My grandparents said that the younger generation was going to hell in a handbasket. My parents said the same thing about my generation, the self-absorbed Baby Boomers. Now I observe the youth culture and my first impulse is exactly the same as my grandparents and parents. But I am not taking the bait. I am blessed to know too many awesome young men and women to believe this generation is worse than any other. But I do concede that this group of young adults face cultural challenges that even my Woodstock generation did not.
I began thinking about how things have changed as I shuffled through the iPod yesterday. A Beatles song began playing and I had to chuckle. If you are young you likely have no idea how controversial the Beatles were in the early 60’s. Grumpy old men predicted the downfall of civilization because of the haircuts the British group sported. The Beatles were scandalous to my parents generation. But to give you an idea of how things have changed…here are the lyrics from one of their first big hits.
Oh please, say to me
You’ll let me be your man
And please, say to me
You’ll let me hold your hand.
Now let me hold your hand,
I want to hold your hand.
Those were the “subversive” lyrics from my youth. Granted, there were more graphic lyrics in rock and roll songs later in the sixties and into the seventies. But I remember as a young disk jockey in Ohio (one more failed career on my resume) not being able to play a song called “Kodachrome” by Paul Simon. Why? Because the lyrics said this…
When I think back
On all the crap I learned in high school
It’s a wonder
I can think at all
Because Paul Simon was lamenting all the “crap” he learned in high school we could not play that song. My how things have changed. I can’t even display some of the lyrics from Top 100 songs now. Women are depicted openly as objects for personal pleasure. I sampled some of the lyrics that are popular in the mainstream. I work in television and I am not easily shocked. I was shocked. I do not consider myself to be a prude. But it is sad to hear lyrics that make women merely instruments of male gratification. I thought of how I have learned to redefine what feminine beauty means with Joni’s battle with breast cancer. I wrote a blog about how I am learning what love and beauty really means.
I grew up watching shows like Leave it to Beaver and Father Knows Best. Now teens watch Desperate Housewives and Sex in the City. If you surf across the daily soaps you will wonder how any of these people manage to make a living. How do they find time to work with all of their intimate activities dominating the daytimer (and nighttimer)?
As a young teen I tried to sneak into the movie Goodbye, Columbus because of the scene with Mrs.Robinson. Now that is so tame it would show up on network tv. When I was young you had to go to a sleazy bookstore if you wanted to buy pornography. It required premeditation and fighting the shame of being seen at those places. Now I could leave this blog, hit a couple of keystrokes, and see images that I couldn’t even have purchased when I was a teenager.
It was no surprise that a RAND Corporation study issued today presents the strongest evidence yet that sexually degrading lyrics in music encourage adolescents to more quickly initiate sexual intercourse and other sexual activities. Here is part of that release.
The study found that the more time adolescents spend listening to music with sexually degrading lyrics, the more likely they are to initiate intercourse and other sexual activities. This holds true for boys and girls as well as for whites and nonwhites, even after accounting for a wide range of other personal and social factors associated with adolescent sexual behavior.
Researchers found that only sexually degrading lyrics – many quite graphic and containing numerous obscenities – are related to changes in adolescents’ sexual behavior. These lyrics depict men as sexually insatiable, women as sexual objects, and sexual intercourse as inconsequential. Other songs about sex do not appear to influence youth the same way.
“These portrayals objectify and degrade women in ways that are clear, but they do the same to men by depicting them as sex-driven studs,” said Steven Martino, a RAND psychologist who led the study. “Musicians who use this type of sexual imagery are communicating something very specific about what sexual roles are appropriate, and teen listeners may act on these messages.”
The study, titled “Exposure to Degrading Versus Non-Degrading Music Lyrics and Sexual Behavior among Youth,” is published in the August issue of the journal Pediatrics.
It has never been easy to be a teen making the perilous transition to adulthood. But I submit that it has never been more difficult to make that passage than it is today. Yet God is raising up thousands and thousands of wonderful young men and women who love Him and who want to live Godly lives. We need to celebrate their efforts, encourage, equip, pray for them, mentor them, and fund church programs for them. There is no more important ministry for the body of Christ than helping these young men and women stand firm in a really difficult battle. I am amazed and blessed by their faith and courage. Paul encouraged the “older women” to teach the young women to be self-controlled. And the same message was sent for the young men.
Similarly, encourage the young men to be self-controlled. In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned, so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us. Titus 2 NIV
We have a responsibility to our young men and women. I pray that we take that role seriously. They are facing a difficult path and they could use a little encouragement…not condemnation.