We knew not to even ask. It wouldn’t matter how many of our friends were watching it, what the reason for its being there was, or what redeeming value it might have held (believe me we tried them all); the R rating was an instant “no” in our house.
It didn’t matter which one we asked, Mom or Dad, the reply was always the same. “If the world has decided that is needs to be restricted, that’s all we need to know.”
I can’t claim to have lived by that rule perfectly. In fact, there were times when I ran as hard and fast from it as I could. Choosing the passing pleasure of sin over the wise counsel of my parents. But age and maturity have taught me to be grateful for their rule, and it has become my own.
I thought about this rule as I listened to a recent sermon by Dee Bowman entitled “Christian in an ‘R’ Rated World”. It was a timely lesson. One every Christian today needs to hear.
Leaving aside entertainment, we live in a world of "R rated" values, but it occurs to me that restriction today is no longer warning; instead it has become an endorsement. Those things that are not fit for the very young have become somehow more fit for those of discerning pallets and opinions. It has become a mark of maturity and distinction to be able to speak well of something once considered evil. The question must be asked, are we giving proper heed to God’s restrictions?
The Influence of the Wicked
2 For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self- control, brutal, not loving good, 4 treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.
(2 Timothy 3:2-5 ESV)
Paul warns of men full of empty conceit who love only self and pleasures and have no regard for anyone else particularly God. They are ungrateful, incapable of peace, reckless with what is not theirs, hating good, and completely without self control.
Having no self control, they are unable to correctly discern between the value of good and the danger of evil, not by reason of maturity, but because the conscious no longer cares about anything that does not gratify self. It is the idea of Isaiah 1:2-4 and Jeremiah 6:15 and 8:12. It is the person that no longer understands the reason for their shame.
Is this not the meaning of passages like Isaiah 5 in particular verse 20 where the prophet says
20 Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil;
Who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness;
Who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!
21 Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes
And clever in their own sight!
(Isaiah 5:20-21 NASB)
But what so often goes unnoticed in the 2nd Timothy 3 context is that Paul is not merely lamenting the wicked world, he is speaking of those of God who fall under its sway. Notice the last statement in verse 5, “Avoid (or turn away) from such people.”
The day was coming and remains when men desire to hear soothing doctrines instead of truth (2nd Timothy 4:3-4), and the untrained, untested, or unconcerned among us are being carried along with the culture.
In John 7:7 Jesus speaking to his unbelieving brethren told them that the world hated Him because he testified that their works were evil. And in John 15:18 and following Jesus told His disciples that the world would hate them just as it hated Him for exposing their sin through His work.
We need to understand that the world hates us because we judge them. I do not mean we judge them in a sanctimonious unrighteous way. We judge them when we reject their moral attitude in pursuit of godliness, righteousness, and holiness.
Just as those in Corinth could have no compromise with the sexual immorality of the idol temples or with the unbelievers (1st Corinthians 6:14-20, 2nd Corinthians 6:14-18) there can be no compromise with darkness. But rather than shunning evil as we should, we have become comfortable in simply adopting it more slowly than the world around us.
Some have chalked this up to apathy, others to fear. Still others even refer to it as enlightenment suggesting that we were too harsh in our old judgments, and that modern thinking even allows us to win some away from the world by easing the transition. But the truth is this gradual progression into wickedness salves the untrained conscience, because there is always something comparatively worse.
We are not saved by comparative righteousness. We are those who are to seek first the Kingdom of God (Matthew 6:33). Calling yesterday’s evil good is not the fulfillment of the ideal of hating evil and clinging to what is good (Romans 12:9). It is substituting one for the other.
In the world but not of the world
I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. 15 I do not ask You to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. 17 Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth.
(John 17:14-17 NASB)
Jesus would go onto say that He was not merely praying this on behalf of those that were there with Him but for all disciples. He prayed for unity in this purpose just as He was one with the father in His purpose. If we are not apart from the world, but rather following its lead, can we really claim to have unity with or in Him?
Just a thought