The National Geographic Channel features a program called Taboo. Last month I noticed a commercial for an episode that would explore the lives of men who have “intimate relationships” with inflatable, life-sized dolls. What? A program like that would have resulted in a public outcry and a boycott of sponsors just a few years ago. A family magazine would never have dared to be associated with such a presentation- much less advertise it. But in today’s culture, having a TV show like that piped into tens of millions of homes doesn’t even raise an eyebrow. There’s hardly a taboo that has survived.
You know the drill. Characters in movies hardly ever go to work, but have you noticed how often you see them standing at urinals, sitting on toilets, or taking a leak outdoors? These days our popular movies and TV shows are awash in adultery, orgies, gay sex, graphic autopsies, appalling violence, and instructive drug use. Because television tends to lend respectability to any subject, things that were formerly taboo are now normalized and mainstream. The shock value is gone.
That’s why it’s important to notice what you never hear discussed in the popular media. In a medium where writers and directors dare to explore sex with animals or polygamous marriage, you see and hear very little about what happens when you die. Sure, there are fatal shootings, stabbings, decapitations, and car crashes; and CSI autopsies show all the blood and tissues, but you never hear popular characters discuss what lies beyond death. One of the most riveting topics throughout all of human history has become forbidden territory in our Age of Openness.
That’s because what might happen after you die is the last taboo in American culture. Nobody wants to talk about it because nobody wants to hear what the secular world has to say. In Hollywood, death is only slightly more terrifying than turning 50- nonexistence! There is no possibility, no hope, no expectation. You just lie there in nonexistence and meaninglessness until your body decays. And then you continue to not exist.
That’s why the historic resurrection of Jesus Christ continues to offer hope and confidence to those discerning people who have finally discovered that everything the world has to offer, is not enough- not nearly. Young Americans don’t often ponder what it means to die: they believe they will live forever. But once in a while when reality breaks through and the obvious intrudes on the media illusion, men and women come face to face with the question of the six foot hole. Now what?
There’s a brand new movie called Hope Springs in which Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones portray a fading couple who are shocked by the discovery that there is still life (and sex) after 50. Now somebody needs to let Hollywood in on another secret that people in Flyover Country have known for generations: there is also life after death.
In 1 Corinthians 15:19-20, Paul explained to jaded cynics in his own age, “If we have put our hope in Christ for this life only, we should be pitied more than anyone! But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.”
Walking with Jesus is not only about life in the hereafter; it’s about life in the here and now. But one day when the here and now is done and gone, life in eternity will be the only thing that matters. Be sure you have what it takes!
And lift up the Cross!