Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The Miley Cyrus Question

So tell me, did you see Miley Cyrus at the MTV VMAs?  Shocked?  Saddened?  Did you wonder the same thing I did: Where did Hannah Montana go?  As I’ve read reviews and tweets and reactions to Miley’s “performance” I’m interested in hearing where you stand on how we as parents are to react to this.

One article I read said, “After Miley raunched up MTV's Video Music Awards, Billy Ray offered similar support: "She's still my little girl and I'm still her dad regardless how this circus we call show business plays out. I love her unconditionally and that will never change.

That’s nice, Billy Ray, I’m glad to see that you love your daughter.  I hope that never changes, but what happened to sharing with your daughter what’s right and wrong.  That’s real love!  It’s a privilege and a responsibility for us as parents to help our children figure out how to make good choices.  What happened to teaching your daughter about modesty?  That’s real love!  What happened to teaching your daughter that she is valuable not because of how she looks but because of how God made her?  That’s real love!

Pop culture and celebrities are always pushing the envelope of what is considered culturally acceptable.  And whether we like it or not, our children are exposed to it.  We may not have it on in our homes.  But guaranteed our children talk about it at school and elsewhere.  Do we remain silent?  If not, then how do we talk to our kids about this?

God’s command to parents is clear: “Train a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not turn from it” (Proverbs 22:6).  “Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4).  I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of hearing about 14 year-old girls starving themselves to try to fit an image that our culture projects as acceptable.  I’m tired of hearing about young men treating young women like pieces of meat.  I’m tired of our culture influencing our children to be what they’re not supposed to be!  

It’s time for us as parents to step up!  It’s time to share with our kids that our value is found in Jesus, not how we look or how well we perform.  It’s time to share with our kids that for the times we do screw it up, like Miley did, that we are forgiven and loved children of our heavenly Father.  It’s time to share with our kids that even though we’re forgiven, our sinful choices do have consequences.  It’s time to share with our kids that God wants us live for Jesus, because He first lived and died and rose again for us (2 Corinthians 5:14-15).  So when the Miley Cyrus question comes up, what do we say to our kids?  I would like your feedback.  We can’t be silent.

-Chris Johnson, Outreach and Young Adult Pastor

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Speaking Truth in Love... It's Not Always Easy

An email was passed to me the other day that dealt with a rather sensitive issue: gay marriage.  In this article it shared how a cake maker refused to make a cake for a gay marriage and finally had to close their doors.  It appears from other news linked to this article that this isn’t the first such incident – there have been other cake makers and photographers as well. 

One side of the issue says, if I make a cake or take a photo job for a gay couple that wants to be married I’m condoning their action and participating in what God through-out the Bible says is wrong.  On the other side some say, if you refuse a service to someone because of their lifestyle it is the same as refusing a service because of nationality or race.  This is pretty heated and very emotional on both sides.

As a Christian, I’m torn.  I know my sins are no better or worse than someone living in a gay relationship.  Homosexuality is a sin (Romans 1:21-28) that is just as wrong in God’s eyes as gluttony, tax evasion, or a wondering covetous thought.  God says, “All sin is lawlessness.” (1 John 3:4) Christ paid for all sins (Romans 3:23-24) and that includes my sins and the LBGT down the road.  This gift of God is the only thing that will change hearts.  Legislature, refusal of services, or a mean look can not change a person’s lifestyle or heart. 

Does this mean we do or say nothing -- or -- should we simply say ‘Jesus loves you’ to anyone and everyone without talking about sin?  I don’t think this is biblically honest either.  On the one hand Jesus showed a lot of grace to a woman caught in a sin that could have been stoned for her activities (John 8ff).  On the other hand Jesus did call out her sin for what it was.  Hebrews 10:26ff shares the danger of knowing something is a sin and continuing in it anyway.  We must call sin for sin.  Not because we feel we’re better or to hurt or punish another individual but just because of honest love for the individual.  This may look different depending on the situation.  There is a time to be blunt and straight forward and there is a time to listen, empathize and speak gently. 

Pray for wisdom because as has happened in other places in our country will soon be coming to your city.  We will be faced with how we will handle this issue on a very personal level.  When we are, we will do well to “not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:21) and “speak the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15).

I’d appreciate your feedback on this sensitive issue. 

-Eric Hansen, Discipleship Pastor

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