The Missing Word in Our Culture

This past week the airwaves, Facebook, and Twitter were filled with the story of the tragic death of Whitney Houston. She was an amazing talent, who fell into the trap of drugs and a bad marriage. Her life, which began in the church, unraveled, and she will always be remembered for what could have been. One of the great voices of any age was silenced far too soon because of destructive choices.

Of course the Grammys gave a token nod to God by beginning the night with a prayer. But when you’ve got that crazy line-up of musical “talent,” it’s hard to think God takes anything you do seriously.

If you are like me, you are getting weary of the tragic stories about celebrities and sports figures. Many of these people have become embarrassments to our country, their communities, their teams, and their families. Ranging from spoiled brats who need a good spanking to sports thugs who need some time behind bars, the stories seem to surround us and at the same time nauseate us.

What happened to that little Lohan girl from the Walt Disney movies? She’s in and out or rehab, living life in the fast (and dead end) lane, and embarrassing herself beyond words. Substance abuse, partying, DUIs, and a host of other indiscretions have made this once cute actress into a pathetic human being forced to wear an alcohol monitoring bracelet because she has no self-discipline.

Then there’s Britney Spears. She’s fallen to great depths from the Mickey Mouse Club. Once she claimed to be a believer, but her actions over the last ten years leave you wondering. She’s been in and out of rehab, shaved her head, married and divorced and so on. While she’s not been in the headlines lately, you just have a hunch she’s one event away from another headline. Someone needs to restrain her. No parent in their right mind would want their daughter to grow up to be Britney Spears, no matter how much money she might make.

What about Paris Hilton? She’s had her fifteen minutes of fame, but is anyone really that dumb? Didn’t her parents teach her anything about being responsible? After all, if a child will one day inherit a fortune, shouldn’t she learn something about responsibility? Lots of money—not much wisdom in how to use it.

Can we just send all these girls on a trip to Reality Island? They need someone to step in, get in their faces, and discipline them. If they don’t get help soon, they will end up in a cold grave at an early age. Blame them. Blame their parents. Blame the culture that rewards or, even worse, excuses such behavior.

Almost every major professional sports league is plagued by spoiled, undisciplined athletes. The NBA looks like an advertisement for a tattoo parlor. I still remember the year when players complained because they were asked to wear a suit instead of wearing jeans hanging down to their knees when they arrived and departed from games. That’s not much to ask for someone who makes millions a year.

College athletes get kicked off the team because they violate team rules. Here we have kids who are getting tens of thousands in scholarships, playing before millions on national television, and they can’t obey simple team rules. Why? The culture encourages them to live a post-modern life. Our society applauds and then destroys celebrities.

What you’ve got is trouble with a capital T. As Professor Harold Hill says in the Music Man, “Trouble with a capital T and rhymes with P and stands for pool.” The sports gambling pool has cost great players like Pete Rose. “What could have been…” might be his epitaph.

Barry Bonds will never be a hero to anyone who believes in the integrity of the game of baseball. He denies any use of substances or steroids, but he can’t explain the physical changes satisfactorily for anyone on the planet except for crazed Giants fans. True baseball fans will always have a raised eyebrow when his name in mentioned. He’s not a nice man; he’s rude, arrogant, and self-absorbed. Not the kind of guy who should be applauded or voted into the Hall of Fame one day.

Eric Dezenhall, author of Damage Control, says the NBA has a “hemorrhaging” crisis. He calls baseball’s steroid issue a “death-by-a-thousand-cuts loss of confidence.” He calls it a “PR crisis. Baseball and basketball have in common a character crisis when an organization or product is being questioned. It makes people wonder why they’re going to these games. It gets to the integrity of the game and gets to a business problem because people will stop coming.”

There’s the word, or maybe two words that say much the same. Character. Integrity. Why are these words lacking in our heroes and stars? It’s very simple. We aren’t teaching them in our homes, schools, and public institutions. When you forsake moral absolutes and Judeo-Christian ethics, anything and everything is acceptable to someone, somewhere.

As a side note, let’s throw in the politicians who cheat, steal, don’t pay taxes, lie to their constituents, lay down for lobbyists, and violate the Constitution and you’ve got a cultural problem. Hey, don’t get me started.

We have issues in our culture because we are catering to people who have no character. We are giving them millions of dollars to entertain us, teach us, and in some instances even lead our government and churches. Without character, are we really any different than animals? We’re in a crisis of character. Nothing will fix it until we get back to the Scriptures and see God’s unchanging standards for life. Anything less than that will lead to us making excuses, not making people take responsibility for their actions.

