Thursday, August 29, 2013

Reaping What We Sow. . . Let's Connect The Dots. . . .

No doubt, this week's hot topic just about everywhere is what so many saw on TV on Sunday night. . . . and if they missed it, everywhere else since! While it might be easy to conclude that the blame needs to be placed on one young woman (Miley Cyrus) and one young man (Robin Thicke) for the over-sexualization of children and teens, it's more accurate to conclude that they are poster children of the moment for some deep-seated and long-running sexual attitudes in our culture.

We've been saying for years here at CPYU that culture is both directive and reflective. It is both a map and a mirror. It shows and tells us who we are how we are living. And, it shows and tells us who we should be and how we should live. In other words, Miley Cyrus and Robin Thicke are both a product and producers of these values, attitudes, and behaviors. They've been taught. . . and now they are in turn teaching. So. . . why should we be surprised by what we saw? We're reaping what we've sown.

I've been thinking about these things along with the rest of you over the last few days.

While driving through a neighboring town yesterday I saw a couple of things that made me think even more. The first was this corn field. There's a lot of corn here in Lancaster County. During my recent bike rides I've passed through miles of corn fields. At times, the corn forms a beautiful gauntlet that hems me in as I ride quietly down these peaceful roads. The other day I passed an Amish farm where a couple of the guys were starting to do what farmers all around here will be doing in the coming weeks. . . that is, harvesting corn. I've lived here in this beautiful place for a long time so I've seen the routine with every passing year. But what I've never seen is a farmer standing at the side of one of his corn fields at the end of the summer, scratching his head and wondering, "How did this happen???" I've never heard a bewildered farmer who's looking at his corn say, "Where did this come from?!?" No, they have corn to harvest because it was corn that they planted. The seeds went into the ground several months ago. They put them there. Those who planted the seeds looked forward to this day. They knew that corn was coming.

Which leads me to this question. . . . Why can't we and don't we see that the seeds of ideas, ethics, and values that we're planting in the fields of our culture (media, family, community, etc.) will bring a harvest down the road? 

Today, I'm thinking specifically about the horrifying ways we are nurturing ourselves as men to treat women (go back and watch Robin Thicke's performance), and the ways our culture is nurturing girls to treat themselves and allow men to treat them (go back and watch Miley Cyrus's performance). If we map and mirror the fact that people are nothing but sexual objects, should we be surprised when people become nothing but sexual objects?

I'm also thinking about the stories I read in today's newspaper. The front-page headline about the local 73-year-old man who was given 50-100 years in prison for kidnapping and sexually molesting a 5-year-old girl last month.  Or how about the 37-year-old man - a school principal in Pittsburgh - who allegedly exposed himself to a 17-year-old boy in a health club sauna. Or the ongoing story about the Montana man, a former teacher, who raped a 14-year-old girl who then took her own life. And then the story about the latest Jerry Sandusky appeal. Yes, these are all criminal cases and recognized as such. They should be.

But here's my concern: If we choose to nurture ourselves and our kids in an over-sexualized culture, should we be at all surprised if these stories continue to increase as the years pass? And, in a world with changing standards, will these more frequent stories become less frequently reported because they are so frequent. . . and even accepted as normalized behavior? In other words, will we get to the point where we assume that "That's what men do" and "that's just what women do?"

So, there's this second thing I saw on my ride yesterday. . . and here's a photo of it. It's a sign promoting a fund-raiser for a well-deserving cause. But just as the car wash is raising much-needed money to battle the devastating scourge of cancer, does the way in which the funds are being raised promote another kind of cancer. . . the "cancer of dehumanizing objectification?"

If we plant corn in the field today, we can't stand on the side of the field at harvest time. . . scratching our heads. . . and wondering, "How did this corn get here?!?"

6 comments:

Pastor Jeff said...

“They sow the wind and reap the whirlwind." Hosea 8:7

Nathan Good said...

And yet it amazes me how many changes are made in church culture and theology without the honest question of what it will mean three generations from now.

Deanna said...

So appreciate your post! We must each intentionally sow seeds of Christ-likeness, discipleship, etc.! I am wrestling with the question: what am I sowing?

alan said...

thank you for this post. i am a youth pastor in Oklahoma and have been praying and thinking about how to address the very idea of how we place blame on others and take no accountability for not taking a stand as the children of God. The actions of these stars shouldn't be surprising to us. We as Gods people are allowing each other and our children more and more "freedom" all the time. Defending sin and calling it freedom is not logical, Christ died so that we would no longer be bound by these things. We need to quit running back to the shackles.

wanda said...

Your analogy of the cornfield/harvest is a great example of "speaking the truth in love", and of calling us to account, yet in a way that we can hear it/own it without needing to be defensive. Thank you. I hope to model this kind of communication in my work with families.

J White said...

A few months ago there was a news flash that in the Atlanta subway system an adult male tried to sexually entice or assault a teenage boy. The boy escaped, and found a Transit Police Officer to report the attempt. An all points bulletin was issued by the police, there was a bit of public outrage.

I confess my very cynical thought was, shouldn't our modern American culture be applauding this man? After all, if the teen had simply cooperated, the teen might have been "liberated" from his outdated and outlandish heterosexual misbeliefs. Shouldn't society view the man not as a perpetrator, but a hero? How can this poor kid ever really know his true sexuality if he doesn't open himself to exciting new opportunities?

I don't listen to the news very often, don't know if the man was ever caught, and I'm certainly thankful to God that the boy escaped, apparently without any serious harm.

I guess I need to work on my attitude to become less cynical.