30 January 2013

A Necessary Accessory

by Frank Turk

You'll be relieved to know that this week's installment is not about Passion2013.

What I'm more concerned about is the following tweet:
Or maybe you saw this version of that tweet:
And then, of course, this tweet:
Look: you know this is important when I'm willing to link to what Challies has said about it, but our culture has spent half a century working on the death of shame.  Shame about divorce is, of course, impossible -- it can't be discussed or considered.  Shame about any moral vice, in fact, is right out.  Causing others to sin is not shameful.  Behaving badly?  That's expected -- not shameful.  That will get you a reality TV show, not the tar and feathering you deserve.

But, you see: shame has a sociological power.  It's been studied, and by golly, we can use shame to mold society.  It turns out that what we make shameful can cause our culture to change (watch me now) for the better.  Shame can be used to curb unhealthy behaviors.  For example: fat people ought to be ashamed of themselves -- That's not my opinion.  That's science (according to the link).  And if fat people, or smokers, can't be shamed into conformity, of course there need to be penalties.

But that's not all: the flip side of shame is, of course, acceptance.  So while we are penalizing and stigmatizing fat people and smokers, ... well: watch this video ...

Now, granted: The Colt45 commercial is not as openly-lacivious as any given serial drama on HBO,  but all the touchstones are there: the stylish man, the smooth talk, the implication that women like him and therefore like the product he's selling.  It's meant to be sexy -- in a way that communicates to both sexes.  It's meant to de-stimatize the product by making it a necessary accessory for the union of the sexes.

Which is why this video is especially vile:

Somehow, someone wants to extract the shame from the act of abortion the way someone else extracted the shame from buying cheap beer.  It's as if they are the same kind of thing.

There's a story in this someplace -- not a scripted narrative (in the human sense) but a way all the particulars line up and say something about what kind of people we are.  I mean: on the one hand someone wants to say openly that we don't want anyone to be a fat, lazy smoker with assorted health issues, and that we want everyone to be a beautiful person with whom we might have sex.  But on the other hand, someone wants sex to be wrapped up in cheap beer and good looks and, since it has come up, the permanent solution for any inconvenience which gets in the way of the good time -- because somehow: that innocent person is the one to be ashamed of.

At the end of it, I can tell you what actually bothers me here -- aside, of course, from the utter absence of any reference to what's morally obvious.  It bothers me that somehow someone has made other people the problem in every case.  The problem is that other people are too fat, too smokey, too needy for health care because they were too lazy or addicted or stupid.  And other people are the reason we need cheap beer to get a date -- because beer here is sold as the ultimate nullifier for sexual rejection.  And right at the end of it: other people are a problem when their lives intrude on our convenient pleasures -- to the point that we cannot suffer them to come.  They must go.

It bothers me that somehow, this line of reasoning is so worried about other people.  I don't want to stigmatize anybody, but it sounds awfully judgmental.


Tyrhone Tubbs said...

As a smoker in the process of quitting, I have long been disheartened by the attempts to vilify smokers. Like eating sugary foods, wasting money, boozing to socialize, smoking is a right. We know it is bad for us, we know a lot of things are bad for us, but take away our right to choose and you are on a slippery path to "1984".

We each have our own path to follow, and more often than not we inadvertently are on a path laid out for us by social convention, it is ridiculous to then demonize social that outrageously obvious social convention, but such is the silliness of society.

Mark Lussier said...

This is what I thinking about at the moment:
“You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people's feet.
“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

(Matthew 5:13-16)

Andrea said...

What is interesting (in the sense of the Chinese curse-- "may you live in interesting times") to me here is that all the shame left in our society is directed at people--devalued in our thought to the status of things-- that inconvenience us. The obese are inconvenient because they cost society money in terms of medical care. They also don't fit the mold of what we want to be and the people we want to have relationships (read sex) with.

This is less mentioned, but people with disabilities are inconvenient for the same reasons. I know people who were disguested with Sarah Palin because it seemed she was encouraging people *not* to abort their down syndrome babies. That was something they considered shameful.

People with terminal illnesses, in the last stages of life, or in persistent vegetative states are even more inconvenient. They remind us of our mortality, make us realize that our lives and capacities are not in our ultimate control. And again, they cost money to care for. Euthanasia advocates may talk about dignity and compassion, but the bottom line is that there is still a (growing) sense of shame connected with being "a burden on society."

