Thursday, February 12, 2015

Belling the Cat

This morning I was watching the birds enjoy the feeders, when I spotted a neighborhood cat on the prowl. It’s a nice kitty, but I know that cats cannot help themselves when it comes to small prey animals. If only I could slip a collar with a bell on that cat, I thought, then the birds would have fair warning that a predator was nearby. Which reminded me of the fable in which the same remedy was proposed by a council of mice, but no one wanted to do the deed. Hence the moral of the story, “it is easy to propose impossible remedies.”  

We have a predator stalking us as well. This predator has silently and subtly infiltrated the arts and entertainment industry in our country. He has proved efficient at re-training us to think as the world does. Not a nice kitty. Unfit for polite society was a saying used in my Mother’s day; can you remember the last time you heard it? It seems that in the days of Miley Cyrus and Beyonce and Fifty Shades of Grey there is no such thing as polite society anymore. Not only that, if you dare to point out that anything offered by the entertainment industry is on any level inappropriate, you must be a prude, a bigot, an ignoramus to the nth degree—or a Christian, which seems to include all of the above. Well, I don’t think sex is nasty, but sexual abuse is; so I am taking up the challenge to bell the cat.

Fifty Shades of Grey opens on Valentine’s Day and is creating buzz…as if a secret cache of esoteric knowledge has been uncovered, which will enrich our lives if we're not too narrow minded. Morning news programs covered it as a cool girls night out sort of thing to do over Valentine’s weekend (which would have made the original St. Valentine sick to his stomach). One network interviewed an audience of giddy women who’d gathered for the preview showing. While there is debate, the main thrust seems to be more about freedom of speech or liberating women, or defeating prudery than whether what is essentially stylized, violent, sexual abuse ought to be viewed for entertainment. What has happened to us?

We've been groomed, much as a sexual predator would groom his next victim. Through the various media we’ve consumed for years, we have been trained to accept a culture which increasingly caters to the darkest inclinations of the fallen human heart. Stuff that would never have appeared on TV back in the day is shown today with nary a peep of protest. Now, in pursuit of being thought cutting edge (and the almighty dollar) Hollywood is romanticizing violent sexual abuse. Out of the other side of its mouth it pontificates about the evils of violence against women. Which makes no sense, except these are the same folks who make millions feeding us a steady diet of violent action movies, then make PSAs condemning gun violence. Why are we letting these people teach us how to live?

I like a good story as much as the next person, but not everything offered to us is fit for consumption. I freely admit I have not read the books, nor do I intend to. In order to correctly identify what is in the bottom of an outhouse, I needn’t sample it with fork and knife. The Psalmist declares, “I will set no vile thing before my eyes” (Psalm 101:3). If watching a troubled young man convince a young woman that he should be allowed to torment her for sexual satisfaction is not vile, then I shudder to think what would be. And it doesn’t matter whether he forces her or gains her willing participation through romance. What a perversion--love is supposed to benefit the other, not exploit them.

Do we really think that because we aren’t suffering active persecution that the enemy has no agenda for American believers? We feel at ease, but this only makes us more vulnerable to his attack. This predator may be subtle, but he’s still asking us the same question he put to Eve, “Did God really say…?” He continually pushes the envelope. He whispers, “this too, is food to eat,” while spooning poison into our mouths. But we have a choice here. We can say a firm “no thank you!” to Fifty Shades of Grey. It does not empower women. It does not enrich our lives. It will not make us better, more loving people. It may be I cannot bell the cat, but I am ringing the bell as hard as I can, while pointing to where that sneaky cat is prowling.

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble,
whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely,
whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—
think about such things.” Philippians 4:8

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