Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Ten Things Christians Should Be Talking About, But Aren't, Part I

Christianity today, at times, does a poor job of viewing the full person of God. Sometimes we try to work around His less popular qualities. There’s a very narrow focus. It’s all about God’s love, which in itself is a great thing, but God has many more attributes than love. The focus is on showing people you are a Christian and not on telling them how they can become one. And the focus is on God’s forgiveness rather than what needs forgiven and the consequences of sin.
Much of what is focused on by Christians (such as love and forgiveness) is not bad; in fact, it’s great. I love it and it drives my love for God. It’s just that when we leave it at the easy stuff and skirt around the things that are harder to grasp, we miss key elements. We miss so much of scripture when we only look at love, or when we focus on having the right actions instead of the right motives. This leads to a shallow Christianity; reference the gospel of wealth (Joel Osteen) or the dangerous belief that God will allow everyone into Heaven.
We need to examine the full Bible and have a proper view of all God is. Here are ten things that many Christians today refuse to talk about but should be talking about:

1.      God’s Wrath
We look so much at God’s love and grace that we forget why we need it. God is just and will not tolerate sin. Already in law school I’ve been forced to examine punishment, and I believe the only way to have a just justice system is for punishment for wrongdoing to be carried out consistently. That is God’s design. That’s how He operates. So what is the punishment for sin?
"For the wages of sin is death…" –Romans 6:23a
The Bible tells us plainly that WE can only pay for our sin with death. Not just a physical death, but a second, spiritual death that Revelation 20:14 speaks about. The good news is that Christ took our sin in His death; the bad news is, if we don’t accept that, God’s wrath will fall on us.
"He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God." –John 3:18
Christians especially try to ignore the God of the Old Testament, thinking somehow He who never changes was different back then. But when we realize that God is all-powerful and the Creator of the universe, we know that He sets the rules. And when those are broken, when any glory is not given to God (because He is also jealous of His glory, the only One who has the right to be), there is a price to pay. Yes, God killed everyone but eight people in a flood. He destroyed the cities of the plain with fire and brimstone. He brought plagues upon Egypt. He killed large numbers of people who disobeyed in the Israelite camp. He eradicated nations. He punished Israel by sending them into captivity. It is there; let’s not ignore it. God did it all because of unrighteous, evil disobedience. A just God administers justice. And that same God still punishes unrighteousness today.
"For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness…" –Romans 1:18
The excavated ruins of Pompeii
Take note of that. This is the New Testament. The very church age we are living in. God’s judgment, His wrath, is still activeLook at A.D. examples. In 79 A.D., the “sin city” of the Roman Empire, Pompeii, was destroyed in a volcanic eruption. The Romans had destroyed the Jewish temple, and many legionnaires were vacationing in Pompeii at the time. Pompeii worshipped phallic gods (look up the term, if you dare) and had artwork of them anywhere you would go in the city. Sexual immorality was rampant.

God may not work through plagues like He did in the Old Testament, but His wrath is still apparent. And Christians need to talk about it, because without God’s wrath, there’s no need for His mercy.

2.      Hell
The greatest and everlasting outpouring of God’s wrath occurs in this literal place. It seems Christians don’t even talk that much about Heaven either, but much further, Hell appears to have been blacklisted. Naturally, if we choose to live in denial of some of God’s qualities such as His wrath, we will live in denial of this. And that is a very dangerous thing.
So many believe, consciously or through their actions, that God’s love will always overshadow His wrath. This is true—for His children. But for those who don’t know Jesus Christ as their Savior, God’s love for them will not for a second prevent His just wrath from punishing them. And if we truly love the world and lost souls, we have to tell them that.
Part of the lack of mentioning Hell comes from people masquerading as Christians that deny biblical teaching on it. Some go as far as to say that the lost will not go there until after Judgment Day, that there is no consciousness there, it is only reserved for angels, or, in the case of the Jehovah’s Witnesses (who are far from Christian), that it does not exist. This is expressly against what the Bible teaches us.
Jesus actually spoke more on Hell than He did on Heaven while He was on Earth. And He let us in on what this place is like.
"And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell. And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell." –Matthew 5:29-30
"Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat…" –Matthew 7:13
"And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell." –Matthew 10:28
"Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?" –Matthew 23:33
"Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels…" ­–Matthew 25:41 (This is Jesus speaking to the unsaved. Hell was prepared for the fallen angels, but became the destination of man after sin came into the world.)
"And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame. But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented. And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence." –Luke 16:23-26
"And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire." –Revelation 20:14-15
"But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death." –Revelation 21:8
Hell is real, and it is the destination of all those who don’t know Christ. Again, the good news is that Jesus paid for our sin so that we don’t have to go there. But those who don’t accept Christ’s payment will go to this place of torments, this place of eternal fire. If Jesus spoke often about it, we should as well. The gospel is deserving of the whole truth.

