The western world is certainly in a state of moral decline. The Bible and perceived references to Christianity are disappearing from public settings. Instead, levels of depravity unimaginable to most of the population a generation or two ago are now commonly set before the public eye. Single-parent households and "musical-chairs-father" households have replaced the two-parent model. Vulgarity and crime are influencing, and being perpetrated by, those of younger ages than previously was the case. It is much like the apostle Paul described, "But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived" (2 Timothy 3:13).
Many survey the current moral landscape in the western world, and perhaps even in their own homes, and realize, "We can do better!" So indeed they determine to do better, and take steps to do better, than what they see around them. But what some fail to consider is this: Just because it's better than worse doesn't mean it's good.
To view the western world's depravity, one need not venture into the seedy parts of our major cities. One can find immoral living glamorized by our entertainment media?television, movies, and music. ABC's Desperate Housewives has featured graphic discussions of sexual perversion, while mocking the concept of marriage and mocking Christianity. While many people would have nothing to do with such obvious trash as this, they will still watch other shows that do the same thing to a slightly lesser degree. Most sitcoms feature dysfunctional families who have mouths "full of cursing and bitterness" (Romans 3:14). The number of sexual scenes on television has doubled since 1998, and television was not exactly chaste in 1998. Just because some television programs and movies are not quite as debased as Desperate Housewives, this does not mean that they are fit for Christian viewing. As the psalmist said, "I will set no wicked thing before mine eye" (Psalm 101:3, emphasis LM).
It is "no new thing under the sun" for popular music to glorify worldliness and sin. In recent years, rap has perhaps brought popular "music" to a new low. But other forms of popular music continue to ennoble that which is degrading. Country singer Gretchen Wilson sings such exemplary lyrics as,
Well, I'm an eight ball shooting double-fisted drinking son of a gun
I wear my jeans a little tight just to watch the little boys come undone
I'm here for the beer and the [expletive] band
Gonna get a little crazy just because I can
You know I'm here for the party
And I ain't leavin' till they throw me out
Gonna have a little fun gonna get me some
You know I'm here, I'm here for the party
Contrast the hedonistic bent of Miss Wilson's lyrics with the pure words of the Holy Spirit:
Therefore, since Christ suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same mind, for he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, that he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh for the lusts of men, but for the will of God. For we have spent enough of our past lifetime in doing the will of the Gentiles ? when we walked in lewdness, lusts, drunkenness, revelries, drinking parties, and abominable idolatries (1 Peter 4:1-3, New King James Version).
While country and other forms of popular music may not have degenerated to the point of commonly glorifying rape and murder, there is much to which one cannot listen and yet "think on those things" which are "true . . . honest . . . just . . . pure . . . lovely . . . of good report," virtuous, and praiseworthy (Philippians 4:8).
With popular music's pervasive and obvious exaltation of sinfulness, some in the religious world urge a turn to "Christian rock" music and other genres of Contemporary Christian Music (CCM). While CCM may be lyrically superior to most of the popular music that is being released, it is wrong and sinful. CCM artists perform songs of worship with instrumental accompaniment, a clear departure from the New Testament pattern, the Gospel of Christ (Ephesians 5:19; Colossians 3:16). Any person who does not abide in the doctrine of Christ (such as any CCM artist) does not have God; and any person who implies endorsement or agreement with someone who does not abide in the doctrine of Christ (such as one who regularly purchases, or encourages others to listen to, CCM) "is partaker of his evil deeds" (2 John 9-11).
Many are the times people justify a certain action just because it's better than worse. Some try to expand the role of the Lord's church into providing gymnasium facilities for the community, while diminishing the church's evangelistic abilities, claiming, "At least we are working; at least we are doing some good" (compare with Matthew 7:22; 25:14-30). Some worship with a manmade denomination knowing that they should be worshiping "in spirit and in truth" (John 4:24), all the while claiming, "At least I'm going to some church." Yet the Scriptures say, "He that turneth away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer shall be abomination" (Proverbs 28:9).
Certainly, the desire to alter society's downward course is commendable. And there are some courses of action one could choose that, while not ideal, are better than others (compare with 1 Kings 16:30-33; Jeremiah 16:11-12; 2 Timothy 3:13). But just because a course of action is better than another does not make it right. If it's wrong, it's wrong! "Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!" (Isaiah 5:20).
1 Jennifer Kerr, "More sexed-up shows on television, report finds." Associated Press, November 9, 2005.
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