When Vice Sounds Nice

In our market-driven culture, slogans help make the world go around. We hear them on our radios and iPods. We see them on our TV and computer screens. Some of the slogans seem innocuous– “Think outside the bun” (Taco Bell) or “Like a Good Neighbor” (State Farm).  Other slogans could become problematic if they are applied too broadly– “Obey Your thirst” (Sprite) or “Have it your way” (Burger King). Unfortunately, some are morally insidious. Two billboards that I have seen alongside the road come to mind. One was advertising a gentlemen’s club (an oxymoron in itself)– “Feed your curiosity” and the other an adult bookstore–“Mature Fantasy.” Of course, it would have been more accurate to say, “Indulge your lust” and “Base perversity.”

What is a Christian to do? It is very difficult to avoid a world of slogans. Rather, God has called us to be in the world without being like the world. This is no easy task. One way forward, though, is to actively think. This was Paul’s advice to a Christian community in Philippi living in an unfriendly world. Paul does not prescribe isolation but rather insulation. He argues that God has called us to critically evaluate the mixed messages around us through the lens of Scripture and then to dwell on what pleases God (Phil. 4:8). Working in tandem with such discernment, Paul argues that we actively pursue the teachings from the Bible, which we know please God (Phil. 4:9). It is a call to be proactive rather than reactive or undiscriminating. If Paul were living today, perhaps he would say, “Just do it.”

Doug Finkbeiner

About Doug Finkbeiner
I am a Professor of New Testament and Pastoral Theology at Calvary Baptist Seminary in Lansdale, PA.

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