Many of you remember the television series Married with Children. I sure do. It was one of those shows like Austin Powers that you just hated to love. I admit, I watched it from time to time and could not help but laugh even though it was filled with much adult humor that was probably not too edifying for my Christian walk. But it was kinda funny. (Okay, confession over.) As you may or may not know, each show was rank and filled with sexual humor. The misery of family life was exemplified and exaggerated through adulterous suggestions from the married couple, child neglect, and dishonor in general.

Well, what many of you may not know was that in 1987 when FOX first aired this show, the ratings were not good. In fact, FOX has all but decided to cancel this series. It was at this point that a certain activist began to publicly voice her displeasure at the shows raunchy theme and unhealthy influence. Once her voice became loud enough – you guessed it – the shows ratings sky-rocketed. This woman’s activism seems to have given life to a doomed show which propelled it to ten more years of stardom making it one of the most successful sitcoms of all time. Not only this, but the success it had in crossing the line influenced others to follow in the same suit. Since then . . . well, you know the story. The odd thing is that if it went for this protesters loud and passionate voice of moral activism, it is very possible that Married with Children would now be filed in the ranks of the lessons learned about what not to air.

What I have here are musings. I think that they might very well have some validity to them, but just see them as food for thought, not part of Michael Patton’s stated beliefs. I would like to hear your thoughts.

1. It would seem that Christian activism can often have the reverse effect. Could it be when Christians speak to loudly about issues, that the problem about which we are speaking worsens? If so, why?

2. Related to this (an possibly offering an answer) is the effect of legalism. If this woman’s voice brought attention to the “forbidden” message of Married with Children, didn’t this appeal to humanities desire to touch that which we are not supposed to touch? Legalism is such that the forbidden becomes desired. What would happen if we did not forbid such things? Let me step out on a limb with a very relevant answer (and I can already hear the cracking of the branch). What would happen if we no longer spoke so loudly about the dangers of pornography? No more promotion of Net Nanny from the pulpit, no more public statements about how pornography is destroying our culture, and no more public boycotts of those who support the industry. Is it possible that our regulating voice has given excessive life to the porn industry? What if Christians just said to people, “God has nothing against porn and neither does the Church. What God does have a problem with is lust. So, if you can look at porn without lusting, have at it” and leave it at that?

Look to the problem of alcohol as well. From what I understand the countries that do not have a law against underage drinking have less a problem with alcoholism than America. Why? Because it intrigues people to do what we are not supposed to. If drinking is forbidden, then I am going to do it. If it is not forbidden, its not quite as exciting. Sin excites.

I learned from a very wise man something that I will take with me until I die. Sin is like air in a glass bottle. There are only two ways to get it out. You can either try to suck it out (which won’t get you too far), or you can fill it up with something else (purpose, meaning, Christ).  When you are filled with something else, the air will simply just disappear on its own.

Is Christian activism attempting to suck the air out of the bottle? Does Christian activism actually encourage immorality?

C Michael Patton
C Michael Patton

C. Michael Patton is the primary contributor to the Parchment and Pen/Credo Blog. He has been in ministry for nearly twenty years as a pastor, author, speaker, and blogger. Find him on Patreon Th.M. Dallas Theological Seminary (2001), president of Credo House Ministries and Credo Courses, author of Now that I'm a Christian (Crossway, 2014) Increase My Faith (Credo House, 2011), and The Theology Program (Reclaiming the Mind Ministries, 2001-2006), host of Theology Unplugged, and primary blogger here at Parchment and Pen. But, most importantly, husband to a beautiful wife and father to four awesome children. Michael is available for speaking engagements. Join his Patreon and support his ministry

    7 replies to "Does Christian Activism Actually Encourage Immorality?"

    • Chad Winters

      I agree about the alcohol, in countries where it is not seen as a sin, just what you drink with dinner, ther are far fewer problem drinkers. It becomes about rebellion and partying here, instead of a food choice.

      I don’t know if its equivalent to make that argument with pornography, that seems to be used more to satisfy an innate sin and lust, and most users don’t need marketing to create the ruge. MOst men avoid it only because it seen as sin or taboo. Take that away and I think usage would increase, not the other ay around

    • Chad Winters

      sorry for the typos…..does anyone have a problem with the left side of comment box typing being invisble ?

    • C Michael Patton

      That may be right Chad. I wonder though if in cultures that are more “loose” with their taboos against nudity in general, is the problem as large? Again, just musings out on a limb.

    • Fred Rivera

      I respect Mr Patton’s point of view in reference to “Does Christian Activism encourage immorality”.

      I strongly believe it does not.
      The problem will always be and continues up to this day, (as long as humans remain humans,) to be in the other person heart.

      There is a born tendency to rebel against God and his Word. This is what we are told about in the NT of the ‘old nature’. It is in emnisty with God. It is God’s natural enemy.

      We see the same thing in Moses day when he told Pharoah to let “the people go”. This made the condition worse.

      I would rather explain it this way:
      You have clay in one hand and a chunk of butter in the other. In the hot summer sun .. what will happen?
      Well, obviously, the butter will melt. The clay hardens. Was the problem in the butter? No. Was it in the clay? No. The problem was in the sun.

      Going back to Moses, was the problem in Moses? No. Was it in the Word of God that he spoke? No. But Moses word hardened his heart and this caused him to rebel against it.

      Going back to the problem today, the Word of God needs to be preached through christian activism. The problem will never be in the messenger, neither in the Word the messenger brings, but in the heart that becomes hardened in those that rebel against it.

      The listeners of the TV Sitcom rebeled against the christian activist Word. I’m sure if Michael Jackson would have demeaned it, everyone would have listened.

    • Dan Powers

      Some of this is how we are raised. Growing up I hated the midnight curfew which seemed to be more arbitrary then based on something real. There were times I stayed out later just because. When I had my own children, I took a different approach. I taught them to take care of themselves. While that sounds a bit basic, let me explain. While they were still in grade school, they got freedoms gradually given to them over time. Eventually, they started putting themselves to bed at the proper times. That’s not to say that on occasion they wouldn’t be up to late, but they paid the price which is part meant no complaining about being tired was allowed. At times, they would put themselves to bed early.

      When they started going out at night as teenagers the same approach, a gradual approach to how late they could stay out. By the time they are a junior or senior in high school, the staying out late had lost most of it’s appeal. Also, while they were under the curfew, a few minutes late did not bring the wrath God down on them either. Likewise, nothing was said about coming home early. The net result, by the time the curfew was removed without fan fair my kids behaved. They also learned the price for failing. If the grades started to slip, they had to make adjustments and again no complaining was allowed.

      I guess my point is I removed the allure so that when they had freedom their behavior would not change. I think that is part of the problem with college life. The students go from every aspect of life being managed to total freedom. Thus, they must try all of the new fruit.

    • Jason C

      That’s an interesting approach Dan, and something to try when I (God willing) have children.

      The activism doesn’t create the immorality, but highlighting the immorality gave the show publicity. As the man once said, there’s no such thing as bad publicity.

      Likewise over here moral campaigners used to go on about a gay pride parade that went down one of the streets of our fair city. The publicity kept the parade alive. Once people stopped talking about it the show went away and now I think all they have is a party somewhere on that night.

      Likewise a feminist moralist tried to get a erotica/pornography expo parade banned from one of the city’s main streets. The free publicity she gave them probably doubled the attendance of the parade and the subsequent expo.

      In regards to these things I simply state that it’s immoral and leave it at that. There’s no point in going on about it. Publicity is oxygen, deprive the event/show of it and it will go away.

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