As with many of you, I am a huge fan of the TV show Friends. Unlike you, I am old enough that I was in high school when they first started coming out, so it was almost as if I grew up with them. Like I got to know them personally. Sure, they were on television, but it still seemed as if every week I was right there with them. What a great sitcom.
The producers and writers of the show had a way with emotions, relationships; in some ways they changed the fabric of social culture and paved the way for an entirely new genre of television to emerge and succeed.
The show also paved the way for a culture shift, in where the unacceptable was acceptable. With each new episode, they pushed the boundaries of almost every hot button issue out there. Take for example the episode, “The One With Free Porn” (Season Four). In the episode, Chandler and Joey turn on the television to find out they have free porn on their cable. They plan their day around it. They bring others in on it. When the channel accidentally gets changed, they cry out “No” and scramble to the set to check and see if they still had it (the free porn) upon changing the channel. Indeed, they did still have the free porn, and yes, we still watched.
Now while I liked the show, in many ways I struggled with it. I guess I am still guilty of watching it to this day. I don’t know what that says about me, but perhaps I have some insight into where our culture is today and some of the reasons we struggle with sexuality in the ways that we do.
We have created a culture where the unacceptable is acceptable and…
… are doing what is right in our own eyes. The book of Judges is strewn with this sentence (there are several translations that vary on the exact phrasing, but they all center around the same general idea- check out Judges 3:7, 4:1, 6:1).
I’ve heard a number of excuses from people caught in the middle of their sin as to why what they’re doing is fine. From “it’s not hurting anyone” to “it’s not a big deal”, “I’ve got it under control”; really, we can come up with anything here. Any way you look at it, it’s just a mask over reality.
Deuteronomy 7:26 says it like this- Do not bring a detestable thing into your house or you, like it, will be set apart for destruction. Utterly abhor and detest it, for it is set apart for destruction. Perhaps this is a stern warning to do everything we can to keep the unacceptable from becoming acceptable.
When it comes to our struggles in sexuality, we know this is a battle. The Apostle Paul speaks to the church in Corinth saying “I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ,” (2 Corinthians 11:3).
We have been deceived. We have played into a trap. There is no such thing as “free porn”. It has a high price. Don’t think for a second that you’re too young to rise up from this (1 Corinthians 10:13). This is not beyond you. The struggle for purity and the strength to rise up beneath it all is and will always be difficult. But be encouraged by these words, that though we have all been a part of creating this culture, we no longer have to be.