Miley Cyrus (former Disney Star “Hannah Montana”) and Robin Thicke ignited a firestorm yesterday by doing their provocative dance at the MTV music awards. Anyone who has a computer or a TV knows this of course. It has been reported over and over. And then we have the typical wave of reactions. First, we have the people who react to this in their personal roles as fathers, mothers, former fans, men, women, minorities, and feminists (largely outrage). Second, we have the wave of wave of cultural commentators – the “this doesn’t bother me personally, but let me tell you what this says about our culture” (again largely negative but many who want to re-interpret what the reaction to the dance means). Then we have the religious reaction which teams both judgment and grace (more to the former than the latter). Finally, we have the defenders who apologize to Cyrus and Thicke for the reaction to their dance (hardcore fans, Hollywood insiders, friends, and others who never would have been shocked by anything on stage).
What I believe our culture has largely lost (and Cyrus and Thicke are just a manifestations of this) is the lost Christian value of modesty. Sexuality is not dirty. It is not wrong. It is equally a male and female phenomenon. But it is a powerful gift that God gives us to share with another person. It is not meant nor intended for public consumption. When we put our sexuality on display we as a society simply move ever closer to the edge of making public was is meant to be the most private affair.
This is not a new human phenomenon. Publicizing sexuality has been around as long as human beings have been here. And, no matter the culture, religions have always had much to say one way or the other in regard to it. Some religions even embraced public sexuality. Male and female temple prostitutes were common in the ancient world.
But in the worship of our God, modesty has always been hailed as a virtue. We are not meant to cheapen what is meant for another in private. This goes equally for men as well as women. We constantly forget this though and suffer for it when we do.
If there is any consolation for Cyrus it is that the public, while we can overly fixate on an event (which is probably not fair), we also have an incredibly short memory. The outrage of today will fade for some new outrage for tomorrow. And we all have a chance, through grace, to start anew each day. At her age she can join an almost endless line of adults who did something that probably wasn’t the wisest in their early twenties and need to redefine themselves.
The take home though is for all of us to treat our bodies just as Scripture describes them, as Temples of the Living God. They are not an outdoor arenas. They are not public parks. They are private places that have a place for only one other to join us with God. And even if we have made mistakes in the past (which is very common) we can always reset the parameters for who, if anyone, is to join us there.
What do you think?
Until next time,