It seems I could comment on celebrity news every morning.
For instance, Patrick Stewart "stunned" fans with his weekend announcement that he will play Captain Jean-Luc Picard in a new Star Trek series. Russia has named US actor Steven Seagal its special representative for Russian-US humanitarian ties.
And two elderly men in Germany escaped their nursing home to attend a heavy metal rock concert. They were eventually discovered and escorted from the festival.
We might think tonight's Bachelorette live finale fits into the same category–amusing but less than relevant to real life. Here's why we'd be wrong.
Contestant shamed for his virginity
The Bachelorette has been on television for fifteen years. You probably know the premise: A woman is presented with a group of men who want to marry her. Various dates and activities narrow the group down to a final three contestants.
She then spends time in the "Fantasy Suite" with each of them, no cameras allowed. She usually has sex with each of the three men. (I will not link to articles explaining this fact since they are explicit.)
The "Bachelorette" then narrows the group to the final two and chooses the winner in the finale.
So much is wrong with this show. The idea that people could choose their life partner on the basis of contrived events in front of cameras is implausible in the extreme. (The Bachelor, which began in 2002, has produced only one couple that is still together. Only six couples from The Bachelorette are still together.)
The sexual message is especially troubling. The show teaches our children that having sex with someone before marrying them is both normal and wise. After all, our culture asks, how can you know if you're "compatible"?
Sex before marriage is so endorsed by Hollywood that one of this season's Bachelorette contestants was shamed for his virginity. Colton Underwood, a former football player who spent time with several NFL teams, was ridiculed by other contestants in last Monday night's "Men Tell All" episode. The reason: he has chosen not to have sex until he finds the "right heart."
How should those who follow Jesus respond to this show and all it represents? Consider four transformative values.
One: Base our morality on God's word, not our fallen culture.
According to Barna research, only 10 percent of Americans (and only 4 percent of Millennials) hold a biblical worldview. But if majority opinion determined morality, the Jewish exodus from Egypt was immoral, as were the ministries of Jesus and his apostles.
Two: Live the message we share.
"Religion that is pure and undefiled" includes the choice "to keep oneself unstained from the world" (James 1:27). A ship in the water fulfills its purpose. Water in the ship defeats its purpose.
Three: Choose to be faithful, whatever the response.
It can be discouraging to champion biblical morality in such an unbiblical culture. But we're not the first to do so.
Noah spent a hundred years building the ark and warning humanity to repent before the flood (Genesis 5:32; 7:6; 2 Peter 2:5). The prophet Jeremiah preached for twenty-three years to the nation of Judah (Jeremiah 25:3). Jesus wept over Jerusalem, grieving their rejection of his ministry (Luke 19:41-44).
Mother Teresa testified: "God has not called me to be successful; He has called me to be faithful."
Four: Use temptation to draw closer to God.
Temptation offers an illegitimate way to meet a legitimate need. For instance, Eve ate the forbidden fruit because it was "good for food," "a delight to the eyes," and "to be desired to make one wise" (Genesis 3:6). Each is an appropriate desire.
But by choosing her way instead of God's, she was exiled from the Garden where the Lord could have met her needs far more effectively than the fruit she chose instead.
Lust is the counterfeit of appropriate intimacy (Genesis 2:24-25). Greed is our natural desire for material provision taken to excess (Matthew 6:32). Murder turns anger into horrific sin (Ephesians 4:26).
When we are tempted, it is good to ask: What need does this sin claim to meet? Then submit that need to the One who "will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:19).
"The main thing about Christianity"
Oswald Chambers: "The main thing about Christianity is not the work we do, but the relationship we maintain and the atmosphere produced by that relationship. That is all God asks us to look after, and it is the one thing that is being continually assailed."
Where is your relationship with Jesus being "assailed" today? How will you turn temptation into intimacy with your Father?