Issue 18 | June 5, 2015
SUMMARY: Issue 17 covers "What Students Are Listening To" Country Edition, Mad Max: Fury Road, Caitlyn Jenner and Gender vs. Sex
WHAT STUDENTS ARE LISTENING TO–COUNTRY EDITION
- “Girl Crush” by Little Big Town (Jealousy)
- “Take Your Time” by Sam Hunt (Picking up a girl)
- “Sangria” by Blake Shelton (Sex)
- “Kick Up the Dust” by Luke Bryan (Partying)
- “Sippin’ on Fire” by Florida Georgia Line (Sex)
- "Smoke" by A Thousand Horses (Sexuality, Identity, Desire)
- “Don’t It” by Billy Currington (“You know you want it” mentality)
- “Love Me Like You Mean It” by Kelsea Ballerini (Sincere relationships)
- "Wild Child” by Kenny Chesney with Grace Potter (Identity, rebellion)
- “Little Toy Guns” by Carrie Underwood (Power of words; domestic violence)
MAD MAX: FURY ROAD MOVIE REVIEW
The Mad Max movie remake has received critical acclaim, and as of May 31 has grossed $118.1 million in North America. The MPAA’s R rating is for intense violence and disturbing images, so here are a few talking points should you or your teen see it.
In the film, the main villain’s “breeders” (read: slaves) have been kept in servitude their whole lives and now have the chance to escape—but the escape is a long, harrowing journey through the desert, with the villain in hot pursuit. At one point, one of the women is overcome by the conditions of the exodus and decides that going back to her captors is more desirable than enduring the escape. The slavery she had been part of was much more comfortable and familiar than the freedom she was being led into.
The parallels between this character and Israel’s exodus and wandering through the desert, wishing they could go back into servitude in Egypt, are beautiful. Yet the character also brings to life the story of every human’s struggle between staying enslaved to sin because it’s easy and comfortable and finding freedom in Christ despite the fear of the unknown.
The apostle Paul calls us “slaves to righteousness,” but then in Romans 8 he clarifies that “the Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship.” Yet the old slavery still tempts with the power of familiarity.
However, the parallels end there: the slaves’ “promised land” no longer exists, while the hope of Christ is real and good and attainable. For a more thorough analysis of the film and its themes, we recommend Alissa Wilkinson’s great review in The Washington Post.
Discussion Questions: Why do we sometimes choose to stay enslaved when freedom is offered us? What about freedom in Christ is hard/scary? What about staying enslaved is easy/comfortable? Why is the unknown scary? How do we sometimes let our fear determine our future? How is the story of Christ’s freedom offered to all mankind different from the story in the film? Do you feel that the hope and freedom offered to us by Christ are worth the sacrifices and hard work?
CAITLYN JENNER: “I’M THE NEW NORMAL”
As you probably already know, former athlete Bruce Jenner has moved forward with the process of becoming female. Caitlyn, as she prefers to be known now, is on the cover of the June 9 issue of Vanity Fair, while the first trailer for “I Am Cait,” a TV show documenting her transition, released this week. In the trailer, she asks, “Isn’t it great that maybe someday we’ll be normal?” But then she corrects herself and says, “I’m the new normal.”
This is something all of us not only need to be aware of, but also ready and willing to talk about. Jenner is correct: she is the new normal in our culture. In fact, gender and sexual identity are constantly being questioned and redefined (one example: Facebook currently has at least 58 different gender options), which is why it’s one of the top issues affecting the next generation. Yet many students have little to no input from their parents, grandparents, pastors, teachers, or other faith leaders as to how to have a biblical perspective on the issue. And with such strong messages about identity coming from culture, if they don’t get wisdom, guidance, and love from us, then there’s no telling what life-stealing idea will win the battle for their hearts and minds. This, like any other issue, has the ability to draw them toward flourishing and truth . . . or toward dysfunction and lies. What makes the difference could be us!
Discussion Questions: What do you think about Bruce/Caitlyn Jenner? What do your friends think about it? What’s one way Christians have reacted poorly to this and other similar situations? What’s one way that culture is wrong about this issue? What principles from the Bible can be applied to the situation? Should our beliefs about gender identity change the way we treat others? If so, how?
SOMETHING YOU SHOULD KNOW: GENDER VS. SEX
Though it may seem foreign, our culture distinguishes between gender and sex, and we need to understand this difference in order to have meaningful discussions and to be sensitive to others. Many Christian or conservative circles use the terms interchangeably to refer to whether one is male or female based on their anatomy, hormones, and chromosomes, but many believe there is a difference between the two. When “gender” is used, it refers to a mental disposition or state of mind. Someone can be “male bodied” but have a feminine gender. A mention of a person’s sex usually means the anatomy and other biological factors he or she was born with.
“Transgender,” then, is used to refer to someone who does not feel that their inherent gender and biology match. This is different from gender fluidity, which refers to a person who believes his or her gender changes; the former is static, the latter dynamic. Miley Cyrus now claims to be gender fluid.
Discussion Questions: It’s easy to have a gut reaction to something like this and possibly treat others unlovingly. How do we treat others who feel they are transgender, gender fluid, or anything else with love? How do we have a biblical perspective of this issue? Why is it important to understand both where culture is coming from and the biblical perspective?