Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Most Awful Place I've Been

Las Vegas and I met for the first time and after only one weekend I abruptly ended the relationship with a phone call. There was no salvaging what we had, because from the beginning she proved utterly sinful and ruthless to the bitter end.

Gambling is a sin, but because that [radical?] idea deserves its own entry, I won't venture into those waters quite yet. But yes, gambling is a sin, so before I even went to Vegas I made the decision not to gamble. What was I going to do there? I was planning to eat some good food, see some shows, museums and other attractions. What I actually saw was some of the most vile wickedness crammed into the few square miles of that forsaken city.

Hotels are really the upper echelons meant for housing gamblers for the massive casinos. The sheer amount of effort and creativity in designing the various casinos is brilliant, both inside and out. Bright lights enshrine every single slot machine, accompanied by enticing sounds for each and every play. Chairs are only to be found for those actually gambling, and if you lose money long enough free alcoholic beverages are brought to you. It is a sad sight to see people lose money, which is really what casinos are designed to do. Even more depressing is watching the elderly spend money in the vain hope that they might become instant winners.

The cherry on top for me was when a dancer got up on a platform and started dancing a few feet away. I was utterly disgusted and deeply offended at the sight of this girl wearing stripper's clothing. Her whole job was to cause men to lust after her long enough to stay and continue wasting money at the casinos. At this moment I had had enough and walked out of the casino. With tears in my eyes that I refused to let fall, I found my way to some steps outside and sat down. I still cannot believe that this girl's entire role in the casino is to sell herself to attract more customers. She is selling her dignity, and everyone in the casino is supporting her in ruining her life while she in turn helps ruin the lives of others.

When I sat down on the steps I looked across the street only to find an ad on a large truck with nearly naked girls with the slogan: "Get hot girls now" and included a phone number. I looked down at the ground and found more nudity scattered on fliers littering the sidewalk advertising for strip clubs and escorts/prostitutes. There was nowhere for my eyes to wander: not inside the hotels, outside and even at the ground! To add to the perversity, every 50 feet or so stands distributors of the aforementioned fliers ready to add to everyone's misery.

Drunkards were in every hotel and in public. They fell over, puked in public, and many looked over-tired and in bad shape. It was not uncommon for vacationing women to dress as scandalously as possible - I wondered if there was a competition to be the least dressed?

My conclusion: this is no place for the Christian. I naively traveled there thinking that I would be able to avoid much of what "Sin City" had to offer. I should have known better. Certainly, it is possible to have a better experience than I had if one avoids the casinos altogether, and is extremely purposeful in going to shows and other forms of appropriate attractions. But at some point you will have to travel around the city or be in public, so it will be difficult to avoid much of what I've described. I told Emily I will never go back unless it is for missionary work to spread the gospel. How sad it is that Americans go to Vegas for a weekend to get away and have a good time. Now that I have seen what Sin City is all about with my own eyes, I will actually feel bad when I hear of people going to Vegas.

One of my elders preached a sermon years ago from Psalm 12 that has always remained with me, and it is a good expression of how I feel post-Vegas:

1 Help, LORD, for the godly man ceases to be,
For the faithful disappear from among the sons of men.
2 They speak falsehood to one another;
With flattering lips and with a double heart they speak.
3 May the LORD cut off all flattering lips,
The tongue that speaks great things;
4 Who have said, “With our tongue we will prevail;
Our lips are our own; who is lord over us?”
5 “Because of the devastation of the afflicted, because of the groaning of the needy,
Now I will arise,” says the LORD; “I will set him in the safety for which he longs.”
 6 The words of the LORD are pure words;
As silver tried in a furnace on the earth, refined seven times.
7 You, O LORD, will keep them;
You will preserve him from this generation forever.
8 The wicked strut about on every side
When vileness is exalted among the sons of men.

(Psalm 12, NASB)

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