3.      Waiting on God
This subject is pretty simple. “God, give me a girlfriend I can serve the Lord with.” “God, I wanna get married.” “Father, give me this please.” “God, show me your plan for me.” Christians bring all sorts of requests to God, but don’t have the patience to see it through. We pray for the wrong things. We try to get ahead of God’s timing. Society tells us to go out and get what you want. That’s not bad for some things, but when it comes to God fulfilling His plan for our lives, He’s going to use His perfect timing.
You just have to be single, Christian...and attractive?
This is certainly not limited to relationships, but this fascination seems to take up much of the thoughts of younger people. Just look at the oft-joked about “Sometimes we wait for God to make the next move, when God is saying, ‘It’s your time to act.’ The next move is yours.” The only time God tells us, “It’s your time to act,” is when He’s already given a command. This is true for things like soul-winning. But dating and, eventually, choosing a spouse, is not a command. It is part of God’s plan—something we wait on Him to put in place, pray over, and then act.

When we are impatient and act on our own, we are both disobeying God and preventing God from doing His work. Learn to wait on Him, and tell others to do the same.

4.      True, Powerful Prayer
Christians speak often of prayer, but seldom understand it. We say, “I’ll pray for you” or “I’ll keep that in my prayers,” and hardly think about it afterwards. Somewhere along the lines, we forgot just how powerful prayer can be. It is the very way in which we speak to our Maker and our Father. It is what God designed for us to have contact with Him. And we neglect it so often.
Christians have turned prayer into an autopilot exercise. We pray the same thing before we eat. We pray in the same format until we don’t even realize what we’re saying. And our words become empty.
Jesus and the writers in the New Testament spoke clearly of just how powerful our prayer can be:
"If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you." –John 15:7
We have limited prayer to an occasional need or trial. And when we don’t get an answer, we make up an excuse such as, “It wasn’t God’s will.” But the Bible never mentions that God will answer our prayer if He wants to. “…[Y]e shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.” If we know God’s will, we will know what to ask Him. Then, when we ask God for something, knowing it is in His will, it WILL be granted to us.
But there are neglected stipulations to this promise. With any of God’s promises, there is our side of the bargain. “If ye abide in me…” Abiding in Christ is nothing less than our wills aligning. We are daily surrendered to Him, only giving Him the glory, and doing everything to please Him. We live in constant communion with Christ in an intimate relationship. …[A]nd my words abide in you…” It is not only the relationship with Christ, but hiding His words in our hearts. We are to know His Word, study it, and meditate on it.
“So if I ask to be rich, it’ll be granted?” You miss the point. When our wills align with God’s, we will only ask things which He wills. We only seek that which He wants.
"Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts." –James 4:3
If we ask for things because of our selfishness, we will not receive it.
Christians need to understand the requirements for prayer, and the power it wields with God Himself if we use it.

5.      Importance of Scripture
Christians today love to focus on worshipping God. But something—namely, the most important thing—is overshadowed. Where is it we learn that God deserves our worship? Where are we told of God’s love and all His other attributes? Where is it that the very gospel is spelled out?
It is the Bible, God’s Word to mankind. When God completed His Word, He stopped speaking to mankind directly, because, as Peter said, “We have also a more sure word of prophecy…” (II Peter 1:19). Better than any direct revelation is God’s written Word. We would have nothing—no gospel, no knowledge of God, no directions for life—without the Bible. And yet we place it below so much else.
Just how important is God’s Word to God?
"I will worship toward thy holy temple, and praise thy name for thy lovingkindness and for thy truth: for thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name." –Psalm 138:2
God’s magnificent, holy name, though all-important, means less to Him than His Word. God’s Word living and working in our lives ought to be the principle thing to Christianity. This does not downplay anything else, but elevates that which ought to be elevated.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

A Rational Examination of Contemporary Christian Music (From Someone Who Was Raised to Hate It)

