(Header image via Forbes)
3 Things This Week
What it is: Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion released a collab and corresponding music video that have stirred up a lot of controversy.
Why it’s contentious: The song is, well, vulgar (to say the least; “WAP” is an acronym we can’t repeat), and the video is worse. It first began making waves when people tweeted their frustration (language) that Kylie Jenner was in the video, but that soon turned into some men criticizing (language) the song’s outright sexuality. Pointing to a double standard between what’s acceptable for male hip hop artists and their female counterparts, many have jumped to the artists’ defense (including this equally vulgar op-ed from TeenVogue). All of this has brought the song to everyone’s attention, and young music fans may seek out the song or video out of curiosity. They need us to point them to the beautiful picture of sexuality God paints for both men and women in the Bible and dissect how this is not liberation, no matter what culture says.
2. Vaping = COVID?
What it is: A new study published in a peer-reviewed journal has found that young people who vape are five times more likely to contract the novel coronavirus.
Why it makes sense: The study looked at data from over 4,300 participants between the ages of 13 and 24, also finding that those who both vape and use traditional cigarettes are nearly seven times more likely to contract the virus and five times more likely to experience symptoms. Multiple factors could contribute to this increase: Vaping produces an aerosol, which is the primary form of transmission of the virus; one must touch their face when vaping; teens may still be sharing vaping devices; and the obvious fact that it damages the primary target of the coronavirus, the lungs. Though we’re in the middle of a pandemic that has upended many areas of our lives, it’s more important than ever to talk about the risks of vaping with our teens.
What it is: Need a laugh? If your teen suddenly begins making “influencer” videos, watch out! The joke may be on you :)
Why it’s hilarious: This challenge (the hashtag has over 71 million views on TikTok at the time of writing) involves pretending to be an influencer filming a message on one’s phone in front of a friend or family member while actually recording their reactions with one’s camera flipped. One South African teen who participated has gone viral after sharing her family’s reaction, and her video highlights just how silly and fun it can be for the whole family. So if your kids haven’t already done this to you, considering trying it on them and capturing their reactions on film. It could be just the sort of laugh the whole family needs right now! Afterward, it may be fun to watch others’ videos of the challenge together.
Spotlight: Connecting with our teens has never been more difficult. Between social media, video games, streaming services, and new apps coming out daily, there have never been this many road blocks between us and amazing conversations with the next generation. We have the key to helping you unlock these conversations! Join us for our free 3-part series “The Path to Teen Connection,” in which we will show you how to tackle these distractions and give you the key to unlocking meaningful conversation with the next generation. Video 1 of this series goes live Tuesday, August 18th. Sign up for free today!
Is This Really Good News?
Christian TikTok sensation Cash Baker lost hundreds of thousands of followers and probably a few endorsement deals over a series of videos in which he spoke out against the LGBTQ+ community, called Islam, Judaism, and Hinduism false religions, and said his non-Christian friends and family might “burn in hell for all eternity.”
In one of the videos, he says, “I know it's going to make a lot of people hate me for preaching the gospel. But guys, I'm just trying to preach the truth and what the Bible says, guys.” But is he preaching the whole Gospel or just his version of the gospel? Does that matter? What about Jesus’ strong command to never judge someone else? Or all the Scriptural warnings about pride and self-promotion? Or how about the biblical idea that others will know us by our love? Were Baker’s actions loving? Do they draw people toward or away from Jesus?
As Bill Henson puts it, “A gospel that excludes has no power to reach already banished persons.” The Gospel is a loving invitation into a transformational relationship with Jesus Christ, not a weapon used to exclude, judge, and condemn others. If Cash’s attempts at evangelism missed the mark, what can our teens learn from his desire to spread the Gospel to his platform of followers?
First, evangelism is about relationships, dialogue, and conversation, not power or coercion. It’s easy to lecture someone from afar; it’s a lot harder to enter into a long-term relationship in which both parties are “converted” to being more and more Christ-like. Often our evangelistic efforts can feel imperialistic when we try to force our views on others instead of entering into dialogue with them. So instead of speaking first, let’s teach our teens to listen instead. Maybe the Great Commission looks less like trying to force people to believe exactly the same way we do and more like sharing the love, grace, and compassion of Jesus with those with whom we might disagree. Otherwise, we all run the risk of sounding like clanging symbols.
One of the great challenges we face as parents is to encourage and equip our teens to share the Good News in a pluralistic world, while also helping them respect others who might hold radically different beliefs than they do. Help them see their task isn’t to save people (that’s God’s job), but rather their role as disciples is to be the hands, feet, voice, and heart of Christ to a world so desperate for healing and salvation. If you’d like help taking this conversation to the next level, check out our Conversation Kit on Evangelism!