In the first article I wrote about Miley Cyrus and Robin Thicke’s performance at MTV’s VMAs, I argued from the standard of beauty. I judged the performance to be less than art because it was not meaningful nor did it add virtue to our society. Instead it exposed us as illiterate fools because we did not discern the song long before we saw the dance. In that article I wanted to offer a more secular response; examining ourselves as a society, appealing more to the ideals of excellence and intelligence that should exist in virtuous art and culture.
Even though my argument may have pointed out (to those who received it well) some very important issues for us as a culture, the best we can do in response is to either do better or to dismiss it all together and see what happens next year. The article may provoke us to scan our children’s iPods before we plug them into their ears. It may cause us, as a member of my previous congregation had done, to watch the Walton’s on INSP instead of the freak show on MTV. These actions may save us from exposure to trash. They may save us from embarrasement before our children, but none of this will save our souls.
Enter the gospel. When the gospel enters the picture it brings with it a new standard to the discussion. No longer are we judging ourselves by whether or not we are an excellent society; now we are now confronted with the question of whether or not God is pleased with us. You may or may not like what I thought of Robin and Miley, but what does God think about Robin and Miley? What does God think about what I said? What does God think about what you thought about Robin, Miley, or what I said about them?
Before we speak for God on this matter we should be careful. God reserves the right to say what He wants said. It is well documented in the Bible – there is no warrant for us now to argue what we think God thought. It has already been said. The verdict has been given. Me, you, Robin, Miley, all of us stand condemned before a Holy God. My blog nor my opinions have any capacity to redeem me.
According to the gospel, the problem with Robin Thicke is the same problem as with all of us, we are all, without Christ, dead, depraved sinners before God. This includes me, you, Miley, Robin, the producers at MTV, and everyone else on that stage or in that audience. I think Robin Thicke’s song is sick. But honestly, I’m as sick as Thicke. The only difference between me and Robin Thicke is that he was bold enough and talented enough to make a video.
My thoughts can be just as lewd as any twerk, jerk, or blurred line. I am a pastor, not because I am better than the people I preach to, I am a pastor only because I found salvation in Jesus Christ. Without Christ I am Robin. I am Miley. I am MTV.
The news that we are sinners is not easy to digest. This is why when Robin Thicke was asked by the Today Show hosts about his critics he called it something like good hearted fun. Trying to make his dirty ditty sound intelligent, he even said it was in itself a feminist movement. Hey bro. if that song has anything redemptive in it about women, and you made it actually thinking, “you know what, I’m going to help out the women of the world with this project”, then me and The Pope want to be backup dancers in your next video. Call me, maybe?
When we are told we are sin sick, we all pull a Robin Thicke. We try to justify ourselves before those who would judge us. Yet in the gospel, we are not seated before our critics, we are seated before Christ – the creator of women, sex, men, marriage, virtue, art, and everything noble, pure, good, and right – all of which were profaned at the VMAs. What was wrong with Miley and Robin was not that I didn’t appreciate it, or that any hypocrite criticized it, the problem was that according to God’s Word it was sin. We may offer criticism, but sin is something else all together. In the gospel it is no longer about a preacher with a blog, or a broken hearted dad, or outraged parents, this is business with God.
Take it or leave it, but because Jesus Christ died on the cross – me, you, Miley, and Robin are given a place of grace to repent. In the gospel “the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, ‘the righteous shall live by faith.” This message is the “power of God for salvation to everyone who believes.” Of this message, I am not ashamed (Rom. 1:16-17). I am not ashamed to say to Miley and to Robin, without Christ I have nothing to say against you. Without Christ everything that has ever run through my mind, my secrets, or things I have done that only a few people on the planet know about make me worse than anything you guys ever dared to do on stage or put in a video. You want to break the boundaries of sex, purity, gender, marriage, and humanity that God has set up for us without consequence – without Christ in my life, ME TOO! That is what we do as sinners. We buy the lie of Satan that we can be god, then we dance.
At the end of all of this, we must realize, whoever liked it or not, it doesn’t matter. We may be able to improve some things about our culture if we recognize its lack of virtue, but at the end of it all, we will be no better without receiving Christ as our Lord and Savior.
Ephesians 2:1-10 is our story.
And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.