Some people who were raised as Christians come out of four years at a secular university as humanists. Some come out with completely wrecked lives. Some stop going to church. I—well, I came out a fan of some contemporary Christian music.
I would think this minor change would be acceptable, all things considered, but it’s fairly controversial.
Kari Jobe
Over my college experience, being involved with a more diverse group of Christians from various backgrounds has exposed me to many new things, including music. I have had mixed reactions. The instrumentation and style are different. For some songs, I’ve analyzed the lyrics and really can’t find anything wrong with them. They worship God and share biblical truth. Others have flaws or are overly repetitive. I think it is important to be moldable in one’s beliefs (not easily swayed, but willing to change), and this is one of the ways in which my views have somewhat shifted. I had been given the impression that all contemporary Christian music was bad, but as we will examine, that is not always the case.
I still enjoy more traditional music. Hymns are fantastic and beautiful and share great truths. (A number of newer songs, contemporary or otherwise, use them as bridges or choruses, e.g. “Shoutin’ Time” by The Hoppers, “Broken Vessels” by Hillsong, “They Should Have Cried Holy” by Greater Vision, “My Heart is Yours” by Passion, etc.) I was raised listening to Southern Gospel and still listen to it. One of the aversions to contemporary music is that people think it comes at the expense of older music or different music. Embracing newer songs of different styles does not mean throwing out the older ones. Readers of The Hunger Games do not have to throw out The Great Gatsby, and fans of The Great Gatsby can still read Robinson Crusoe.
I think another important thing to remember is that all new music has been controversial at some point. The Imperials stirred up some controversy in 1976 when they released “Sail On”, a song with a different sound that is now much more accepted. There are still people that believe Christian music should only be done with a piano, seeming to forget the calls to praise commonly found in the Psalms:
“Praise ye the Lord. Praise God in his sanctuary: praise him in the firmament of his power. Praise him for his mighty acts: praise him according to his excellent greatness. Praise him with the sound of the trumpet: praise him with the psaltery and harp. Praise him with the timbrel and dance: praise him with stringed instruments and organs. Praise him upon the loud cymbals: praise him upon the high sounding cymbals. Let every thing that hath breath praise the LORD. Praise ye the LORD.” –Psalm 150
for KING & COUNTRY performing with a trombone and baritone
It’s slightly amusing that many people who cringe at the sight of a drumset in church worship are okay with a drumset at a Southern Gospel concert, when the goal of both is the same: worshiping God. I don’t know what has changed between David’s day and today. I enjoy creative instrumentation in music; for example, I play in my home church’s orchestra with other brass, woodwinds, and strings. I love to see bands like for KING & COUNTRY and Newsong mix in a lot of brass, strings, and percussion.
Many complaints I hear about contemporary Christian music remind me of my talks on the streets with advocates of abortion. There is a real lack of understanding of the issue and a whole lot of presuppositions. And when the individuals are forced to think about their reasoning, they may find that their biggest reason for holding their views is that they’ve held those views for years. They would lock arms and sing “I Shall Not Be Moved”, except that song might be too different stylistically to be accepted.
The arguments I hear against contemporary Christian music can often be applied to other forms of Christian music. I’ve heard the audacious claim that contemporary Christian artists are “not saved”. I’m sure this is true of some, because many people have fallen into this trap, music industry or otherwise. But this could have been true of older writers. I know it has been true of artists in Southern Gospel. There have been singers who thought they were saved, but realized they weren’t. One singer was blackmailed into expressing his homosexual struggles and left the ministry temporarily. There was restoration for these, just as there can be for anyone in contemporary Christian music. Another singer committed suicide last year after having an affair and getting involved in criminal activities. Point being is that we can’t know the hearts of these individuals. Most of them are Christ followers, but some may not be. It’s not enough to write off entire genres of music.
Another argument I’ve heard is that they just “do it for the attention”. Again, we don’t know their hearts. There is certainly attention to be gained in the music industry, regardless of popularity. Contemporary Christian artists have larger fan bases, but Southern Gospel artists have more direct fan interaction. We can only speculate about their motives. The complaint about different styles or instrumentation also doesn’t hold up. Contemporary Christian music is not the only Christian music that uses guitars, bass, percussion, and orchestras.
Another common complaint is that there may be doctrinal or denominational differences between the person performing and the person listening. Like the other arguments, it doesn’t only apply to contemporary music. I’ve seen plenty of charismatics at Southern Gospel concerts, too. They pull in a diverse following across many denominations. I think it’s great. Never will I say that doctrine is unimportant. But I also won’t say that we should cut off brothers and sisters in Christ because of these differences. If they are born again, they’re part of the family. We can’t let petty arguments cause a divide between us. We will worship together in Heaven, so we shouldn’t be afraid to worship together on Earth:
Southern Gospel concerts aren't exactly stoical (and that's okay).

Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. –I Corinthians 1:10
All this is not to say that there is not bad contemporary Christian music. Take a few of these examples:
So far away.
The words we say.
I know that we can turn this around.
We should be building bridges
Instead of burning them down.

I am only human;
It's my disguise.
The air is thick
With rumors and lies.
We act like fools and say we are wise.
All this he said, she said;
Love is hanging by a thread.
–“Disconnected,” Veridia
There’s nothing necessarily wrong with them, but I would not know these were Christian lyrics unless I were told.
“I’ll do what I want ‘cause this is my life.”
–“Alive and Awake,” Skillet
It sounds more like a teenage rebel song than a Christian song, and it is actually contrary to what the Bible tells us. It’s not our life. It’s God’s. We’ve given it to Him because He can order it better than we can.

Yeah, they like the way I do this
When I crank it like a chainsaw.
Yeah, they like the way I do this
When I crank it like a chainsaw.

Full throttle, heavy metal.
Set the bar next level.
Wasteland gettin' all janky.
Soul Glow, chainsaw.

Lay in the cut with them elbows back.
Engine smokin' just like this track.
Shirt be soakin' from all this sweat.
Catch my breath, chainsaw.
–“Chainsaw,” Family Force 5
I heard “Chainsaw” for the first time over two years ago, and I still think it is totally irrational.
Surrounded by your glory
What will my heart feel?
Will I dance for your Jesus,
Or in awe of you be still?
Will I stand in your presence,
Or to my knees will I fall?
Will I sing hallelujah?
Will I be able to speak at all?
I can only imagine.
I can only imagine.
–“I Can Only Imagine,” MercyMe
Another Southern Gospel concert
The problem is, “I Can Only Imagine” asks a lot of really stupid questions. Let’s see how the Bible answers them:
And in the midst of the seven candlesticks one like unto the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle.…And when I [John] saw him, I fell at his feet as dead… –Revelation 1:13, 17a

Or look at Joshua when he saw the Angel of the Lord, preincarnate Christ:

And it came to pass, when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted up his eyes and looked, and, behold, there stood a man over against him with his sword drawn in his hand: and Joshua went unto him, and said unto him, Art thou for us, or for our adversaries? And he said, Nay; but as captain of the host of the Lord am I now come. And Joshua fell on his face to the earth, and did worship, and said unto him, What saith my lord unto his servant? And the captain of the Lord's host said unto Joshua, Loose thy shoe from off thy foot; for the place whereon thou standest is holy. And Joshua did so. –Joshua 5:13-15

The same is true of Moses and Aaron (Numbers 20:6), Israel as a whole (Leviticus 9:24, I Kings 18:39), Abram (Genesis 17:1-3), Ezekiel (Ezekiel 1:28), the beings in Heaven (Revelation 7:11), and even the Philistine god Dagon (I Samuel 5:2-4). There isn’t much vacillation or variation there. Everyone fell on their faces before God. Any speculation is unnecessary.
But as I’ve learned, there are plenty of great songs out there:
Savior, He can move the mountains.
My God is mighty to save;
He is mighty to save.
Forever author of salvation,
He rose and conquered the grave.
Jesus conquered the grave.

So take me as you find me,
All my fears and failures.
Fill my life again.
I give my life to follow
Everything I believe in.
Now I surrender.
–“Mighty to Save,” Hillsong

Death could not hold you, the vail torn before you.
You silence the boast of sin and grave.
The heavens are roaring the praise of your glory,
For you are raised to life again.
You have no rival; You have no equal.
Now and forever, God, You reign.
Yours is the Kingdom. Yours is the glory.
Yours is the name above all names.
–“What a Beautiful Name,” Hillsong
Passion performs an acoustic version of "Worthy of Your Name"

I'm in a war every minute.
I know for sure I'll never win it.
I am David up against Goliath.
And it's a fight for my attention.
I'm being pulled every direction.
This world tells me, ‘Trust what I can see.’
Lord, won't You help me believe what I believe?

