Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Your Year, Your Way | College Prep from Seventeen Magazine

In high school, all of my time and energy was spent on preparing for the difficult classes I would face in college. Instead of partying it up or spending all of my time with friends, I was taking the right classes, getting in my volunteer hours, and interning in the field I wanted to study. In the academics sense, my high school did a really good job of preparing me for college.

When it came to class selection, degree plans, and professors, I was ready to take on the world. BUT when I got to college, I was completely taken off guard by the many other aspects of college life that happen outside of the classroom. I wasn’t prepared for the kegs of alcohol, new relationships, parties, zero accountability, mixers, co-ed dorms, greek life, and the lack of campus ministries. I wasn’t prepared for the social side of college. 

Each school year, Seventeen Magazine highlights 15 freshman girls and certain snapshots of college life. Seventeen has a video blog on their website about how to handle everything from being homesick to the dangers of ending up alone with a guy in the basement of a frat house. The goal is to help young women prepare for the social side of college and equip them to “survive” once they are there. For a girl like me who was completely unprepared for the social side of college, this article would have been very appealing. But there is a problem. The problem is that Seventeen is teaching teen girls about very important, life-changing issues from a perspective that doesn’t rely on parents or the Bible.

Each month, the magazine dedicates a page or more to highlighting certain topics. November’s special was called: “Your Year, Your Way.” I have included a snap-shot of the article below:

*if you're a parent, take some time to read through this. As an idea, it might be good to subscribe to Seventeen Magazine yourself, and use the good and bad ideas you read as conversation starters with your teenagers.

On the Freshmen 15 blog, the girls give some great practical advice on what to pack for college or how to go out for the school newspaper, but they also tackle ideas like random hook-ups. The question for parents is: Do you want your teenage daughter or son learning about “hook-ups” and successful college life from a magazine or from you?

One thing that Ashley says in this video is key:

“For the first time, you’re [college students] pretty much all on your own and you don’t have that same lifeline you did at home.” 

Your students need your wisdom and experience before they go to college. Not just because they will hear from professors that are obviously anti-God, but because they are going to deal with an entirely new set of social pressures without that “lifeline” that Ashley mentions. You are that lifeline. You know what it’s like to be in college and to feel those same pressures. Your children need you to guide them. 

The truth is that if you don’t talk to your kids about this stuff, someone else will. Seventeen magazine is making a living on discipling young girls to navigate their teen years and beyond. Do you want Seventeen teaching your kids about sex in college, or you? Do you want Seventeen telling them about what to do when they are stuck with a guy alone in the basement of a frat house? Or do you want to help your daughter not get into that situation in the first place? 

Remember, good parents do not necessarily equal good kids -- but if we do our part as parents there is a good chance we will save the next generation, and end up changing our culture along the way. Parents, through the power of the Holy Spirit, are designed by God as the primary influence on their son or daughter’s faith -- that includes all of the other stuff they will face in college as well.

Written by: Meghan Libassi
Field Coordinator for Axis

Friday, November 16, 2012

SKYFALL, 007, and A Woman's Perspective

Poster from

I don’t get it. I really don’t.

Why in the world is James Bond so appealing to men?

As a female, that’s a question I’ve wondered for years, especially when each Bond movie became the next mega-hit. I eventually just chalked it up to worldliness and told myself, "only worldly guys would be interested in a hero who sleeps with every woman and somehow wins every fight."

But then I got married. And I didn’t marry that guy. You know what I mean by "that guy": the guy who’ll take every chance to prove he is the manliest guy alive, the guy who’ll flirt with women just to show how appealing he is, the guy who has to be doing those cliche “manly” things in order to feel like he’s worth something. No, I married a God-fearing, loving, loyal, sweet guy who loves to help others (and who just happens to be able to do one-armed pull-ups using only the tips of his fingers). In my mind, he was the exact opposite of the kind of guy I had pictured as the James-Bond-loving type--in a good way.

So the surprise of the century came when I learned that not only did he like James Bond, but he would get downright giddy when he’d see a preview for the next Bond film SkyFall. Wait a minute--I thought only womanizers liked James Bond! Confusion and panic ensued. "What have I done?! How could I have misjudged this man so thoroughly?! What can possibly be done? Maybe he needs counseling!"

Ok, ok, maybe I wasn’t that bad, but for a girl who grew up with two sisters and never had to deal with brothers, it was a little disconcerting.

That is, until I realized my folly. You see, I had somehow become prey to the idea that Christian men aren’t supposed to be men. They’re not supposed to like fishing, hunting, guns, and risk (and, God forbid, burping and farting!); they’re supposed to smell like roses, love bubble baths, and watch The Bachelor. In essence, I had subconsciously begun to believe that Christian men were just Christian women with facial hair and bigger muscles.

Maybe part of me was scared of the things that define men; after all, their strength, if misused or misdirected, can be a very scary thing for a woman (especially one who is 5’4” and has never been able to do a single pull up in her life). But that’s not the point. Whether or not men misuse their strength, God created men with strength and power and the willingness to take big risks for a reason. If He wanted men to be like women, then He would’ve created only women. But, as we all know, He didn’t.

The things that make men uniquely male should be celebrated and cultivated by the women in their lives. We need to help them use those attributes in ways that glorify God, not try to make them more like us.

But as I watched the newest Bond movie, Skyfall, this week, I realized something else. 

The reason that men, including Christian men, love the James Bond character is because he isn’t trying to be a woman. He embraces his masculinity then uses it to make the world a better place (in some ways, at least). To some degree, all men want to be like him.

