Thursday, March 15, 2007

TOPIC: What Lessons Can We Learn from Anna Nicole Smith's Life and Death?
by Dr. Ted Baehr, Publisher of MOVIEGUIDE
The furor over Anna Nicole Smith's funeral has died down, but the questions about the paternity of her daughter and the division of her estate remain. In that light, it is well to ask one another, What lessons can we learn from Anna Nicole Smith's life and death?
There are at least five major conclusions. First, alcohol and drugs, even prescription drugs, are a continuing danger. Alcohol should be consumed only in moderate quantities, if at all. Illegal drugs like marijuana, heroin, cocaine, crack, speed, and Ecstasy should be avoided altogether. Finally, prescription drugs should not be abused and should only be taken under the care and supervision of a good, if not great, medical doctor who knows what he or she is doing.
Second, we have heard some pundits say, even supposedly "conservative" and "religious" ones, that we should have pity or sympathy for the fate of Anna Nicole Smith because she didn't do anything "evil." These people have a warped, inaccurate definition of what is "evil". They have fallen pray to the sin of moral relativism, one of mankind's worst evils. The God of the Bible, including Jesus Christ in Mark 7:20-23 and other passages, calls all sexual immorality, including pre-marital sex, adultery, incest, homosexuality, pedophilia, and bestiality, evil. By all accounts, not only did Anna Nicole Smith engage in posing naked for such evil publications as PLAYBOY, she also engaged in promiscuous pre-marital sex, perhaps also including some lesbian homosexual activity. Also, she often appeared inebriated, which could have been the effect of her possible abuse of pain medication, sleeping medication, "downers," and/or alcohol. We live in a physical world with real consequences for such evil behavior. Thus, her untimely, early death, not to mention the untimely death of her son, should come as no surprise to anyone.
Consequently, though we can and should have a degree of sympathy for someone who becomes trapped in a vicious cycle of substance abuse, we also should be disgusted by Anna Nicole's alleged substance abuse and her connection to pornography and sexual immorality, for these things are clearly evil acts that are not victimless. Therefore, the third conclusion we can reach about Anna Nicole Smith's life and death is that the evil she represents with her connection to pornography and other sexual immorality must be thoroughly and publicly condemned by every religious Christian and Jew and every conservative, or liberal for that matter, committed to God's moral truth in the Bible.
Yet, we remember back in the 1990s when Vice President Dan Quayle got little and weak support, especially from liberals but also from many Christians and conservatives, for his strong condemnation of having children out of wedlock. He got such little support that, to this day, he has to qualify his comments lest he offend single mothers who get so much unconstitutional - and unbiblical - help from the state and federal governments and so much undeserved sympathy from the left-wing, atheist news media (the news media is not merely liberal, most of it is also radically left and vociferously atheist, if not anti-Christian and anti-Semitic).
Fourth, the life and death of Anna Nicole Smith shows the dangerous superficiality of the celebrity culture of fame and fortune in which we now live. Our society has become terribly corrupted by all this unbalanced, if not evil, focus on celebrity. It has become so corrupted that, as many serious pundits noted, the funeral of Anna Nicole Smith was a media, public relations circus, not a real funeral. And, too many average citizens treated it like a celebrity event rather than a funeral, much less as another strong example of the eternal truth that "the wages of sin is death" (Romans 6:23).
There is hope, however, not only for those of us who are still alive, but also for future Anna Nicole Smiths and future victims of the immoral, celebrity lifestyle they represent. That hope lies in the eternal salvation and ultimate freedom from sin and evil (including ultimate freedom from substance abuse as well as sexual immorality, greed, envy, murder, theft, arrogance, etc.) that comes by the Grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:1-10). For in Jesus Christ, all of God's people "are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by His Spirit" (Ephesians 2:22).
That leads to our fifth and final conclusion about Anna Nicole Smith's life and death. Many sympathetic pundits and journalists, commenting on Smith's death, remarked that, now Anna Nicole will be in heaven with her dear departed son, who died five months earlier of a fatal drug interaction. Although Anna Nicole proclaimed Jesus Christ as her savior in a televised interview after the 74th Annual Oscar Ceremony in 2002, her public life displayed few of the fruits of that conversion. Thus, all the talk about Anna Nicole Smith going to Heaven is just that - talk. Indeed, there is only one way to get to Heaven and that is through Jesus Christ. Thus, to quote Jesus in John 14:6, "No one comes to the Father except through me." But, Jesus Christ also said in Matthew 7:17-20, "Every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them."Jesus adds in John 15:5, 8, "I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. . . . This is to my Father's glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples." In other words, true faith in Jesus Christ must result in a life of good deeds.
There is no clear evidence that Anna Nicole Smith led the kind of Christian life showing her to be a true, faithful disciple of Jesus Christ. We may not know for sure her eternal destination, Heaven or Hell, but the fruit of her life tells us that the direction she seemed to be heading was the wrong one. As Paul and James write in the Books of Romans and James in the New Testament, works without faith are dead, but so is faith without works. The good news is that, although we are great sinners, Jesus Christ is a greater savior. He is "the true light that enlightens all men" (John 1:9). He empowers us to "live a life worthy of the Lord" (Colossians 1:10) so that we may have a living faith that bears the fruit of His love.
Do you have a living faith in Jesus Christ bearing good fruit? If not, ask Jesus to help you to build or renew your faith so that you can bear much fruit and show yourself to be His disciple, to the glory of God.

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