Values, Not Beliefs

By: Dr. Ted Baehr; ©2002
What happens when Christians follow their values, not their beliefs? How would it affect their witness for Christ? Their influence in the community? Dr. Baehr responds.

As I travel from country to country, speaking and teaching on media-wisdom, I con­stantly hear the question, phrased in many different ways, “how can the United States be so Christian, and yet be so debauched if 130 million people go to church every week.” This is a complex question which requires a complex answer. To keep this article simple, how­ever, one part of the answer is that too often Christians follow their values and not their beliefs.

As a way of illustration, many years ago, I was asked to meet with a pornographer who was searching for Jesus Christ. Of course, it was uncomfortable sitting at a coffee shop with someone who looked like he was called by a casting agency to play a role in Boogie Nights. By the grace of a loving God, however, he came to Christ and started attending one of the most solid Christian churches in Los Angeles. He even wrote two articles for MOVIEGUIDE® condemning the horrors of pornography.

Some time later, an anti-pornography agency called me. They had read the articles and wanted this former pornographer to speak at their fundraiser.

When I tracked him down, he said that he didn’t want to be found. He had tried selling computers and then cars, but he could not make enough money to sustain his rich and famous lifestyle, so he went back to selling pornography where he could make over $100,000 per week. Even so, he offered in way of rationalization, he was now witnessing to everyone to whom he sold pornography.

Soon thereafter, I met with a Christian friend whose progeny had just graduated and was now working for a cable TV company. The youth was concerned because many of chan­nels that the youth had to sell in his job were pornography related. When I suggested that he should quit, my friend pointed out that getting a job that paid a reasonable amount was difficult in a depressed economy.

These are two extreme examples. Clearly, these people had Christian beliefs and had been discipled, but they valued their money more than their beliefs. This may be the es­sence of the problem of contemporary Christians in America: they follow their values, not their beliefs.

The problem is magnified in Hollywood. There are a growing number of ministries in Hollywood. At last count, the National Association of Evangelicals identified 43. There are also a growing number of Christians in Hollywood. At one count, a third of the executive producers of major prime time shows had expressed some degree of Christian faith at Christian meetings. Also, quite a few contemporary movies involve outspoken Christians in key positions. Yet, many of these TV program and movies are strongly anti-Christian, or contain horrendous immorality.

How does this happen?

Christians are not being salt and light. We are following our values-our love for fame, wealth and power-and not our Christian beliefs.

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