The X-Rated Series

In 1990 George Barna published a book entitled, Frog In The Kettle. That book was intended to be a "wake up call" to churches who were dedicated to converting individuals to Jesus Christ. The book title was taken from a long known situation. If you place a frog in a pot of cool water sitting on the stove, you can bring the pot to a boil and the frog will not jump out as temperature rises. The frog will stay in the water until it dies. He gets so accustomed to the rising temperature that he never recognizes the danger. Barna's point is simple: the Christian and the church become so accustomed to our changing culture that we can die before we recognize the dangers.

Barna was not challenging us to isolate. He was challenging us to stop deceiving ourselves. He was challenging us to wake up to the changes that are occurring and become a positive, active force instead of just sitting in the pot.

That was a decade ago. Barna's insights were quite prophetic.

  1. Let me illustrate what has happened and is happening.
    1. I will start way back about four decades, so be patient and think.
    2. Let me begin with us older folks in the audience.
      1. How many of you watched the television series called "The Honeymooners"? (Ask for a show of hands).
        1. What a sexually provocative title--honeymooning!
        2. But that was NOT a sexually provocative series--Ralph Cramden and his wife Alice were not sex symbols!
        3. Even though they were a married couple in the series, did you ever see Ralph and Alice in the same bed?
        4. How many romantic scenes (not sexually explicit scenes!) do you remember being a part of a segment?
        5. When you think about the TV series called "The Honeymooners," do you think about sex?
      2. How many of you watched the "I Love Lucy" show starring Lucille Ball and Desi Arnez? (Ask for a show of hands)
        1. Were Lucy and Desi, who were actually husband and wife, sex symbols?
        2. How often were steamy, sexual encounters a part of the story line?
        3. Even though they were married on the show and actually married in real life, how often did you see them in the same bed? They used twin beds!
    3. In 1970 Joyce, our children, and I lived for four years in a rural area in the rain forest area of West Africa.
      1. To give you some insight into our physical circumstances:
        1. Calling to the states was so uncertain that we never attempted it.
        2. It took an air mail letter three weeks to travel from where we lived to our parents.
        3. Very few English language publications were available, and very few English language programs could be heard on the radio.
        4. There was no television.
      2. In virtually every way, we were removed from the American culture.
    4. When we returned to America to live in 1974, things had changed dramatically.
      1. Do you remember the "Mary Tyler Moore" show?
        1. Would you classify Ted as a man of sexually high moral values?
        2. Do you recall that Sue Ann with her typical perspective frequently considered the sexual first?
      2. The television series "MASH" was quite popular when we returned.
        1. And initially we were shocked.
        2. The sexual exploits of Hawkeye Pierce and Hot Lips Hoolihan were very much a part of the story line.
        3. It was straightforward, but it used your imagination.
        4. However, when you look at a program of "MASH" today, it seems down right tame sexually.
      3. The sexually explicit progression continued. Do not raise your hand; just think.
        1. Did you watch and enjoy the series called the "Golden Girls"?
          1. How often were sexual affairs and exploits discussed?
          2. In the story line, how important were sexual situations?
        2. Did you watch and enjoy the series called "Designing Women"?
          1. How often were sexual affairs or exploits discussed?
          2. How often did sexual situations factor in their weekly episodes?
      4. How long have you watched the daytime dramas?
        1. If there were no affairs, no rapes, no adultery, no divorce, no steamy love scenes, how much would be cut out of those dramas?
        2. If you removed all sexual seduction, all affairs, and all sexual unfaithfulness from those dramas, how much material would remain?

  2. How much has changed in what is depicted on the television and movie screen in the last 40 years?
    1. If you grew up as a child watching the television and movies of today, how would that have affected your sexual attitudes and behavior?
      1. Forget the TV comedies!
      2. Forget the TV dramas!
      3. Even forget the PG-13 and R rated movies!
      4. What about some of the commercials?
    2. The changes are nothing less than astounding.
      1. What was considered pornography or X-rated sexual content in the 1960s might make the rating of PG-13 today.
      2. Yet, the average Christian is less shocked and less offended by what is shown on public TV today than the general public was by "the sexually provocative" materials of the 1960s.
      3. We have come to accept it as "just life."
    3. The temperature rose and the frog did not jump--it cooked.