And as your post rightly pointed out, pregnancy in general is an inconvenience to a culture that thinks of sex as recreation. One of the things that grieves me about "Planned Parenthood" is that it connects a sense of shame to pregnancies that were not humanly planned... a category which includes all four of mine. To simply enjoy marital relations and rejoice when they bear fruit in God's timing... this is a shameful thing to today's society. A lady in our church with seven children has faced incredulity even within our church.

The fact that I myself ask "how does *she* do that?" instead of "why don't *I* do that?" is just cause for me to be ashamed. Because I think that I know the answer.

It certainly is not that I don't love my children and would not want more. It is not primarily my health or loss of income that worries me.

It is that I don't want to inconvenience my husband. And I don't want people to look at me and think that I'm just like "the stupid Duggars."

God have mercy on me.

Robert said...

That video has been pulled, but apparently enough people saw it to draw some charp reactions. Just Google "Happy 40th Anniversary Baby" and you can see what people have to say. Talk about having no shame...how anybody could come up with the concept for that vidoe, let alone actually act it out, is beyond me.

Frank Turk said...

This is the internet: nothing is ever removed forever.

Frank Turk said...


"The stupid Duggars" thing this week was also quite an education.

Anonymous said...

Shame however, is often a very good thing. For abortion to ever be illegal, a necessary first step is that women who get abortions will need to be generally stigmatized and shunned. I know that sounds very harsh on our culture, but if we believe them to be killing a baby (which it is), then it's an appropriate reaction. A woman who gets an abortion needs to be shamed at least as much as say, a woman who kills someone drunk driving, in which the death was unintended. When there isn't shame for great evil, we aren't sending the message of love; we are sending the message that the evil they've done isn't that big of a deal.

Frank Turk said...

The woman?

How about the doctor. If a doctor who primarily performs abortions was discredited by professional credentialling societies, abortion as we know it would end.

Look: most OB-GYNs will not perform an abortion. They know better. But the AMA won't give this a fair hearing because it is run by the kind of people who run political action committees. If the AMA stepped in and voiced the scientific views of most OB-GYNs, this debate would be over.

DJP said...

The useful aspect of that video is that it could help repackage abortion from the false label "Woman's Issue" to the more accurate "Sexual Predator's Issue."

Robert said...

Just to add to what Frank is saying...

My wife works as a counselor at a pregnancy center and through her training, I've learned so much about all of the forces in action behind Roe vs. Wade that it makes my head spin. The people fighting for abortion were just in it for money. And I'm, not talking about lawyer's fees...I'm talking about the "doctors" and pharmaceutical companies. When you add in the motivation behind Planned Parenthood and combine all the groups together, it is like the Legion of Doom.

I wish I knew where to find the testimony of the OB-GYN who testified before Congress about how abortions are performed. He gave graphic descriptions of how abortions are performed and how you can tell when you are doing it right. He had performed abortions, but quit because of his conscience.

As for "The stupid Duggers" discussion, one thing stood out very clearly. That guy was doubling and tripling down in his efforts to suppress the truth. And sadly, he has been exposed to the Bible, but either he didn't hear the truth or his heart is one of the three bad soils.

And one last note...I agree with Paul to an extent. We have to remember, though, that what the women need to hear is the Gospel and to know that Jesus offers forgiveness to sinners who repent and trust in Him dying for their sins. That is a message sorely needed in the church because there are many women in churches who have ahd abortions and are carrying that guilt.

Robert said...

One other thing (sorry if I'm rambling...this is just an issue I am very passionate about)...the Hippocratic Oath originally stated the following:

I will neither give a deadly drug to anybody if asked for it, nor will I make a suggestion to this effect. Similarly I will not give to a woman an abortive remedy. In purity and holiness I will guard my life and my art.

This is a good story that shows some of the changes from the original to the versions used today.

Shane Dodson said...

Robert...I had a question about the pregnancy center your wife works at. Do you know if the volunteers there are allowed to use words like "sexual immorality"..."sin"...
"murder" and "repent" in the course of their counseling?

In my research, some do and some do not.


- Shane

Rob said...