‘Cause You are bigger than any battle I'm facing.
You are better than anything I've been chasing.
Savior and royalty, the only hope in me.
Jesus, You are, You are
The King of my heart, heart.
–“King of my Heart,” Love & the Outcome

Remember when your hope is lost and faith is shaken,
Remember when you wonder if you're gonna make it,
There's a hand stretched out through your deepest doubt.
We can't pretend to see the ending or what's coming up ahead,
To know the story of tomorrow,
But we can stay close to the One who knows.

We can trust our God;
He knows what He's doing.
Though it might hurt now,
We won't be ruined.
It might seem there's an ocean in between,
But He's holding on to you and me,
And He's never gonna leave, no.
He is with us, He is with us
Always, always.
–“He is with Us,” Love & the Outcome

Here I am before You, falling in love and seeking Your truth,
Knowing that Your perfect grace has brought me to this place.
Because of You I freely live; my life to You, oh God, I give.
So I stand before You, God;
I lift my voice ‘cause You set me free.

So I shout out Your name,
From the rooftops I proclaim
That I am Yours, I am Yours…
All that I am I place into Your loving hands.
And I am Yours, I am Yours.
–“Rooftops,” Jesus Culture

Our God, a firm foundation.
Our Rock, the only solid ground
As nations rise and fall.
Kingdoms once strong now shaken,
But we trust forever in Your Name,
The Name of Jesus.
We trust the Name of Jesus.

You are the only King forever.
Almighty God, we lift You higher.
You are the only King forever.
Forevermore, You are victorious.
–“Only King Forever,” Elevation Worship

David Crowder, one of the most genuine CCM artists out there
I need You to soften my heart
And break me apart.
I need You to open my eyes
To see that You're shaping my life.
All I am, I surrender.

Give me faith to trust what You say,
That You're good and Your love is great.
I'm broken inside; I give You my life…

I may be weak,
But Your Spirit’s strong in me.
My flesh may fail,
But, my God, You never will.
–“Give Me Faith,” Elevation Worship

In You I rest;
In You I find my hope.
In You I trust;
You’ll never let me go.
I place my life
Within Your hands alone.
Be still, my soul.
–“Be Still My Soul (In You I Rest),” Kari Jobe

You hold my very moment.
You calm my raging seas.
You walk with me through fire,
And heal all my disease.
I trust in You. I trust in You.

I believe You're my healer.
I believe You are all I need.
I believe.
And I believe You're my portion.
I believe You're more than enough for me.
Jesus, You're all I need.
–“Healer,” Kari Jobe

Not exactly heretical words. I believe this long list has proven the point, but in case anyone needs further convincing, here are links to more lyrics from more songs:

While I am not a fan of the genre, even some Christian rap can have God-honoring lyrics. Don’t stone me yet. If lyrics can’t be understood or if they are drowned out by music, then the point is entirely missed. Those criteria being met, though, we glorify God through what we say from a surrendered and worshipful heart.
Take Lecrae, a Christian rapper that continues to grow in fame. Some think “Christian” should be in quotes, but he gives a clear testimony that he is born again. And a testimony he certainly has. He grew up in a rough urban setting listening to rap music, as many other urban men do, and when he received Christ he wanted to turn that into a ministry. Here are some of his lyrics:

