It's been pretty hard to escape the reaction to Miley Cyrus' controversial performance at the VMA's this year. I don't have network TV and I don't listen to the radio, but the next day facebook was a buzz about the whole thing. With good reason. It is shocking.
People are understandably upset. We blame the media, blame society's appetite for such garbage. If we didn't let our kids watch this stuff, it wouldn't be on, I thought. We rally behind the battle cry of "parents, take the media back!" But you know what? I don't think it's that simple. I think there will always be things like this in the world, that if it wasn't Miley it would have been someone else. We can't live with the mindset of changing this culture, because inevitably it leads to hopelessness and despair over the evil in this world. Christ himself said, "my kingdom is not of this world; if it were, my people would fight to prevent me from being handed over." This is not a new problem that we face, it has existed ever since sin entered the world. We have to live with a view of changing ourselves, our own hearts. Of knowing Christ personally and radically in our own lives, because the world won't do it.
I can hear the objections now. "Are you saying we shouldn't care about anyone else? What about the other poor souls? Aren't we meant to be in the world and not of the world?" Absolutely. If these recent events move you to pray for Miley Cyrus, do it. If you have friends that love the VMAs (or Miley for that matter), don't shun them. Don't take your kids into hiding, never to see the light of day. But don't let that stuff into your home, with the intention of watching so you can pray (or so that you can be part of the world, and thinking you'll be different). I've read that people think the networks should do a better job of setting channel ratings, which they probably should. People are also calling on networks to let them pick and choose the channels they want, so that they aren't forced to watch a station they wouldn't otherwise simply because it's in a bundle (or catch their kids sneaking it). That's well and good, but I still don't think that's the real problem. At the end of the day, we control the reach of the media into our own homes. Networks don't stomp in on our doorsteps, we allow them in. I'm not saying don't watch TV, don't buy bundles, or anything like that. But we can use parental controls. We can set limits on our TV watching habits (ours and our children's). We can't control whether they see it outside our home. But we don't have to sit idle while this whole culture breaks our front door down either.
Most of my kids' knowledge of pop culture arrives to them second hand. Which isn't to say it doesn't still terrify me, it does. But some of the best advice I read was to fill their cup with good things, so that when someone comes by and offers them garbage, they will be less likely to take it in (they still may, and you can't help that. That's where their freedom comes into play.) For me, this means keeping my cup filled with good things too, and keeping garbage out. I don't watch network TV, and I'm really picky about the music I listen to and the garbage I read online (a longtime vice for me). The media has very little reach in my home, and that's a good thing. So when things like this controversy take place, it's shocking. But none of us saw it. And I aim to keep it that way. Something to make you gasp, and carry on with your day. Because the buck doesn't stop with MTV, or even network cable - it stops with parents. We are not slaves to the media, we have the final say in our households. And we need to take control.
"My kingdom is not of this world". When we try to make the world something it is not, we run the risk of trying to blend two worlds - and losing in the process. Let us never be confused about where we come from, or where we are headed. It is not here.