One note about stigmatizing smokers particularly: speaking as someone who lunges into a sneezing fit around second-hand smoke, with smoking it's more than just a stigma, since it's an activity that when done in public causes harm to others. If anything about cigarette smoking needs to be stigmatized, it's making a stigma smoking IN PUBLIC. If people want to do this in the privacy of their home (and not in proximity of children) then that's there own problem to deal with without stigma. But share cancer with other people, and the stigma is deserved.

Daniel said...

Counter-cultural morality?


Frank Turk said...

Listen: it doesn't go without saying because we don't want to be accused of assuming the Gospel, but the Gospel is always the solution to culture. Every single time the culture shows its true face, the Gospel ought to be our response.

This essay was not directly about that: it was the prequel to that. But we need to start understanding how the story of the Gospel works -- because it's not really a systematic theology, but a story of God and man, and how man always, always, always goes this way.

Frank Turk said...


Without you, my Wednesdays would be empty.

I didn't know what day it was
When you walked into the room
I said hello unnoticed
You said goodbye too soon

Breezing through the clientele
Spinning yarns that were so lyrical
I really must confess right here
The attraction was purely theological

I took all those habits of yours
That in the beginning were hard to accept
Your fashion sense, beardsly prints
I put down to experience

The big conference line-up with the dutch accent
Who tried to change my point of view
Their ad lib lines were well rehearsed
But my heart cried out for you

You're in my heart, you're in my soul
You'll be my breath should I grow old
You are my hater, you're my best friend
You're in my soul

Carl C. said...

Perhaps you're referring to Dr. Anthony Levatino? Todd Friel put up a short clip of his testimony that sounds like what you're describing: "Wretched: Safe, legal and torturous". It is a hard thing to watch, but puts the absolute horror of this 'practice' in the foreground for all to see.

Michael Coughlin said...

I'm still mad at Billy Dee for turning against the rebels and leading them to Vader. I never watched another minute after that.

Did he ever repent?

threegirldad said...

The stupid Duggars" thing this week was also quite an education.

Was it ever...

Marla said...

Frank, I think you hit the nail on the head. Life could be so much better if only those "other" people would get their act together. *sigh* Sooner or later, you are confronted in the mirror with those 'other' people.

Of course that reminds me of James 1:24.

What happened this week with the Duggars? I'm in the dark here. Enlighten me please.

Marla said...

Michael: of course he did -- you missed the rest of the film! ;) Miss you on FB.

Frank Turk said...

Marla - it was a facebook discussion.

Marla said...

Thanks Frank. I know there is quite a bit of contempt and outright hatred for the Duggars. Had a long-time friend 'unfriend' me and pretty much stop talking to me altogether over a discussion about them.

Funny, people will put up with all kinds of social 'problem'-type situations (Jersey Shore, Real Housewives, insert-favorite-dysfunctional-reality-show, etc.) but show a family that loves each other, doesn't depend on gov't assistance and be Christians -- the haters come out in droves.

I think the difference is that those others make the viewers feel good about themselves. I think the Duggars cause envy and 'that's-not-fair-they-have-too-much' to emerge more often.

(Just my observations)

Robert said...


My wife is able to present the Gospel (including sin) to the women who she speaks with. The thing that saddens and angers me most is to hear that so many professing Christians try to justify their sins. We need to emphasize that God justifies sinners, not sin.


I absolutely think that the shame and sting of sin needs to be acknowledged before the Gospel really becomes good news. I just think that many overlook the fact that there are probably women that we all know that need to understand that Jesus offers forgiveness to those who have had abortions.


That is the video that I was thinking of...thanks.

Frank Turk said...

Robert: a convicted sinner is ready for the Gospel.

Halcyon said...

I don't know why, but the abortion video guy always reminds me of a black Lex Luthor, especially when he laughs.


Frank Turk said...

No way - Lex is 100 times more subtle.

donsands said...

Colt 45. That's some nasty malt liquor. I remember when they came up with that here in Baltimore, having a connection with the NFL Baltimore Colts.

"Somehow, someone wants to extract the shame from the act of abortion the way someone else extracted the shame from buying cheap beer. It's as if they are the same kind of thing."

No shame. Sad. That abortion video made me mad.

