Updated: Sep 10, 2021
The news is not particularly good for you. Watch too much of it and it can mess with your head. It can mess with your heart too. Perhaps we look for truth too much in the news and aren't sure which news outlets are really delivering the goods. Is it real news, is it fake news fed us by our smartphone algorithms, or is it the outflow of an agenda driven by the cultural elites? Hard to say. But news does reflect something true about the times we are in. The headlines betray our brokenness. They also betray our often vain and foolish attempts to bandaid over our brokenness and masquerade like all is well.
I've got three recent stories in mind. One today, and the others in the next two installments.
The first comes from the sad tabloid drama of actress Amber Heard that swirled around her divorce from and lawsuits with her ex-husband, actor Johnny Depp. Yeah, that pirate. Hollywood stars seem to think they can do no wrong (or that they can at least cover it up in the eyes of the public so as not to jeopardize the idolization of their fan base). The couple divorced after less than two years of marriage. After the separation, a tabloid reported that Johnny was a wife-beater. Johnny sued for slander, libel, defamation of character and all of that. He accused her of being the violent and abusive one.
I'm not going to attempt to peel back the layers of that onion and guess who was being most truthful. The court ultimately ruled in her favor, but it seems clear that the lives of both Amber and Johnny are vortexes of extreme self-centeredness and dysfunction.
But through it all, Amber apparently longed to be a mom. So after finally getting away from the allegedly-abusive Mr Ego Pirate, Amber decides to have a baby on her own – without marriage, without a partner. She simply buys some “seed” from the local depository, has a little medical procedure, and voila! - she now is the elated mother of a beautiful baby girl.
And the world issues a collective “Awwww. That's great. We're so happy for her.”
Amber spoke of having her baby on her terms as a single mom. She reflected, “I now appreciate how radical it is for us as women to think about one of the most fundamental parts of our destinies in this way.... I hope we arrive at a point in which it's normalized to not want a ring in order to have a crib.” In other words, she was stating that she longs for the day when it is normal for women to be able to have children without feeling they must first get married. She may even have been saying that she hopes it will become normal for women to have babies apart from relationships with men.
I can understand her hurt and frustration over how things turned out with Johnny. I can understand her thinking that she might not want to try the marriage thing again. I can even understand her finding it difficult to trust other men. But those are all a far cry from wanting to normalize her experience and see the day when the institution of marriage crumbles as an unnecessary anachronism, and relations between men and women are reduced to temporary matters of convenience or pleasure, or for necessary deposits in the medical lab so that babies can be brought into the world by anyone at anytime with enough money to pay for such a thing.
And that brings us to where our culture seems to be: demanding affirmation and acceptance of whatever someone believes they ought to be or do in the moment. To push back against the culture's rush of self-actualization as the way to a fulfilling life and to suggest that transformation and the perfection of the self might be found in a transcendent relationship with God (and that through faith in Christ! – I mean, we really are that “narrow,” aren't we?!) is to invite ridicule, contempt, and persecution. The stars of the silver screen can do whatever they like and we applaud them (or we are at least amused by them). Christians take a stand for what they believe to be good and right and they are suddenly public enemy number one and need to be silenced.
We need to speak up more, not less. They may lead us like lambs to the slaughter, but we don't need to let them silence us on the way. And we certainly don't need to sit by passively and let the world self-destruct. We are to speak truth in love, and we are to rescue the perishing. For the one who saves souls is wise (Prov 11:30).