Over the past 1 week in the Kenyan social media space there has been such an outcry about a certain poster done by the Mavuno Church Nairobi for their Teen’s Ministry.
First of all I believe that everyone has a right to their opinion and expressing it, however it may be. That said I have seen some awful comments on social media, some of which are downright ugly. Some of us are terribly rude all in the name of expressing ourselves. So you don’t like a poster, you don’t have to insult people about it. I rarely comment on trending topics but here’s my two cents on this matter.The first time I saw the poster, I saw a couple of things.
The poster mentions the words blurred lines, shades of grey and other topics to be discussed as well as an image. I figured that they are going to discuss those topics in their teen’s service and I thought to myself, “This is great; someone ought to be talking to teens about this.” Then I saw the ‘fateful image’ which has brought up the entire furore. The Image is of a lady in very short pants lying in a suggestive position next to a guy and I thought, “They took it too far with that picture”. I did not get the impression that they were trying to lure the youth into church with that poster. But I knew they wanted to discuss sex and the blurred lines around it but I think they got the image wrong. On that bit, I will critique that image but I will say the message is point on.
Now, this poster has got many people angry, but it particularly has the Christian community ticked off. I would like to come out and talk to those people as candidly as I can. (And tick them off a bit more) You see, most of us are very self-righteous. We sit at our desks and discuss this poster in such bad taste all the while not appreciating what may have motivated the production of the poster. While I don’t know who did the poster and why they did it the way it is, I appreciate the challenges faced by our teenagers. And this is what I would like to bring to your attention.
Have you stopped to wonder what challenges our teens are faced with on matters regarding sex? Our generation (people born in the 80s) has had issues with pornography and masturbation. I know church going friends who struggle with this even today – and they are in the church. And to be honest, in those days, information on sex, and especially pornography, was not as widely available as it is today. But now, we are smack in the middle of the Information Age, the current teenager has access to virtually any form of information at their fingertips (literally). If they need information on Sex, it is everywhere – apart from the Church (unfortunately).
So let me tell you some of the challenges the current teenager is up against.
Let’s start with pornography and masturbation issues from our generation – now the kids have tablets and high speed internet so their challenges are on a whole new level.
They also face homosexuality and lesbianism. Can you remember the identity crisis you faced growing up? The peer pressure you faced? Now, imagine adding the confusion of not being quite sure of your sexual orientation! The media is telling them that it is cool to be gay, after all even Binyavanga the famous writer came out. I once had a guy remark that if he caught his son making out with a girl in his home, he’d scold him but be secretly relieved that his son was not gay. It kind of gives you perspective doesn’t it?
Have you heard of BDSM? Wikipedia defines it as erotic practices involving dominance and submission, role playing, restraint (i.e. tying up) and other practices during sex. Creepy, right? That’s what the famous Shades of Grey trilogy novel is about. How someone can write 3 continuous novels on BDSM is beyond me. Get this, the series has sold over 90 million copies worldwide and been translated into 52 languages, and set the record as the fastest-selling paperback of all time. Just in case your teenager can’t read English; he has 52 languages to choose from! And you are worried about a poster?
Dear parent, would you rather bury your head in the sand as you shake your head at the poster or would you prefer if your teenage son or daughter went to church and someone talked about these issues?
To the church, as a Christian I get it, we wish people were observing purity and abstaining from sex. But the truth of the matter is Christian people are having sex and it is hurting their walk with God and we need to talk about it. We have been silent for too long and people are hurting and they are stranded. We as the church should offer direction.
I left high school a virgin (many of my age mates did not) but then as I stumbled through my early 20s, I made some bad choices. I left the praise and worship team in the church I was serving because I felt so guilty and embarrassed to talk about my sexual struggles. I eventually committed myself to secondary virginity and stayed pure until my wedding day but every now and then I wish my husband was my first. Looking back, I wish someone had spoken to me candidly and let me know the consequences of my actions also that my struggle was not stupid or unjustified. To tell me that I had not fallen too far away for God’s grace. Then maybe it wouldn’t have taken me so long to find God a second time.
So, as we make noise about the Mavuno church poster, I say let’s criticize the right thing. They got the image wrong but their heart is in the right place!
Author: Wanjiru Kihusa
I am Wanjiru Kihusa and I’m a writer and founder of Still A Mum – an organization that seeks to reduce maternal and newborn deaths in Africa. I am especially passionate about women and children.
I blog to share my thoughts and experiences hoping that in the process someone will learn from my life.