There have been a lot of cans of Colt 5 sold since it first came out, and it has done some damage for sure.
And since Roe there have been 55,000,000 babies killes.
What a holocaust we will look back on one day, many years from now. perhaps the same way we look back on Hitler's holocaust.

I don't see our culture in America getting any better, until it gets way, way far worse.
I hate to think this way, and I hope I'm wrong.
But, whatever may come, I pray our Lord will help us have the courage to stand in His truth, and proclaim the Gospel with joy and with genuine gratitude.

Christ on the Cross needs to be seen as the Gospel light of the Lamb of God, who became sin. And Jesus the risen Christ and God who reigns from His Father's right hand.
Not a whole lot of words, but the truth is the sword that cuts deep into a heart.

Peter said...

Jesus and the woman at the well have something to teach us about shame. She was drawing water in the middle of the day to avoid the women of the city because of the shame associated with her sexual history, and yet Jesus met her there. He was honest with her about her sin and yet full of grace.

Nash Equilibrium said...

"Let him who is without sin, cast the first stone"

trogdor said...

Some guy once said, "Since Genesis 3:6, fallen humanity's agenda has been the pursuit of one goal: to make the world safe for sin." That could not describe the culture any better - whether it's abortion, homosexuality or other perversions, covetousness, ignorance, or other vices, things which should not even be mentioned are persistently promoted in the media (and even bragged about in the pulpit!).

Killing an unborn child? As normal as buying beer. Engaging in all manner of sexual perversion? Pride! But believing that perversion is wrong - wait, believing there is any such thing as perversion - is bigoted hatred which should have you marginalized from society. The only thing which is consistently considered shameful is to think any of this should be shameful - that is clearly bigoted, misogynistic, racist, flat-earther, or the epithet du jour.

When Paul declared that he was not ashamed of the gospel, clearly he meant that in the eyes of the world, the gospel is something he should have been ashamed of, and it's no different for us today. To those who are being saved, it is the sweet fragrance of life, but to those who are perishing it is the stench of death. Though they hate it, we must keep proclaiming and obeying it, because it is the only place they can find the righteousness of God and gain life.

Nash Equilibrium said...

Don't forget climate change denial! For shame!

Barbara said...

"The power of Colt 45. It works every time."

Wow. Just....wow.

Barbara said...

....shades of Jimmy Buffet, I guess.

semijohn said...

If I didn't know better, I'd wonder if the "40th" video was an extremely ironic pro-life video.

Frank Turk said...

If it were a pro-life parody, it would have drawn demands for apologies for its racism, sexism, lasciviousness, and callousness.

Instead, because somehow it got outed as absurd and creepy by a few brave people before me, it has simply been deleted like a mistaken tweet - with no apologies.

Robert said...


One has to wonder how the mainstream media somehow conveniently missed this. Well, maybe it isn't that big of a mystery given the state of the media these days. Sad.

donsands said...

Good word Trog. Well said.

I shall share your good thought if you don't mind.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Nonna said...

Frank, one has to wonder why there was no feminist outcry. Seems feminists these days have no idea when they're being slapped in the face and disrespected.

Nonna said...

Regarding that pro-abortion video - vile is right. That video has a layer of messages. The "all of us" refers to men just like the "sexy" guy in the video, who want to use women for their own pleasure without having to be concerned about any uncomfortable consequences for their actions. How any woman could watch this and not feel disrespected is beyond me. But then again, that would be tied into the lack of shame that exists in our society. That video was an insult toward all women because underneath the guise of celebrating modern feminism as synonymous with pro-abortion rights it undermines the dignity of women. It does so by viewing women's ability to conceive and bear children as an interference to unbridled sexual passion. It also regards women merely as objects for the sexual pleasure of men, hence the exaggerated display of seduction. The message is that abortion is advantageous for all us sexually active guys because it provides us the means to indulge our lust with whomever we want without any repercussions.afemst 986

Susan said...

Frank, your ode to the one-star hater makes you the next Weird Al. Bravo!

And I agree with Rob: Secondhand smoke is not a friend to my respiratory system. The external environment of my workplace sees many smokers who ignore the "please stay away from the entrance 30 ft" signs. Sometimes I wish I could just wear a mask...but then people might think that I have some sort of contagious disease!

That last video about R v. W was just sickening. Done in complete poor taste. A part of me wishes that they didn't take down the video so that more people can see how inane it is!