So much for “truth, justice, and the American way.” Where’s a role model when you need one?

3 thoughts on “The Missing Word in Our Culture

  1. Pastor Catt, I’d posit that people don’t need a role model as much as they need a Savior. If we raise our kids to have people as role models, we raise them to be disappointed. I’ve tried to be very clear to my four (at least to the two old enough to understand it) that I will fail, that other people will fail, and that the only model we have that won’t fail is Christ.

    You are right, though. We have an incredible lack of character that is lived out every day on Facebook, Twitter, television, movies, any number of media. We allow ourselves to continue to ingest these things and yet believe that nothing will come of it. We don’t hold our leaders accountable for when they lack integrity, yet hope they will change. Gone are the days of personal responsibility. Our own care is someone else’s problem now.

    I told my parents not too long ago that I’m a little envious of them. If they live to the national average, they only have about a decade left to experience this before they meet Jesus. I’m looking at another 45 years, and my kids have a lifetime of it.

    I greatly enjoy your writing and the ministry of your church. God has truly used all of you to influence the world. I pray that the influence of people such as your church grows so that the tide is turned in our culture, and Christ will be glorified through it.

  2. If you look at our cultural degradation from the enemy’s perspective, what we see today makes sense. Attack the icon’s of culture such as Hollywood, the music industry, sports organizations, college and universities, political institutions. Being a finite being with limited power, it only makes sense that the devil and his evil hosts will “seek, kill and destroy” where they can get more evil for the proverbial buck. Pollute a few to pollute the many. What we in the Body of Christ can do is not only wield our delegated spiritual weapons in Christ against this onslaught, but simply “turn off” the machine. Quit watching garbage wherever it is to be found, surround ourselves with the godly, with the wholesome. The films produced by Sherwood Baptist is a great counter-balance to the cesspool mainstream Hollywood offerings. May we in the Body turn off what is bad and embrace what is good, noble, and God honoring!

  3. Thank you pastor Catt for calling it what it is. I admire the brutal honesty and the raw candor. Recently i watched a movie that came out in the year 2000 called “Requiem for a Dream” about the painful depiction of 4 Americans battling various addictions. Two were addicted to Cocaine, one to Heroin and an aging woman obsessed with staying young and beautiful hooked to the diet pill “Speed”. They had genuine dreams but they were all going about realizing them using unconventional means. I watched the movie completely shaken by the insane decisions they would make to “feed” their addiction. I watched one addict ‘shooting’ drugs through an infected vein on the arm,it ended up being amputated. I think the most painful part was watching their lives falling apart as they battled the grip of addiction. My jaw was constantly on the floor, you would never believe how far humans can wonder off course.

    I have to admit i don’t understand drugs and addiction much. I have never EVER taken alcohol or experimented in drugs. I grew up around alcohol alot and i have always blamed alcohol for taking so much away from me.I resented alcohol and drugs for the devastation they cause on humans.I have been to numerous clubs and parties yet people just don’t comprehend why i never touch alcohol. I have been FORCED to drink but to no avail. I have been ostracized for “not being like everyone else”. I have remained without friends all because i could not match what they were doing,forced out for being the odd fish sticking out like a sore thumb. I actually practiced what i believed in.

    Pastor Catt you also have to admit that societies have changed so much and nobody seems to have answers to the problems people are facing. I have fantasized about an “escape” from harsh reality but i have never resorted to substance abuse. I am also quick to show mercy to those who never had a stronger resolve,life is not a fairy tale Pastor Catt. I have never had a “role model”/mentor in real life. The social fabric that was once a safety net is long gone, everyone is now fair game. We have generations that don’t have a moral compass, their collective conscience is compromized, young people can no longer tell what is right or wrong. Character and Integrity? That, and the revival of social values that reflect religious traits which can reflect in an explicit decision making process.

    Pastor Catt, while i do not have immediate answers to the modern social dilemmas we face, i applaud your move to start an open debate on such a cricial issue. Though African cultures are struggling to fight off modernity and preserve traditional values, we are not immune to what goes on in other societies worldwide. I will end this time with a quote;
    MALACHI 3:18
    “And you will again see the distinction between the righteous and the wicked, between those who serve God and those who do not”.

    Godspeed and God bless you all.
    From Africa with love,
    Langat Kibet,
    Nairobi,Kenya(East Africa).

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