Just Say No: Grange Hill vs Titus

Thirty one years ago this week, the cast of children's TV show Grange Hill released a pop song called 'Just Say No'. It proved that the teenage cast's singing talent was commensurate with their acting ability. It was part of a wider campaign that had started in the States the previous year championed by First Lady Nancy Reagan. Young people were encouraged to say 'no' to recreational drugs. Critics argued that it reduced a complicated social shift to a simplistic three word mantra. Who's to tell what effect it had. 
 
In The Simpsons ($pringfield, series 5, episode 10), legalised gambling comes to town, and Marge becomes an addict. In a classic piece of Simpsons' dialogue, Homer seeks to rescue Marge:
 
Homer: Marge, I want you to admit you have a gambling problem.
Marge: You know, you're right, Homer. Maybe I should get some professional help.
Homer: No, no, that's too expensive. Just don't do it anymore.

Of course Homer has no understanding of addiction, and therein lies the humour. The Grange Hill pop song asked its viewers to do likewise with narcotics. The Mosaic law, a summary of the entire Old Testament, tells us to just say no to all sinful inclinations and temptations. The problem is, we just can't do it. Luther called it the bondage of the will. Paul called it being sold as a slave to sin. We are governed and controlled by our sinful, fallen natures. When we accept the gospel, however, and the grace of God works in our hearts, the Holy Spirit enables us to just say no. Our free will, lost by Adam, is slowly restored. In Titus 2:11, Paul says 'For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age'. 
 
In order to say no to sin, we must say yes to Christ.