A mother recently confessed, in a blog on Chrisitianitytoday.com, that she showed her 14 year old son Lady Gaga’s “Telephone” video even though, in her words, the “clean” version is thick with raunchy sexual material and bad language. She justified it by saying that every teenager has heard of Lady Gaga and, because she is such a huge presence in popular culture, he would have seen it anyway, probably at a friend’s house or while flipping through channels at his grandparents’ house. She says, “I want [my children] to seek authentically after God, engaging with culture, contributing to it, and finding true joy by seeing Christ in others. And I don’t believe that pretending Lady Gaga and raunchy music videos don’t exist is the way to do that.”
I do not believe we need to show 14 year old boys raunchy sexual material in order to engage the culture or contribute to it. On the contrary, I think God wants us to avoid such material. Philippians 4:8 says, “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” While I have not seen the video, I have read enough about it to believe that there is nothing true, honorable, lovely, commendable, excellent, or praiseworthy in this Lady Gaga video.
Similarly, Romans 12:2 says, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind.” We become conformed to this world when we are saturating our minds with the world's influence. We transform our minds when we avoid the world's influence and, instead, fill our mind with God’s word and things that are true, honorable, lovely, commendable, excellent, praiseworthy.
I am sure that some people would argue that watching the video one time and discussing the video from a biblical perspective, as the mother in her blog did, is not going to cause the child to conform to the world. However, I doubt that the boy’s exposure to such worldly influences is limited to watching Lady Gaga with his mother. She admits that he is more interested in artists like Coldplay than Lady Gaga and that he will probably see the video at a friend’s house. I doubt that his friends would watch just the “Telephone” video. If they are watching “Telephone”, they are probably watching MTV or something else that is showing a number of videos.
They are not watching just one. Accordingly, I think it is apparent that he has a great deal of exposure to the world.
This continual exposure is what conforms us to the world. I think it is better to teach our children to resist such influences and limit their exposure to them. The blogger noted that every teenager knows of Lady Gaga and her son would have seen the video anyway. I believe you can raise your children so that their knowledge of Lady Gaga is very limited and they would choose not to see her video. After reading the blog, I checked with my 16 year old daughter and nearly 13 year old daughter. They both had heard of Lady Gaga because they have seen her name on Yahoo. My nearly 13 year old did not know anything else about her. My 16 year old knew that she was a singer and that was all. Neither have seen any Lady Gaga video. They said that if their friends were watching a Lady Gaga video, or other similar videos, they would say that they did not want to watch and would leave if their friends were watching such videos. Contrary to the blogger’s belief, I think we can teach our children to avoid such influences. This is not pretending such videos and influences do not exist; rather, it is teaching our children to avoid them and not to be conformed to this world.
The blogger refers to the need to engage our culture. First, if my children have to watch “raunchy” Lady Gaga videos in order to engage culture, then I do not believe my children should be engaging culture (whatever that really means). When children and teens watch a lot of the world’s media, they are more likely to imitate the media they see. Studies have shown that teens who watch sexualized television shows or who listen to sexualized music are much more likely to engage in such behavior. In this war, my children are at stake. I would rather not have them engage our culture than risk their souls.
Second, you can engage culture without watching the video. If you feel that you have to know what is going on so that you can discuss such things intelligently, there are ways to find out the information without continuously watching it. Focus on the Family has a website www.pluggedin.com that contains reviews of movies, music, and video games. It even has a review of the “Telephone” video. After reading its review of the content of the video, I know what is in the video and know that I do not need to see, and my children should definitely not see it. You can know what is in pop culture without watching everything. By being aware of what is going on, you can engage the culture.
I think most Christians, not just our children and teenagers, need to be more careful about the media we watch and listen to. It effects the way we think and act. We are to be holy, just as God is holy. We cannot be holy when we are filling our minds with such thoughts.