But let’s not overlook Bond’s flaws here. He may be using his masculinity to protect others from the “bad guys,” but he also misuses it over and over again by using women, seeking revenge, and keeping others from ever getting close to him. All in all, I’d say he’s got more strikes against him than for him in terms of being a worthy role model for the men and boys of America.

Yet, by and large, he is their role model. And hence we return to Christian women like me freaking out and questioning their entire existences. “How can this be?! Our husbands and sons must not love Jesus! We must teach them to be the exact opposite of Bond!”

Wrong. Wrong reaction, Self (and moms and sisters and wives). Rather than running as far away from Bond as possible, we should be helping them to see the good that Bond does, like embracing his masculinity and using it for good, while also helping them to see why the other things he does, like using women, are actually abuses of his masculinity. We need to help them see that when men seek after God’s heart, like King David did, He helps them become the best possible men they can be. And the clincher: we need to help them see that God's way is more exciting and fulfilling than any movie can make James Bond’s life look.

Obviously, I am coming from a woman’s perspective. I am thinking about how we women can encourage Godly manliness in the men in our lives. But the men who understand this concept also need to step up and be the examples that other men, and more importantly our boys, need. Maybe the men of America love Bond so much because they aren't living out their masculinity and we haven’t given them better examples of truly GOOD manly men. Maybe we’ve stripped Jesus, David, and Abraham of their manliness. And maybe we’ve been too afraid of the way God designed men to be.

So maybe it’s a good idea to let your sons see a Bond film when they’re old enough. It opens the door for conversation about true manhood and how men can glorify God in ways that no woman can. It also makes it possible to compare and contrast his life with the life of King David or Jesus or other biblical men who loved God well. That is how raising a generation of men who stand up for the right things and love what God loves begins.

What do you think? Do you agree? You may comment below...

Written by: Melanie Mudge

Friday, November 2, 2012

Die Young: Make a Pretty Corpse: But Miss Out On Life

Don’t we yearn to enjoy life? To have our purpose figured out? To see years of wisdom guide us into all happiness? If we were to interview the ideas in our culture about happiness -- what do you think it would say? How would those ideas respond to questions like “what are supposed to be the best years of our lives?” “When should we have the most fun and the most freedom?” Well based on several recent Billboard chart-topping hits -- the answer would be high school -- or at least “while we’re young.”  

The #5 song in America right now is “Die Young” by K$ha, and the #31 song (which went as high as #3 just a short while ago), Live While We’re Young”  is by One Direction. Both of these songs embrace the idea of doing as much as you can while you are young because that not only is it the best time to live, but we are not guaranteed tomorrow -- so let’s pursue as much pleasure as we can today! (remember the major hit last year that proclaimed: Give me everything tonight because we might not have tomorrow, this is just another repackaging of the same old idea...)

Look at some of the lyrics from these two current hits:

I hear your heart beat to the beat of the drums
Oh what a shame that you came here with someone
So while you're here in my arms
Let's make the most of the night like we're gonna die young
We're gonna die young
We're gonna die young
Let's make the most of the night like we're gonna die young

Let’s go crazy, crazy, crazy ’til we see the sun
I know we only met but let’s pretend it’s love
And never, never, never stop for anyone
Tonight let’s get some and live while we’re young

(For more examples of these types of songs see our previous post: “Wild, Young, & Free”

But here’s the problem -- most of us will have tomorrow. And if we live according to these new anthems, we will find ourselves waking up into a world of regret and meaninglessness. Ke$ha, One Direction, Snoop Dog, and Pit Bull are right -- we may not have tomorrow, even the Bible agrees with the uncertainty of tomorrow (Proverbs 27 and James 4):
"Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring." 
"Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow..."
It’s the culture's application of this Biblical truth that is faulty. We may not have tomorrow, yes, true statement -- but that does not justify breaking all boundaries and common sense to pursue pleasure at all costs. (Remember the story of the Prodigal son? How did living for pleasure work out for him? He could have probably justified his lifestyle with the same lyrics we are talking about today!) Just because tomorrow is not guaranteed, doesn’t mean we should have sex with strangers, drink until we fall down, and spend money carelessly, because if we do there’s a good chance we will find the sunrise to be a nightmare. Not because it is any less beautiful, but because it brings with it regret and consequences.

We need the older, wiser, more mature generations to start being the role models. We need grandparents, parents, mentors, and leaders to step in and say enough is enough and challenge the next generation to -- 
“Give up the endless and unrestrained pursuit of pleasure because it will leave you empty, full of regrets, and unable to find anything pleasurable. Instead, accept the fact that your vitality and the beauty of your youth should be enjoyed not abused. It should not be wasted and it should not be the best years of your life, it should be the stepping stone to a more fulfilled and beautiful future.”
But it’s not enough for the experienced generations to only teach, challenge, and encourage the next generation. We need experienced generations to walk through life with teenagers and show them the better life. Show the next generation what it means to make the most out of their teen years. And they will follow! If you, as grandparents, parents, mentors, and leaders will disciple the next generation, they will follow you to Jesus -- and his purpose for their lives. 

The responsibility begins with the experienced generations putting aside their own extraneous pursuits, and discipling the next generation. The responsibility ends with the next generation waking-up and accepting the wisdom of those who know what they are talking about.

Do good parents always equal good kids? Unfortunately, no! But if we as parents do our part and disciple our children, there is a good chance that we could save the next generation and change our culture a long the way!