Response to a Pastor’s take on Netflix film “Cuties.”

Skieologians Column – September 24, 2020 – Ryan Sederquist

Pastor Tanner’s video can be watched here.

Pastor Tanner Thetford, a minister at First Baptist Church of Leadville, is doing some really great things on practically every media platform imaginable these days. As we launch our own theology/social commentary podcast on seder-skier.com – Skieologians – we can only hope to aspire to his rapid ascent in popularity! His content is on Youtube, Twitch, Facebook, etc. He is creative, well-read, and Biblically sound. And, he has the “it” factor if you want to make it in any independent venture: he is a “go getter.” Those are all reasons we love what he is doing. Clearly, he is making things happen with his ministry, and willing to try unique things to do it – he even streams his sermon prep, and witnesses to gamers in live streams! He is putting up a video per day – and many of them deal with relevant, hard questions. Definitely subscribe to that channel and enjoy.

I recently listened to his video/episode in which he discussed the Netflix film, “Cuties.” If you don’t know much about the film or it’s backstory, do a quick google search…or maybe don’t, actually. Just listen to Tanner’s entire show and you can get a full gist of the important facts.

The point of my post here is not to comment on the film itself. I intend instead to point out what I feel is a much more valuable take from Pastor Tanner’s analysis. If you already have a firm opinion on Netflix or “Cuties,” that is fine – you should still listen to the show, and here is why:

Starting around the 10 minute mark of his show, he starts to explain how we as a nation “arrived” morally at this point. I think the reason it struck me had to do with our series on Skieologians. We are walking through a 1998 book by William Watkins called “The New Absolutes,” and my pervading theme/takeaway as I read that book has dealt with the underlying mechanisms responsible for the gradual moral shift which has been taking place in the nation for decades, and now is blatantly obvious in creations such as “Cuties.” How did we “lose” many of the Christian values our country seemed to hold on to for the first 200 years of its existence? Watkins asked that, and here was Tanner asking the same thing.

Tanner answers this question basically as follows: During the “good ol’ days,” there was a generation that said, “Do this – because God says so.” The next generation said, “Do this- because I said so.” This ultimately led to a generation that said, “Do this, or do that.” And now, we seem to be at a place where our current generation is yelling: “Do this,” and ‘this’ is whatever is “anti the God of the Bible.”

Now, Tanner accurately (amen) walks us through, almost in Bahnsen/Van Tillian fashion (though in a way in which a teenage gamer who might be streaming his show while playing Madden could certainly follow) how the removal of God in essence removes the only basis we have for objective moral standards, essentially ‘freeing’ the human race to make our own rules. As Romans 1 says, God actually will ‘let this play out,’ so to speak, when we as a society do this.

Romans 1:24 – 32

24 Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. 25 They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.

26 Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. 27 In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.

28 Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done. 29 They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; 31 they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy. 32 Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.

So, God “gives us over” to our lusts – to the desires of our sinful human nature, and he lets us run wild. AND, the result is this list of shameful things PLUS approval of those who practice them.

Sin loves company.

So, I don’t want to make this a super long post, but I wanted to point out my agreement with this video on these fundamental elements. When you remove God, you remove the basis for objective moral standards and objective truth. Once at this point, when someone asks, “Why is that wrong?” there really is no answer.

“Why is it wrong to have 11-year old girls exploited sexually?”

Tanner makes a good point by saying, in essences, we as CHRISTIANS can’t simply appeal to this as being “obvious,” “inalienable,” or, as he puts it, “a self evident reality.”

Why? Because, quite frankly, it isn’t. It isn’t self evident that murder, lust, greed, adultery, or anything else is wrong. In fact, Romans 1 might argue to the contrary. The ‘self evident’ truth to the natural man, depraved and dead in sin, is actually the denial of the Created order, a denial and hate for the things of the Spirit, and, to the contrary, a worship of sinful things – including any and all perversion.

