Incest as romance and entertainment? Society seems to play a game of "Can you top this?" Or really "How low can you go?" Hollywood often leads the way, but there are many that follow. It seems that things acceptable today would have been unthinkable a decade ago and not even on the radar screen a half-century ago and a criminal offense 100 years ago, in many cases.
Lifetime television has brought to the small screen, Flowers in the Attic, dealing with incest apparently as a romance -- based on a popular 1979 novel.
This book was made into a movie in the 1980's, but the producers toned down the incestuous relationship. What has changed between then and now?
Why do they feel comfortable including it now? Because of the sexual anarchy our nation seems committed to, things that would not have been considered for television 30 years ago are now too often commonplace.
The reality is, rejection of sexual norms in one area will make rejection in other areas more palatable to us. We are losing our ability to be shocked at things that should shock us, which is an indication of a seared national conscience, as Paul points to in Romans 1.
Writing about this movie for vocativ.com (1/16/14), Elizabeth Kulze opines, "The plot of 'Flowers in the Attic' itself is a delicious assault on family morals..."
She also adds, "Thematically, one could argue that it's a story about child abuse and its devastating effects." The ultimate villain in this movie is the "puritanical grandma," who forces these children into an attic where things get out of hand.
Kulze says that Lifetime hopes it will be such a success that they will make a sequel. Yipes.
Years ago I once asked my long-time pastor, the late Dr. D. James Kennedy, "How do you deal with the argument that [producers] often say, 'Well, we just reflect life as it is?'"
He responded, "I would like to say to them that life consists of more than a toilet and a gutter and a brothel, and there are other parts of life that could be reflected." Obviously, Hollywood produces more than filth, and well done movies promoting positive values tend to do well.
Kennedy used to often quote Alexander Pope's couplet that included the old-fashioned word "mien" (pronounced "mean"), which means "countenance" or appearance.
Said Pope: "Vice is a monster of such horrible mien,/ that to be hated needs but to be seen./ But seen too oft, grown familiar with its face,/ first we endure, then we embrace."
Isn't this what's happening so often in our time? We see things that repulse us on television or in movies, but over time, we tolerate that which we instinctively find offensive. Eventually, we are worn down and accept it -- and even celebrate it. And the taboo is lost.
I remember years ago, Dr. James Dobson was on a video blasting Hollywood producers for making teen-sex movies, where they were celebrating immorality -- often without showing the real life consequences of these things. Said an angry Dr. Dobson (something to the effect), "Just to make a buck, these Hollywood producers are damning a whole generation of young people!"
I have seen a book that contains many photos of vases and pieces of art from antiquity, including the ancient Greeks and the Romans. For a lack of a better term, it's pornographic. How correct Solomon was: There's nothing new under the sun.
Artifacts from Pompeii seem particularly smutty. Some would argue that the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in AD 79 which engulfed the city was divine judgment. Scripture is clear that such was the case of Sodom and Gomorrah, which had less than 10 righteous people. Others would argue that those things that happened, e.g., in the Old Testament, happened as a record for the ages.
In any event, it was into such a filthy world as reflected in that picture book that Jesus was born and through His movement ultimately cleaned things up a lot. Over the centuries, as His influence began to spread all over, laws in much of the Western world became based on the New Testament of which He is the central figure and the Old Testament, to which He gave His imprimatur. In short, because of the Judeo-Christian tradition, incest is illegal.
These laws have been good for society. The home has been safe for women and children for centuries because of Judeo-Christian laws. Much of the West has been spared from a lot of mental illness, which comes as a result of inbreeding.
Someone might say, "Who is to say incest is wrong?" My answer to that is: God is.
I agree with President Lincoln, who said on September 7, 1864, when he received a copy of the Holy Bible: "In regard to this great book, I have but to say, it is the best gift God has given to men. All the good the Savior gave to the world was communicated through this book. But for it we could not know right from wrong." [Emphasis mine].
It behooves us to show discernment in what Hollywood products we choose to support. May God have mercy on us. I think our national shock absorbers could use an overhaul.
Dr. Jerry Newcombe is a key archivist of the D. James Kennedy Legacy Library, a spokesman and cohost of Kennedy Classics. He has also written or co-written 23 books, including (with Dr. Kennedy) What If Jesus Had Never Been Born? and (with Peter Lillback) George Washington's Sacred Fire. Jerry hosts gracenetradio.com Thursdays at noon (EST). www.truthinaction.org.