If you have been reading this blog for awhile, you may have noticed that I usually refrain from participating in blog wars or from diving into controversy stirring in other corners of cyberspace. I feel these "conversations" do little to actually promote redemptive discussions. But a recent review about the new movie, "Sex and the City," from fellow-writer and singleton Camerin Courtney has been weighing heavily on my heart. Knowing how Google makes it possible to be alerted to whatever is being said about you anywhere on the Internet, I'm sure she will see this. If so, I hope my words will convey that I do not want to demean her personally, but I do want to engage with her perspective.
Camerin published a generally positive review about this movie, including the following phrases:
- "The package suffers without Carrie's usual wrestling with and posing of an intriguing question. Those queries often elevated the show from mere fashionable fluff or soft-core porn."
- "I could've done without the 'man-izing' and definitely without the nudity, when I rented the original version. But it was refreshing to have a single woman's sexuality acknowledged."
- "Yes, materialism and hedonism abound."
- "All of this said, there is a lot of sex and nudity in the movie. Be warned: There's a threesome, a naked man in a shower, some steamy makeup sex. The sex scenes between married folk are somewhat less offensive, but there were too many times when it seemed that the producers were simply trying to shock."
In her own words, this movie and the "randy" television show it is based on, are soft-core porn with a liberal dose of materialism applied. I think we are all in agreement about that description.
So the next question is why this kind of material rates three stars and a shrug in a review published by a magazine that claims to provide "news analysis and commentary from a biblical perspective," Christianity Today. (Full disclosure: I, too, have written for this publication.)
My answer is that the pot with the proverbial frog has boiled over. The changes that have come about with the introduction of "sex positive" or "porn positive" third-wave feminism, beginning in the early 1990s, have now so thoroughly permeated our culture that even evangelicals fail to see the trend or the danger. "Sex and the City" is a showcase for these values wrapped up designer clothes and tottering on expensive shoes.
Before the charges of "prude" are leveled in my direction, let me be clear that I totally believe in "sex positivism." As in the wonderful design for sex given to us by God and celebrated in erotic fashion in Song of Solomon. And I do think that churches by and large have camped out on the "just say no" message for so long that we've obscured clear, biblically-grounded messages on sexuality.
But I don't think watching "Sex and the City" is either helpful for obtaining this clarity or God-honoring. And I think it is particularly unhelpful for single Christians. I can relate to the frustration that Camerin express when she writes: "And, like the TV series, the film offers much that will resonate with singles—and yes, even Christians—who see themselves not just as a demographic in a Barna poll but as sexual beings who wrestle with balancing loneliness and a desire for romantic love with a commitment to purity and platitudes like 'true love waits.' (And waits. And waits.)"
Girl, I hear you on the waiting. I know all about that. But I fail to understand how filling one's eyes and mind with depictions of sexual sin makes it any easier to wait. In fact, I think it has a direct correlation on why so many are still waiting for marriage. Monogamous commitment to one flesh-and-blood person is hard to initiate or maintain with the visual feast of flesh that we so casually accept.
The Bible says we all stumble in various ways (James 3:2). I am one such stumbler, who has received grace and mercy for my sins. I am not calling out anyone from a self-righteous standard. But I am concerned that we are imbibing so much worldliness in our entertainment that we are losing sensitivity to sin. David wrote, "I will set before my eyes no vile thing" (Ps.101:3). Of all people, David knew that what we look at--what we consume with our eyes--affects our souls. He took one look at Bathsheba and lust, adultery, murder, and loss followed for the one who was called "a man after God's own heart." Now David's sin is forever contained in Scripture. How humbling that must be.
Let's not forget it, however, as we are all made from the same stuff. If we fill our eyes with immorality, adultery, materialism, hedonism, back-biting, and self-centeredness, we will inevitably emulate some or all of these traits and approve those who practice them (Romans 1:32). And let me gently observe here that financially supporting movies such as these is tacit approval. Box office receipts are how Hollywood measures support.
As Christians, we are called to be a people set apart for God's glory. We're not set apart because we're any better than anyone else. In fact, being a Christian means you know that you are a sinner in need of a Savior. But if we're a people set apart, there should be something distinctively different about our lives--even down to the movies we watch and recommend.