So, while I’m in complete agreement with Tanner’s Biblical foundation for his views on morality, the depravity of man, and sin, for the sake of some dialogue, I want to throw an additional thought into the “how we got here,” part. It is more or less, social commentary, and I think both of us probably would admit our ideas are somewhat theoretical – we know for certain that the removal of God is the removal of objective truth … but the way in which God was removed …. that is a topic for debate, I think. Tanner’s take is one of generational shifts (God said so > I said so > whatever you want to do is fine). If you’ve listened to our first episode of “The New Absolutes,” you are introduced to my take on “how we got here.”

In general I agree with Tanner. My take maybe goes one step further.

Why did that second generation have to say, “Because I said so?”

I would say it is because the generation that said, “Because God said so,” failed to give their sons and daughters an adequate apologia – a defense – for their faith. When those kids asked their parents how they knew the God of the Bible to be true, they apparently didn’t give a very good answer. Thus, those kids, even the ones who stayed true to their parents’ faith (and that might be your family lineage …let’s be honest), and continued to say, “Because God says so,” had no backing to that…..they fit right into the mold of Christians that secularists today say, “Well, you guys are just living on blind faith,” instead of the reality which is, as Greg Bahnsen so awesomely articulates in many of his lectures and books, that the one true Christian faith is the necessary precondition for any knowledge, truth, rationale, or logic at all!

So, lacking the proper defense of reality which exists in a Biblical worldview, this generation was easily enticed to go a different direction. The rise of higher education during this time, as well as many other movements in the 60s, 70s, and 80s, surely didn’t help restrain people from adopting a man-centered approach to everything. It makes sense that each generation thereafter easily walked away from the Christian foundation. Ill-equipped to actually defend their faith against false teaching, they slipped down the road of human-centered philosophy quicker than a Madshus ski with illegal HF wax.

What can we do, today, about this?

It’s interesting – as a parent, there are times when “Because I said so,” is a good enough response. But deep down, I think we all know that it isn’t the most satisfying response. Parents seem to be ok walking down a road of explaining and defending their rationale on a litany of things to their kids – no matter how sound, proper, effective, or, to be frank, ‘true’ and just they are! And yet, when it comes to defending the faith, most parents are incredibly ill-equipped to defend their rationale, much less explain it properly to a young child.

If you are a parent, and you are feeling like YOU are ill-equipped to defend your faith in the public square, you need to get on it! We have truth. We have reality. We need to understand how to defend that and articulate it. It isn’t easy, but it is worth it and will make you fall in love with your God more than you could believe. Get your hands on books by Jason Lisle about logic, science, etc. Read Bahnsen. Learn about why the Christian God of the Bible is the necessary precondition for knowledge. Study the history of the canon. Know how to defend and explain why we can trust our Bible to a five year old and to a fifty year old Yale professor.

Then, go and teach it to your kids. Whether they are three or thirty, the God who has ordained all things has ordained the means – He has perfectly sound reasons for you reaching your kids at whatever age they are at.

Another interesting thing, on this notion of parenting and how it relates to all of this. Isn’t it funny how most parents are generally hesistant to watch their children take the step of marriage. “I’m not sure if you are ready,” “maybe you should wait a little,” “marriage is a huge step,” are all things sounded off – accurately by the way – by parents who understand the grave seriousness of the marriage covenant. And yet, when it comes to grandkids – or those ‘kids’ of theirs that they thought weren’t ready for marriage – the things I tend to hear are “Well…..you know….you’re never really ready for kids.” You know what? That is true, on the one hand. But … how many parents and wanna-be grandparents mentally preface that statement with the thought, “Are my children ready to defend their faith and raise up my grandchildren in a sound, Biblical doctrine?” They should be. And as people who are either young parents or considering that step, it should be a pivotal deciding factor. Ok … side ramble done!

Thank you for your time – check out Pastor Tanner’s twitch page here for more great videos and his live schedule.

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