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Essay

Certain words are not used in polite company. So, if you don’t want to hear them, just find some polite company. Good luck.

One such word has an especially powerful impact on movie ratings. Use it a single time and you make a G or PG movie PG-13. More than one utterance of the word usually means an R rating.

Of course, you can hear R-rated language at a movie, even if it’s not in the movie. I went to see Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith the night it opened across the country. I saw wookies, droids, storm troopers, Jedi Knights, Yodas, and all manner of creatures carrying light sabers as they lined up around the multiplex. They couldn’t show the movie until midnight but put us in theaters an hour or so before showtime.

The young man a couple of seats down, perhaps due to the exuberance of the occasion, shouted every word that came out his mouth and one word, in particular, came out of his mouth a lot. Almost every sentence could change a PG movie to PG-13. Often a single sentence contained enough utterances of the word to get an R rating from the Motion Picture Association of America.

Listening to him that night I realized that, though he obviously liked the word, he viewed it as dark and shameful. He used it just like our friends in Hollywood use it. It described a person being cheated or misused. Sometimes it describes a blunder. But most of all, it was a curse.

I constantly hear that Christians are sexually repressed. But going by the way they use this word, it’s the people in Hollywood who have the problem. They see themselves as sexually enlightened, but their view of sex seems anything but luminous. The word means sexual intercourse, something most Christians appreciate as a blessing. But in Hollywood, on campus, and in much of secular America, it’s used as a malediction. A person who’s really enraged at someone will scream out what means, in effect, “Have sex!”

But they don’t mean it in a good way. Amazingly, they are conferring a curse.

Like so many good things, the blessing we call sex can be used in wrong ways and cause great harm. The Bible teaches that it is powerful and, like other powerful things (think nitroglycerin or tigers), should be approached with caution. That’s why we’re always hearing about how to have safe-sex. If you want instructions on safe-sex, one book stands above all the rest — the Bible. And the best known Biblical guideline is that sex is only safe when confined to marriage.

Does that make those who heed the Bible sexually repressed? No. It makes us safe. God wants us to use the power of this wonderful gift only in positive, constructive ways — ways that strengthen marriage and family, and contribute to an individual’s spiritual, mental, and physical well-being.

Maybe Hollywood uses the word as a curse because of the pain felt by so many who have disregarded God’s instructions. In that case, sex can certainly become dark, hurtful, a kind of punishment, full of humiliation, a colossal blunder.

But Christians see it as fun . . . and as holy. By respecting its holiness and its incredible power, we preserve the mystery and romance.

My family raised rabbits when I was a kid and, as you can imagine, for a ten year old, it was always fascinating to watch the breeding process — fascinating, but definitely not romantic. It was sex, but not sexy.

Have you ever wondered why old movies are so much more romantic than modern ones? The rules of the day, the Hays Production Code, forced film makers to keep sex mysterious. And the climate of the times allowed writers to create leading characters who lived chaste lives, people who saw sex as extremely important — so important it should be preserved in its own kind of holy of holies, the marriage bed.

Frank Capra’s It Happened One Night, starring Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert, is one of the sexiest movies ever made. Over the course of the film, sex goes from underlying theme to primary focus. But there isn’t even a hint of nudity. Well . . . maybe a hint. When Clark Gable failed get a car to stop and give them a ride by the traditional hitchhiker’s use of his thumb, Claudette Colbert sticks out her leg and the next car slams on its brakes.

They are going cross country, have almost no money and must pretend to be married. This has them spending the night in the same room, not something I recommend for unmarried couples, but a situation that created a lasting symbol of modesty and respect — the makeshift curtain Clark Gable placed across the room. Even if someone saw this movie sixty years ago and remembers nothing else about it, they remember that curtain. They remember it, not just because it was cute, but because it was romantic. It symbolized esteem for the opposite gender, respect for the power of sex, and showed the restraint that makes sex mysterious, romantic, and . . . sexy.

Hollywood's Curse Word
©2007-2017 Tom Gilbreath All Rights Reserved
Posted: 9-17-2007

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