I didn’t watch it, but apparently the Super Bowl half time show was quite scandalous. This is rather to be expected than surprising. The left is gushing over it, with the standard plaudits about social consciousness, women’s empowerment, and cultural expression. On the right, people are asking whether it was really appropriate for an occasion when children would be watching.
I think the Christian must ask whether it was appropriate for an occasion when anyone would be watching, that the answer is obviously no, and that it affords the opportunity for useful observations about the state of American society and the church:
- This is the sort of thing that contemporary feminism advances. It may be thought odd that ‘women’s empowerment’ produces the same kind of outcomes as the most boorish male chauvinism, but it is quite understandable because these are both revolts against God’s design for human flourishing. It is not feminism, but Christianity, that advances the dignity of women. The Super Bowl half time show is a good reminder of this.
- I understand that some people have tried to defend the show as cultural expression. But, from what I’ve heard, that can hardly be a legitimate defense unless the culture in question is that of certain seedy establishments no decent person has any place being in. It is perhaps more likely that this is a throw-away defense used to remove criticism by accusing the critic of being racist.
- Be that as it may, it is worth pointing out that cultural expressions are not above criticism. Human cultures are corrupted by sin just as individuals are, because cultures are made by individuals and societies are made up of individuals. There is structural societal sin, and there are sinful aspects of culture. To suggest that cultural expressions are above moral criticism is to subscribe to a form of relativism that the Christian cannot accept. There is a transcendent moral standard, and no culture gets a pass
- Which leads to probably the most important point: this is a symptom of the loss of moral sanity that comes with secularization. In a culture that owns no transcendent moral standard, there is no basis for making reasonable moral judgments. Artifacts like this recent show are part of something bigger; the half-time show, the abortion industry, the insertion of drag-queen story hour into the public libraries, and the removal of prayer from the public schools, are all part of the same thing. When, as a culture, you reject the transcendent basis for moral clarity, you get moral chaos.
- What does this mean? It means that the common good of American society will be best served by rejecting secularization and going back to being one nation under God–and, that is, the one true God. And this cannot happen by political machinations, but only by revival.
- But in the present state of things, this is a useful reminder that the church is supposed to be different from the world. We are not surprised when their efforts to empower women turn out to objectify women; we did not expect otherwise. But we are supposed to be different and separate. A Christian had no business watching the show (and not only that show, but a whole lot of others), because we have a different message–that men and women are created in the image of God and to be treated with dignity, that human sexuality has an appropriate context in marriage, and that there is a God of holy-love who is calling people to Himself in repentance and faith.
In the end, the gospel message calls us to something higher than what the world’s idea of empowerment can ever give, to a freedom and dignity that Christ alone can give.