Three Things This Week
1. Papal Confession
What it is: On Tuesday, Pope Francis finally acknowledged the global sexual abuse crisis that has haunted the Roman Catholic church for decades. Unfortunately, Protestants are equally culpable.
Why it’s fixable: The Pontiff admitted the root cause lies in the church’s propensity to see women as “second-class citizens,” not holding equal status with men as divine image-bearers. Thankfully Jesus reversed this patriarchal mindset, but we’ve had a hard time following His example. The sheer safety, not to mention the spiritual and human development of our daughters may never find complete maturation “in an environment that never seeks her opinions, her interpretations, her insights, and her experience of God. Whatever ministry she was born to perform never comes to light, is lost to the church, dies on the vines that were never cultivated.” How can you germinate an environment in your church (and home) where your daughter’s talents, ideas, and leadership are celebrated as a Judith, Joanna, or Junia, instead of dismissed as a Jezebel?
2. Spill the Tea
What it is: Private social media accounts dedicated to “spilling the tea” (spreading gossip) among students are starting to crop up at schools, even Christian ones.
Why it’s not harmless: “Tea” has been around as slang for gossip for quite awhile, in phrases like “spill the tea” or “sips tea.” And gossip itself is nothing new, it just changes forms over time: rumor spreading, faking harmful images, burn books, etc. Sometimes, teenagers can be ingenious in their quests for revenge or harm. So at their core, these accounts are just a modern way to publicly smear others. Regardless of the term we use, it’s still bullying. Ask your kids if their school has a “tea” account. Do they follow it? Why or why not? Have they or their friends ever been hurt by the account? Do they know of other schools that have one? Our Bullying Conversation Kit and Parent Guide can help you continue the conversation.
3. Tax Day
What it is: Teenagers are often blissfully ignorant of the stress April 15 can bring…and it can be much to their detriment.
Why it’s an opportunity: Many Millennials (~22- to 37-years-old) complained of being unprepared for the real world and “adulting,” unsure of how things like credit card debt, taxes, and IRAs worked. It makes sense: Few schools, if any, offer classes in everyday things like time management, budgeting, or even car maintenance. So as tax day approaches, why not use this time to begin teaching your teenagers that coming of age doesn’t always mean they get to “do what they want”; often it means doing what is required. Most of Gen Z has yet to enter college or even the job market, so we have a great opportunity to give them the tools they need to thrive as adults and not repeat the mistakes of generations past.
Parent Guide Spotlight: What makes “shoot,” “freaking,” and “af” better than their explicit counterparts? Ever wondered? If profanity is so bad, why doesn’t the Bible ban specific words? When we get mad can we say whatever we want? Or should we never even say things like ‘shoot’?” Our brand new Parent’s Guide to Profanity asks all these questions, offering insight into a God-honoring way to regard the words that come out of our mouths (and nowadays, fingers).
A recent study of nearly 25,000 people found today’s youth are more perfectionist than ever in their desire for flawlessness. This juvenile pursuit of perfection is leading to higher rates of neurosis and an increase in self-loathing among teens. It’s something renowned British photographer Rankin tapped into recently on Instagram.
In a series of photos, he photographed teenagers, then handed them their images to edit and filter until each felt their picture was “social media ready.” After examining their photos, Rankin noticed the students were “mimicking their idols, making their eyes bigger, their nose smaller, and their skin brighter.” He hopes the series will call out the “damaging effects that social media has on people’s self-image” as we retouch and photoshop the smallest minutia of our appearance until it’s “perfect.”
As much as we should know better, most of us are haunted by the delusion of physical perfectibility. “We may not know what it means to be perfect, but we are secretly grieved because we are far from it.” Incredibly enough it was our very imperfect skin that Jesus took on when the Word became flesh. Isaiah tells us He had “nothing in His appearance that we should desire Him.” Was Jesus overweight or maybe bald? Is it possible in our high Christology to perceive the historical Jesus as someone who was far from physically “perfect”? Yet the central mystery of the incarnation is that God chose to work in and through our fallen humanity to dignify and redeem us—meaning we can forever cease the endless pursuit of external perfection. Because of Christ, we are no longer broken vessels but “noble creatures.” And like the students in Rankin’s experiment who ultimately preferred their unedited photos over the modified ones, may we ultimately choose to accept the inherent worthiness of our own humanity by believing that through God’s grace it is possible to “be perfect” as God our Father is perfect.
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