Proverbs 22:1 “A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches, and loving favour rather than silver or gold.”
This week I read Numbers 25 in my scheduled Bible reading. This chapter tells the story of something that happened to the Israelites when they were dwelling in the city of Shittim, during the time of the wilderness wanderings. They began to accept the customs and wicked ways of the ungodly people around them, and they even began worshiping false idols. Of course, this made the Lord extremely mad, mad enough to send a plague to the children of Israel. People began dying by the thousands. As the people are weeping in front of the tabernacle, and Moses is pronouncing a death sentence against many of their leaders, something incredible takes place. An Israelite named Zimri came walking right in front of the tabernacle, in broad daylight, in front of Moses and all the people, hand-in-hand with his unsaved girlfriend, a Midianite named Cozbi. Right in the middle of all that is happening, as if oblivious to the horrors around them, they walk into his tent. It must have been shocking. While everyone is standing there with their mouths hanging open, Aaron’s grandson, Phinehas, grabbed a javelin, ran into Zimri’s tent, and killed him and his girlfriend, in the very act of their wickedness. Because of the zeal of Phinehas, the Lord stopped the plague immediately. Twenty-four thousand people died that day.
I find it interesting that, as this story is told in the Bible, descriptions were given of both Zimri and Cozbi. It is mentioned that each of these young people were the son and daughter of a prince. Zimri was the son of a prince in Israel, and Cozbi was the daughter of a prince of Midian. This couple would have been well-known in each of their countries. Surely they were “upper-class,” popular, elite. They probably felt that their status exempted them from following the rules. The arrogance of their sin, to walk past Moses and the priests as people around them are dying with the plague! Surely they thought that they were too important to get punished. These two were probably seen by others as examples, being the children of princes. They were used to the spotlight, and they were going to do whatever they wanted.
The blatant way that they flaunted their sin reminds me of a certain culture in America- the Hollywood culture. The actors and actresses and pop singers that appear on our TV screens make millions of dollars a year, and many of them live wicked lifestyles. Yet, because of their fame, it is accepted. They live together, unmarried, have children, switch partners, and do it again. They do drugs, drink liquor, and ignore all the laws of God, and all the while feel that they can do as they please. We see them each month, scantily dressed on the magazine covers in the grocery store, smiling as if they have the greatest lives in the world. Yet, they divorce and commit suicide at an alarming rate.
I am not writing this article to try to shut down Hollywood. That would be next to impossible. I am writing to Christian ladies and asking the question- how do we react to the Hollywood crowd? Do we abhor their sin as Phinehas did in Numbers? God had great respect for one young man who was angry about sin. I am afraid that we do not have that reaction, and it is because those actors are our heroes, too. We watch their movies and support their salaries. Maybe we don’t go the theatre to see their films, we just wait to watch them in our own living rooms. It would break our hearts if our own daughters lived like the women in Hollywood, but what do our girls learn about our values as we sit on the couch together, popcorn in hand, and silently approve of these actresses by watching them on TV? Our Christian convictions are only as good to our children, and those who look to us, as they make us different in how we live day by day. Is there anything different about what you watch as what your unsaved neighbor watches?
Somehow the TV and movie issue seems “safe” because those people are not actually in our living rooms; only their images are in front of us. We can ignore their lifestyle because we are not face-to-face with them. Yet we know all about their lives. We may know more about their personal lives than we know about our own relatives. Although we have never met them in real life, the Hollywood actresses are almost our “imaginary cousins.” This love/hate relationship- love the movie, hate the lifestyle- is not going to help us reach the younger generation for Christ. They do not see a difference in us, only hypocrisy.
The rating system is also a joke. Are you trusting the judgment of a panel of unsaved people that you have never met to tell you that what you about to see is godly because they give it a “PG-13” rating instead of an “R” rating? That is crazy! Please, Mom, don’t let the TV babysit your kids when you don’t even know what exactly is coming on the screen. You simply trust it, because of a rating or because it is on a “family” channel. Don’t walk away from the TV for a minute if you have not already seen what is about to be watched by your child.
I feel that Hollywood has really fooled us. It would hurt our testimony to go to a bar, smoke, or take drugs. But we can remain upstanding church members as we watch others drink, smoke, take drugs, have affairs, and dress immodestly in our houses. We call it entertainment, but it is ruining our testimony with those we truly want to influence for Christ- our kids.
If you have any form of influence, be it as a mother, a grandmother, a Sunday School teacher, a teacher, a wife of a church staff member or deacon-Please, please care enough about the next generation to hate sin. Let them see a person who lives like she talks. Let them see a lady who is true to her convictions, even in her private life. Young people want so badly to see someone who is real-let that someone be you.