Issue 06 | March 9, 2015

Issue 06 | March 9, 2015

SUMMARY: Issue 06 covers Maroon 5's latest hit song, moral relativism in students, Twitch social gaming, and something you should know.


This week's major pop culture happenings:



In recent weeks, Maroon 5's newest song "Sugar" has quickly climbed the charts, reaching #3 so far. The song first began making waves when the band released the music video (above), which features the guys "crashing" wedding receptions and singing for the happy couples. Set to such a sweet background, it seems as though this is just another sweet love song. But that's exactly what makes its bad ideas so deceptive . . . and catchy:

Key Lyrics from "Sugar" by Maroon 5 (click to see full lyrics; contains one profanity)
My broken pieces, you pick 'em up
Don't leave me hanging, hanging, come give me some
When I'm without ya, I'm so insecure
You are the one thing, one thing I'm living for

I don't wanna be needing your love
I just wanna be deep in your love
And it's killing me when you're away, ooh, baby,
'Cause I really don't care where you are
I just wanna be there where you are
And I gotta get one little taste

Your sugar, yes, please
Won't you come and put it down on me?
I'm right here, 'cause I need
A little love, a little sympathy
Yeah, you show me good loving, make it all right
Need a little sweetness in my life
Your sugar, yes, please
Won't you come and put it down on me?

At first listen, it's just a guy being vulnerable enough to admit how much he loves a woman, right? Eh, not so much. In fact, this actually tells the story of a man subtly manipulating a woman into giving him what he wants: sex. He's only living for her, he feels insecure without her, it's killing him to be away from her, he'll go anywhere she is. But it's not to be there for her or support her or find out what she needs--it's to get her to sleep with him.

It's this mentality that is eroding away at the foundation of all romantic relationships, including marriage, because need, desire, and attraction are based solely in sex. But what happens when that sexual attraction withers? What happens when life happens and she's not in the mood because she's dealing with lots of other problems? Love and sex are beautiful gifts from God, but this song has neither. Instead, it has the world's counterfeit versions that only leave us wanting more but feeling empty.

Ask Your Students: What are songs like "Sugar" by Maroon 5 trying to convey? What does God's word say about what it means to be a man? (See Matthew 5:48, Ephesians 1:4) What does the Bible say about what we should fear? (See Leviticus 25:17, Deuteronomy 5:29, Proverbs 1:7, and Proverbs 14:2) What does God's word say about what it means to be a woman? What does God's word say about sex and sexuality? Did God say that sex should only be in the context of marriage to hurt us or to protect us? How is sex within marriage more fulfilling than the world's version?



Do younger generations believe in moral facts anymore? Justin P. McBrayer, an associate professor of philosophy at Fort Lewis College in Durango, CO, wrote a very eye-opening article entitled, "Why Our Children Don't Think There Are Moral Facts."

In the article, he demonstrates how our education system trains children as early as second grade that a fact is something that is true about a subject and can be tested or proven, while an opinion is what someone thinks, feels, or believes. In fact, this is exactly what he saw written above a bulletin board in his son's second grade classroom.

But let's look at what's wrong with creating a rigid dichotomy like this. For one, things can be true even if no one can prove them. If there is life elsewhere besides earth, that is true regardless of whether we can prove it yet or not. Or conversely, something can be false even if it seems like there is evidence proving it to be true. For example, it was once "proven" to be true that the world was flat. As the author points out, "it's a mistake to confuse truth (a feature of the world) with proof (a feature of our mental lives)."

Second, if proof is required for truth, then facts actually become person-relative, meaning that something may be a fact for me if I can prove it, but not a fact for you if you can't prove it. The third and perhaps most important problem is that students are being taught that claims should be sorted into one group (fact) OR the other (opinion), when in actuality many claims are both. McBrayer shares this exchange between him and his son:

Author: “I believe that George Washington was the first president. Is that a fact or an opinion?”
Son: “It’s a fact.”
Author: “But I believe it, and you said that what someone believes is an opinion.”
Son: “Yeah, but it’s true.”
Author: “So it’s both a fact and an opinion?”
The blank stare on his face said it all.

So how does this relate to morality? The curricula used to fulfill the Common Core standards teach that every value claim, without fail, is opinion. So ideas like, "It's wrong to cheat on a test" or "My classmates have a right to be treated well," are always labeled as opinion, with the explanation that "each of these claims is a value claim, and value claims are not facts." So where does that leave students? With the understanding that there are no moral facts.

As we all know, this leads to major inconsistencies in thought and therefore in life. Students are being set up for "doublethink" because in one breath they're told that there are no moral facts, while in the next they're being taught how they ought to behave and treat others. As parents, educators, and pastors, let's give them the tools they need to think through the inconsistencies, as well to do the hard work of "carefully thinking through our evidence for which of the many competing moral claims is correct."

Ask Your Students: What is a "fact"? What is an "opinion"? Is it possible for something to be both at the same time? What are some moral facts? How do you know they are true for everyone all the time?



As video games have evolved, so have the demands of gamers. Twitch, a service that has gained steam and audience over the last few years, broadcasts e-sports tournaments, personal streams of individual players, and gaming-related talk shows. Though it may sound silly to older generations to watch other gamers play games or to watch video game tournaments, younger generations have embraced it. According to Business Insider, "Twitch reaches over 45 million viewers every month. In fact, Twitch reaches more viewers during prime time than MTV, TNT and AMC. . . . It accounts for more than 43% of all live video-streaming traffic by volume."

If your students are gamers, then you know it's not realistic to simply remove video games altogether. And with technology creating more and more ways to game, that would be almost impossible anyways. So how do we as adults cultivate a healthy mentality toward gaming in these students? How do we encourage games to be used wisely and well, while still also helping students to take part in and enjoy the real world?

Ask Your Students: How do you see video games and gamer culture affecting culture? For good? For bad? Why does there seem to be a need to broadcast everything we do?



Student Slang Term: Ever heard someone say something like, "She just wants the D"? Or have you ever seen your high school boys snicker whenever anyone says the letter "D"? If so, know that "D" stands for a certain male body part and is used to mean a girl wants to have sex with a guy. It's derogatory because it devalues a female's personhood by suggesting all she cares about is sex and because it elevates a male's ego at the expense of the girl.

"She's just being nice to him because she wants the D." This is crude, and a student would probably (hopefully!) not say something like it in front of you. But the phrase is well-known enough to have its own series of Vine videos. At one event an Axis team was at recently, a group of high school guys laughed every time the pastor referred to the conference as "D now," instead of "Disciple Now." "Sunny D," "Vitamin D"--anytime someone said the letter D, they smirked.

Ask Your Students: How does our sinful nature show through even in the most innocent settings? What does God tell us about our thoughts? (See 2 Corinthians 10:5) How does this mentality devalue women? How does this mentality encourage men to settle for less than God's best?

We'd love to hear from you if there are any topics that you'd like us to address in future versions of the Culture Translator. Please click here to submit your ideas!