How Ellen Degeneres’ Joy Points to Eternal Sorrow. 

Ellen Degeneres hosted her final talk show episode this week after 20 years of programming. Not surprisingly, the emotions were high as she recounted various highlights from the shows history. Ellen has a contagious sense of humor and quickly became one of the most beloved TV hosts on daytime television. One of the guests on her final episode was popular singer Pink. She summed up Ellen’s influence by stating, “I love you so much it’s dumb. You help people find their joy.” Helping people find joy was, by Ellen’s own testimony, a personal goal of hers, she explains,

“If this show has made you smile, if it has lifted you up when you’re in a period of some type of pain, some type of sadness, anything you are going through, then I have done my job. Because of this platform we have been able to change people’s lives.” 

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But have lives been changed because of Ellen’s message of joy? Some would respond with a hearty “amen.” If by joy we mean to convey, brief laughter that provides momentary distraction from the inevitable pain and sorrow a broken world brings—then o.k., Ellen did accomplish that. However, if we understand  “joy” as the consistent inner peace despite our circumstances, provided only through a genuine, life-transformational, relationship with the creator of the universe, through His son, Jesus Christ—then no. Ellen has failed to provide such genuine joy. 

The reason Ellen is unable to promote true, genuine joy, is because she herself has not discovered true joy. She has failed to go to the source where this everlasting joy resides—namely through faith in Jesus Christ (see Romans 5:1, 1 Peter 1:6). In fact, one of her proudest accomplishments involved promoting a lifestyle that was the exact opposite of the Lord’s will for her life. Heres how she describes it:

“When we started this show, I couldn’t say ‘gay’ on the show. I was not allowed to say ‘gay.’ I said it at home a lot. ‘What are we having for our gay breakfast?’ Or ‘pass the gay salt.’ [Or] ‘Has anyone seen the gay remote?’ — things like that.”

“I couldn’t say we, because that implied that I was with someone. Sure couldn’t say wife, that’s because it wasn’t legal for gay people to get married. And now I say wife all the time. Twenty five years ago they canceled my sitcom because they didn’t want a lesbian to be in primetime once a week. So I said, ‘Ok, I’ll be in daytime every day, how ’bout that?’”

From a secular viewpoint this is a prized accomplishment. To be a part of the progressive inclusion of the LGBTQ community; successfully ridding society of the so-called stigma that sam-sex relationships are bad; helping others embrace an affirming worldview—This is something to be joyful about! 

But what does a Christian worldview have to say in response to this? The Bible is crystal clear—the sexually immoral will not inherit the Kingdom of Heaven (1 Cor. 6:9). This means that in God’s design true joy is to be found in the marriage bond between one man and one woman for life (Matthew 19). It means that happiness is not based on doing what one ‘feels’ is best, but submitting to God’s will for your life, and obeying Him no matter the cost. When Jesus sought to describe joy he did so in relation to his commandments. He said,

“If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.”

John 15:10-11)

Ellen can offer temporary laughter that will sustain for a moment. But true lasting joy only comes from knowing Jesus, surrendering ones life totally to him, and seeking to obey all he commanded. Eternal joy is only realized through saving faith in Christ. 

My heart breaks for folks like Ellen. They long to have joy and offer joy to others. What they don’t realize is that after the laughter dwindles, the reality of eternal hopelessness bubbles back up to the surface of the soul. The only true joy comes from Jesus. Everything else is a temporary bandaid that may get us to through till the next episode. Now that Ellen is off air, where are her viewers going to find lasting joy? I submit they never had it. 

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