This summer my pastor gave a lecture that changed my life.
No, it was not the famous 'Last Lecture.'
It was about laziness. I had always thought of laziness as the opposite of work. Anytime I wanted to chill and eat some potato chips on the couch while watching reruns of The Nanny I figured I was being lazy.
This was his definition -
'When comfort wins over doing what is right'
That is a very liberating idea and at the same time very convicting.
The reason why this affected me so much is that I was able to think about other virtues that I may have misunderstood and began to contemplate the principles behind them.
I met with my old religion professor last month just to catch up on life and talk shop. He recently came back to his faith and is considering going back to church. He lamented that these 'American Christians' are all obsessed with sex. He said, 'That's all they want to talk about.'
I thought to myself, "Yea, but there's a lot of freaky sex in the Bible."
Years ago I heard Ravi Zacharias talking about pornography and in the same lecture he said that 'nothing is inherently evil.' He didn't come up with that, theologians have been saying that for generations. But, to include that thought on a subject that is so socially unacceptable was pretty bold. Zacharias when on to compare trash romance novels to pornography, not because they were graphically explicit, but because they were conceptually explicit. The indulgent reward to the pleasure center of the brain is the same, an instantly gratifying and intense rush of stimulation.
The problem with pornography is that it is empty calories...
like soda and candy. Soda and candy are not evil, but if you use it to cope
and rely on it as your source of nutrition then you will not only get sick and eventually die, you will also be somewhat dysfunctional as a person.
But let's face it, people will use anything to cope, even the common understanding of love is 'I like how you make me feel,' rather than 'I care about how you feel.'
Now you all know that I love a good controversy, and my last thought is not the big controversy here. I would like to take this moment to trample on something revered in our culture. Something that is undisputed as a godsend to our culture...
Of course it is good that some people get helped, that's not my beef. And I'm not saying that it is a BAD show or that you are BAD for watching it. After a long stressful week it's nice to flop on the couch and veg. Coping mechanisms are okay in moderation, but over indulgence leads to an unhealthy and dysfunctional consumer mindset. The reward for watching EHM is that you get an intense emotional rush, and it is instantly gratifying. You get to feel warm and fuzzy about the down-and-out family that gets a second chance. You get to feel good about yourself because other people rush out to serve the less fortunate.
What's wrong with that?
And for the sake of argument, what's wrong with some pimply kid getting the instant gratification of an intense physical rush from a naked picture?
The teen-age boy is not actually participating in fornication... right?
(The same way that the viewers of EHM are not actually participating in any charitable act of service)
SIDE NOTE - I don't think masturbation can be considered a sin based on the Onan model. The dude was guilty of deception because he was supposed to provide a child but was selfish and shot his load into his shoe (so as to not provide any evidence when he put his foot back into that slimy penny-loafer) and then exited the tent.
Sorry, it that too graphic? That's in the Bible (maybe not the NIV).
Let's back up for a second.
What is lust?
Is it any sexual thought? No. (some sexual thoughts are harmless and some are psychotic)
Before you quote Matthew 5 gimmie a minute.
Does the insight into the principle of laziness help us understand lust? Yes.
Here's my definition
Lust is when you indulge in your desire at the expense of another person.
(This is why I think that many husbands are guilty of lust against their own wives)
This may not completely resolve the controversy of sexual taboos, but it at least makes a little clearer and rational in my head.
Now getting back to the harmless thoughts thing. I agree with Matthew 5:21. Anger is totally unnecessary and can be eliminated very easily with the right coaching. But, sexual thoughts are only unhealthy if you are ogling or fantasying about indulging in your desire at the expense of another person.
If a kid objectifies women, then yea, that's not cool. I consider myself a feminist, I have a wife, a daughter, a mom, and a sister. I want the best for them. As far as his pet monkey goes, maybe his impulse is momentarily satisfied, but society as a whole is not suffering from the loss of his contribution to... I don't know, the local sperm-bank?
But, if we as a culture are pacifying our ideal to help others because we watch a show on Sunday night then we all lose (except Home Depot).
And who really benefits? Are the 'down-and-out' families receiving long term professional assistance? No.
Hore Depot benefits, maybe they are not the corporate whore that some people accuse them of being, but they might be the ho-slapping pimp.
I KNOW, I KNOW!!!
You are saying that this show inspires people to go out and help others...
EHM averages over 3 million viewers. I don't want to be right, I would love to be wrong. Cynicism has not served me well, I desperately want to have hope in Americans.
If you like EHM and you like how it makes you feel, then keep watching it.
I'm not here to preach abstinence or censorship. But I do challenge you to get involved in ACTUAL social service rather than a virtual fix. I believe in the potential that each individual has something to contribute. When you stimulate yourself into social atrophy the whole community suffers.