How Should Christians React to Miley Cyrus’ 2013 VMA Performance and “Wrecking Ball” Music Video?

Miley Cyrus

I recently caught wind of the controversial performance that Hannah Montana, aka Miley Cyrus, did at the 2013 MTV VMA’s, as well as her new music video “Wrecking Ball”.  From what I heard described, I honestly thought the VMA performances were going to be some kind of S & M display of craziness.  My wife and I watched the performance, and I wasn’t really surprised at all by it.  As for the video, “Wrecking Ball”, in perfect honesty, I watched it for a minute and then turned it off, because I only want to think about my wife in any way like that, and intentionally guard myself from anything that would deter me.  But one conscientious observation I made of the video was the obvious sadness of the tune.  I tried to imagine if my daughter, Charlotte (now 14 months old- we love the little peanut!), were the star of the video.  I realized it would shake me to the core if that were the case.   No doubt, record sales and popularity will soar for Miley in the days to come.

Many Christians seem to be flabbergasted by their darling little Hannah Montana, who “In a 2007 interview, said that her faith is “the main thing” in her life, and (sounding like her father) she told USA Today that God wants her to be a “light, a testimony” in Hollywood (“Miley Cyrus Fulfills Her Destiny,” USA Today, January 1, 2007). (http://suite101.com/article/is-miley-cyrus-a-christian-a107568)

But honestly, isn’t Christianity a cultural phenomenon in America?  Being a “Christian” in some areas of the world can get someone socially ostracized, or potentially killed or imprisoned.  But in America, according to a recent gallup poll, seventy-seven percent of people identify themselves as “Christian”.  (http://www.gallup.com/poll/159548/identify-christian.aspx)  This includes people who would identify themselves as Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Protestants and Catholics, as well as Evangelicals, etc…

So I would first say to Christians that it shouldn’t be surprising at all when someone claims they’re a “Christian”, and then does things that seem contrary, or hypocritical, to that statement of faith.  After all, probably a majority of people that attend “Bible-believing” churches, especially in overly Christianized areas of the U.S., still say they believe that Jesus died for them, and yet don’t really act like it.  The difference between them and Miley Cyrus is that they’re not famous, and have a smaller sphere of influence.

It’s not appropriate, or biblical for Christians to make heavy moral judgments on Miley Cyrus, and tweet or Facebook about it.  I would point them to the fact that Jesus didn’t treat a prostitute, who was to receive death by stoning according to Mosaic law in the time of Jesus and before, with disdain and condemning hatred.  Rather, He offered her compassion coupled with forgiveness and an offer for repentance (and only Jesus can offer repentance!). (John 8:1-11)  What Miley Cyrus has done was no way even near to prostitution.  Rather, it was more likely a publicity stunt to boost record sales and public image.  Pop artists do things like she did all the time, and no one bats an eye, because it’s not someone who was formerly Hannah Montana.

I’m sure plenty of Christian religious folks will still label Miley a prostitute.  I would respond by saying that what the prostitute did in John 8 was definitely prostitution- i.e.- selling your body sexually for income, and any form of adultery was punishable by death in the Mosaic law (Lev. 20:10-21).  But grace and mercy trumped the law in God’s eyes, and Jesus reached out a hand of love and forgiveness to her.  Christians sadly desire to verbally “stone” Miley Cyrus, and speak hateful words about her.  They are proving that they would not respond with love and grace to a prostitute.  In this they are not responding like Jesus, whom they claim to worship as Savior and Lord.  And I will say it again, what Miley did was not prostitution.  It was certainly risque.  It certainly was sexually explicit.  But it was not prostitution.  I am reminded here of the story of one of my current Christian heroes, Annie Lobert, who was in fact a former prostitute, and now runs a powerful ministry to the Vegas Strip called “Hookers for Jesus”.  You can watch her story here, and if you have a tender soul, be prepared to weep and praise God because of her:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PMyrkXj1kF8.  I really only wish that more believers in Christ had love for Jesus and people like Annie does.  She inspires me to be more faithful!

On the flip side, it’s not good for Christians to display how “spiritual” they are in reaction to the situation.  “We should pray for her…”  “I’m just really disappointed”.  “I hope that she knows that God loves her”.  I know many of you will be offended at this, but let me ask you this question.  Think of a close friend of yours that claims they are a “Christian”, or maybe don’t even say they are, but you know they’re doing things that aren’t right…  Would you put out a tweet about them asking everyone to “pray for them”?  If you wouldn’t do that about someone you know, because you’d want to lovingly protect their integrity, then what gives you the right to do it about someone you don’t know at all?  Let’s face it, Miley will likely find it offensive that a plethora of Christians are tweeting about how we ought to “pray for her”.  My advice is, if you’re going to pray for her, follow Jesus’ advice about it; “When you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.” (Matthew 6:6)

My point is, as followers of Jesus, we should want whatever is good for Miley Cyrus.  We shouldn’t want anything to deter her from the love, beauty and purity of Jesus.  So there is a time to keep quiet and not act all high and holy, or deeply pious with a plastic facade of being “loving”.  We should leave it up to Miley’s friends that truly love and follow Jesus to reflect Jesus to her.  If we can’t be in her life to be a shoulder to cry on, or someone to take her out to coffee and listen to her, then we have absolutely no right at all to speak into her life.  And I think that also goes for pretty much everyone else.  Let’s focus on loving, serving, being an example to, and telling the truth about Jesus to those that we find ourselves in contact with in our day to day lives.

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