Friday, July 18, 2008

role models, part 1

OK, here goes... If this gets too long, I may break it into two posts (or more if need be...I'm finding this is a multi-faceted issue) so as not to bore you all at once!

Today I was reading a blog post about Miley Cyrus and the 'questionable' behavior, comments, photos, etc. that seem to be emerging about her. Many Christian moms ripped Miley and her parents in the comments section. (The post itself wasn't actually bad, and I found that one from a link I followed on another blog I read, "littlesanctuary" and I felt that post was really good - very well balanced). In any case, the questions being raised about Miley got me thinking... (actually, some other things within the past few weeks have had me thinking a bit already, but this really pushed me to some action as far as clarifying my thoughts and conversation with Kate.)

First of all, I'm not going to even go into what all the swirl about Miley is/has been, because that's not my point. I'm not trying to pursuade or dissuade anyone from becoming a 'Hannah Montana' fan. But some of the issues being raised in Christian circles is whether or not Miley is a good role model, and whether or not she is causing our daughters to fall into 'celebrity idolatry'. They've expressed angst toward Disney for a parade of 'good-girl-turned-hoochie' celebs that have been in the limelight the past few years. Well, here's my take...

While role models are great, and can have a profound impact on someone (especially someone young and impressionable), I don't think celebrities are where we should hope to find role models. In my opinion, NO secular source is going to have an acceptable role model, because the number one thing I want modeled for my kids is a passionate, sold-out relationship with Jesus. No one from the 'world' - not American Girl or even Little House on the Prairie (though they both represent better values than many other shows or books) - can offer that.

And the other thing to keep in mind is that NO ONE, not even christian role models, are infallable. If Miley 'falls' and begins to party, or even begins to be reported as being sexually active (which at this point her stance is that she is committed to virginity and wears a purity ring...which people are debating how authentic that all if we have half an inkling what she really believes or does, as all our info is second-hand at best, and usually with a media commentary or twist of some kind on it), I'm pretty sure it will have no profound impact on my daughter. However, if a young lady from my church who may have been the 'perfect' church kid - you know, attended every youth group event, went on summer missions trips and helped teach Sunday school - someone Kaitlyn has looked up to for years, (by the way, this is a TOTALLY FICTIONAL example) one day turns up with a DUI or pregnant and not married, that is going to have much more of an effect. And believe me, folks, it happens. If you haven't seen it yet, be thankful, but if you do, don't be shocked, and also do not be quick to judge. Remember that Jesus came for sinners, and but for His grace, you (or your daughter or son) could be in the very same spot. But it doesn't mean I shouldn't encourage her to have relationship with and look to seemingly good role models in our church. It means I need to teach her not to put any human - christian or otherwise - on a pedestal. I need to make sure she knows that EVERYONE is a sinner, and capable of mistakes - even some very damaging ones - if we don't stay connected to Jesus as our life source, the basis for all we believe, and the plumbline for every decision.

As for the celebrity idolatry, I would ask this: How do you define if something is idolatry or not? (And I'll tell you up front, I don't plan to define it for you). I will say this...idolatry is a heart issue. What is idolatry for one, can be perfectly acceptable for another. Wasn't this what Paul was getting at in I Corinthians 8 when he said:

So then, about eating food sacrificed to idols: We know that an idol is nothing at all in the world and that there is no God but one... food does not bring us near to God; we are no worse if we do not eat, and no better if we do.
I Corinthians 8:4, 8

It's not about the 'thing', it's about our hearts and our consciences. Does it become idolatry if my daughter has Hannah Montana posters hanging in her room? Is it OK if the posters she hangs are American Girl or the figurines are Anne of Green Gables? Is it possible to decorate with something you enjoy without it being idolatry? And at what point does something really become a problem - because certainly these 'things' can indeed begin to take precedence in our lives and fall under the class of 'idol'. (Keep in mind, as well, that we all, on some level, struggle with idolatry in the sense that we look to other things for answers, assurance and identity. Yes, for teens it's often a person or a brand. But how about us adults? For instance, do you worship at the altar of health insurance? Certainly health insurance can be a good thing...but can you be secure in God's promise care for you if it's not backed by Blue Cross or Aetna???)

OK, enough for now...but rest assured, there's more stirring that's gotta come out...


Lilith Silvermane said...

I highly respect you for this post. I read your blog everyday to see how things are going, etc.

This is by far my favorite. From what I have read, you are one of the most true and pure Christians I've had the pleasure to read.

I am personally not a Christian, however I was raised in a highly Catholic family and have studied the bible. I love how you have dissected this topic and truely looked beyond the words that people are saying about these "role models" and made it your own.

You are correct, knowing a celebrity did something, rarely has an affect on a child, however when it's their friend, or a family member it means more and it happens all the time! Not saying it's right, just saying it's a fact.

Thank you for allowing us into your mind and writing a post that could be explosive, I respect you for doing that!

Warm Blessings

Bets said...

Go Jess. I totally agree about "real life" role models having so much more impact, and I am personally so blessed to have awesome women surrounding me and my daughters for us to look to; yourself and your daughter included. Go on with your bold self girl!

Laura said...

Jess, i think you are right on, both on this post and your comments on the other blog.

"From what I have read, you are one of the most true and pure Christians I've had the pleasure to read."
Lilith, yes, she really is :)