Every Tuesday at lunchtime, you’ll find Roger, Nancy and I catching up on whatever series we’re watching at the moment. We get our homemade lunches ready and head up to the TV room ready to enjoy our next installment together. While we’re waiting for Netflix to warm up (slowest internet) we’ll see snippets of the now old vintage sitcom—“Friends”. I still enjoy watching those old reruns even if it’s for the 10th time. Can you believe the first episode aired in 1994?
How can you not enjoy laughing with those six very white, single 20-somethings who get into all kinds of mischief? They maneuver life and love at their favorite coffee joint—“Central Perk”. But, if you take a simple step back from the Hollywood veneer it’s easy to see some serious dysfunction.
Each of the “Friends” has a very generous sex life and virtually without the pesky consequences of STD’s or pregnancy. Sex on the show had very little to do with intimacy and was more for fun and recreation. Certain characters might in reality be dealing with a sexual or love addiction. These actual terms were of course never used as none of the friends had a concern about the multiple partners. That would put a downer on the comedy. Thanks to a quick Google search, we can find out exactly how many sexual partners each had over the course of the show. It does seem a little excessive to me, though. I’m not sure how you have half a sexual partner?
The Reality of Addiction
In his book, Don’t Call it Love, Dr Patrick Carnes quotes many recovering sex addicts who comment on how our culture has contributed to their addiction—
“Our culture is set up to produce addicts and then condemns them for being such.”
“The culture does not support what it preaches about intimacy and commitment.”
“The culture supports addiction. Buys it, sells it, stuffs it down your throat.”
“Commercials, television, movies—all media supports addiction. The media makes promises nobody can fulfill, and love addiction is basically the whole idea of the “happy ending.”
But how specifically does our secular culture influence the problem of addiction in our country? If we were to design a society where compulsion could thrive, how would the U.S. stack up? Here are some of the contributing cultural factors that intensify addiction that Dr. Carnes advocates—would you agree?
Loss of Community, Disrupted Family Life, Exploitation
Most of us come from some sort of broken home with the possibility of unhealthy family dynamics. Our fears and wounds keep us transient and on the run from being vulnerable and committing to any one community. This is especially true if the injuries have been perpetuated by past experiences. The result leaves us susceptible to finding “love in all the wrong places” and open to exploitation (abuse, etc.). Human life is treated with less value. Treating people as “objects” is a key ingredient in sexual addiction. (Pgs 76-77-–Don’t Call it Love)
Convenience Oriented, Entertainment and Escapism, Breakdown in Boundaries
We don’t have to wait for anything these days—fast food, overnight delivery, 1 hour glasses—all geared to gratifying every need immediately. There is also quick gratification in the unreal scenarios of life and love portrayed by the media. We allow people into our lives via the internet—YouTube, Facebook etc. in an effort to find fast answers to our relational needs. The results are living without protective limits, a lack of meaning as we experience the pain of real life. We demand of “quick-fix” logic to eradicate our discomfort instantly. Can you see how this can open the door to addiction? (Pgs 75-77—Don’t Call it Love)
Paradigm Shifts and Sophisticated Technology
With each new advancement of technology our view of the world constantly changes. Some of these advancements, even simple things like smart phones, challenge the way we view human life and communicate relationally. Because of this sophisticated technology we have the unreasonable notion that man can conquer any problem that comes upon us without consequence. The result of this is simply our values system, what we hold as important, becomes very confused. Life with its problems becomes about finding easy solutions, rather than realistic ones. (Pgs 75-77—Don’t Call it Love)
Help in Community
We’ve got a lot warring against us on a daily basis. A fallen sin nature gets in our way. There is a real Enemy who is out for our demise and our culture that influences our views and choices. Jesus claims that there is a different way to live and a different “Kingdom” that we can participate in. It sure is difficult to do this on your own, don’t you think? Where Grace Abounds hopes to provide a place to wrestle through our wounds and fears, heal our families and relationships. To create boundaries and structure in a limitless society and find practical ways we can help each other in community. Now that’s what “Friends” are really for.
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