If you’ve watched any television in the last year or so, you will have likely been treated to one of the most unseemly elements of modern advertising: a Viagra commercial. Now arguably Budweiser and Coors have been saying basically the same thing in a slightly more subtle way for many years. See these young underclad women? You deserve to be with them. You deserve to be laughing and jumping into pools and oceans in various stages of undress having a good time. Here, let us help you with anything that might come between you and this happiness. This Bud’s for you.
The unspoken reality of course is that your mileage may vary. Apart from a few frat boys and the poor sorority girls lured to their parties, most guys really just drink the beer for the buzz. After three or four cans of American lager you may be sitting at home alone on the couch or sitting at a saloon in Kansas, but at least you feel sort of warm and happy, like they look on the commercials. But the trouble is that other than the obligatory “please drink responsibly” and “don’t drink and drive” the FDA hasn’t yet required the Beer advertisers to disclose all the possible side-effects and potential hazards of chugging beer (e.g. loss of job, loss of wife, loss of children, loss of intelligence, etc.). At the end of most drug commercials, the narrator’s voice slips into the 1.5x reading speed and non-chalantly reveals how the side effects may include nausea, vomiting, blindness, kidney failure, internal bleeding, and sometimes even death. My kids always get a kick out of these ads.
Thanks to VDR or at least the mute button, we can often skip commercials now or at least not listen to them, especially when the Viagra commercials come along. But we really have lost our ability to argue with them. What Budweiser promises in a can is essentially what Viagra promises in a pill. Of course there are differences. I get that. But what I’m arguing here is that we have lost the ability to argue about what those differences are. We’ve lost our ability to make careful distinctions and therefore, we cannot think in a straight line.
But even more significant is the fact that we don’t want to. We don’t want to think in a straight line. We live in a Viagra culture. The catechism of Hollywood, the Billboard charts, the Emmys, the Grammys, MTV, and now even our commercials is that you deserve to climax now. You deserve sexual pleasure now. On demand. Don’t think about it. No rules. No limits. But in order to actually achieve this idolized climax, the spectacle, thrill, and titillation must be ever increasing, ever exotic, ever deviant. When you make Aphrodite your goddess, when you make sexual pleasure your idol, everything must serve that purpose. This is what a “god” is — it’s what orients your life. And if sexual climax is your god, then everything must serve that end.
This is why when the Church Curmudgeon tweeted this screen shot a few days ago, I thought he was actually getting at something that was deeply true about our nation. I retweeted it for about thirty seconds before I thought better of it and deleted it, mostly because I didn’t want to give the impression I was going in for junior high humor. But the point actually is funny, but it’s funny because it’s actually far truer than it might first seem. When people worship false gods they become impotent. Literally. Psalm 115 describes this impotence as eyes going blind, ears going deaf, mouths going mute, arms and legs going lame, but the point is unmistakeable: Those who make idols and serve idols become like them. Idols mutilate their worshipers. They promise life and deliver death. They are shiny lures with sharp hooks. They steal, kill, and destroy, and they turn their followers into thieves, murders, and terrorists. And then they end up on presidential ballots. This is not a possibility. It is a certainty. And so it is no accident that as we have come to worship sex, we have in fact become startlingly impotent.
Part of our impotence is illustrated in the kind of political porn that is now served up for consumption. The spectacle, the debacle, the gameshow reality TV that is being served up at the moment is now what it takes for Americans to get off. We are a nation of sickos searching for salvation through orgasm. Which, incidentally, is why the high priests of this cult are sodomites, as they have always been in many cultures. The rise of sodomy is not merely the rise of deviant sexuality. Rather, it is also the rise of a cult. This is why they are sacred. This is why you must bake them cakes and take their pictures and provide flowers for their weddings. They are holy. It is not merely a social or political phenomenon, it is a liturgical, religious reality being instituted in our land.
And just as sex and drugs have been used for millennia to create a euphoric, ecstatic experience that is meant to synthesize and approximate communion with God, seeking to fill that universal spiritual void in the hearts of men, so we too serve up pot and beer and Viagra induced politics to the masses, promising happiness and fulfillment in the name of the gods. Having banned the living God from the public square we have not actually emptied the public square of the gods. Empty, well-swept houses are always the most attractive to demons and their obnoxious comrades. And so you still wake up every morning with that God damn hangover, with your head throbbing, and your gut aching with guilt and regret because we were not made in the image of these impotent gods. We are living icons of the living God.
And we were made for Him.