  3. I understand that my perspective is a not a common one, and you may disagree with me--agreeing or disagreeing with me is not the issue.
    1. For a long, long time I have felt that we missed the point in our opposition to the abuse of the sex drive and sex appeal.
      1. The most popular form of opposition the church directed toward the exploitation and abuse of sexual interest has been to condemn it.
        1. "This is what fornication is; it is wrong; God condemns it; the person who commits fornication is going to hell."
        2. "This is what adultery is; it is wrong; God condemns it; the person who commits adultery is going to hell."
        3. "This is what pornography is; it is wrong; God condemns it; the person who uses pornography is going to hell."
        4. I certainly used a form of that opposition for years.
      2. Our most common approach in opposing any form of sexual exploitation is to try to put the fear of hell in people.
        1. It has not worked among Christians.
        2. It has not been a positive influence in touching people in our culture--would a sexually distressed person come to us for help?
      3. "Do you believe that the abuse or exploitation of human sexual desires is evil?" Absolutely!
        1. My understanding of God makes adultery evil.
        2. My understanding of God makes fornication evil.
        3. My understanding of God makes pornography evil.
      4. If a person acknowledges that the abuse or exploitation of human sexual desires is evil, does that solve the problem?
        1. No!
        2. Many Christians who can make powerful arguments against the evils of being sexually active outside the context of a healthy marriage are guilty of being sexually active outside the context of a healthy marriage.
        3. For too many Christians, the key is that no human in the church knows what you are doing; as long as it is secret or hidden, it is okay.
        4. Also there are Christians who accept as fact that sexual activity outside of healthy marriage is evil, but who do not know how to escape the slavery of sexual evil.
      5. We do not address or solve the problem by merely condemning it.
        1. We have implied that if you keep it quiet and hidden, it is okay.
        2. We have not accepted the responsibility to help people understand and escape sexual evil.
    2. The predictable consequence of abusing our sexual desires, drives, and natures is this: it makes us extremely selfish and insensitive.
      1. Sexual indulgence without responsible, healthy commitment makes us increasingly self centered.
      2. It increasingly diminishes our capacity for compassion and kindness.
      3. It increasingly makes us hard and cynical by increasingly hardening our consciences.
      4. It increasingly causes us to look at other people as things to be used and exploited rather than persons made in God's image.
    3. Bottom line: irresponsible sexual indulgence makes us extremely selfish individuals.
      1. The latest statistics available reveal that Americans abandon 23,000 babies annually at the hospital.
        1. That number does not include babies who are abandoned on streets, in public restrooms, or other public places.
        2. That number does not include babies who are abandoned in trash cans.
        3. That does not include the number of babies who die from neglect.
      2. The abortion rate is declining, but the last reported rate was over 1,221,000 for 1996.
      3. Do you see any selfishness?
    4. One of the greatest sources of pain in our culture is the pain of rejection that comes from failed or exploitive sexual encounters in and out of marriage.
      1. The people who experience that pain feel:
        1. Used.
        2. Deceived.
        3. Abandoned.
        4. Discarded.
      2. Do you see the consequences of selfishness?
    5. The more selfish we become, the more dismal our relationships are, and the higher the failure rate of our relationships.
      1. Sexual fulfillment is good, not evil; it was created by God, not designed by Satan.
      2. That is why God designed us to live in the successful relationship of a healthy marriage.

To the Christians who were living in the sexually exploitive port city of Corinth, Paul said that in that environment at that time he recommended that they not marry. However, Paul realized that was not an option for some. So he said,

(1 Corinthians 7:2-6) But because of immoralities, each man is to have his own wife, and each woman is to have her own husband. The husband must fulfill his duty to his wife, and likewise also the wife to her husband. The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does; and likewise also the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. Stop depriving one another, except by agreement for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer, and come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control. But this I say by way of concession, not of command. (The New American Standard Bible, 1995 Update, La Habra, California: The Lockman Foundation, 1996.)

Paul was not recommending that men and women sexually exploit each other in marriage. In an environment less stressful than Corinth, Paul declared to Christians in Ephesus:

(Ephesians 5:22-25,28) Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body. But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself. (The New American Standard Bible, 1995 Update, La Habra, California: The Lockman Foundation, 1996.)

In the loving, respectful relationship of a healthy marriage, husbands and wives want to care for each other in every way, in every need.

David Chadwell

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Evening Sermon, 16 January 2000
previous next in series

 Link to next sermon

 Link to other Writings of David Chadwell