Tonight, we celebrated our yearly ritual of hanging out with the youth that we work with, while watching "The Big Game." Sadly, my team decided not to show up, but that's not why I feel the need to write tonight...
Now, let me preface my remarks by saying that my awareness was heightened by the fact that I was in a room filled with teenagers...including my daughters. Some things really bothered me tonight during the Super Bowl. This is not a new twist in advertising, but it really bothers me that advertisements during what is billed as a "family event" have become so racy. I mean seriously, do you really need to turn chocolate and peanut butter into sexual partners? Do we really need to see David Beckham losing his clothing in yet another desperate ploy to SELL clothing? That method has never made sense to me... Just make great commercials without resorting to off-color stuff... is that really so difficult?
However, I think what gave me the most pause was the halftime show. It has been exactly 10 years since Janet Jackson's "wardrobe malfunction," and after the uproar that caused, I figured that the NFL would keep things pretty G-Rated going forward. Fast forward to tonight. I'm not sure who decided that Bruno Mars and the Red Hot Chili Peppers would be a good combination for this show... I mean, talk about polar opposites in terms of style... However, working with teenagers, I know that Mars is HUGELY popular among the younger demographic, and would certainly draw in the younger crowd. Maybe the RHCP crew was to try and lure in some of the older crowd.... who knows? Talent-wise, both of these groups of musicians are INSANELY talented. Not only can they play and sing well, but they are excellent performers. So, you ask... what's wrong with that?
As Mars began his set, he jumped into a song called "Locked Out of Heaven," which is an odd pairing of religious terminology used to reference elicit sexual encounters of his own. Think I'm making that up? You can read the lyrics here: Locked Out Of Heaven Lyrics Many of his songs make pretty overt sexual references, and there seemed to be plenty of hip thrusting and interesting "dancing" during the performance. Follow that by trotting out one of the most hedonistic bands of the 90's, and you have an interesting show. The Red Hot Chili Peppers have made millions off of weaving songs together that glamorize sex, drug abuse, you name it. Here's just an example of one that they sang tonight: RHCP Lyrics Their bass player, Flea, has made regular appearances on stage in nothing more than a white sock... seriously. It is no secret that these artists make no bones about glamorizing the things that God warns us about in the Bible.
What stopped me dead in my tracks tonight was seeing a large group of teenagers gleefully singing those words right along with Mars, and the adults singing along with the Chili Peppers... without even realizing what they were singing about. We have developed a culture in America that celebrates the ungodly...without understanding the gravity of it. We validate watching a movie with nudity, foul language, etc. without too much concern. We buy video games for our kids that let them practice killing gleefully (I am guilty of this, myself), stealing, visiting prostitutes, and worse. We let our daughters become sexualized before puberty with their clothing, what they listen to and watch, and how we encourage them to focus on their physical beauty above all else. We let our sons learn about what it means to be a man from television, sports figures, movies, and their peers. Is it any wonder why our kids struggle so much? Are we surprised that the majority of teenagers in America say they feel overwhelmed, depressed, and anxious? We are allowing our kids swim in shark infested waters, and they are not ready for these adult situations at such a young age.
By now, you probably are in one of two camps regarding this blog post. You've either decided that I'm old fashioned, dumb, or are in denial about the world we live in, etc... OR you are exactly where I am right now... in disbelief and under conviction. Please understand that I write this not just as a seasoned youth pastor, but as a convicted parent. I know that our culture is cramming all of this stuff down our throats, but here's the big question... ARE WE REALLY OKAY WITH THAT? I am certainly not. I do not want my 9 and 12 year old daughters to feel like they have to fit into this mold that America has created. As their father, I know that it is my responsibility to be the watchman and the gatekeeper of our home. Would I let a dangerous person come waltzing into my home without a fight? Of course not!
If you understand my meaning in this article, then like me...you must realize that we may have to take some pretty drastic measures to protect our kids from as much danger as we can. No, I am not advocating that we pull our kids out of society. My kids go to public school, have non-Christian friends, etc. However, in helping to guide them along their path toward being a disciple of Jesus, there are some things that deserve close inspection. The programs they watch, websites they visit, people they spend time with, what they read, and yes...even the music they listen to. My intent in this blog post is not to cast stones at the bands mentioned above. I want to point out that we need to guard the hearts and minds of our young ones... because if we do not... the world will do it for us. May God guide each of us!