The perils of public exposure can sometimes be lost on our teens. We live in a society that celebrates and elevates people who make bad decisions. They don’t have to be sorry, they simply have to “be strong.”
That’s the phrase tweeted out by former Miss Teen Delaware Melissa King after she was accused of starring in an amateur porn film when she was just 17 years old. King denied that the girl in the film, who looks like her, sounds like her and shares her birthday and her love of beauty pageants, is her. But two days after news broke that she had relinquished her crown over these accusations, she tweeted out to her followers:
“Be strong, life has a funny way of working out. Kim K made it and now is one of the most powerful women in the US.”
King, of course, was referencing Kim Kardashian, who has made a multi-million dollar empire after the leak of a now infamous sex tape she made with her boyfriend at the time. The influence of Kardashian, and her predecessor Paris Hilton, is sharply felt in our society, where sexting is the norm among teens. Daily, they are making decisions that could haunt them for the rest of their lives in this digital age.
A tragic example of this is Amanda Todd, a Canadian teen who committed suicide last year after she was relentlessly taunted, both online and at school, over a topless photo she sent to a stranger over the Internet when she was just 13.
There’s a lot of pressure on teens in our culture to have sex. Even though they may not be explicitly telling teens “Have sex!,” the magazines, clothing designers, popular TV shows, and music are doing everything but!
Thankfully, a majority of teens are resisting this message. The most recent CDC figures show fewer than 45 percent of teens aged 15-19 have had sex. And for those who have made a mistake in this area, life isn’t over! Miss King’s follow-up tweet was right on:
“Everyone makes some bad decisions. Nobodies perfect!”
It’s true that teens can rise above the bad judgement calls of their teen years and glorify God with their lives. We as Christ-followers need to extend our grace to teens like these.
We all need Jesus. We also need to realize that turning people who are unapologetic about their mistakes into celebrities sends a terrible message. It says that sex before marriage is OK and does not come with lasting consequences. It also erodes our young people’s ability to feel remorse—something that leads to repentance, and ultimately, to seek the Lord and follow after Him.
What does it say about our culture that a teenager would think the path to becoming a powerful woman is by making a sex tape? Let’s make sure we help our young women see through this confusion. Let’s teach them the virtue of saving their virginity. Help them understand that they are so valuable, the only person worthy of seeing them without any clothes is the one who has committed his whole life to her: her husband!
Ron Luce is the founder and president of Teen Mania Ministries. Click here to visit his blog.