Believing the Hollywood Lie – part 1

UM…Update: a Silver Ring Thing encouragement follow-up:

By Chip Ingram

Like it or not, we live in a world where love, sex and relationships get top billing in the hearts and minds of nearly all of us. Advertisers figured out long ago that our preoccupation with emotional connectedness and sex provides a great way to sell merchandise. Whether it’s using sex to sell beer and cars during the half-time break in our favourite sport or showing scenes from loving relationships while they are trying to convince us to change long-distance carriers, the underlying message remains constant – the key to happiness and fulfillment in life is all about love, sex and lasting relationships.

How is your love life?

Let me ask you some questions.

– How is your love life?

– Where are you frustrated?

– What are you looking for but can’t find?

– What’s going well and what has you desperately confused?

Take a moment and think about these questions. Let down those defenses that you’ve used to block the pain of your past or the frustrations of your present. Conduct a brief inventory of your relational world. Sometimes our most difficult struggle in a sensitive area like this comes when we try to really understand where we are in relation to others. Perhaps I can offer some help in your personal reflection.

A way of thinking about relationships has developed in our culture that, when examined, turns out to be incapable of producing the kind of relationships we’re seeking.

Where do we get our ideas about love?

I can certainly imagine a world in which children grow up surrounded by good examples of loving relationships. I can see mothers and fathers openly sharing affection, keeping love alive, and talking with their kids about every aspect of relationships. But did anything like that ever happen to you? Did your mom or dad ever sit down with you and say, “This is how to build a healthy relationship with the opposite sex’? Did wise and trusted adults ever tell you. “This is what sex is really all about’ beyond the physical details you got in a rushed explanation from a busy parent.

The answer for most of us is no. Most of us learned of love, sex and relationships through our culture. Our teachers, sadly, have been older teens who themselves came from dysfunctional homes. If that isn’t enough, the media has sold us a false bill of goods with regard to the entire notion of love, sex and relationships. After listening to thousands of songs and getting a daily dose of television, movies and romance novels, our hearts and minds have been filled with false ideas about what love, sex and relationships are all about.

Taken together, all these songs, TV programmes, movies and books have instilled in us a definite prescription about how love, sex and relationships are supposed to work. You and I have spent countless hours singing along with popular songs, following television programmes and anticipating the next sequel of our favourite movie hero. In the process we have become unconsciously convinced that if we follow a simple four-step approach to relationships, it will work out for us just like it works in the movies or like it says in the song

Now don’t get me wrong. I don’t mean that all the writers of songs, movies and books got together to come up with a specific four-step approach. But I do mean hat if you analyse the songs, movies and books that fill our lives, you will see emerging from them a clear-cut and consistent set of assumptions about relationships. However, once we carefully examine this formula, we may decide it could be better described as “Hollywood’s formula for sex, love and losing relationships.” If you think I’m overstating the case, keep your own views of love and sex in mind as I give you an overview of Hollywood’s formula. Ask yourself if this formula doesn’t in fact promise that you can e deeply loved, have awesome sex and walk into the sunset with another person for life if you simply do what happens in the movies.

In the next edition of Postcards we will look at the Hollywood formula – how does it work – and does it even work?

This is an excerpt from the course Love, Sex and Lasting Relationships, taught by Chip Ingram. This course is available on drive-time CD or DVD, accompanied by a workbook.

For more information on this course visit

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