Pop singer, songwriter, and actress Miley Cyrus, aka Disney’s Hannah Montana, sang at MTV’s VMA Awards on Sunday night. Dressed in a nude-colored bikini and using teddy bears and a giant foam finger, she performed a sexually explicit mime to her medley “We Can’t Stop / Blurred Lines / Give It 2 U.” The songs and mime contained veiled references to pedophilia and date rape. The public outcry from parents, Christians, and Hollywood liberals said one thing: “Don’t do that again.”
Miley, age 20, is a beautiful young woman. She used to be a role model for teen girls, but not anymore. Thanks to her super-short haircut and scanty dress, Miley is now the public face of teenagers gone wrong. So are pop singer Britney Spears (age 32) and actress Lindsay Lohan (age 17), who has DUI and grand theft convictions and has spent time in prison for violating probation. Parents don’t want their children to be corrupted by these young women.
Yet I have more compassion for public screw-ups like Miley and Lindsay (sorry, Britney, you should know better) than for unbelievers who act like they’ve got it all together. These screw-ups are a mirror of how morally sick our society really is. They also feel pain and rejection more deeply. These screw-ups show us the eternal importance of other people and our relationships with them. Jesus also had compassion for screw-ups, certainly more than the unbelieving Pharisees who thought they had it all together and didn’t need God. Prostitutes, lepers, tax collectors – they all knew they needed Jesus and he had compassion on them in their need. What about us?
Forbes Magazine believes that Miley’s latest performance “is part of a carefully executed plan to rapidly recast a former child star as an adult (albeit with a healthy dose of childish impetuousness) in advance of her next album, Bangerz, due out in October.” Maybe this is true, maybe not. But my gut reaction was something entirely different.
Pedophilia is a serious problem in Hollywood. It has been for decades. Moviegoers and TV addicts who think child actors aren’t influenced by sex-crazed adult handlers are living a fantasy. Alison Arngrim, who played Nellie Oleson in “Little House on the Prairie” (1974-1982) knows about pedophiles. “She serves as California Chair, National Spokesperson and Founding Board Member on the National Advisory Board of The National Association to Protect Children, fighting to give children a legal and political voice in the war against child abuse” (IMDb). Alison blamed pedophiles for the drug-related death of Corey Haim (1971-2010), even though his parents denied it. Some characters in the TV series “Higher Ground” (2000) had conduct issues because they were victims of pedophiles.
I don’t know what Miley was exposed to on the set of “Hannah Montana” (2006-2011) and various film sets. I don’t know what she saw or experienced. But people, especially children and teenagers, have a tendency to mimic in public what they see in private. If anyone under 18 commits a lewd act in public, people should examine what goes on privately with their families, friends, schools, workplaces, and internet usage. An adult pedophile could be corrupting them.
People in pain do strange things. What if Miley’s lewd song-and-dance routine on Sunday night were a parody of what she saw or experienced as a vulnerable teen in Hollywood? What if this routine were Miley’s heart-cry for help – either for herself or a friend? If the answer to these questions is “yes,” is anyone listening?
I don’t think Miley’s parents and ex-fiancé are listening. Her country singer father Billy Ray Cyrus sat far from the stage on Sunday night. He’s avoiding the fallout. I think Billy wants to help his family, especially Miley, but I don’t think he knows how. I also wonder if he knows the real heart and mind of Miley. Her mother Tish is even less help. She clapped after the lewd song-and-dance routine ended. At least Billy had the moral sense to be ashamed. Miley’s ex-fiancé and “The Last Song” (2009) co-star Liam Hemsworth is just that: ex. They broke up a few weeks ago. I don’t think he likes the “new” Miley. But I don’t think he knows everything about her either.
Clearly the public – Christian and non-Christian, conservative and liberal – isn’t listening. All they do is condemn. Yes, what Miley did on stage was awful. But what if something else is going on in private that outsiders and even Miley’s own family and friends don’t see?
“And he will turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the earth with a curse.” – Malachi 4:6 (NKJV)
Maybe Miley and Lindsay know better and maybe they don’t. Who will love and care for their souls anyway? Who will show them the path of light and holiness instead of condemning them? Who will bring them to the feet of Jesus Christ? This is my problem with the church. Too many middle-aged and elderly Christians are laughing and sleeping their final years into heaven when they could be praying for and spiritually mentoring young people into the kingdom of God.
Tommy Bates, an independent Pentecostal pastor and evangelist based in Kentucky, is a spiritual mentor to nearly ten young men. Perry Stone, an independent Pentecostal evangelist based in Tennessee, is also a spiritual mentor to young people. He has youth-led prayer meetings every week. Both men are rare. I wish more people were like them. Mostly what I see in person and online are Christians in ministry, some without children, who aren’t mentoring the young at all. They would rather play church, take trips, or sell their wares. I won’t name names.
Today’s young people need spiritual mothers and fathers who will guide them into the kingdom of God. They need anointed, mature, and wise Christians who will show them the loving heart of the Father and teach them to cry “Abba, Father” when they need him (Romans 8:15). Today’s young people need to learn how to pray, worship, and fight the good fight of faith in the face of demons intent on killing them – sometimes literally. Youth suicides are high in some cultures!
The triune God is a family – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. By faith in Jesus Christ we become children of God and heirs of his kingdom (Romans 8:16-17), with Christ as our bridegroom and the Spirit as our mother. Many young people today need such families, people who will care for them physically, emotionally, and spiritually. They need to become part of the family of God.
Where are these spiritual mothers and fathers? Where are these mentors? Without them, our young people have become emotional and spiritual orphans. What we don’t give in the name of Christ the devil will try to fill with evil. Pedophilia is a twisted, corrupt, and demonic perversion. This toxic sexual relationship mimics a life-giving spiritual one. It’s a demonic foil to the spiritual realities of Christian son-ship and mentoring. We need to counteract Satan’s plan with that of Christ. We need to spiritually mentor young people like Miley and Lindsay!
Jesus Christ is listening to Miley. He sees, hears, and knows what no one else does. He hears her cry for help, the pain in her heart and soul. Only Jesus can help and save Miley. I pray someone loves and prays for Miley enough to guide her to him.