When I first saw Miley Cyrus’ performance at the VMA’s, my first reaction was utter contempt and gleeful ridicule. I didn’t bother watching the whole thing because it was so dang awkward and, frankly, lame, and it seems like even most celebrities agreed (my favorite reaction was Drake looking down and looking mighty uncomfortable). It smacked of what the kids these days call “try-hard,” as Cyrus tried desperately to shed her Disney image and embrace what the world considers adulthood. Add to the fact that she performed Blurred Lines with Robin Thicke, a catchy but sexually objectifying song that partially inspired my satirical post on sexual lyrics, and I saw her with nothing but scorn. I even slammed her as a “degenerate piece of sewage” on Facebook while also making fun of the fact that Thicke had the audacity to claim that his song contained “a feminist movement.” The song is so blatantly womanizing that it remains fascinating how girls are okay with it.
Make no mistake about it, there is plenty to ridicule here. It’s low-hanging fruit, and a sarcastic guy like me has a hard time not making snide remarks about such things. However, after thinking about it, I had to repent of my contempt. Not because we shouldn’t condemn and sometimes even ridicule such behavior (we obviously should), but because I remembered that Cyrus is a 20 year old girl… the age of girls that I teach in my college ministry. I realized that if I saw any of our girls go down that path, I would be worried and angry (good anger), and I would try to talk sense to her, protect her, and show her that the attention she is getting with her “sexual liberation” is nothing but bondage to the moral decay of the world. If she were my daughter, I would imagine those feelings would be multiplied by about five trillion.
So now, I view Miley Cyrus with sadness, along with other so-called “Christian” artists who were corrupted by the world (Jessica Simpson, Katie Perry) and along with the many unnamed Christian girls out there who reach adulthood and think that to be accepted, respected, and loved, they must treat their own bodies as mere objects of pleasure for themselves and for the wolves who desire it. They think that sexual “liberation” brings happiness, security, and power, when it does nothing but break them and devalue them in the eyes of the very people they want to impress. If you treat your own body like a mere object, then one day the world will use it up, spit it out, and toss it away, because any object will eventually lose value and find its way to the trash.
Perhaps the most ironic thing about Cyrus’ VMA performance is that it falls right in line with the culture of Hollywood and music these days, yet many artists and celebrities reacted negatively to it. Rappers openly rap about women as sex tools, women artists refer to themselves as objects of sexual desire, and movies and TV shows make light of adultery and promiscuity. Then, when a girl like Cyrus takes all of those ideas to their logical end and puts on a bizarre show of dancing teddy bears, foam fingers, and so much sexual innuendo that it made even rappers blush, the media mercilessly ridiculed her even though they were the ones who enabled and encouraged her. This is the world, girls. It doesn’t care. People of the world want to take from you what benefits them and then discard you later. If Cyrus continues down this road like other child stars such as Lindsay Lohan, she will quickly find that the world not only enjoys corrupting people, it enjoys watching their downward spiral into destruction. Makes good celebrity gossip columns, to be sure.
In the Old Testament, sexual purity was tied very closely to spiritual well-being. The reason why God told the Israelites not to intermarry with the surrounding nations was not because God is against interracial marriage itself (or else he would not have brought Ruth, a Moabitess, to Boaz and established the line of David). It’s because he knew that sexual union with the pagan world would mirror a spiritual union with it:
3 Do not intermarry with them. Do not give your daughters to their sons or take their daughters for your sons, 4 for they will turn your children away from following me to serve other gods, and the Lord’s anger will burn against you and will quickly destroy you. (Deuteronomy 7:3-4)
Joshua teaches that while it may seem good at first, it’s misleading:
Instead, they will become snares and traps for you, whips on your backs and thorns in your eyes, until you perish from this good land, which the Lord your God has given you. (Joshua 23:13b)
Thus, to quote Admiral Ackbar: “It’s a trap!” In the eyes of the world, sexual licentiousness is celebrated and girls who are conservative are looked down upon as uptight and “prude”… but then when they get like Paris Hilton or Miley Cyrus, they’re then looked down upon as slutty and crazy, and the world moves on to obsess about someone else. Britney Spears was the hottest thing on the planet back in the day and the object of many boys’ (and men’s) desires. She was scorned for saying that she wanted to wait until marriage for sex, and the media eagerly gobbled up every new way to sexualize her (and grew frustrated that it just wasn’t fast enough). Finally, when she spiraled downward, she was viewed as damaged goods and the media gleefully took shots at her and chronicled her myriad of personal problems. What freedom did she experience? I’m not sure either.
Contrast this to Jesus, who actually wants to liberate you. He died for your sins so that you may be free from bondage, and while the Bible commands that we follow and obey Christ, Jesus does not devalue his servants. He will love you despite the fact that you cannot do much of anything for him. He will never objectify you, use you as a mere tool, and then discard you as if you mean nothing. A life following Christ might end badly in death, but in the end, he grants eternal life, and in this world, he gives a peace the surpasses all understanding. That’s what God offers. If only Miley Cyrus understood that before she started to try so hard to earn the respect of a twisted world that views her as nothing more than an amusing spectacle. Hopefully, she will find it someday, and find that God can purify. And hopefully, all Christian girls realize this and refuse to trade God’s goodness for the temporary, destructive, and ultimately useless standards of a predatory culture.