A couple weeks ago I caught a segment of the Today show as they discussed pop culture. Selena Gomez’s newest album release “Stars Dance” was one of the topics of conversation–particularly the song “Come and Get It.” The hosts bantered back and forth on the topic of Selena’s emerging sexuality and the meaning of the lyrics “come and get it.” One host matter-of-factly stated, “Well, you know we have to remember that she isn’t a Disney kid anymore, she is a woman,” as though this justified any overtly sexual content in the album. I was immediately struck by the agreeing grunts and the “Oh, that’s true!” statements that came from the other hosts. Apparently, growing into a woman means being “sexual.” And apparently being “sexual” in the world’s eyes means becoming an object for man’s consumption: “When you’re ready [men] come and get it.”
Of course this week, everyone has been astir with Miley Cyrus’ VMA performance. Her obscene dance moves seem to have crossed even the most blurry of lines in the public’s eye. Many are saying she is “out of control” or “crying out for help.” Having watched the clips of her performance played on major news broadcasts and seeing her grind her body up against a man almost twice her age, and doing other things I would rather not write about, I can certainly say she was crying out for something, perhaps she too was saying, “Come and get it.”
What surprises me about the media conversation isn’t that the majority of people were put off by her performance–for it truly was gross. What surprises me is the way the conversation has been framed. Even the supposedly “conservative” news outlets were disparaging the fact that her performance wasn’t sexy, it was just disgusting. Because of course sexy would have been just fine. Had she left out a few of the more “X-rated” dance moves and kept her tongue in her mouth a little more, her performance might have been lauded by more as a young woman coming out of her shell and showing the world that she has grown up. After all, no one seems to get up in arms over Bioncé gyrating her lower half for entire performances. On the contrary, her music videos are constantly being nominated for awards.
Even now, incredibly enough, there are a few voices to be found online who are applauding Miley’s choice to “express herself” and show that she is “not a little girl anymore.” Her performance is being defined as “building her brand” and distancing herself from her “Disney star” image she once had. In reality, she was just appealing to her audience, an audience that thrives on extremes and sex–two words that pretty much encapsulate her performance.
One of the things that saddens me the most about our times (as is clearly seen in the two very public examples I’ve described) is the overwhelming temptation to define women in terms of sexuality. Young girls are given the impression through the media, Hollywood, and sometimes even unwittingly through their parents, that their worth as a woman is intrinsically tied to their ability to elicit a sexual response from the male gender. Becoming a woman is equated with becoming sexy. Becoming a woman means suddenly being free to fully and unreservedly express your sexuality. Becoming a woman means tramping around on a stage in underwear using a middle aged man as a stripper pole. This is so incredibly tragic.
It is tragic because women were meant for so much more–Selena and Miley were meant for so much more.
Sexuality is certainly a large part of being a woman, just as it is a large part of being a man, but it is not what makes us women. Women derive their worth and beauty from their Creator himself who originally conceived of a gender that would uniquely and beautifully complete its male counterpart. Women were created to reflect the glory of God to all creation, co-ruling and tending to the world they were placed in with men. Her sexuality was not meant to be used as a tool to control men nor was it meant to enslave her to the rule of men, it was intended to glorify God just as the rest of her being was.
Evolutionary ideology claims that sexual impulses are a mere tool “mother nature” uses to perpetuate a species, advertisers see it as a tool to sell products, culture as a whole treats the sexual drive as a kind of god to be worshipped and fed, but the Author of life and Designer of our bodies is the only one who has the right to define our sexuality. And as is true with all things created by our good and holy God, sex was first created as holy and perfect. It was created for our enjoyment and our good. It wasn’t created to enslave.
But sin has perverted sexuality. What was meant as a blessing has become a master–and a cruel master at that! Women have traded the gift of holy, pleasurable sexual intimacy with their husbands for the cheap exploitation of their bodies for the masses. How our God must grieve as he looks down upon his daughters offering themselves up to the idol of sexual pleasure, mere meat for men’s consumption.
This is the way of sin, and this is the way–apart from Christ–that we all choose to live our lives. Sure you may never have performed a strip tease before millions of people, but your depravity was no less grotesque than Miley’s, no less enslaving. “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.” (Ephesians 2:3) Yes, apart from Christ, we are all ruled by our sin and enslaved to our passions; this includes the area of sexuality. But our gracious God has not left us in this condition, he has given us a way of escape–a way to restore us to our created glory.
But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness. (Romans 6:17-18, ESV)
But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:22-23, ESV)
Because of Christ’s perfect life, substitutionary death, and bodily resurrection on our behalf, we do not have to be ruled by our sexuality. We are free from the mastery of sin and now under the rule of Christ who is sanctifying and purifying us. Because of his grace at work in our lives, we are free to enjoy our sexuality and glorify God through it–not be defined by it. This is the good news available to all women. Praise God!
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 savedthrough 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. (Ephesians 2:4-10, ESV)