No offense in Super Bowl XLV?


Forget about tight ends, tackles, and touchdowns. What many want to know is whether the television commercials that will air during Super Bowl XLV will have offense.

Companies spending $3 million on a single 30-second TV spot seek to pack a lot of memorable punch into that half-minute. They want their message and hopefully their product to be the buzz of Monday morning conversation.

But television networks reject ads each year for "advancing particular beliefs or practices." Of course, rejected ads often receive even greater exposure, via the internet, due to the cultural chatter that follows such a rejection (including a column such as this one).

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This year, FOX rejected a Doritos ad that depicted a pragmatic priest dispensing chips and Pepsi during Holy Communion as a means of attracting parishioners. Ironically, the commercial only "works" because the real-world church has adulterated herself through marketing the gospel to such an extent that this ad makes sense to the average consumer of cheese tortilla products.

Speaking of adultery, FOX also rejected an ad from an "adultery website" that connects married people together for illicit encounters (too racy to show here). Apparently, the network's executives want to limit the promotion of adultery to actual programming, not commercials.

And don't forget about FOX's rejection of the "John 3:16 website" commercial that was designed to encourage viewers to discover what John 3:16 is all about.

In sum, if a company intends to mock Christian communion, promote adultery, or point people to a God who "so loved the world, that he gave his only Son," then it had better find a different way to spend its $3 million advertising budget.

We live in a free country, and FOX can decide-based on its own business calculations and current FCC regulations-to air whatever it so chooses.

No Doritos. No adultery. No John 3:16.

As a Christian, I can live with that.

I can also live with all three of those commercials being aired during the Super Bowl.

Imagine the gospel conversation you could have with your friend at the office who, knowing that you are a Christian, asks your opinion of those commercials.

The Doritos ad could lead, quite easily, to a discussion about the substitutionary sacrifice of Jesus Christ.

Your conversation about the adultery commercial could begin with Exodus 20, proceed to Matthew 5, and then move into the entire gospel story of Creation-Fall-Redemption-Consummation.

And, your conversation about the John 3:16 ad could begin with, well, John 3:16. That one is easy.

Now, not every Christian may feel prepared to have such a conversation, sensing a lack of biblical knowledge and theological understanding. That's where the church and pastor-teachers enter the picture, to "equip the saints for the work of ministry" (Ephesians 4:12).

Some people might find your gospel conversations distasteful-even offensive. Though you will want to be sure to choose your words with wisdom and tact, the gospel of Christ is "A stone of stumbling and a rock of offense" (1 Peter 2:8). Carry on with the work though, for Christians are to "preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles" (1 Corinthians 1:23).

As for whether we Christians should take offense at raunchy commercials. Certainly-be offended.

Then, get over it. Move on to the harder work of promoting the purity and glory of communion in your church, fidelity in your home and marriage, and the gospel message of John 3:16 in your community.


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