The Messy Morality of Stripping

He’s a stripper, but he’s a good stripper, so that’s okay. Actually, all these strippers are stripping for a cause. That’s good… right?

Pardon my alliteration, but teaching truth to today’s teenagers tends to be tricky! If young people are shaping their morality from the media… we’re all in big trouble. Let’s face it: the world’s standards aren’t good; but they aren’t all bad either. For a lack of a better term… they’re messy. And when young people soak in an average of 7.5 hours a day of entertainment media, that makes you wonder what kind of morality they’re developing.

Look at the messy morality surrounding the new movie Magic Mike coming out this Friday, June 29th, a film loosely based on actor Channing Tatum’s former life as a 19-year-old stripper in Florida. The movie has been promoted heavily by MTV, the hub of youth culture. They’re promoting it with the following description: “A male stripper (Channing Tatum) takes a newcomer (Alex Pettyfer) under his wing and instructs him in the fine arts of partying, picking up women, and making plenty of money.”

But don’t worry parents… these are “good” strippers. Each of these stripping actors is helping charitable causes. Channing and his wife helped raise millions for the Rainforest Foundation in April dancing together. Channing even “did some bumping and grinding with Elton John” during the charity concert. MTV’s “bullying sucks” column details how most the male actors in Magic Mike’s cast have helped out charities lately, even Joe Manganiello, who plays “Big D**k Richie” (a character who was introduced explicitly to young people a few weeks ago at the MTV Movie Awards).

See… stripping is okay, as long as it helps starving kids.

Ask Gaga, the #1 role model for young people in 2011, thanks to her charitable efforts.

Yes, morality just got a little messier.

Hollywood has always put an interesting spin on stripping. Movies like Strip Tease attempted to cast a compassionate understanding of the life of a stripper. Even the blockbuster Independence Day featured a stripper in one of the supporting roles. Jasmine (Vivica Fox), the girlfriend of Captain Steven Hiller (Will Smith) survives the alien attack, rescues the first lady, and in getting to know each other, Jasmine proudly proclaims that she’s an exotic dancer. The first lady apologizes, embarrassed. “It’s OK,” Jasmine quickly retorts. “I’m not ashamed of what I do.” She rubs the head of her son. “Anything for my baby!”

So stripping is okay when you’re supporting a kid, right? Silly of all those pretty waitresses to be waiting tables when they could make so much more money on a pole!

Here’s where morality gets really messy. The fact is, Jesus would look at all these strippers with compassion. These strippers are today’s Zacchaeus (Luke 19), today’s woman caught in adultery (John 8 ) and the woman at the well (John 4). I’m confident that Jesus would meet these people where they are at and extend grace to them if they would put their trust in Him.

But does that mean it’s okay to strip? Or, to ask it another way, “Shall we go on sinning so that grace will increase?” (Romans 6:1)

That’s where teaching scripture is so important. Today’s messy morality should drive believers to the word to find truth. Decision-making isn’t always black and white. The world’s standards are skewed. Evil is often guised as good, with “lies so clever they sound like the truth.” (Ephesians 4:14, NLT)

What about you?
How are you equipping your kids to recognize truth?

Are you preparing young people for real world decision-making, driving kids to the word of God in search of truth? How?

SIMILAR ARTICLES FROM JONATHAN MCKEE:
Can I Download Nicki Minaj?

Goo Goo Over Gaga

JONATHAN’S NEW PARENTING BOOK:
Candid Confessions of an Imperfect Parent

About Jonathan McKee

president of The Source for Youth Ministry, is the author of over a dozen books including the new Get Your Teenager Talking, The Guy's Guide to God, Girls and the Phone in Your Pocket, The Zombie Apocalypse Survival Guide for Teenager, and youth ministry books like Ministry By Teenagers, Connect: Real Relationships in a World of Isolation, and the 10-Minute Talks series. Jonathan speaks and trains at conferences, churches and events across North America, all while providing free resources for youth workers and parents on his websites, TheSource4YM.com and TheSource4Parents.com. You can follow Jonathan on his blog, getting a regular dose of youth culture and parenting help. Jonathan and his wife Lori, and their three teenagers Alec, Alyssa and Ashley live in California.
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3 Responses to The Messy Morality of Stripping

  1. Jon Forrest says:

    Man this is good. This is the Devil’s newest fruit argument. Kids love the opportunity to say, “gaga supports tsunami victims and you don’t agree with her?! YOU HATE TSUNAMI VICTIMS? So typically hypocritical.” What’s the best argument for this? I’m tempted to say that Gaga’s good works don’t do any more to save her than Franklin Graham’s do to save him. Of course the average teen doesn’t know Franklin Graham from Golden Graham so that’s probably not the best course of action.

    And based on the response of my female friends on fb to this movie there will be more to come. They’re worse than guys. And no, that is not jealousy of those guys talking. I have a six pack as well…… Of course my 6 pack is of YooHoo chocolate drink but I digress.

  2. Brent Weldon says:

    i agree with all you’ve stated except your wording of Jesus meeting these women “where they are at.” i’m certain it was NOT your intention to suggest that Jesus would go to a strip club, but that He would lovingly engage in conversation and a disciple-making (platonic) relationship and meeting people without requiring them to become “moral” people first, and in that way He is not just willing, but desiring, to “meet people where they are at.”
    We don’t see Jesus going to places where immorality was practiced (but not avoiding places where “immoral” people live and go about normal life activity), but we do see Him welcoming and inviting conversation and relationship with people who would have been considered as having immoral character (which really fits all of us). While Jesus did go into the home of Zachaeus and Matthew, the home of “sinners”, these were not strip joints, pick-up and/or gay bars, etc.
    Being associated with “immoral” people and visiting them at locations where immoral activity is promoted practiced (ie: strip club) are two different things.

    • yeah… I wasn’t trying to imply that. I think that both Jesus and the Apostle Paul did shock people with the lengths they would go to reach people. Were they ever unrighteous? No. But they did what was morally “taboo” for the time being. Jesus allowing the woman caught in adultery to touch him was as low as you could get back then. And when Paul walked around looking at the idols and listening to the pagan poets in Athens (Acts 17)… most religious people wouldn’t get caught dead in those places. But yes, we didn’t see Paul going to the “high places” where there were orgies on the hilltops, etc. claiming to be “doing research.” :)

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