Wednesday, February 12, 2014

"My Drunk Kitchen," the Effects of Sin, and Conscientious Entertainment

Back when I was heavily involved in the rap debacle, one thing that always infuriated me was the deep-seated assumption that those who defended rap did so because we wanted to remain "willfully ignorant" of the legitimate sinfulness of rap music. Their argument was that we didn't want music to have moral meaning, because then we would see that rap music was sinful.

It's an ugly, arrogant, condescending argument that serves no purpose other than to make the other people feel superior. However, there is a kernel of truth in I discovered when I was watching "My Drunk Kitchen" with Anna on Youtube.

My Drunk Kitchen is a Youtube show which stars a young woman. Every week, she gets drunk and "cooks" things (in the four episodes I watched, I think the results were edible twice). It's a really funny show. I had fun watching it with Anna. Until I told Anna that I didn't think we should watch it anymore, and we had a Discussion.

I didn't want to have the Discussion. I had pondered it one night after watching an episode. Should we be watching a show built around drunkenness? I prayed about it, thought about it some more, and went to sleep.

I thought about it some more. And some more. And I wondered if I was being too legalistic, if I was being too strict, if it really mattered what we watched...after all, she didn't claim Christianity, so why should I care if she got drunk regularly? Does it really matter?

I think it does, and that's what I told Anna when we Discussed it. It matters for a few reasons.

First, it matters because the Bible is fairly clear that while drinking alcohol is not a sin, drunkenness is. Paul speaks against it repeatedly, never treating it with the nod and wink (or outright approval) that our culture views it with today. It seems fairly clear that regularly and purposely getting drunk is a sin.

Secondly, this is not a show which happens, occasionally, to include drunkenness "accidentally", as it were. This isn't a show in which other things happen, and drunkenness is occasionally one of those things. This show is actually constructed around the drunkenness. Without it, it wouldn't even be the same show: It'd just be "My Kitchen."

Thirdly, as Christians, we believe that sin actively harms the sinner. Sin actively draws a person away from God, who is not just their Creator but the one who sustains them as well. In fact, God is their entire reason for being and for continuing to be. God is their ultimate Purpose. And sin draws them away from that. Sin denies a person of their purpose, draws them away from the very source of their being. Sin harms the sinner.*

Finally, it matters because Youtubers measure their success by views. Each view directly equals a tangible measure of support towards whatever you're watching. And in this case, the thing we were actively and tangibly supporting was a show constructed around a person unwittingly harming themselves through sin. Each view was an active encouragement for her to do it again, to once again harm herself and draw herself further away from her Creator.

So we don't watch it anymore. And I think that was the right call.

One last thing: It's probably impossible to use the word "sin" so many times without seeming "judgmental." I do not condemn her. I throw no stones. I simply acknowledge that 1) the Bible states that drunkenness is a sin, and that 2) sin actively harms the person engaging in it. And because of those two things, I do not wish to actively support and encourage someone to harm themselves in that manner.

I'd love any thoughts on this. Comment away!

*Obviously, I can't let this good an opportunity for quoting Karl Barth to pass me by: Barth describes the effect of sin on humanity thusly:

"...the man who has made himself quite impossible in his created being as man, who has cut the ground from under his feet, who has lost his whole raison d’├ętre [reason for existence]. What place has he before God when he has shown himself to be so utterly unworthy of that for which he was created by God, so utterly inept, so utterly unsuitable? When he has eliminated himself? What place is there for his being, his being as man, when he has denied his goal, and therefore his beginning and meaning, and when he confronts God in this negation? Despising the dignity with which God invested him, he has obviously forfeited the right which God gave and ascribed to him as the creature of God."

Of course, Barth here is talking about sin in general, but I think it's quite in keeping with his line of thought to apply it to individual sins as they happen.


  1. When you first started the blog, I thought you were going to say we stopped watching because of the negative effect it could have on us as the viewer. And I think that would be the case in a lot of the popular TV shows today. However, this is different, in that it is the show about an individual, not an actor playing a role. Like you said, by watching the show you are endorsing the sinful lifestyle, and therefore, not properly loving that person. You bring up a good point on how Christians should relate with the mass media. Not only should they be concerned about the effect it has on them personally, but the effect it has on those participating. Since Christianity is a very outward faith, outward in that it desires others to be reconciled with God and lives in a way so as to promote that reconciliation, decisions to watch or not to watch TV should not be made with just ourselves in mind. The influence of our actions on the lost should be a priority.

    1. "this is different, in that it is the show about an individual, not an actor playing a role.... Not only should Christians be concerned about the effect it has on them personally, but the effect it has on those participating."

      Exactly. There's a HUGE difference between a TV show which includes actors portraying drunkenness to serve the plot, and a youtube channel where the drunkenness is actual. In the first case, watching it MAY be harmful to the viewer. In the second, the action IS harmful to the one who is drunk, and watching it is a direct endorsement of that action.