The Absolute Ethics of Pop Culture

I'm tired of the moaning and groaning I hear in the church about how our culture has become amoral and unethical. It's simply not true. I won't argue against the undeniable fact that most people are biblically illiterate, but some Judeo-Christian values still define western culture. This core of shared belief is revealed when we consider the plight of unfortunates who have been widely vilified, rightfully or wrongfully:
Thou Shalt Not Lie (James Frey).
Thou Shalt Not Steal. (Kaavya Viswanathan).
Thou Shalt Not Slander. (Tom Cruise).
Thou Shalt Not Secretly Despise Those You Claim To Love (Mel Gibson).
Thou Shalt Nurture Thy Children (Britney Spears, Michael Jackson, and Steve Irwin).
Thou Shalt Not Exploit The Poor For Thine Own Sake (Madonna).
Thou Shalt Not Think Too Highly Of Thine Own Self (Faith Hill and Kanye West).
Thou Shalt Not Preach Against What Thou Practiceth Secretly (Ted Haggard).
Some of these people have already recovered and regained public favor (one via death); others may go to the grave serving as cautionary tales or fodder for bad jokes. But the widespread outrage over their deeds reveals the existence of an ethical code in our culture that we can't -- and shouldn't -- overlook. If ours is a relativistic culture that shuns absolute truths, how could so many of us agree that these celebrities blew it? Why were these particular transgressions intolerable in a society that values tolerance so highly?

When another media frenzy begins over a fallen idol, we're free to discuss any biblical commands that were broken and point out the culture's longing for true, unchanging virtue. But we must avoid any gleeful, self-righteous gossip or slander masquerading as humor. When the next unfortunate is dragged through the mud of the public square, we're called to pray that he or she might hear the glorious words spoken by Jesus to one and all: "Blessed are the poor in Spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of God."

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