.)
  • Make your marriage a priority. Invest in your marriage with your time, attention and energy. No more giving your spouse and your marriage the leftovers after you’ve invested yourself in everything else.
  • Be rooted and grounded in love. Ephesians 3 tells us that knowing the Love of Christ is the key to fullness in God. It’s also the key to fullness in marriage. You cannot fully know how to love your husband or wife if you do not know the love of Jesus. And “know” in this verse means an experiential knowledge, not head knowledge.
This isn’t exactly the post I thought I would write concerning the media and entertainment – and probably not what you expected from the headline.  Still, I’m absolutely convinced that the best way to counter the media’s negative messages concerning marriage is to have an overwhelming number of great marriages as a shining example of what marriage can be like.

What do you think it means to be “salt and light” with your marriage?

Next up: More on Being Salt and Light

Image credit: reich / 123RF Stock Photo


Unknown said...

Scott, YES!! Os Hillman's quote is astounding and yet so simple! You've described Counter-Cultural Christianity so beautifully, esp. concerning marriage. We have to quit Bible thumping and start mentoring. Meeting people (couples) where they are at and loving them into Christ's arms. When we are real, humble and unpretentious with people, they will open up and let us help them do life through Christ. Thank you for convicting me to take more time to study regarding marriage and sexuality, specifically. I can always benefit from that.

Scott said...

Pearl, thanks so much for your comment. Reading that quote really gave me a different perspective. Your comments are so right and true. Thanks for sharing them!

Anonymous said...

This was great Scott! And I love the practical application of marriage being salt & light, which to me, is demonstrated not only through great marriages but also, when things are not so great - the ability to work through trials and not give, speaks volumes. It's kind of in the same vein as what Pearl said. When people see that we are real in our marriages.

Scott said...

Thanks, Robyn. And you make an excellent point to distinguish between "great" marriages and "perfect" marriages. Great marriages are those who encounter real troubles and come through them stronger and closer than ever.

Paul Byerly said...

Scott - Thanks so much for this, it is dead on and so important.

If we in the chruch had, and openly lived, the kind of marriages we should have, I think people would flock to us asking how we do it.

One first step is being willing to openly show love and respect for your spouse even if you get teased for it. I used to work landscape in new home communities, and would use the phone in the construction office occasionally to call home (pre cell phone days). I always ended by saying "I love you" or something similar as loudly as I had said everything else. Yeah, I got looks and a bit of ribbing from the construction guys, but you know what, Lori got more respect and better treatment from them than any other woman who happened to come through the site. I guess the figured if I loved her enough to say it openly, she must be pretty special. (And she was, and is!)

Scott said...

Thanks Paul! I completely agree with you about being outspoken of your love for your spouse (and for how happy you are in your marriage). You might get some jeers, but it's only because the others are jealous. That is a great way to be a light on a hill.

And thanks for making this your "featured post" this week.

Andrew said...

Thank you for this very important post! This message should be preached in every church in the US. The small groups in our church did Bill Hybles' "just walk across the room" study together last year, and what he said in that study stayed with me still. His premise was to just go out and love the unchurched. Just show them that you care, not preach at them. The unchurched need to feel that we care about them before they will listen to our message, and only the Holy Spirit can prepare their hearts to hear it.

Scott said...

Thanks, Andrew - I have a term I use called "marriage evangelism." If marriages in the church truly reflected the love relationship between Christ and the church, people would get saved just from seeing such marriages in action. Pretty bold, I know.

Curt said...

My wife and I recently had a discussion about issues we both saw in our marriage. We are both 27 and have grew up in the culture you are talling about. We both had our eyes opened to this topic when she said that something that had bothered her was that "I wish that love could be like it is in the movies". I never quite understood until then how much of a hold our entertainement can have on our lives. She explained to me that she was jealous of the "match made in heaven" couples portrayed in many of her favorite movies whom things just seem to always end up working out for. We discussed how dangerous it could be to fall into the trap of thinking that if two people were "meant" to be together, their love would take care of itself without sacrifice and without the work that we know will come as trouble arises or the marriage is.challenged. I think this is a much more dangerous influence than the blatant things like pop culture's dismissal of the sanctity of marriage in general because I think it has lead many young people to believe that when their marriage gets tough and requires work, it is a sign that it wasn't "meant to be" and its time to end it. I do believe thag we as men can do a lot to help eachother by being open with one another about the struggles that we have and be examples that marital strife can be overcome and prevented in the future through hqrd work and sacrifice.

Curt said...

Apologies for my cell phone spelling. Fingers are not working so well.

Scott said...

Thanks for your comment Curt. You are right to point out that the "fantasy" scenario in some movies that paint marriage in an idealistic light is also damaging, but I guess i don't see that all that often. It is true that we don't have enough good examples of marriages the survive through struggles.

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