A thought crossed my mind yesterday, and I thought I'd try to expand on it.
TV commercials these days are horrible, if you've noticed. Actually, they're horrible even if no one notices, but that's not the point. Well, it does relate, but it's not the main point. Anyway… Because so many commercials are so worldly and so sensual and because so many of the values they portray are upside down and twisted, one of the only benefits I see to paying attention to them is examining the lies that undergird them. I actually enjoy thinking hard about what a commercial is really about, what the company is trying to sell, what and who they're appealing to, what values they're assuming, what methods they're using to entice, what it says about our culture, and what God thinks of it all based on what He's revealed to us. I imagine that many of you do the same thing.
There's a line of commercials that's been on for awhile, trying to attract people to Las Vegas. I saw a new one today (new to me, at least). But it's the tagline that caught my attention. I've seen the tagline before, and it makes me mad every time. But this time the Lord caused me to think about it a little bit more. All of the commercials have to do with pleasure-seeking and sensuality and spontaneity and partying, and the motto at the end of every commercial is something like this: "What happens here, stays here."
Depending on how you think and what you value, that can be a really attractive slogan. Obviously it has to be attractive or it wouldn't be a successful theme for a line of commercials. But why is it attractive, and what are the lies behind it (assuming that its falsehood is blatantly evident)? There are a few. Here are some ideas that I think this slogan is saying to the average TV-watcher (and this is an example of why you absolutely must have your mind in battle-mode if you watch TV):
- Lie: "What you do here won't impact other areas of your life." What you do in Vegas stays in Vegas. A little reckless gambling over the weekend never hurt anyone. Emotional or fullscale adultery doesn't have to change how you treat your wife and kids when you get home. A drunken binge or two won't affect your work ethic on Monday. Reality: Everything you do affects the other areas of your life. You can't categorize it. Thinking that you can be a drunk on the weekends and a responsible, white-collar worker during the week is undeniably hypocritical. There's no way that committing any kind of adultery in Vegas could not destroy your wife and your kids, whether they know about it or not. Get real, folks. What happens in Vegas will creep into the other areas of your life like water looking for the water table.
- Lie: "What you do here won't impact anyone else's life." Reality: No man is an island. What you do or don't do on any given day directly or indirectly affects tons of people. If you're worldly, you're the bad company that corrupts good morals (1 Corinthians 15:33). Even if committing adultery in Vegas did nothing to your own family (a far-fetched idea), you're at least destroying the person you're sinning with! Someone's overboard gambling or foolhardy shotgun wedding or out-of-control partying can't not affect the people around them.
- Lie: "No one else will know what you did here." Reality: Yeah, and "The fool has said in his heart, 'There is no God'" (Psalm 14:1). Rather, "Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence?" (Psalm 139:7). No, the very Person who you don't want to know about this already knew about what you did before you did it. Don't be a fool. What happens in Vegas was known by God before time began, is offending and angering Him at this very moment, and will be held to your account on the last day. God is unaware of what happens in Vegas like He was unaware of what was going on in Sodom and Gomorrah.
- Lie: "What you do here will be fun and worthwhile." Reality: "If the dead are not raised [and only if the dead are not raised], let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die" (1 Corinthians 15:32). But the dead will be raised, and when they're raised, they'll give an account to their Creator and Judge. In other words, it makes sense to live solely for your own fun and enjoyment if there's no afterlife. If there's nothing after this life, live it up while you can. But if there is something after this, and if the Someone who determines what that something will be is jaw-droppingly awesome and frightful, it might be a good idea to rethink how many decisions you make solely based on what's fun and worthwhile at the moment.
- Lie: "It's good to put yourself in position where you can fall into hedonistic spontaneities." This is why a word like "happens" is used. They're trying to say that things just "happen" in Vegas. It's not deliberate, it's not planned, it's not structured. You just fall into pleasurable situations, and there are so many pleasures to fall into that you should just come to Vegas and see what happens. Reality: First, no one just falls into sin. Nothing just "happens." Sin is a type of nature, but it's also a type of choice. Second, willfully putting yourself into situations where fleshly fulfillment is not just possible but is actually likely is just another way of choosing to sin. Living a sinward life (in the direction of sin and oriented towards the flesh) shows your true colors.
The "What happens here, stays here" slogan is perverted and deceitful. A better tagline would be: "What happens here could destroy your life. Oh, and your next life, too. Live carefully."
It's not inherently wrong to go to Las Vegas any more than it was inherently sinful to live in Corinth. Just make sure you're living the right motto.