Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Socially Acceptable Destructive Behavior

In recent months, a local hospital has been running radio advertisements feature a young lady purportedly in her early twenties by virtue of the visual picture supplied by the script.  Depending on the spot, the monologue tells how the woman desires a family (or more children in the single mother scenario) someday, but an additional child at this point would be an intrusion on her college or career.  To demonstrate corporate public service, the hospital staff makes available free, long-term birth control solutions for qualifying individuals.  The worry of an unwanted pregnancy no longer looms, and life can go on with one less concern.

On the surface, this service seems to meet a need in a certain cross-section of humanity and prevent yet another burden on the welfare system.  In return for expressing social consciousness, the staff is able to promote themselves for further services.  The perception is that the good doctors and nurses of this fine facility cared enough to help in one area of life, therefore they can surely be trusted in others.  From a marketing perspective, the corporation is the benefactor of a shrewd advertising campaign.  The hospital has a name brand that moves from the sterile to the welcoming, from the place where medicine is administered for an immediate need to a haven where all health issues are addressed while embracing you as worthy of personal attention.

Laying aside the monetary aspects, what can be derived from the commercial messages?  What is being stated and inferred that illumines the societal norms of those the hospital is attempting to reach?  As we turn a critical ear to the message, a two-fold pattern is repeatedly followed.  The first is that the woman is sexually active though single.  How can any institution countenance such conduct?  The typical response is that we cannot stop such behavior, so we should mitigate against the consequences.  Promoting illicit behavior without consequence is the answer.  How does this help?  By similar logic we should be unlocking doors and drawers since thieves will break in and steal.  Or perhaps a better idea is to supply an alcoholic with a fifth of spirits, because that person will get drunk anyway.  How did sexual promiscuity become socially acceptable?  As the title of this piece indicates, it is destructive behavior to both the woman and man and will have ramifications beyond their intimate union.  This has been scientifically demonstrated both medically and culturally.  The effects are spiritual as well, but these are more difficult to measure empirically, though according to polling data and statistics, the debilitation manifests itself.

The second part of the advertising pattern is that there is no man taking a responsible role in the woman's decision to pursue the contraception.  An assumption is made that a woman can rely on no one else to care for her.  It is true that men are increasingly abdicating their role as counselors, guides, or companions.  They either chose to abandon and seek out new women to conquer, this leaving society with the understanding that abandonment is the norm, not the aberration it is.  Commitment is becoming quaint and rare, which causes upheaval in gender roles.  Woman are forced to take the lead in decisions while men go along if they decide to stick around at all.

Perhaps unwittingly, the hospital has mirrored our society's attitude of addressing the symptom rather than the problem.  Sin is the issue.  We sin because we are sinners—from womb to grave.  The world attempts to mask the problem, but it is endemic to what we are as humans.  We cannot help ourselves and will continue in them though we may be more refined in how they are worked out.  Do we support licentiousness as we find it then?  No, because of its deleterious effects.  Rather we combat that attitude by speaking out against it, illustrating the improper logic, and calling for people to act responsibly and with self-control.

The best and only lasting solution to this malaise is the eradication of sin, but how can that be accomplished?  One took our sin upon himself through his finished, atoning work.  He died, was buried, and rose from the dead according to the scriptures.  By faith we believe and confess him that we might live in newness of life.  By the enabling of the Holy Spirit, we can count ourselves as dead to sin and alive to Christ, no longer giving our members over to sin to accomplish its lust.


Glenn E. Chatfield said...

Excellent analysis, Steve. SO many TV commercials for birth control or sex drugs of various types all give the message that nothing is socially unacceptable any more. And of course, all one has to do is look at the advertisements for various clothing companies - or just walk by their stores in the malls - and you are bombarded with the idea of sexual free-for-all.

It reminds me of Psalm 12:8 "The wicked freely strut about when what is vile is honored among men."

Steve Bricker said...

I had been listening to these spots on my car radio for however long, when I was suddenly struck late last week by the obvious fallacies being promulgated.

I feel somewhat sheepish for not seeing the obvious sooner, but better late than never.