Something is terribly wrong with comedy in our country. Decadence is rapidly replacing decency. If it's offensive, embarrassing and raunchy, you've hit the mark. The more today's comedians can push the envelope, the more they're hailed as cool, hilarious and cutting edge.
The Latin root of decadence means, "to fall down." It is not speaking of mere excess but rather deterioration, decay and decline of that which is moral. Synonyms include "debased, degraded, gone to the dogs." Tragically, that is what has happened for the most part to comedy in our culture today.
Have you noticed or are you like millions being subtly seduced? Worse yet, are you grabbing your spouse or your friends and inviting them to come along and guffaw?
Recently I checked out of a hotel but not before engaging the lady at the counter for a possible gospel-sharing opportunity. She related to me how her husband had just taken her to see a certain comedian (whose reputation is pure filth). She admitted that she sat there blushing, squirming, wincing and cringing at the nonstop profanity and sexual themes but didn't realize what she was getting into when her husband first invited her.
Has this happened to you lately with a TV show, movie or an evening at a comedy club or event? Brace yourself because without revival in our nation it's going to get worse. I don't say this to discourage us but rather motivate all of us to cry out to God in repentance for our nation and for a desperately needed awakening in our day.
George Otis, Jr. who has traveled the world for over 20 years documenting genuine revivals, tells us the three essentials for transformation: 1. Realizing the gravity of the situation. 2. Understanding that time is running out. 3. Responding to God's lifeline of opportunity through repentance and passionately seeking God.
Here's the deal: One of the reasons that I write these commentaries each week is to sober readers across America that time is running out! This theme is simply another area that we need to awaken to that our culture is collapsing. This is not hyperbole but reality.
Rewind the Tape
To realize how far we've fallen, let's review some basic scriptures and what our society was like just a few decades ago. As the French poet Charles Baudelaire warns us, "The devil pulls the strings which makes us dance; he finds delight in the most loathsome things; some furtherance of Hell each new day brings, and yet we feel no horror in that rank advance."
God ordained comedy and created us in His image to enjoy humor and laughter. "Joy is the serious business of heaven," wrote C. S. Lewis.
"Ecclesiastes 3 tells us there is a time to "laugh" and to "dance." Psalm 2:4 says, "The One enthroned in heaven laughs." Jesus Christ was the happiest person who ever lived! The Father set Him "above His companions by anointing Him with the oil of joy" (Heb. 1:9).
As Christians we're to experience "abundant life" (Jn. 10:10) and "inexpressible and glorious joy" (1Pet.1:8) through union with Christ and by "putting off" everything that is contrary to the will of God. This includes "unwholesome talk" that "grieves the Holy Spirit" (Eph.4:29-30) and any "obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking" (Eph. 5:4).
While things were not perfect as many of us were growing up, Judeo-Christian foundations undergirded our schools, government and most of the entertainment industry. Television comedies like Cosby, Leave it to Beaver, Father Knows Best, My Three Sons, and Brady Bunch abounded. Comedians like Bob Hope, Steve Allen, Jack Benny, Lucille Ball and Carol Burnett acted funny and told jokes that 99% of the time were clean.
Standards have now eroded drastically and we are living in an increasingly secularist, postChristian culture. Without biblical restraints, values disappear and eventually we are left with decadence.
Consider these examples in the comedic realm today and realize their primary target audience is the youth of our nation.
• Growing up with wholesome Westerns you probably enjoyed John Wayne and Gary Cooper or shows like The Lone Ranger, Bonanza, Roy Rogers and others. Hollywood grabs hold of the western genre and gives us a "humorous" spoof. One in theaters now is "A Million Ways to Die in the West."
This movie has 50plus F-words and blasphemes God's name 24 times with obscenities and sexual crudities throughout. There's masturbation, anal and oral sex, bestiality, nudity, defecation, copulation, prostitution, drugs and nonstop profane dialogue.
Serious actor and star of the film, Liam Neeson appeared on the Today Show recently and said, "They can't shoot this. They won't be allowed to get away with this! But they did!" Har. Har. Har.
• Cable TV offers us hilarious comedians like Amy Schumer, celebrated as "The New Queen of Shocking TV Comedy." She does a military rape sketch and another one about sloppy sex on a plane.
"Louie" -- critics say this show is "The best!" "Groundbreaking!" He's a divorced, hapless guy who bounces from one titillating, gross out scene to another. He mocks AIDS; acts out oral sex in his car; there's bathroom hijinks and sexual references galore. "A comic genius!"
"Girls" -- this HBO comedy series is the opposite of "Sex and the City." Frumpy Lena Dunham takes off her clothes, urinates, and does all kinds of outlandish things you wouldn't expect from a girl. She's so hilarious that a book publisher has given her $3.5 million to publish her humorous stories in "Not That Kind of Girl."
• Cutting edge, no-holds-barred, gross-you-out comedians? No problem, there's a busload coming to comedy clubs, arenas, TV and books for you. Billboard Magazine just did a cover story with 16 full pages on this major trend celebrating how raunch comedians sell out theaters and tours with their no embarrassment, nothing sacred, in your face, hard-core humor. Audiences especially love the potty-mouth, profane women who'll tell you everything you want to know about romance, dating, sex, abortion, lesbianism, periods and menopause.
Chelsea Handler tours, does her nightly TV show and hawks her mega seller books. Sarah Silverman does her improv and standup routines as a Jewish atheist who recently said on Bill Maher's comedy show that unborn babies are just "goo."
• The music industry has an abundance of artists who intermingle music and raunchy humor on YouTube, in clubs and cable TV. Time Magazine just did an article on Lily Allen under the banner, "Pop Songs that Radio Won't Play." Her smash hit is called "It's Hard Out Here for a Bxxxx" in which she says the B-word 45 times while smiley dancers and actors humorously portray sex acts in provocative attire. She's had over 27 million YouTube views!
The other day I saw a photo of Miley Cyrus laughing straddled atop a giant inflatable male organ. It's part of her act. Her defenders say it's "humorous entertainment for the kids. It's modern-day comedy – part of her act. It's harmless."
The corrosive effect on our culture is increasingly evident to those who have "ears to hear." Multitudes are being stirred to a righteous anger as we awaken to what's happening to our nation.
Just days ago a mother and her 17 year old walked out in disgust at an awards ceremony at a high school in Bellingham, Washington. The reason… totally inappropriate and vulgar comedy on display and led by a veteran teacher.
In the school auditorium while multitudes laughed, the teacher/ presenter used profanity, told an obscene joke and gave an award for the "Horniest Stud." The punch line was when a priest on a plane wanted to have sex with kids after someone yelled out "Fxxx the children!"
Here's what the mother wrote, "This is the sort of TRASH being taught in our schools. I am so shocked right now that I am in tears."
Would you be laughing or crying if you sat with your son or daughter and the mayor in an assembly at Wilson High School, the largest in Washington, DC, to celebrate June as LGBT Pride Month and their principal proudly announced, "I'm Gay!" The students cheered and the mayor employed today's humor by saying certain dissenters can just go to hell. Hilarious! Ha Ha Ha.
I believe Jesus is in tears at this moment for the United States of America just as He was in tears as he overlooked Jerusalem in His day. There is no way to sugar coat or soft-pedal what is happening in our country right now. We all should be in tears – tears of repentance and intercession that God would have mercy, grant us more time to share the gospel and spare us before it's too late.
And this is no laughing matter.