News as entertainment dominates our culture. It has for quite a while. This can be clearly seen in the recent Caylee Anthony story, the little girl who was allegedly killed by her own mother. Of course this is an unbelievably sad story and the pain caused by such a tragic act is tremendous for all parties involved. It should break our own hearts that this kind of wickedness happens, because it breaks the Lord’s heart. I do not intend to minimize any of this with my comments. But I do intend to attack the obsession our culture has on this story and how as Christians we need to watch our own hearts that we not fall into such wicked fixation, intending to puff ourselves up in our own supposed righteousness that we are somehow better than Caylee’s mother.
For the past year or so, ever since it broke, there has been an incessant fixation of the media upon this story. In particular, Nancy Grace has “Breaking News!” every night on her program concerning this case. I can’t think of a time I haven’t flipped past CNN that she hasn’t been ranting on and on about this story. It’s just sickening to me. We make celebrities out of murderers and every shred of “new” information that comes out of this story is somehow the greatest and biggest show-stopper in our lives, like it’s a living and breathing soap opera that we are somehow attached to through TV viewing.
What’s also fascinating to me is how appalled we can all be at the actions of Caylee’s mother and yet neglect something just as tragic that is sinfully and illogically accepted as a cultural, legal norm: abortion. Sure, there are differences, but mostly in the fact that one is publicly displayed and the other is done in secret, behind closed doors, with the approval of the government and our tax dollars. At the root within each context though is something morbidly disgusting: pure, utter self-exaltation, the eclipsing and suppression of the glory of God in wickedness (Romans 1).
What is really the difference between Caylee Anthony’s mother and the actions of a mother in an abortion clinic? One baby is outside of the womb, the other is within. But both are children sovereignly ordained to life by God, created in His image. And both have their lives taken by their mothers’. And yet how sick are we to contradictorily hold out Caylee’s mom as such a disgusting, sick fanatic who deserves death and yet not feel the same way about mother’s every day who kill their own children in a state approved manner? Is there any difference in the eyes of the Lord?
Now is there forgiveness for Caylee’s mother at the right hand of the Lord in Christ just as much as the mother who aborts her own child in a clinic? Surely there is, if in faith they will both repent of their deeds and seek the Lord’s mercy in Christ! But I’m asking this: as a culture, how is it we can approve of one kind of murder and be appalled at a different kind? Only the heart of man can hold to such immorally contradictory things. It seems there is a cultural orthodoxy at play here that needs addressing by the Word of God.
In both instances of murder, the mother and what she wants is the supreme value, not the child’s well-being and continued existence. Selflessness toward our own children (the very selflessness Christ has toward us in the cross) has turned into gross selfishness, of the kind that is now approved by culture as normal and acceptable. This is the work of Satan, keeping our minds in chains and bondage to serve sin.
In both contexts, the mother desires to be free of the inconveniences of child-bearing. “I choose what’s right for me” (which, is that not what was first said in the Garden of Eden in Genesis?). Why is Caylee Anthony’s mom exempt from being accepted by our culture in this manner? Someone might say, “Well it’s just wrong!” Based on what external rule? Why is THAT an unjust action and abortion isn’t? Doesn’t Caylee’s mother have her “rights” as defined by our culture’s view on abortion? Sure, explain away to me that a child is not a child in the womb. This is the pure evil rationalization of sin as something normal.
But then back to the obsession of our culture on the Caylee Anthony story; why is it we obsess over such terrible things in the media? There’s probably a lot of reasons, some of which are related to a desire to see justice, which on a human to human level is good; we need that. But the primary reason seems to be that we get some kind of sick, twisted kick out of seeing the demise of others. We can feel good about ourselves from our arm chairs knowing that’s not us (because deep down we know we’re terribly flawed ourselves). “Look at THAT evil woman and what she did. How could she do that to her own child? Justice should be rendered!” Yet that is us. We are the murderers. We are the adulterers, the robbers, the liars, the idolaters. Even us Christians, who look at those who have abortions in disgust, we sin and murder and steal and idolize things every day within our hearts, or even externally. Are we any different? We are sinners all. Surely we should seek justice in society and continue thwarting those who uphold abortion as normal. But we are sinners in the same manner, just utilizing different means. The Scriptures are calling for humility from all of us, from whatever vantage point we are coming from, a humility that falls at the feet of Christ, seeking His mercy and purity.
Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5 makes it abundantly clear that our sin is not merely external, but primarily internal. Once Jesus came, He showed that the Law of God given in the Old Testament was not merely this list of rules we hold to externally, but the Law of God is about the heart. Jesus said that if you are even angry with your brother in your heart, you have committed murder. If you guys even look at a woman lustfully, you have already had sex outside of marriage or cheated on your wife. In the Lord’s eyes, if you have become angry at someone wrongfully, it is as if you already performed the act of Caylee Anthony’s mother toward that person (though it is still alleged at this point). Most of the time, that is our own family members. Or if you have lusted after a woman in your heart, it is as if you have already slept with that woman who isn’t your wife. So how much different do our hearts look from that of Caylee’s mother? Or the guy at work who cheated on his wife and lost everything? In the Lord’s eyes, there is no distinction.
Caylee’s mother simply carried out what we ourselves have committed probably thousands of times in our hearts, probably every day. Does that mean she shouldn’t be thrown in jail? Surely not, because then our society would crumble under the weight of immorality and injustice of external actions. But it does mean that when we see someone stumble and fall from their awful actions, we should mourn and be humble, knowing that should be us for our own wicked hearts disposition toward evil. We deserve death, eternal death for our thoughts and actions, even the angry or lustful thought against a brother or sister or neighbor.
Our culture simply misapprehends the depravity of the heart of man, as it has done since the beginning. Even in the church we need to study and revisit Total Depravity once again for it would humble us in the proper manner, for it shows us what Scripture actually says. These various situations above simply highlight the horrid reality that is sin within our own hearts. Total Depravity is an offensive doctrine to most people, even in the church. “I’m not possibly THAT bad.” Ah, but the summation of our condition in Romans 3:10-18 disagrees with you. Will you hold to what you and our culture wants to believe about ourselves or what the infallible Word of God holds out as true for each and every one of us? Yes, our condition is that bad, which is precisely why we need not just a helper in Christ, but a Savior who can rescue us from this body (and soul) of death. And we need Him every day for the sustainability of our souls.
As believers may we humbly oppose such sick fanaticism that our culture holds out as entertainment and rather turn to Christ, humbly seek justice in society in all realms and find joy in doing that which pleases the Lord (not because we’re better, but because we’re not and yet have been saved by sheer grace).
And do this not because we have to earn anything from God who has already given us everything we need in Christ, but rather do it in response to His mercy, that He may receive glory. And do it as a witness to the Gospel, that we value Christ and His work on our behalf more than morbid entertainment fixation.
This doesn’t stop at these kinds of shows though. This also involves all of the celebrity shows like TMZ, ET, MTV news, etc. These are the exact same thing as I’ve described. We shouldn’t watch them just because we’re better and others aren’t. We do it because such fixating and obsessing over the calamity of others displeases and hurts the Lord and He is the One who bought us with His blood. How can we return to these things any longer?
We turn away from such filth because of the Gospel, not because we’re better, because in reality, we aren’t. We’re broken sinners as well who need a Savior every single day. We turn away from such things because we’ve been saved by the right hand of God through Jesus Christ. A good and thorough understanding of Total Depravity shows us our desperate need and points us to the all-sufficient power of Christ to save and redeem us.