Kissing Up to the Trivial4:21 PM
A couple weeks ago, at camp, during downtime, I helped myself to my friend's Poptarts and Revolve: The Complete New Testament. I guess being out in the boondocks (culturally and literally) leaves me curious as to what the mainstream is. I'd read about Biblezines in the CBD catalog: apparently they're the equivalent to anathema or the only way to reach teen girls, depending on how you look at it.
Its theology blurbs were solid, their advice in the 200+ Blab Q&A's sound. Well, I cannot say that with certainty: I gave up in the book of Mark and nearly performed the cliche act of throwing Biblezine against wall. Not really. But however Biblical the interpretations and advice were, the entire tone of this Bible reeked of triviality and downright hypocrisy...kind of like modern day Christianity, girl-style.
Nothing interests me more than the faith lives of Christian girls. I am one. My sisters are several. My friends, my campers, my little sisters in the faith -- they're all eager to follow Christ the way Christian girls ought. They soak it all in. They long for Jesus. They want to live radical lives for Him. They want to know the whys and whats of Christian girlhood.
Unhappily for them, a good chunk of the stuff paraded as Christian girlhood (cough -- Revolve: The Complete New Testament) kills pure devotion to Christ. I cannot believe some of the things girls can read hot off the press from Christian publishers. I am appalled at the lack of discipleship and sound theology circulated in youth groups, Sunday schools and women's conferences. In both conservative and hip circles, triviality and manmade doctrine cripple true seekers. You'd think that the ultimate concern of Christian women and girls today is getting married and looking good.
Oh, wait. It is. Pardon my ignorance.
For one thing, the issues hammered home again and again -- fitting in, snagging a boyfriend, body image -- should not be front-and-central in a radical Christian girl's life. Most of the issues addressed in Revolve and girls' ministries revolve around said issues. Instead of redirecting girls' attention to the Gospel, to Christ, to matters of eternal importance, we go round and round on things regarding Christian liberty -- can I do this? Can I touch that? What's the Biblical formula for [fill in the blank]?
Of course we ought to address questions on friends (boy and girl), relationships and externals. But questions of Christian liberty cannot be adequately answered until a solid grasp of grace and sanctification occur. If a girl has no concept of the black and white, she cannot begin to understand gray areas without falling into legalism, antinomianism or confusion. Basically, if we teach the subjective primarily, the subjective will become objective or the objective subjective, and that stunts faith.
Besides, the conversation cannot stay there. We cannot sit and rehash the fine points of looking cute while being modest, all the while ignoring the greater context of who God is and what the Gospel accomplished. I know many girls who can parrot standard Christian beliefs on the above issues but have no clue what justification is. I'm all for these "girl talks" -- but why do girl talks focus on the trivial instead of the eternal? The conversation needs to be expanded. When a Biblezine for girls comes out with jacket blurbs like "How to Live Holy" and "The Gospel: What Is It?"...sorry, just a little wishful thinking there.
Another trend in Christian girlhood -- the most obnoxiously pervasive and unbiblical trend -- is an obsessive, unhealthy reliance on Guys' Opinions. It's a new trend on man's opinion, except the men are hotter, younger and more immature. I greatly appreciate mature men -- young and old -- when they "speak out," as I do any mature Christian's input, advice and experience. But this trend goes to extremes with more ulterior ends.
So many girls get caught up in the idea that when a guy speaks, his word is truth. Just any random guy. It must be true what he says -- what's immodest, what's womanly, what's desirable. Thus it is that Revolve can grab a bunch of so-called Christian guys, gather their opinions and announce them smack dab on the front cover as if their secrets will revolutionize girls' lives. They might, especially with such sound Biblical definitions of women like these: cute, fun, good-looking, great personality. (Didn't the interviewers feel a little bit tempted to feed them hints like, "Oh, maybe throw in a comment about her spiritual maturity, her Christ-likeness"? Even a little?)
Note from Concerned Big Sister: Girls, dump the first guy whose definition of who you ought to be resembles this. Now.
And Biblezine publishers? For the love of girls' souls, solicit the advice of mature Titus 2 women who actually exegete the Word instead of spout personal, ungrounded opinion.
But the thing driving me up the wall is the disconnect between belief and practice. In Revolve, a blurb noted the importance of dressing modestly -- so cover up that tummy! The very next page showed a cartoon girl baring her midriff. So which is it -- tummies or no tummies? On a deeper level, cluttering the front cover and inserts of the New Testament with the oh-so-important topics of fun dates with your boy and wishing the latest celebrity a happy birthday contradicts the central message of the NT and the "radical faith" sections: is it all about Jesus? Or is it about hipness, guys and fun times?
Girls don't need to be challenged to have cute dates and listen to One Direction (not to say that it is sinful for them to). They do need the challenge to be wholeheartedly devoted to Christ. They do need encouragement to willingly give up the typical Christian girl's life and trade in their CDs and designer clothes for a servant's hands and heart.
A great place to start? Read the New Testament straight through and see what real people faith thought important...like the Gospel and sanctification and the church and unity and maybe even a little Jesus thrown in on the side.