In an interview with Sunday People, Miley Cyrus said, “I have so many f**king issues. I am so f**ked up -– everyone does dumb stuff when they are messed up.”
If you keep up with the news in any sort of fashion, you know–at least, on the surface–what is going on with Miley. Some say that she’s a mess and that we can’t let our children around her. Others say that her behavior is nothing new, that she’s just being your average 20-year old; so why are we all tripping over it?
Here is what I have to say:
Miley is broken. So are we.
Miley has been in scandal after scandal over the years, as all stars have. And frankly, it’s easy to sit here and judge her; she’s in the spotlight for all the world to see. But I have to ask myself: If I were in her position, and people saw my baggage and what I was going through, how would I feel about their reactions, if they reacted the same way that we are reacting to her?
Miley came out with a new video on Monday from her new single “Wrecking Ball.” Unlike “We Can’t Stop,” this is raw. The lyrics show a glimpse of what is going on. Here are some of the lyrics:
I put you high up in the sky
And now, you’re not coming down
It slowly turned, you let me burn
And now, we’re ashes on the ground
Don’t you ever say I just walked away
I will always want you
I can’t live a lie, running for my life
I will always want you
I came in like a wrecking ball
I never hit so hard in love
All I wanted was to break your walls
All you ever did was wreck me
Obviously, Miley is going through something. From her disconnected relationship with her father, to her on-again, off-again relationship with her fiancee, to just growing up (she’s 20 years old!); she’s dealing with things.
Let me ask you something–are these issues all that different from any other 20 year old? Not really. But because she is in the limelight, she is being judged. Being 20 years old is hard enough; you are trying to discover your identity and define your place in this world. Now imagine being a girl who spent her childhood as a star? Imagine your family business being aired for all to see? Imagine trying to be 20, but everyone judges every move you make because it isn’t “Disney-esque?”
Another issue I see–and I’m going to be blunt: For us to sit here and judge Miley, who to our knowledge does not have a redeeming relationship with God, is wrong. Also, what good is it going to do? Is condemning her honestly going to lead her to Christ? What if, instead, there were Christians in her life who supported her, provided her guidance, and maintained a “safe zone” should she slip? By demonstrating Christ through our actions, we are building a bridge that can show Miley Truth. How would you have liked it, if in your rock bottom, a bunch of people just started putting your business on blast, talking about how much you have changed, how despicable you are, and how they don’t want you in their homes or around their families?
(And to be even more frank: talking about Miley in a way that does not edify her is gossip.)
That is NOT CHRIST, guys. He met sinners where they were and lived life with them; yes, He gave them truth, yet he lived life with them regardless. Paul says in Romans that while we were still sinners Christ died for us! Not when we had our act together, but when were still in our messed up rock-bottom.
I’ve been reading through Romans lately and meditating on the passages. The first chapter of Romans sets up the story of Creation and The Fall. Then Paul lays it thick in the first verse of chapter 2 (emphasis added):
Therefore you have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges. For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things.
Paul continues in chapter three:
None is righteous, no not one…For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.
If I had people judge me at my rock-bottom the way Miley is being judged, I would probably have been turned off from God. I wasn’t perfect; I shook my toosh too (in fact, twerking is not a new term). I wasn’t wise about my relationships with boys, I cursed like a sailor, and I was teaching Sunday School on Sundays hungover. I wasn’t where I needed to be. Even now, I don’t make the wisest decisions sometimes. But I have people who have honest conversations with me, who don’t judge me, yet still give me Truth. They don’t condemn me, they don’t act self-righteous. They invite me to live a raw life with them, helping me through my sin and being patient with me when I don’t get it right away.
Here is my idea–I think we should be talking about Miley and other pop culture icons with our students. But instead of focusing on what Miley is doing wrong, what if we were to ask: “If you saw one of your friends going through this, what would you do?” ”If you were in this situation, what would you want people to do for you?” Instead of alienating Miley’s situation, let’s try to identify, empathize, and exhort her.
Humble yourself. Think about your rock-bottom. What got you out of it? How can you translate that to working with your students in their rock-bottoms?
Heather Lea Campbell works with at-risk youth in the city of St. Louis. In her spare time, she loves: networking with fellow youth workers, St. Louis Cardinals, hanging out with her kid sister, shaking from coffee consumption, judging others' grammatical errors, and laughing at her own jokes. Read more at http://heatherleacampbell.me or follow her @heatherlea17 #womanyouthpastorswag