God’s Not Dead in Hollywood!
By David Outten
The word “Hollywood” too often does not bring to mind the concept of redemption. For many, it brings to mind the word debauchery. Debauchery is defined: “extreme indulgence in bodily pleasures and especially sexual pleasures: behavior involving sex, drugs, alcohol, etc. that is often considered immoral.”
Back in 1928 Cole Porter wrote Let’s Misbehave with lyrics that included:
You could have a great career,
And, you should;
Yes, you should;
Only one thing stops you dear:
You’re too good;
Way too good!
If you want a future, darlin’,
Why don’t you get a past?
‘Cause that fatal moment’s comin’ at last…
We’re all alone, no chaperone
Can get our number
The world’s in slumber
There’s something wild about you child
That’s so contagious
Let’s be outrageous
The behavior of Bill Cosby and Harvey Weinstein is not something shocking. It’s almost expected in the tabloids, as of now. Things are changing.
In 1928, Cole Porter was a rebel against prevailing moral codes. During the 1930s, he came in conflict on several occasions with the Motion Picture Code. During that period, the Motion Picture Code served to keep Hollywood from openly promoting debauchery. When the Code was disposed of in favor of MPAA ratings Hollywood let loose with everything from Rosemary’s Baby to Midnight Cowboy. R-rated movies flooded theaters. Debauchery began to become fashionable.
With this new norm came consequences. Porter’s famous Anything Goes song makes debauchery sound like fun. He never wrote songs about the consequences. The history of entertainment is filled with horrible consequences. Debauchery lures victims with promises of pleasure, but hides the suffering that follows. It also hides the fact that the thrills of debauchery wear off, greater and greater debauchery is required to achieve excitement and eventually it’s all unsatisfying.
Consider the dark side of these famous Cole Porter lyrics:
In olden days, a glimpse of stocking
Was looked on as something shocking.
But now, God knows,
Good authors too who once knew better words
Now only use four-letter words
All the nudity and vulgarity so common today has turned women into sex objects and language into sewage. People are waking up. Cole Porter’s promise of great fun has brought great misery. More and more children live without fathers present. Parents live in fear of what some stranger may try to do to their child. Girls look at their bodies and think their self-worth is directly related to their sexual appeal.
Porter saw himself as a hero bucking the establishment. The new heroes are those who buck the debauchery establishment. They’re the ones who want girls respected as human beings, not pleasure toys. They’re the ones brave enough to admit that vulgarity is the real hate speech. They’re the ones willing to admit that a family with a loving father and mother really is what’s best for children.
Dr. Ted Baehr is a good friend of mine. His father, Bob Allen, was a movie and Broadway star back in the heyday of Cole Porter. Ted was raised around debauchery. He testifies that he engaged in it. He thought and lived like a Cole Porter fan, and then He met Jesus. Ted’s now a poster child for what’s coming. He’s not filled with hate. He doesn’t spew venom at those still following Cole Porter. He gives out awards to those in Hollywood who make movies with better values.
What those in Hollywood need most is a realization that God loves them. Whether you’re Bill Cosby, Harvey Weinstein or someone with secrets not yet exposed, God loves you. Morality is not about hate. It’s about love.
Consider Ted Baehr’s family. He has four children and nine grandchildren. I know some of his children well. They’re wonderful. Ted has been married 43 years to Lili who is the most gracious hostess I’ve ever met. When she hosts an event, you can trust it will be fabulous, even if you’re a surprise dinner guest at their house.
Had Ted continued in his early debauchery, this would not be the story. He would have wound up single and not even had children. Their lives would not be what they are today.
When Ted was redeemed God called him to a ministry to redeem Hollywood. It’s not about being judgmental. It’s not about screaming, shouting and calling names. It’s about showing Hollywood that better values translate to better box office. It’s about modeling what life can be like when you turn away from debauchery.
What Ted wishes to offer Hollywood is called the fruit of the Spirit. When you accept Jesus Christ as Lord you get a whole new life. The Spirit of God comes to live in you. As you allow yourself to be led by Him you exhibit his fruit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. It’s not something that happens overnight. While the Spirit encourages all of these fruits, He does not make you a zombie. You must choose moment to moment to obey, but as you experience more and more of God’s love and hear more clearly from Him, you demonstrate more and more of the fruit of the Spirit.
There are many people in Hollywood hungry for something better than the results of debauchery. The day is coming when the doors will open and the redemption of Hollywood will become obvious to the whole world. Some famous people will make truly wonderful movies. Fear of blacklisting will vanish. Executives will look to green light inspiring movies. The impact on box office will be incredible. The impact on the lives of those in Hollywood will be even more incredible. The impact on the culture will be amazing.
Lust will be traded in for real love. Pride will be traded in for humility. Greed will be traded in for generosity. Dishonesty will be traded in for integrity. Morality has never been about taking away true freedom. It’s about living free from lust, hate, bitterness, depression, loneliness, addiction, and spiritual bondage.
Hollywood does not need a new Production Code grudgingly followed by Cole Porter fans. It needs redemption. It needs filmmakers delighted to be led by the Spirit of God in their filmmaking and in their personal lives. God’s desire is to end all the tragedies of caused by attitudes like those held by Cole Porter.
Cole Porter himself experienced tragedy. A horseback riding accident crushed his legs in 1937. He spent the last 27 years of his life in pain and on painkillers. He had 34 operations and before his death he had a leg amputated. He went into near seclusion and quit writing songs. He died at age 73, a very lonely man. I wish he had gotten to know God and had experienced the Holy Spirit, also known as “the Comforter.” All of his anything-goes thinking didn’t lead to happiness. He died alone in a hospital without even having family present.
The redemption coming to Hollywood is not as much about ending debauchery as it is about bringing love. As Ted Baehr and I can both testify, redemption is not as much about what you stop doing as it is about what you get to start doing. You get to start collaborating with the Creator of the universe, who is the ultimate source of love, peace and joy. Redemption is like trading in dirty rags for a royal robe. You don’t earn the robe. It’s a gift for those redeemed. The price of your redemption was paid on the cross. All you have to do is receive it and experience it.
I look forward to many people in Hollywood receiving this gift. I look forward to Hollywood gaining a whole new reputation.
May it become the light of the world.