Slippery Slope?

Recently I caught a segment of the old seventies sitcom, Good Times, on TVLand. This particular episode was about a pregnant teen girl. The segment I saw was a conversation between this girl and Thelma, the teenage daughter of the Evans family upon which the program centered.

As I listened to this scripted conversation between two actors in the 1970s I was amazed. Thelma basically preached a sermon. As she asked the girl about what it was like to be pregnant, she shared her convictions about abstinence and waiting until marriage. She spoke of how her parents might react and how she respected them. It wasn’t preachy, but the message was clear- sex before marriage was not the wisest choice.

Could you even imagine that type of conversation occurring between two TV character’s now? I can’t. If there were such a conversation now between two TV teens- one of which being pregnant- it would probably focus on whether or not to abort.

Much has changed in thirty years- which brings me to the title of this post. Is this evidence of a slippery slope?

As a preacher I have heard this term and the idea it represents being spoken of numerous times and usually I have dismissed it. Mainly I have not liked the context of its usage. For instance, I heard the slippery slope used in a camp board meeting to prevent campers from wearing knee-length shorts. Someone actually suggested that shorts would lead to campers having sex in the woods and therefore should not be approved. To me that was not a slippery slope, but a leap completely off the mountain.

Another time the slippery slope blocked the use of overhead technology to project songs during worship. If we did that, we were told, the next step would be “rolling in the aisles”- whatever that meant.

So I have not been a big adherent to the slippery slope idea.

But then I watch this old TV show and compare it to the junk we are served now. Wow. It does seem we, as a society, have slipped morally. As much as I dread saying it- because I always have dreaded hearing it in a church setting- I do wonder what may be next.

I have two young children. What will they be watching in thirty years?

All of this takes me back to Christ’s familiar words in his Sermon on the Mount. We are called to be salt and light in order to witness kingdom values to a world slipping down the slope into lostness.

For if there is anything that can stop the avalanche- it is God.


8 Responses to Slippery Slope?

  1. Frank says:

    Like anyone else, I don’t want to sound like a card-carrying member of the Old Fuddy Duddy Club. But you are right to point out that it’s almost impossible anymore to hear something on TV or in the movies that isn’t culturally left of center. And, yes, even the center has shifted a bit since there were “Good Times.”

    Seasons and fashions come and go. I suspect that some indicators of social well-being will actually point up and not down. The Baby Boomers are getting too old to commit a lot of violent crime so the numbers on that look comparatively very good, etc. I think I will remain a long-term optimist but a short-term pessimist.

  2. Donna says:

    I remember my Dad not liking shows like Good Times. Sometimes it gets harder to protect innocent eyes and ears…but really there is nothing new under the sun. But I wish it was not so readily available for consumption.

  3. benoverby says:

    Danny, one of life’s big questions is “Who’s well off?” Our culture is sending signals that indicate to be well off means wealth, popularity, and a full belly–all things Jesus turned upsided down (Luke 6). Though there’s nothing wrong with wealth, popularity, or a full belly, when they’ve become our gods as exemplified in our sitcoms, music, and movies, then we’ve already slipped to the bottom of the hill. Now it’s just a matter of sinking up to our necks in the mire we’re already stuck in.

    But as you indicated, God sends us out to rescue those who will otherwise suffocate in the muck. May we go and tell and live a counter-cultural story!


  4. dannydodd says:

    Good points everyone.
    Lol, I guess I might be considered in the fuddy duddy catagory now, Frank.
    And Donna’s nothing new under the sun comment is exactly right- it is just the way things are packaged and delivered that is new.
    Ben hits a thought that has been rambling around in my head- what we really value as a culture. Just check out the magazine covers in the mag section of you local bookstore and you will see.

  5. preacherman says:

    What shows will our children remember on tv & what message will they preach or teach?

  6. Frank says:

    Exhibit B: the issue of TIME dated June 4, 2007 has a short article about gasoline prices versus consumers’ willingness to keep paying. The article is titled “Pain in the Gas.” It’s hard for me to imagine seeing a title like that in the 1970s.

  7. Matt Dabbs says:

    On the Today show a few weeks ago there was a producer of some of those old shows and he specifically laid out how there was a purposeful progression of ideas through his shows to have a desired social and political impact. It was pretty stunning what he was saying.

  8. JK says:

    I doubt that overhead technology will slip into rolling in the aisles, but it could slip into college professor type lectures instead of sermons.

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