Shaving Samson: Why Superbowl Outrage Isn’t Enough

I’d say yesterday’s Superbowl ads and halftime show signaled a new low for American sports, but others have already said it.

Franklin Graham said it condoned the sexual exploitation of women. Dr. James Dobson wondered why Fox Sports (in charge of Superbowl advertising) allowed an ad featuring drag queens but nixed a pro-life spot, and Washington Times columnist Cheryl K. Chumley lamented that “family friendly has taken a turn toward the pornographic in this country.”

Good. We need our leaders speaking out whether their voices are welcomed or booed, and God bless them for it. We laypeople should be speaking out, too, when sleaze invades a beloved national event. But that’s not enough.

“It is always easier to fight for one’s principles that it is to live up to them.”
-Alfred Adler

If we’re long on moral outrage but short on moral authority, then we shouldn’t be surprised when the world laughs. Inconsistency breeds contempt, and the modern church has shown gross, well publicized inconsistency in the area of sexual morality.

Google “church scandals” or “ministry scandals” or “porn use among Christians” then cue the laughter. That’s the world you’re hearing, chuckling “If you don’t live it, quit preachin’ it!”

(I wonder, in fact, how many Christian men will object to yesterday’s scantily dressed women performing suggestively on their television screens, then gorge tomorrow on naked women performing graphically on their computer screens.)

But inconsistency doesn’t just breed contempt, it breeds weakness.
Ask Samson.

His vow of separation to God included a commitment to letting his hair grow, and as long as that commitment was intact, so was his strength. Only when he compromised, via the most notorious haircut on record, did he weaken.
(Judges 16)

It’s not a stretch to say our influence and spiritual vitality are weakened by moral compromise within the church. Whether from porn, adultery, or fornication, we’re suffering from a bad haircut, diminished power, and
cultural contempt.

Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump?
-I Corinthians 5:6

All of us aren’t guilty, of course. But too many are. Besides which, how many compromised believers does it take to cripple the church’s impact?

It took only one rogue – Achan – to bring Israel down in the battle over Ai. God had commanded the people not to take any accursed thing after Jericho’s fall, but one person disobeyed, then everyone suffered. (Joshua 7)

God has likewise commanded that fornication (surely an accursed thing) not even be named among saints. (Ephesians 5:3) More than one person disobeys, now everyone suffers.

The battles that count aren’t the ones for gold medals. The struggles within yourself – the invisible, inevitable 
battles inside all of us – that’s where it’s at.
-Jessie Owens

So instead of just railing at the moral problems in the world, can’t we also admit the moral problem in the church? While we’re getting so real, can’t we also admit the difficulty of staying clean in such an unclean culture? That would be a great place to start.

Then we might get more honest with each other about the need for mutual encouragement and accountability. We’d see more churches develop in-house ministries to help believers maintain their integrity when everything around them induces them not to. We’d talk more specifically to our teens about how to deal with desires and temptations, and why it’s in their own interest to do so.

Then we’ll be talking more openly about the problem and the solution as well. That’s when a pastor, husband, mother, or teen feeling drawn to step outside God’s will in this vital area might just feel safe enough to speak up rather than hide. We might start asking for help. We might start finding strength to resist through each other. We might find a whole new level of power in this mystery we call “Body Ministry.”

Here’s hoping – hoping that we continue to speak against the darkness around us, and speak to each other about the darkness too often within us.

After all, it’s still light. He’s still the Light. And the last I read, the Light shone in the darkness, and the darkness overcame it not. (John 1:5)


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