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The Separation of Church and Hollywood

Sex, Love, and Goop, The Antioch Report

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If there’s one thing Netflix is an expert at – other than making money – it’s getting people all over the internet to talk about something until it goes viral. This time it’s Iron Man’s wife (aka Gwyneth Paltrowengaging in sexological couple’s therapy in a show that can only be described as 100% Netflix.

Netflix shows that have gone bananas-viral:

  1. Dave Chappelle’s The Closer, due to irreverent comedy surrounding sensitive topics, particularly in the LGBTQ community.
  2. Squid Game, most streamed show in history; violent, unique, suspenseful.
  3. Tiger King, because everyone was stuck at home due to COVID so why not watch a docuseries about tigers, drama, crime, and mystery. 
  4. Cuties, which received such widespread backlash for exploiting girls that Netflix ultimately removed it from streaming.

The list goes on and on: Stranger Things, The Crown, Bridgerton, The Witcher, Lupin, Sex/Life, The Queen’s Gambit. . .

Netflix is a streaming super power which produces shows that tens of millions of people will watch. 

The newest craze, Sex, Love, and Goop, is a play on words, using Paltrow’s 2008 lifestyle startup’s title “Goop” with two words that get clicks, “sex” and “love” – the perfect Netflix title.

The Netflix series showcases a sex-therapy called “sexological bodywork” which is illegal in 49 states (the only state that currently allows the practice is California).

Movies and television are continuing to build storylines and character arcs that speak to a highly sexualized culture. Technology in general follows suit. Consider all the apps built to matchmake (Tinder, Hinge, Grindr), watch pornography, interact anonymously with people on or off camera (Chatous, Omegle), or everyone’s favorite anything-goes-app, TikTok.

No matter where you turn – ads, social accounts, apps, school, work, movies, TV – it’s unlikely you’d go long without seeing something that was created with sex in mind.

People long for connection, and sex is sometimes portrayed in media as a catch-all solution for belonging.

Some interesting stats:

  • 40 million U.S. adults watch porn regularly, while 10% of U.S. adults admit to having an addiction to pornography.
  • Screen time addiction has been coined “Screen Dependency Disorder“, which can include cognitive impairment for developing children, speech delay, depression, and also can lead to other internet-related addictions.
  • There was a 60% increase of people identifying as LGBTQ between 2012 and 2020.
  • There are over 1 billion monthly active users on TikTok, and 32.5% of those based in the US are age 10-19.

With the worldwide shift into increasingly digital spaces, these trends will probably continue in their current trajectory.

Church Practicals

1. Use IMDB’s Parents Guide.

Netflix is full of content, a lot of which is fun to watch. If you’re ever curious about whether or not a show contains content that you’d rather not consume (sex scenes, language, violence, etc.), a great tool to use is IMDB’s Parents Guide. As an example, here’s Squid Game’s Parents Guide.

2. Build Healthy Tech Habits With Your Kids.

It’s likely that the kids in your churches will be surrounded by people at school who are beginning to consume all sorts of digital content, some of which you might not want your own kids to see. For example, nowadays kids begin to watch pornography by as early as 5 years old. If children in your “village” aren’t learning about safe tech use and online habits from their families and church communities, they will learn about them elsewhere.

3. Lead With Humility and Vulnerability.

TikTok can be used for good, and it can be misused for the opposite. TikTok trends come and go very quickly, but not without millions of people first seeing them. Earlier this year TikTok banned a certain challenge that was of couples having sex in public as many times as they could. Another viral trend was the “naked” challenge. No need to explain. 

Create a safe space where your kids feel comfortable talking to you about what they see, about the conversations they’re in with their friends, and about feelings they have in any circumstance. Lead conversations with vulnerability and humility, and try not to react when a child or someone you’re mentoring shares something unsettling with you.

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Daniel Berk

Daniel Berk

Daniel Berk is the Managing Editor at The Antioch Report. A student and teacher of the Bible, he is a lover of theology, church history, and... TV. Follow him on Twitter @danielcberk. Daniel and his wife Courtney reside with their Bernedoodle in Charleston, SC.

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