It is a well known saying that 'sex sells'; the use of sexualised imagery being common in marketing, its intent to attract consumer interest in a particular product or service. Yet we can also say today that ‘sin sells’. The promotion of and identification with that which is sinful, and its use in marketing is increasingly evident all around us. With the advent of every ‘Pride’ celebration the logos of numerous companies are emblazoned with the colours of the rainbow, identification with the LGBT cause being almost ubiquitous, and evidently seen as a necessary publicity tactic. Clearly sin sells in the case of homosexuality. In Northern Ireland the local connection with the Game of Thrones TV show is massively exploited for tourism purposes, with the Northern Ireland economy receiving an estimated £250 million from Game of Thrones since 2010, and 350,000 people a year visiting the province because of it. It is a sad commentary on the spiritual decline in Northern Ireland that the province is now best known and celebrated as the location of a programme notorious for excessive violence and gratuitous pornographic imagery, including graphic depictions of rape and incest. Once again we can say that sin sells. The same too may be said of other vices such drunkenness; rather than being the object of shame, they are celebrated, promoted and used as a means of generating money - because sin sells.
The reason that sin sells is because man, in his state of total depravity, desires that which is contrary to God. He does not, and will not desire purity, holiness and conformity to the law of God, but rather he desires ‘all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life’. The promotion (and misuse) of the rainbow symbol has marketing value because people wish to align themselves with the popular opinion of the day, and remove the moral constraints of God’s word upon our society. Game of Thrones is a tourism success for Northern Ireland because sinners are entertained by the depiction of sin, rather than repulsed by it. Sin sells and its use has significant marketing value because it offers man that which he naturally desires. This should not surprise us for ‘the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be’. The natural inclination of man towards that which is evil means that he will be attracted to sin, will approve it, use it for his benefit and respond positively when it is used as a marketing ploy and for purposes of entertainment.
What should the Christian’s reaction be to the continued marketing of sin? It has reached the stage where boycotting companies due to their association with the LGBT cause or any other sinful agenda is almost impossible, for there are few organisations left who have not aligned themselves in this manner. Yet we must still seek to keep ourselves ‘unspotted from the world’. Where a company makes it publicly clear that it will gives proceeds to sinful causes we can avoid it for the time which it does so. Where a voice can be raised against the promotion, normalisation and acceptance of sin it must be done. Where the popular forms of entertainment are but a medium for immorality we must have nothing to do with them, regardless of how popular they may be, or what benefit they may have on issues such as tourism. Although sin will be promoted by many, and used as a means of marketing, and that approach is to be condemned, and we must not allow ourselves to be seduced by it. Sin may have marketing value, it may entertain, yet its eternal consequences are more significant than anything else, for ‘sin when it is finished bringeth forth death’. The value of sin as a marketing tool is but fleeting, and its great depreciation will soon be seen in the light of the great judgement and eternity, the pleasures and value of sin being but for a season.
The great architect of such sinful propaganda is Satan himself, and it is his influence which promotes its use in marketing. It is Satan who makes violent pornographic programmes a respectable tool for tourism; it is Satan who influences companies to join in endorsing the destruction of society’s moral standards; it is Satan who makes pubs and distilleries places to be toured and promoted, rather than despised. Let us not be found in league with him in his enterprises through what we accept or endorse, but let us ever be ‘hating even the garment spotted by the flesh’.