I can't offer You nothin’, but Your care and kindness keep comin’.
And Your love is so unconditional, I get butterflies in my stomach.
I got the old me in the rearview, got a new me, got a clear view.
I was so dead, I couldn't hear You,
Too deep in sin to come near You.
But You drew me in, and cleaned me up,
And take me home and beam me up.
Before you do, just let me tell the truth.
And let these folks know that I done seeing Your love,
And it's everlastin’, infinite.
It goes on and on; you can't measure it.
Can't quench Your love, they can't separate us from the love of God.
It's no estimate.
My face look the same; my frame done rearranged.
But I changed; I promise I ain’t the same.
Your love is so deep; You suffered and took pain,
And died on the cross to gimme a new name.
Ain’t nothin’ like I seen before,
I gotta beam to glow.
Was low, down, and dirty, but You cleaned me, Lord.
You adopted me; You keep rockin’ me.
Imma tell the world and ain’t nobody stoppin’ me.
–“Tell the World”
It’s unconventional. It’s unusual. But there are a plethora of young teens from the ghetto that like rap music. Lecrae has worked his way up to become the first rap artist and fifth Christian artist to reach #1 on the Billboard 200. It’s unheard of. There are rap fans who may want to listen to as famous a rapper as Lecrae, and the gospel message can get out through him to people that may not otherwise hear it. Remember the words of Paul in the Bible:
For though I be free from all men, yet have I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the more. And unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to them that are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law; To them that are without law, as without law, (being not without law to God, but under the law to Christ,) that I might gain them that are without law. To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some. And this I do for the gospel's sake, that I might be partaker thereof with you. –I Corinthians 9:19-23
This certainly doesn’t excuse sinful behavior to reach sinners, and there is a need for separation. But if something is not biblically sinful, although it may be “sinful” in terms of our tradition or upbringing, then maybe, just maybe, these can be used to reach different people with the gospel and touch the lives of Christians with different backgrounds.
There is nothing doctrinally wrong with any of the lyrics I’ve shared. They are easy to understand when listening to the songs. So what is wrong with them? What is the reasoning behind rejecting certain types of Christian music? Is it really doctrinal, or is it tradition-based? Do these lyrics and these people not glorify God? Rejecting something because our tradition and upbringing tells us to, rather than because the Bible tells us to, puts us in the camp of the Catholic and Orthodox Churches, and I’m pretty sure we left that centuries ago.
Contemporary Christian music is extremely diverse. Having some bad songs does not make them all bad. We need to examine these on a case-by-case basis. Making sweeping generalizations is irresponsible. Different Christian music speaks to and reaches different kinds of people. Do the differences in music and its messages violate doctrine, or are they just different from your preference?

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Body Positivity: The Hideous Countermovement Against Thin Girls

