In Vero Beach, where I live, high school football is a weekly tradition. For some, we might even call it a ritual.
We usually buy four season tickets and attend most of the home games. The team is fun to watch. Coach Jankowski and his staff do a stellar job (in my opinion) getting the team ready to play every Friday night: under the lights!
This year, our middle child is a rising freshman. He loves football. He cannot wait to put on the pads and play ball for the Freshman squad. For Melissa and I Vero Beach High School football has taken on a whole new meaning.
We will likely be out two nights a week this Fall season; one night watching our son – praying with every snap taken; the other night watching the Varsity team – cheering with every yard gained.
Indeed, our prayer life will increase as our discretionary time will likely decrease.
Which is why it might sound silly for me to spend a portion of my discretionary time watching a television program that features football.
The program is called Friday Night Lights. It no longer airs on television, but it can be found on Netflix.
Friday Night Lights is a show about big-time high school football, Texas style. While high school football is huge in Florida, particularly in communities like Vero Beach, it’s godlike in Texas. The show weaves a tale of the Boys of Fall, their dominance in a rural Texas town, and the exploits that both drive and haunt them and the town in which they live.
I am currently in the midst of viewing season one.
While the show may be a bit of a caricature, I am struck by its stark frankness. A frankness that accentuates the excesses of a culture enamored with sex and power even as it exposes the failures of our sexual confusion and falsehood.
I have noticed three potent themes the show displays in nearly episode,
- The presence of a perpetual sexual flame. One that ignites and singes the characters even as it animates the contours of the script.
- The presence of power and popularity. Pictured in the sexy, godlike world of high school football players and cheerleaders struggling to find their way in life; as well as the adults and alums who have long since lost their way.
- The presence of a powerful marriage. It is a marital union held together by delight, discipline, and desire; displayed in the show’s most prominent couple, Mr. and Mrs. Taylor.
The relationship between coach Taylor and his wife (Tami) provide the fuel that fires the engine for the entire script (https://youtu.be/Hun0qW8YoWQ).
PARTNERSHIP, PROBLEMS AND A PERSISTENCE TO LOVE ONE ANOTHER
Against all the complexities and confusion of a world gone wild stand one lone, faithful couple.
Theirs is a marriage of partnership.
Theirs is a marriage of love to which they fiercely cling and on which they tirelessly work!
Every episode juxtaposes the insecurity of a world gone wild against the stability of love that lasts.
Many have called this marriage the healthiest and most authentic portrayal of marriage in the entire history of the Television industry. Tony Lee (among dozens of others), writing for The Atlantic, comments on the union the Taylor’s enjoy and the hope their marriage conveys:
The Taylors’ union is one of the best real depictions of a good marriage perhaps in the history of television. There are no sensationalistic storylines involving infidelity, illegitimate children, mistrust, or even just spite. The Taylors truly are a team. They respect each other, and it’s the security that they exude and the trust in each other that they display that make this marriage different from most that are depicted on television.
This show is not for everyone. There are multiple scenes in which the teens and adults engage in promiscuous behavior (some episodes contain pornographic scenes – at least in the way I define pornography). There are moments in which the complexities of living in a sex-saturated culture are boldly thrown in the viewers face.
These moments are never – ever – wrapped up in a nice little bow at the end of the episode. Rather, we are left with the tension of these moments in the midst of our daily lives.
A SACRED MARRIAGE PICTURED THROUGH A SECULAR MEDIUM
While imperfect and often offensive to certain sensibilities, Friday Night Lights conveys a sacred message to a national – even global – audience.
The sacred message is accentuated through the Taylor’s marital union.
A union pictured – authentically and winsomely – by way of complexities, conflicts, competing loves, dashed hope and unflinching faithfulness.
This type of union – though thoroughly sacred – is all too rare. Not simply in the television industry, but within the walls of the Christian community as well!
Ultimately this union – presented through a secular medium – conveys a hope I hold for my children as they navigate their way into adulthood.
The hope I hold is this,
That our marital faithfulness will provide a stable, life-giving rhythm in which my children might flourish. A life-giving rhythm that might reduce the sexual confusion they face in this world and diminish the addictive capacity of a culture strung out on porn!”
As a parent, married now to my wife for nearly 20 years, I am coming to see how potent my relationship with Melissa is in the eyes of my children. As they struggle to find footing in an anything goes, sexually obsessed and confused culture, our union shines as a beacon of hope.
A beacon which displays the light of human sexuality expressed through the union of a mother and father who are committed to each other for life.
This union is the most fully human and sacredly blessed gift we can provide for our children and the culture at large!
Such unions provide a compass that help our kids navigate beyond, through and above the culture mores in which they often feel trapped and can easily become isolated.
Are you concerned about your child’s relationship to our culture? A culture saturated with pornographic images, sexual confusion and distortion? Then your most potent weapon is the love you share – authentically and winsomely – as husband and wife.
The Taylor’s don’t get everything right. They are, however, a wonderful picture of a monogamous marital relationship shared between a man and woman in the midst of the complexities and confusion of world gone wild. Their union is often pictured as the only hope their family, football team and community has!
Wouldn’t you like to diminish the impact of pornography (and our pornographic culture) in the life of your kids?
Then, as the Sacred Script encourages, “Grooms, love the brides of your youth! Brides, love the grooms of your youth!”
Aren’t you interested in stemming the tide of our culture’s sexual confusion and distortion?
Then, as the Sacred Script encourages, “Husbands, love the wives of your youth. Wives, love the husband of your youth!”
Love each other deeply!
Love each other mightily!
Love each other in a way that your kids begin to believe in a better – more authentically winsome – way than our culture in chaos offers!
This fall I will likely be sitting on the sidelines two nights a week. One night, praying. The next night, cheering.
Each night I will be next to the wife of my youth!
When I watch Friday Night Lights, however, I may have to watch it alone.
Gilligan’s Island and Gilmore Girls are more her speed.
But man, do I love that girl!!!
Disrupting to Renew!