Rita Rudner and the Cultural Redemption

Because I don’t have cable television, channel surfing is not a sport in which I often participate. Today, though, I decided to turn on the black box as I was eating a quick lunch. What I saw amazed me.

I happened upon a show called Ask Rita. The show is hosted by comedianne Rita Rudner and has a format similar to the now-defunct Politcally Incorrect, though undoubtedly geared more toward a daytime audience. The format is like this: Rita pulls a question from a viewer from her mailbag and poses it to her panel of guests. The guests then pontificate on the question and try to resolve whatever issue is at stake for the hapless viewer.

Today the particular issue was a woman who asked Rita about a problem with her boyfriend. The problem, it turned out, was that he “wouldn’t touch her.” He said he wanted the next woman that he slept with to be “forever.” She really liked him and wanted to keep him, but this bothered her. Her friends had told her that he might be gay, but she asked him and he became upset with her.

Rudner then turned the issue over to her guests, which included four C-list stars of whom I can’t recall all their names. One was Annabelle Gurwitch of TBS’ Dinner & a Movie fame, another was a L.A. talk show host, and the other two were a rapper and some other kind of musician. This gathered Areopagus pounced on the question.

The rapper and the other musician were sure that the forlorn woman’s beau was gay, and joking held that position throughout the dialogue. No heterosexual man would even consider giving up premarital sex.

The real kicker happened when Annabelle Gurwitch said, “But what if he’s like, a Mormon or something, and he has a religious reason for not having sex?” The other group members looked at her incredulously and said, “There is no religion that prohibits premarital sex, is there?” Another responded, “I believe that orthodox Judaism does, but I don’t think any others do.”

Obviously I’m not writing a TV show transcript and I do have point in retelling this incident. What amazed me was what was not there. Christianity was not even hinted at as having anything to do with sexualy morality.

Does this mean that the Christian underpinnings of our society have now almost completely eroded? It is possible. Granted, the panelists were not (and I doubt even purported to be) seasoned cultural commentators, but the biblical illiteracy that they displayed shows us a great deal.

If this erosion is now complete, I think there are positive aspects to it. One is that few people have any idea what a Christian is anymore. This is good because all of the false notions that people held as to what a Christian (or Christianity) was have now disappeared. Christians can now explain themselves and their faith rightly without false cultural baggage getting in the way.

The difficult thing about this erosion is that it makes Christians and their message that much more alien to today’s world. This gives us as believers a much more difficult task. We must define more, and give every idea its proper framework on which to stand. The great opportunies ahead of us require great patience and preparation. That preparation is more than an already inflated blog entry can do, but books like D.A. Carson’s The Gagging of God are a great place to start.