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FIRST-PERSON: Toby Keith and the lie of risk-free promiscuity

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (BP)–Toby Keith has earned a reputation for political incorrectness that makes him wildly popular.

Many people are aware of his feud with the Dixie Chicks over American involvement in Iraq. His song “Courtesy of the Red, White & Blue,” which he recorded in response to the attacks of Sept. 11, offers very specific advice for how to handle terrorists. Another Keith song, “An American Soldier,” is a poignant salute to the men and women who defend our freedoms.

I share Toby Keith’s passion for the United States. On foreign policy, I think Keith and I basically agree that evil needs to be confronted in a “head-on” and relentless manner. I say this in order to preface my next comment: Keith’s view of sexual morality is dangerous to our nation.

Toby Keith’s newest hit is titled “Stays in Mexico.” The song is about a couple who meet each other on a trip in Mexico. One is a salesman; the other is a teacher. They drink, dance and have sex. While Keith croons about the joys of the adulterous affair, the chorus offers the comforting advice that the couple shouldn’t worry because, “What happens down in Mexico, stays in Mexico.”

“Stays in Mexico” repeats the lie of risk-free promiscuity: People can violate God’s standards and never pay the price. Keith ignores the obvious fact that no one ever leaves an adulterous affair completely behind. Simply ask the wife who is infected with an STD from a promiscuous husband if the affair “stays down in Mexico.” AIDS does not stay “down in Mexico.” Out-of-wedlock pregnancies do not “stay down in Mexico.” The emotional destruction delivered to children by parents who are unfaithful does not “stay down in Mexico.” Simply put, international borders do not contain the disastrous effects of sin.

Proverbs 5 is the most detailed description in Scripture of the dangers of adultery. In contrast to Keith’s unrealistic vision of adulterous bliss, the Bible states in blunt terms that adultery leads to financial poverty (Proverbs 5:10), destruction of physical health (Proverbs 5:11), unremitting remorse (Proverbs 5:12) and public humiliation (Proverbs 5:12-14). Furthermore, the omniscience of God extends to adulterous affairs (Proverbs 5:21). Eventually, adultery leads to death (Proverbs 5:23).

Sadly, Toby Keith reflects the confused ethical stance of too many Americans. During one awards show, Toby Keith mentioned that it is a good thing “to have Jesus Christ in your life” and linked this with opposing evil. In context, he was referring to our fight against terrorism.

Yet, he does not see any moral inconsistency with publicly proclaiming Jesus Christ, and then celebrating adultery. Spiritual convictions are divorced from ethics, resulting in a form of religion that simply skips over the deleterious effects of sin.

Terrorists wish to destroy our nation. They are a clear and present danger and should be opposed with the full force of our national resources. At the same time, the sloppy moral thinking that suggests one can violate God’s clearly established norms for sexual behavior and then fly away “from Mexico” with only pleasant memories is also dangerous. “What happens in Mexico” never “stays down in Mexico.”
Alan Branch is vice president for student development at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City, Mo.

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  • J. Alan Branch