It used to be that they were the standard. You want attractive? Look to them. They are normal. Everyone else is overweight.
But now in a disturbing trend in society, it’s all been flipped on its head.
Generally in the past, it was thin, fit women that were seen as beautiful by society (I would argue that there has never been a time when men didn’t like curves, but as an overall standard, I would agree that being slender was more accepted). If a woman was too voluptuous, it was seen as a negative thing. Society wanted low fat and flat stomachs. (Bear in mind that this is somewhat awkward for me to write, but I’m gearing up for my main point.)
Over the past few years, beauty has been redefined. In a hybrid celebrity-grass roots movement, women have been taking a stand, acknowledging that curves can be beautiful too, and ladies should be comfortable with their bodies.
Nothing wrong here. I totally agree. While being confident shouldn’t necessarily mean that one doesn’t want to change (speaking from experience), people, and women who are generally held to a higher standard of appearance and hence are judged accordingly, should be confident in how they look. Curves are not a bad thing, nor is not fitting the mold of society. The new generation of female celebrities seem to be embracing this.
Fantastic. Where do we run into a problem?
Almost in an affirmative action-esque bitterness, women with curves are lashing out at anyone who doesn’t fit their image.
I thought this was about women being confident with their bodies?
If the female proportion of society is screaming to accept and love whatever body type one has, so as not to tread on those who are curvier, why are the women who used to fit the mold of attractiveness now being downtrodden?
I think I finally came to this realization a couple years ago when I watched Julie Borowski’s video about being naturally skinny and how the counterrevolution attacked her for it, which was about the same time a friend of mine was being called a “skinny b***h”. You can say what you want about me; heck, I’ll probably laugh with you. But my protective nature kicks in when people start to mess with my friends, especially those of the female persuasion.
And honestly, it doesn’t really matter who writes this, because the arguments should make or break the point, not the person. But if it is any help, I have never been accused of being thin; even when I was playing soccer regularly I still was large-framed. So this isn’t me being upset over being personally offended; rather, I am defending the people who are being attacked.
Anyway, I have no problem with curves being considered beautiful too. As “beauty is in the eye of the beholder”, who cares what the media says anyway? (That really goes for anything, in fact.) But what did skinny girls do to suddenly come under fire for their bodies? What of this utter hypocrisy that screams to curvy women to embrace their bodies while shaming those without a fuller figure?
I’m not generalizing all women with curves by any means, but it’s enough of a trend that it warrants mention.
Women can’t help their body type. They can usually have control over their weight, but even then they should not be looked down upon. So does it not stand to reason that if a woman can’t help but have curves, a woman also can’t help but be skinnier? Why, in the midst of this counterrevolution, is curviness natural while being slim is seen as unnatural?
A woman may work hard, insanely hard, to stay in shape and be physically fit, and she is berated because she doesn’t have as much cellulite. Sure, perhaps back in the day thin women made fun of heavier ones to make themselves feel good. Now, heavier women make fun of thinner women because the in-shape women do what they won’t. Instead of taking inspiration, they take up arms against anyone who looks better.
Take the case study of the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show last year. Now before you go jumping headlong into conclusions, no, I didn’t watch it. I don’t think Christians should be watching it. But I also don’t agree with the alarming backlash received. Many have no issue with the nature of the Show or the advertising of a company like Victoria’s Secret. They’re just jealous. Everywhere you see, “Don’t pay attention to these women, that’s an impossible standard.” Clearly not, because they have met it. Generally something is not “impossible” if it occurs. “They look too thin.” “They look malnourished.” “You need to go eat a cheeseburger.” Women who are disciplined and try to look good are attacked. The women insulting these models could never themselves be models. Instead of at least having the respect for those that work hard to stay there, instead they take up pitchforks and torches to go after those who look better than them. Who are thinner than them. Who stay in shape. Again, I don’t excuse the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show or things like it. And I know there are women and men who are legitimately underweight. But is this a legitimate concern I’m hearing from these “bold and beautiful” women, or is it envy?
I always try to stay a step ahead of mainstream society. When curvier women were seen as unattractive, I was asking, “What’s wrong with them?” Now that the table has turned, I’m asking what is wrong with being slim.
This is fueled even more by the music industry. Meghan Trainor in “All About That Bass”:
Meghan Trainor in "All About That Bass"
“Yeah, it's pretty clear, I ain't no size two, but I can shake it, shake it, like I'm supposed to do. 'Cause I got that boom boom that all the boys chase, and all the right junk in all the right places…”
“I see the magazine workin' that Photoshop. We know that s**t ain't real, come on now, make it stop…”
“Yeah, my mama she told me, ‘Don't worry about your size.’ She says, ‘Boys like a little more booty to hold at night.’ You know I won't be no stick figure silicone Barbie doll, so if that what you're into, then go 'head and move along.”
So Trainor wants women not to base their worth on their size, but on their…ability to please men? And she’s so body positive that she lashes out at slender women. That sounds rather insecure, actually.
Or take Nicki Minaj in “Anaconda”:
“By the way, what he say? He can tell I ain't missing no meals…” [Lines skipped for your benefit, believe me.] “…He keep telling me it's real, that he love my sex appeal. He said he don't like 'em boney, he want something he can grab. So I pulled up in the Jag, and I hit 'em with the jab like ‘Dun-d-d-dun-dun-d-d-dun-dun.’”
“Yeah, he love this fat a*s. Yeah! This one is for my b*****s with a fat a*s in the f*****g club. I said, ‘Where my fat a*s big b*****s in the club?’ F**k them skinny b*****s, f**k them skinny b*****s in the club. I wanna see all the big fat a*s b*****s in the mother*****g club. F**k you if you skinny b*****s. What? Yeah. Ha-ha, ha...”
“Yeah. I got a big fat a*s. Come on!”
Not a whole lot of punches being pulled there. Plenty of grammar and basic decency, but no punches.
And in mainstream society, phrases like “Real men like curves; only dogs go for bones” are certainly encouraging naturally skinny women to love their bodies. “Real women have curves!” You get the picture. We’re all about that body positivity–unless you’re thinner than me.
Attacking someone because they are different to make yourself feel better is immature and cruel, no matter what the circumstance. This is nothing more than schoolgirl games being played by adults who ought to know better by now. It doesn’t matter what size they are. Men will find different qualities attractive. If you are naturally skinny, embrace it. If you are naturally curvy, embrace it. And don’t tell the other that there is something wrong with them because they are different.

Used to, it was acceptable to tell a woman she needs to lose weight. We have removed one ridiculous thing and replaced it with another. A thin woman can’t tell a fat one that she needs to lose weight, but the fat one can tell the skinny one that she needs to gain weight.
This is a false sense of security bred out of jealousy for women who keep in shape or who are naturally thinner. I’m not at all saying if you don’t work out or aren’t slim you’re unattractive, but the women who do work out and are slim aren’t either.
Last time I checked, “celebrating what God gave you” includes all body types, not just the one we’re being told to accept. Get over your egos and practice what you preach.