""If we all did what made us happy this world would be a terrible place"

Everybody Loves Raymond - Season 9, Episode 7 "Debra's Parents"

My wife and I have a soft spot for several old TV shows including Everybody Loves Raymond. We were poor college students and our idea of good clean Christian premarital fun included watching TV while eating dinner, and the lineup included the sturdy sitcom Everybody Loves Raymond. 

We were recently traveling and flipping through the channels in a hotel room we stumbled on a re-run. The gist of the episode: Debra's parents had recently been divorced. They were staying in town for Thanskgiving - separately - but were caught consummating the marriage they no longer had. And of course the whole family, including Raymond's parents Marie and Frank caught wind of it. Deb's parents tried to defend it by saying they were just trying to have fun, and appealed to their personal happiness, to which Marie replies:

"If we all did what made us happy this world would be a terrible place"

Marie is spot on. Our personal happiness is not the most important thing in life, and if we all pursued our own individual happiness this world would truly be a terrible place. This statement twenty years later seems profound in a way I'm sure the script writers did not intend. Instead of talking about the purity of the marriage bed between a man and a woman, we are trying to merely hold the line that there are men and women. How much the culture had ceded in the name of happiness! 

Some pastors will pull out Ecclesiastes 1:9 "There is nothing new under the sun" or 7:10 "Do not say 'why were the former days better than these?'" in defense of the fact that these times supposedly are no worse than earlier times. A sort of historical egalitarianism, if you will. While they are right that the problem of sin since Eden makes the former days as evil as the present ones and while the motivations of sin are not new, we simply have the technology and the reach to make sins that were formerly difficult almost trivial. Men who in former times thought they were women would cut their balls off and tuck it, dressing like a woman. Now we surgically remove and rebuild and inject hormones. In former times ideas socialized at the city gates. Now the programming comes through the talking idol in your living room, and the talking idol in your pocket, in subtle ways manipulating and shifting the setpoint of culture. So yes, nothing new, sin has always been sin, but accessibility both of means to sin and reach into our homes is novel, a new application of old sin and continues to accelerate.