It's everywhere! It's everywhere!
June 15 2001 by Tony W. Cartledge , BR Editor

It's everywhere! It's everywhere! | Friday, June 15, 2001

Friday, June 15, 2001

It's everywhere! It's everywhere!

By Tony W. Cartledge BR Editor Some things you just can't get away from. Sin, reminders of sin and invitations to sin are chief among them. Do you remember when there weren't any grocery stores that sold beer and wine (or for that matter, were open on Sundays)?

Then there was a time when some did and some didn't, and Christians were encouraged to patronize those stores that remained "dry." Now it's nigh onto impossible in most counties to find a grocery store that doesn't sell beer and wine.

Or a restaurant.

Or, for that matter, a gas station.

What's a consumer to do? We either patronize businesses that sell the stuff, or we park our cars and go hungry.

Troublesome behavior is so rampant in the entertainment industry that it's hard to get away from it, even in the cartoons. A recent study by the Harvard School of Public Health, widely reported in the news media, studied 81 animated features made between 1937 and 2000 - all rated G. Nearly half of the cartoon movies include characters who drink alcohol (often to excess) or use tobacco. It doesn't take a scientific study to know that shorter cartoons are also loaded with violence, as characters from Tom and Jerry to Popeye and Bluto continually chase, punch, zap or otherwise clobber each other. The secular newspapers that tell us about studies like this contain advertisements for alcohol and strip joints. Or, we might hear about them from a television network that gets much of its sponsorship from breweries.

We can't buy athletic shoes, clothing and other products from famous brand companies without running the risk of supporting something akin to slave labor in some third world countries. We can't even eat locally raised chicken without potentially funding processing plants where Hispanic workers are routinely defrauded of wages because they don't speak enough English to stand up for themselves.

It's hard to find an airline for travel, an amusement park for the family, a sports venue for entertainment or even a company in which to buy stock that does not have some employment policies or business dealings that many Christian believers would find objectionable.

Problematic connections pop up in the most unlikely of places. In the June/July 2001 issue of the Southern Baptist Convention's SBC Life, for example, there is a full-page ad promoting the Cooperative Program. The slogan "CP Missions: covering all the bases" is emblazoned above an impressive picture of a major league baseball stadium with a game in progress. The Annuity Board is pitching while SBC missions programs, seminaries and the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission have loaded the bases - of Coors Field. The big sign promoting Coors beer is fuzzy but visible. It was an inadvertent mistake that arose from using a stock photo, the editor assures me, the kind that's hard to avoid nowadays.

In North Carolina, many Christians are rallying to oppose a state-run lottery, which puts the state in the position of promoting gambling. I believe it is right for us to ride a moral high horse in opposing the lottery - but it seems a bit inconsistent when we have little or nothing to say about the state's role as a liquor broker. As Rob Christensen noted June 3 in Raleigh's News and Observer, "state government is already North Carolina's bartender - selling 36 million bottles of booze a year, reaping $441.5 million in annual sales." How can we expect the state to exercise moral compunctions on gambling when it sells 993,852 bottles of Jim Beam whiskey, 1.8 million bottles of Seagram's Extra Dry Gin, and 1.1 million bottles of Smirnoff's Vodka in a single year?

The Bible tells us to avoid not only evil, but the appearance of evil (1 Thessalonians 5:22). That's why many Baptists of my generation were taught not to play with spotted cards, lest others think we were playing poker (hence the popularity of "Rook"). We were told not to say "golly," "gee," or "gosh" because they were all abbreviations of longer phrases that involved taking God's name in vain. We were discouraged from dancing because all that lewd movement might lead to premarital sex.

As Christians who are called to live in the world without being of the world, we walk a delicate path, constantly surrounded by temptation, yet called to resist. Withdrawal from society is not an option if we hope to be a witness to our society. Finding the narrow pathway between accommodation to culture and the avoidance of evil is a tricky business.

It wouldn't hurt us to pray for wisdom, but, perhaps, our greatest need is conviction to follow the wisdom we get.

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6/15/2001 12:00:00 AM by Tony W. Cartledge , BR Editor | with 0 comments
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