Indecent Exposure

Bible Girl, if it makes you feel any better, distributors don't think anyone else wants to see Dakota Fanning get raped in Hound Dog either.

One of us has got to be crazy.

One of us has got to be deluded, dumb and blind.

It is so very daring to examine the delicate matter of bestiality, to apply one's filmic aesthetic to the subject of men having sex with Arabian stallions.

Or, it's another example of being drawn to depravity like flies to rot.

The human body is an exquisitely beautiful machine, so let's peel back the layers of cadavers acquired through mysterious means and celebrate the glory of animal flesh.

Or, it's yet another way to defile, degrade and dehumanize the crowning achievement of creation -- man.

Rape is real, it's awful and it even happens to kids. So let's use a 12-year-old girl to tastefully convey the terrible reality of sexual violence.

Or, it's foolish parents and greedy studios exploiting a child and unwittingly tapping into spiritual forces of evil that will forever haunt everyone who took part in this misbegotten project.

Most pornography is harmless; it's just pictures of the stuff we fantasize about anyway. Plus, I've heard of marriages that were saved through porn.

Or, it's evidence that we're monumentally bored with sex, that it takes more and more provocation to stir the faintest arousal. And equating one's spouse with a piece of meat? Now that's what I call romance.

One day our children will be thrust into a harsh and ugly world. Better to expose them gradually to all the varieties of degradation through books, film and the Internet so they'll be prepared for what awaits them.

Or, teach them they can't handle certain kinds of knowledge without being degraded themselves and give them the tools to make intelligent choices that preserve the purity of conscience.


I know I've had enough.

One of us has got to be crazy.

I know many of you think it's me. Just do me a favor: When you start to post the comment that begins, "Bible Girl, YOU'RE THE ONE WHO'S CRAAAAAZY!," pause for a moment, just a small moment, and consider that this is a highly unimaginative approach.

You can do better. You really can.

Let's rethink the case of David and Lorrie, who made a choice to eliminate a certain influence from their daughter's life -- an influence they believed was inappropriate for her age (15) and potentially harmful. I might add, since many overlook this point, that it was the daughter's complaints that caused the parents to take action. Her conscience was violated by a book she was reading, and she'd been trained to protect her conscience.

No, I don't want to hash over the particulars of David and Lorrie's situation again, which you can read about here and here, or dwell on how they were filleted by religious bigots in their community. That was last week's point.

This is about kids, and this is about conscience. When you have a tender conscience, you look at life and its daily barrage of inputs one way, and if you don't have a tender conscience anymore, you look at it another way.

When a person surrenders their life to Jesus Christ, they develop a fragile conscience. They can't lie without feeling like slime. They can't speak harshly to their spouse without feeling crummy the rest of the day, and so on.

Why does this happen? When you come into a relationship with Jesus Christ, his spirit -- the Holy Spirit-- lives inside you. One of the Holy Spirit's functions is to convict us of our sin. And that process is going on all the time in a believer. The Holy Spirit illuminates areas of sin in our lives, and we make a choice whether to line up with God's desires or to refuse to do so. When we refuse to deal with our sins, our hearts get hard and crusty.

Sadly, you see this all the time with adults, and it's not a pretty sight. I'm ashamed to say it's happened to me many times. When your heart is crusty like that, it gets harder and harder to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit's direction.

Now children have particularly tender consciences. It's a beautiful thing, really. And you know what? That's exactly the way we're supposed to be as adults, even though we aren't. Children generally don't have the ability to harden their hearts and squelch the voice of conscience like adults do. They pick that up as they get older.

Because a kid's conscience is so sensitive--they can be thrown into serious inner turmoil through contact with evil, injustice and cruelty--a Christian parent will take measures to protect that conscience until it becomes mature. How does it become mature? The Bible says we learn to discern good from evil -- that's the conscience's purpose, after all -- through constantly applying the Word of God to our lives and allowing the Holy Spirit to renew our minds.

Even when you're an adult, you still have to protect your conscience. I no longer go to movies with heavy sexual content, because I know what it does to me. Those images hang around in my mind a long time, and my conscience becomes stained. Next thing I know, I start losing interest in my relationship with Jesus Christ. The images have a way of crowding him out.

As many of you know, I have a 7-year-old son. I tell him he is the "apple of my eye." He and I ponder the meaning of that imperfectly rendered Hebrew trope, but we both know it means that I love him with all my heart. It's something you can't fully relate to if you don't have kids.

In certain moments of melancholy, I say to myself that if I accomplish nothing else in this world, I can take comfort in knowing that I played a role in giving life to this little boy, and that my husband and I did our very best to nurture and protect this single human soul.

Funny how the presence of a child instantly and irreversibly strips away layers of selfishness. That's a good thing, because the Bible says the reason God unites a man and woman in marriage isn't merely to procreate but to build a loving environment where children will naturally develop godly character.

I say "naturally" recognizing that there's nothing natural about it -- we're born with an inclination toward sin. Yet I've observed Christian households where the children grow into godliness and excellence of character with hardly a hitch. It's all they've seen modeled before them, and it's all they know. It's natural, for lack of a better word.

That strength of character remains steady through the changes of adolescence and the increased responsibilities of young adulthood. Of course they make mistakes along the way, as do their parents, but I've seen many demonstrations of God's grace and mercy in these homes -- the kids stumble, but they don't fall.

Because I want my son to develop that kind of character, my husband and I and many other Christian parents go through a constant process of evaluating all of the influences on our children's lives.

We all draw lines in somewhat different places, according to our children's personalities, and according to our own consciences. The only television my son sees in our house is the news, football games and horse races. (He could care less about the football games. He obviously didn't grow up in Wisconsin, where one cannot escape being a rabid Green Bay Packers fan.) To supplement that, we carefully select DVDs of cartoons, movies and documentaries. Mostly, he reads and plays with toys.

We make these choices because we recognize that ungodly influences tap into and often trigger our inclination toward sin.

I'm not saying we're the experts on raising godly children. We learned what we learned by observing three or four families where all of the kids had that remarkable, magnetic and instantly recognizable quality I mentioned a couple weeks ago -- innocence. Not callowness, but a wise, informed innocence. A pure heart.

It feels weird just writing these words, because they're so incongruous with the realities of my own life.

But true Christianity is uncompromising on the matter of sin. We're supposed to eradicate it from our lives by God's grace. That's why we take matters of conscience so seriously.

Of course, one can choose instead to ignore God and shape his conscience around his own desires. To me, that's crazy.

But it has at least one big advantage: If you don't believe anything, no one can ever accuse you of being a hypocrite. --Julie Lyons

Time for the ol' disclaimer: The opinions expressed in Bible Girl do not reflect the views of the Dallas Observer, the Dallas Observer staff, or of my employer, Village Voice Media. In fact, I'm pretty sure most of my colleagues disagree with virtually everything I write. So don't pick on them if you don't like what I say.

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Julie Lyons
Contact: Julie Lyons