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Soap Operas Teach Biblical Morality

I was in a grocery store line many years ago and TV Guide’s cover advertised an article entitled, “Soap Operas Teach Biblical Morality.”  I thought that was about the dumbest thing I’d ever heard.  Soap Operas are all about prima donna drama, selfishness, fornication, adultery, lying, murder, cheating, greed, hatred, bitterness, personal revenge, and smoldering resentment.  These are the polar opposites of Biblical morality.  “That’s just plain dumb,” I thought, but I was so intrigued that I bought that issue of TV Guide.  I read the article, and by the end of it the author had me convinced that indeed, soap operas teach Biblical morality.

Here’s his premise: the Bible teaches that selfishness, fornication, adultery, lying, murder, cheating, greed, hatred, bitterness, personal revenge, and smoldering resentment will result in unhappy, unfulfilled, dissatisfied, discontented, uptight, and joyless people.  What do we see on soap operas?  Unhappy, unfulfilled, dissatisfied, discontented, uptight, and joyles people. Soap operas are a backhanded reinforcement of Biblical morality.  It would not ring psychologically true, even in our jaded culture, to have a program where people murder, commit adultery, lie, steal, hate, covet, scheme, etc., and live happy, joy filled, worry free lives.

Hollywood actors and actresses can glorify out-of-wedlock or extra-marital sex on the movie screen, but when their real life spouses commit adultery – they divorce.  They can’t get away from the moral standard impressed upon their hearts.  When people choose to live outside the moral standard of our Creator, any happiness and joy they seem to have is a cosmetic that has to be put on before leaving home to mask the basic discontent of their lives.

J. Budziszewski, in the September 2003 issue of Touchstone magazine, helps us understand why this is so.  In his article The Furies of Conscience, he artfully unfolds the way our conscience functions.

Conscience works in three different modes:

  • Cautionary – alerts us to peril of moral wrong and generates an inhibition against committing it.
  • Accusatory – indicts us for the wrong we have already done.
  • Avenging – punishes the soul who does wrong and fails to heed the indictment of the accusation.

Conscience is therefore teacher, judge, or executioner, depending on what mode it is working: cautionary, accusing, or avenging.  It appears that the workings of conscience cannot be stopped – they can be ignored, but ignored at the peril of the one denying and hardening their conscience.

The article in its fullness will go a long way in informing and equipping the pastor in understanding how even the pagan or the backsliding Christian cannot escape the reach of conscience.  This will greatly aid you in counseling and preaching and understanding yourself.  It can be found at http://www.touchstonemag.com/archives/article.php?id=16-07-027-f

I was convinced – soap operas teach Biblical morality.  No, they don’t preach against the vices that are portrayed, but they do demonstrate that those who live in these vices never experience the true joy of life and only find themselves broken again and again.  As pastors, counselors, and preachers, we can rest assured that a life of rebellion is an empty life, regardless of the smiles and the thrills that attend it.  Pastor, your church is filled with soap opera characters.  Like most churches, the soaps have no larger than life heroes – no Rockys, no Rambos, no Indiana Jones’.  They portray regular people living in the furies of conscience.  Many who listen to you Sunday after Sunday are being decimated by the furies of conscience. By Christ, we can see through the smiling faces into the broken hearts, we can see past the bling to the sting, and we can present a Savior who can silence the furies of conscience.  Biblical morality is inescapable – even by those so desperately seeking to overthrow it.

3 replies
  1. Trip Kimball
    Trip Kimball says:

    Tim, great thought provoking post. The TV Guide’s article is a great example of Christian influence (witness) in a public setting—Hallelujah for it!
    The amazing thing about the Bible is the commonness of the people in it—along with their behaviors and morality. The whole attaching of “biblical” to anything has an implication that it is ok, rather than it’s in the Bible. I appreciate learning long ago from a veteran pastor that everything in the Bible isn’t inspired by God (re: behaviors, evil, sin, etc.), even though the Bible is inspired by God (God-breathed as the NIV rightly puts it).
    What the world likes to use as “contradictions” are the very things that make the Bible relevant for us humans. The Bible provides a revelation of God and an honest view of mankind, still relevant for today’s culture.

    Reply
  2. Terry
    Terry says:

    Tim, a great head-turning, kind of post.

    As the World Turns, I know plenty of people that are that happily unhappy, but I don’t know many that are quite so wealthy as in the soaps. It’s unfortunate that most do not realize we only have One Life to Live. All of the Young and the Restless really just need the Guiding Light.

    Reply

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