The Two Commandments of Super Bowl Advertising

Super Bowl XLV is quickly approaching. And as people predict whether the Steelers or the Packers will secure the victory, many are asking another, some might say equally, interesting question: What commercial will come out on top?

Buzz about Super Bowl commercials has been around almost as long as the game has been played. At about $3 million for a 30-second spot, advertisers are spending huge dollars to try to capture the attention of a huge viewing audience.

But this year, the ads that won't be seen on Super Bowl Sunday may be getting the most attention.

Within the last week, two companies have made a considerable amount of news by having their ads rejected by FOX based on the network's standards and practices review. While I have no desire to shine any more light on these two reprehensible ads, I don't think the moment should pass without comment on what these ads say about the state of American values.

The first rejected ad was for a site that promoted adultery. And before you ask, no, this wasn't a joke. As incomprehensible as it seems, there is a company in America that exists to encourage people to cheat on their spouses. And they wanted to make sure you knew all about it by broadcasting their ad during America's biggest game.

The second ad was admittedly meant to be a joke. Using a couple of bobble head figures, a company promoted its merchandise insulting the president of the United States -- and using the Son of God to do it. Not funny. And certainly not civil.

But if you were asked to defend FOX's decision not to air either ad, to what would you turn? On what do we base a belief that cheating in marriage is just plain wrong? That mocking both Jesus and the president is unacceptable? Based on what?

For many, there is a good place to look: the Bible's Ten Commandments (laid out for us in Scripture in the book of Exodus).

A couple of these 10 come into play here: "Thou shalt not commit adultery" and "Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain." These are words that have helped shape more than our legal and judicial codes. They have shaped civilization as we know it. They uncover a way of living together, rightly relating to both our creator and neighbor, holding to honesty, respect and integrity.

And each pulls no punches. That's probably why David Letterman once described them as "those things that Moses brought down from the mountain were not in fact the ten suggestions."

These commandments have helped steer individuals and shape culture for thousands of years. I think they can still provide solid moral footing, even when the field of life gets slippery.

Ironically, this week FOX rejected a third ad for causing a very different kind of "offense." The ad in question was from the Fixed Point Foundation. Its offense? It encouraged viewers to look up the Bible verse John 3:16. The verse, ubiquitous at sporting events like the Super Bowl, refers to God's love for humankind and the lengths He went to demonstrate that love. Apparently, FOX Sports nixed the ad "on the basis that it contained 'religious doctrine.'"

The logic for rejecting this third ad left me scratching my head. FOX may want to pull out its advertising guidelines and rethink a system that would lump a message of God's love in with the promotion of adultery and disrespect.

On Super Bowl Sunday, referees will be asked to make some pretty tough calls. But they'll have a rules book to guide them. Fortunately, we have one available to us too.

Good thing, because this is a game our nation can't afford to lose.