April 8, 2010
Tangled Up in Hearts and Pretty Pink Bows
by John UpChurch, Editor, Jesus.org
Going a little farther, He fell facedown and prayed, "My Father! If it is possible, let this cup pass from Me. Yet not as I will, but as You will."
(Matthew 26:39, HCSB)
Some people say the underlying beliefs and aspirations of a society show in the art it produces—the movies, plays, and books. I prefer to look to the clothes.
Having two fast-growing girls has meant continual trips to the store to buy clothing items, clothing items that I have no idea how to put on. We collect bows for the hair, stockings for the legs, and some items that I just stare blankly at and finally surrender to my wife. I grew up with boys and around boys; our most difficult clothing decision involved Batman or Superman.
While I shiver when I glance toward the juniors' section of the store and what battles may await me there, even the children's section gives me pause. It's not because of anything indecent exactly, but because of what the messages on the clothes say about us.
Aside from the snide sayings ("We can't all be as cute as me"), the ones I comment on the most—and the ones my wife hears the most about—involve messages that run counter to the biblical values we try to instill in our girls. The blunt ones are easy to deal with. We use self-absorbed messages ("It's all about me") as teachable moments, and we redirect ones suggesting ways to circumvent a parent's guidance ("When Mom says no, just ask Nana") to what the Bible says.
But some equally questionable messages have sugary coverings that make the impact a bit more subtle. Recently, for instance, we came across a shirt for an animated film from a rather large movie studio with two related theme parks—not to give anything away. The images on the shirt shimmered in pinks and greens, shiny enough to catch my eye anyway. But the message floating above the cartoon princess struck me: "Follow your heart."
Sure, that's a common message in movies and TV shows: the heart/emotions/gut lead the character to make the right choice (and, rarely, the wrong one). Trusting our hearts will lead us to fight for the right cause, save a relationship, win the tournament, find the bad guy, solve the mystery, and so on. But that's not a philosophy I want my daughters to depend on. (Plus, the shirt cost too much.)
The Bible goes so far as to call the human heart deceitful and sick (Jeremiah 17:9). Our "hearts" sometimes tell us that God would want us to do something to be happy, even if against His Word; our "hearts" drag us from whim to whim. The passion can be overwhelming, the fervor deep—but the results are mixed. David's heart led him to both heroism and adultery, Peter's to both grandiose declarations of constancy and grim denials.
Intersecting Faith & Life: Jesus teaches us the far better way. When faced with the pain of the crucifixion, His heart would have urged Him to ask that the "cup" pass from Him. But He chose something much less inconstant than the heart, something much more solid: God's will. The heart's great for wrapping up movies with tidy pink bows (just don't ask me to put them in), but it's not so good for leading in real life.