Twin Beds to Boston Public

How TV has changed! We've come a long way from Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz sleeping in separate beds. Take, as just one example, this season's Fox TV drama hit, Boston Public. The program has featured a recurring storyline about a teacher having a sexual relationship with a seventeen-year-old student -- a relationship that is a crime in some jurisdictions. The show has also contained strong suggestions of oral sex, and a student poll on which teacher students would most want to have sex with. Not surprisingly, teachers were more upset by their low rankings than by the impertinence of the student survey. But they weren't the only ones who were unperturbed at the student's conduct. When asked about viewer complaints, a Fox spokesman replied that Fox had received more complaints about the lack of Boston accents than about the show's sexual content. The apparent indifference to Boston Public's content is a result of people simply getting used to this steady diet. A new study by the Kaiser Family Foundation confirmed what anyone who has watched television recently already knows: that the amount of sexual content on television is increasing every year. The Kaiser study found that 68 percent of all prime- time programming and 84 percent of situation comedies contain "sexual content" -- an increase of 21 percent from just two years ago. What's more, 10 percent of prime-time programming contains what Kaiser calls "strong suggestions" of sexual intercourse. Furthermore, this content is becoming more and more graphic, and those having sex on television are getting younger and younger. For instance, the number of teens depicted as having intercourse has tripled in just the last two years. From Kaiser's point of view, the news isn't all bad. As the report puts it, "certain kinds of shows are much more likely to include safer-sex references." In other words, while television is increasingly saturated by sex, and depicts our kids as rutting animals, at least they're practicing "safe sex." Well, Kaiser's statement is beyond parody. But maybe it's the best we can expect in a post-Christian culture. Since the sexual revolution, which severed the link between sex and sin, our culture finds it almost impossible to discuss sex in terms of right and wrong. But that doesn't do away with the sense that there's something wrong with promiscuity. So, educators and researchers substituted the terms "safe and unsafe" in place of "right and wrong." The result, as columnist Charles Krauthammer has written, is that "the core of the modern sexual code is disease prevention." In this worldview, sex education and other discussions about sex aren't about morality. They're "branches of hygiene." We can expect the amount of sexual content on television to grow and the ages of those depicted having sex to shrink. That's because American culture isn't offering an answer to the question: what's wrong with lots of sex on TV? On the contrary, we're saying there's nothing wrong so long as it's hygienic. We need to help our neighbors see the importance of talking about sex in moral, not simply hygienic, terms. And we need to let Fox and other networks hear from us. We shouldn't ever let them get away with saying that no one cares -- because we do. For further reference: Waxman, Sharon. "Sex on TV: Study Finds More, Sooner but Safer." Washington Post, 7 February 2001; page C01. ------- Touch the future of the Kingdom of God by making a commitment to a planned gift. Prison Fellowship has professional planned giving staff to help you be a good steward of the blessings God has given to you. Please call us toll-free at 1-877-PFM-GIVE, or email us at <> for more information. -------


Chuck Colson



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