From an unlikely place comes a lesson in Christianity, conscience and compromise.
Angus T. Jones, 19, the young star of the CBS sitcom “Two and a Half Men,” has stirred the pot in both Hollywood and Christian circles by declaring his own show “filth” and encouraging people not to watch it.
His reason? Jones says he’s freshly embraced his Christian faith and now realizes his involvement in the sitcom is a major moral compromise. Here’s another wrinkle: Jones has chosen to honor his contract; he’ll keep collecting his $350,000 per episode through the end of this season.
However weirdly, Jones is wrestling with something every Christian must face: At what point does our involvement in the world compromise our credibility as followers of Jesus Christ?
Before any of us throws a stone at Jones for keeping his paycheck, let’s at least agree that more Christians ought to wrestle with this salient question. The Bible compels us to do so.
More on that later.
“Two and a Half Men” is one of CBS’ most popular shows and is rife with sex, substance abuse and fraternity house antics. A confession is in order: I watched the show a time or two in its inaugural season. It seemed creative, well-written, but also destined to go the way of all sitcoms once the main idea runs out.
And so it has. The show now offers a smorgasbord of predictable debauchery, always picking the lowest-hanging fruit from the tree of secular comedy: extramarital sex. So much so that even a newly confessed Christian sees it as a moral wasteland, a duplicitous indulgence for someone who claims to embrace God’s ways.
“You can’t be a true God-fearing person and be on a show like that,” Jones said in a video that his Adventist church posted online this week. “I know I can’t, I’m not OK with that.”
Jones’ conundrum offers a lesson in what happens when a person chooses to follow Christ and then truly counts the cost.
The Scriptures repeatedly remind Christians that we have come out of a sinful, worldly system and embraced a better way – a life modeled and enabled by Jesus Christ.
Consider these words from the Apostle Paul, who experienced a radical change in course when he became a follower of Jesus:
“With the Lord’s authority I say this: Live no longer as (unbelievers) do, for … they wander far from the life God gives because they have closed their minds and hardened their hearts against Him. They have no sense of shame. They live for lustful pleasure and eagerly practice every kind of impurity.
“But that isn’t what you learned about Christ … . Throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception.
“Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. Put on your new nature, created to be like God – truly righteous and holy” (Ephesians 4:17-24, New Living Translation).
Let’s be real here. All Christians are on a journey that involves allowing God to change us so that we are more a reflection of the latter part of that passage than the former. None of us has arrived at a life that is “truly righteous and holy.”
But this brief public spectacle of a young man’s struggle can remind us to more deliberately engage our own.
Have we grown comfortably numb to entertainment that ought to offend us as followers of Christ? Can others see in our choices a clear distinction between what is worldly and what is pleasing to God?
We’ll let Jones have the last word: “According to the Bible, when (compromise) happens, we’re no longer standing for anything … we’re no longer on the side of the truth.”