Matthew Vos is not interested in the Super Bowl because of his love for all things manly and athletic. Instead, his interest is piqued by observing our society’s behavior surrounding these major sporting events – especially when such an event falls on the Lord’s day.
Vos is a denominational sociologist. He watches the Super Bowl to watch the fans rather than the games. He observes the people on the sidelines, the advertisements on the television, and the subliminal messaging that permeates the entire event to compile his trained view on the state of our culture. He is particularly interested when the societal areas of sport and religion collide in an event like the Super Bowl. In a blog post published this past Friday (which I cannot recommend to your reading due to some of the language he uses), Vos voices his concerns with the Super Bowl.
Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing inherently sinful about a football game. However, our culture has a way of taking good, wholesome activities and turning them sour. Exhibit A: game time. How many church assemblies will be extra low tonight because some folks decided to stay home and watch? Perhaps football enthusiasts will DVR the game to watch later. Even still, these people will run into some struggles in their own time – especially if they are men. That brings us to exhibit B.
As a sociologist, Vos’s main concern regarding the Super Bowl is the way it portrays women. Vos contemplates any social situation with these thoughts regarding women:
- Where are the women in this situation?
- If they are not present, why?
- If they are present, what exactly are they doing?
- How do they experience the situation?
- What do they contribute to it?
- What does it mean to them?
Take a second or two to consider those questions for yourself. Vos says that the way we consume events such as the Super Bowl illustrates what we really think about any subject – in this case, women. Consider the ads upon which so much attention (and money) is focused during the Super Bowl. Are they not filled with sensuality?
Jesus said, “Whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matt. 5:28). Add to that the words of the Psalmist: “I will set nothing wicked before my eyes” (Psa. 101:3). Finally, it comes down to this: “But you, O man of God, flee these things and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness” (1 Tim. 6:11). “Flee also youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart” (2 Tim. 2:22). “Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you” (James 4:7). “For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit which are God’s” (1 Cor. 6:20).
It seems as though it would take a lot to be able to look past all of this if one were actually interested in the football game itself. Perhaps with the right kind of technology that could censor the bad stuff, it would be possible to enjoy the game. The real question, in my judgment, is this: Are you willing to take whatever steps are necessary to maintain your relationship with God?
Perhaps we would do well to stop passively living our lives so that we could simply observe the culture in which we live – and, unfortunately, the culture to which we sometimes contribute.