Tim Challies – Sex on the Silver Screen: Outsourcing Depravity

I once read a memoir by a man who, as a teen, had been a Shabbos goy. A Shabbos goy is a non-Jew who performs some of the Sabbath-day functions that that are forbidden to the devout. Traditionally, a Shabbos goy would extinguish candles and lights, or he would stoke up a fire on a cold Sabbath morning, all actions considered work by strict interpretations of Jewish law. But since those regulations pertain only to Jews, some would hire Gentiles as a means of circumventing the law. The primary task of this young man was to sit in an elevator and push the buttons. Pushing buttons involves closing an electrical circuit and this was considered a violation of the Sabbath within that community. They outsourced the work to him.

Christians quickly identify this as hypocrisy, an adherence to the letter of the law that violates the spirit of the law. It’s hard to find an ethical difference between actually pushing a button and hiring someone else to do it. And, in fact, many Jews see it this way as well and most communities have dropped the very notion of the Shabbos goy. However, I think some Christians may have picked it up, or something like it at least. Our concern is not Sabbath-day functions, though. Our concern is enjoying entertainment, and to enjoy entertainment we need to hire people who disregard the law. We let them violate the law so we can enjoy the benefits.

The Scenario

I want you to imagine a scenario with me. A good friend of yours has begun to make a splash in Hollywood. She’s been in a few minor productions in the past, but has just finished filming her breakout role. She is one of your closest friends, she is a member of your church, and she is married with a couple of young children.

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