Will the Real Church Ladies ‘Please Stand Up, Please Stand Up, Please Stand Up’?

August 27, 2013

by Johnathan Pritchett
Graduate Student, Biola University
SBCToday contributing writer

Former Biola professor, Dr. John Mark Reynolds, (now Provost at HBU) taught a three-day lecture in 2011 for us students in his Cultural Apologetics class. Therein he mentioned the need for older, spiritually mature women to exert more influence in the church, again. Many of us didn’t think much of that then; but after seeing the hubbub surrounding the video of former Hannah Montana star Miley Cyrus — who exhibited a ridiculously tasteless, debauched song-and-dance act at MTV’s VMA show — I realized exactly what Dr. Reynolds meant, and he was right.

See, Miley Cyrus is from a “Christian” family that went to church, not unlike Britney Spears (a Southern Baptist, by the way), and other former Disney stars who grew up to become tasteless and tacky. It isn’t that the entertainment industry in the United States is as absurdly wicked as that of Japan, but we are moving a whole lot closer every year. It also isn’t that we can put the blame squarely on the entertainment business either. Church-goers consume their products, and many of the Mileys and Britney come from evangelical churches.

In the 1950s, church ladies held power and influence. They decried the immorality in Elvis swinging his pelvis. And, while Ed Sullivan thought it prudent to show Elvis from the waist up, most people in the church figured the church ladies were overreacting. After all, Elvis was just a nice southern boy who grew up in church and sang some hymns mixed in with his other tunes, and the 1950s were a “wholesome” time in the good ol’ U.S. of A. So we are told.

However, as Peter S. Beagle wrote in the introduction of Lord of the Rings, “The Sixties were no fouler a decade than the Fifties — they merely reaped the Fifties’ foul harvest …” The decline in public decency in pop culture since the 1950s has been on a steady path to the gutter; and every decade, the voices of our dear church ladies are shouted down repeatedly whenever they speak against the decline in morality, taste, class, and manners.

We are now at the point where they hardly bother with sounding alarms in church anymore. This, of course, would be the church ladies of the Greatest Generation. Their daughters, the Baby Boomers, are a mixed bag when it comes to their moral and cultural compasses. Some have become fine church ladies like their mothers, but others have forgone the prospect of being a church lady, have undergone plastic surgery and other physical enhancements, and attend church and wherever else in the same sort attire as their granddaughters.

After all, who wants to be perceived as a nagging, killjoy church lady?

Most women in church among the Gen Xers and Millennials simply don’t have the same moral compass as some of their parents and grandparents. This is not to say they are immoral, but it is to say that they are, like the men of those same generations, simply desensitized to all this on the one hand, and at a loss how to prevent their sons and daughters becoming like these former teeny-bopper pop icons who embrace tasteless and tacky, immoral lifestyle of popular culture on the other.

The women who are of the Greatest Generation are mostly widows now, and the Baby Boomers in church, both male and female, are a mixed bag. The watered-down, milk-n-cookie preaching found in the worst of evangelical mega-churches is the product of the Baby-Boomers. They wanted their Gen Xer offspring to like church, so they made it “cool and hip.” That, combined with an abuse of Matthew 7:1 (forgetting all about Matthew 7:2-5), and we have the rapid decline of morality in both church and pop culture at the exponential rate we find today. The men who still have their moral bearings can still instruct men, but what the church really needs, and what the United States really needs, is for seasoned and mature church ladies to start wagging their beautiful, wrinkled fingers at all of us!

Consequently, however, such women have been stripped of most of their influence in both church and culture, having been written off as Chicken Littles, spoiling the congregation’s attempts at “relevance” in contemporary culture, and spoiling everyone’s fun on the weekends.

Well, the whole nation is all the worse for it!

We need church ladies to tell us that we need to have manners. They need to threaten to wash our mouths out with soap for being lax and using, by today’s standards, mild language such as “crap” and “fart” in the sanctuary.

We need them to yank upward the belts of boys (and some “men”), whose pants sag to the ground, thus revealing plaid boxer shorts.

We need them to rebuke the younger girls (and some of their own 30+ y/o daughters) for dressing immodestly at church.

We need them to get on the pastor and church staff for trying too hard to “relate” to the young folks through worldly means.

We need them to tell parents of any age to act their age, to have more class and good sense than the lost people their age, and to do a better job at raising and disciplining their kids.

And, of course, we need them to call out the vulgarity of pop culture and celebrity behavior, as well as the church’s indifference to it. After all, many church folk spend lots of their entertainment dollars on this stuff, which helps keep it around while it gets worse every year.

In any case, Miley’s “twerking” isn’t something Miley invented. It goes on at high school dances, night clubs, and everywhere else younger church members go on their Friday nights out; and by younger, we can call that the 16-45 demographic these days.

So please, let the church ladies have their say again for all our sakes. Let them be what God has called them to be. Let them be the glorious naysayers, and more importantly, the moral compass that we need them to be, before their example is finally gone and there really is no going back. Let them instruct us, and, if they wish to scold us while doing it, all the better. We deserve it.

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Norm Miller

The naked truth about modesty — I am unable to see it!!!
Thx, Johnathan, for this appeal to stand up and stand against.
To shift the metaphor, any dead fish can float downstream. It takes conviction and vigor to swim the other way.

Norm Miller

Actress Patricia Heaton, of “Everybody Loves Raymond” fame, tweeted: “Read about wild VMA’s. This a.m. opened to Hosea, first sentence is: “This whole country has become a whorehouse.” Nothing new under the sun!”


Good article Johnathan. If it weren’t for the godly women of the past two generations, many of our churches would have closed their doors. I can take you to several churches in my area which were held together during lean times by women, when the men could not be found. Women out-numbered men in the prayer meetings (we used to have). They agonized, while the good Baptist men organized something. If you called for a solemn assembly, mostly women would be there to intercede. Women rescued the SBC missionary movement from its downward spiral. You can still count on mostly women to raise their hands to instruct our Sunday School youth. They organize and shepherd our vacation bible schools. Women have been the moral compass of many a church – keeping a close eye on modest dress and proper behavior. When the going gets tough and the spiritual battles grow intense, I would rather be in the fox hole with praying women than most churchmen I know. There have been many unsung heroines who have stood in countless spiritual gaps – come Judgement day, the last will be first and the first will be last. My wife is one of those precious souls – I often tell her that she is one of the godliest men I know ;^)

P.S. According to Wikipedia, Miley Cyrus was baptized in a Southern Baptist church in 2005. In addition to her latest escapade and other lewd and crude acts, she has been a vocal supporter of gay rights. As a professed Christian, her SBC church needs to speak a word of correction to the young star about her poor public image – that would be the right thing to do. Successful entertainers are not beyond rebuke and reproof by their church. Perhaps, one of those little old ladies should draw Miss Miley aside and have a talk.

    Norm Miller

    Yes, Max, Wikipedia, the ‘people’s encyclopedia,’ states: “Cyrus grew up on a 500-acre farm in Franklin, Tennessee, a suburb of Nashville, and attended Heritage Elementary School. She was raised Christian and was baptized in a Southern Baptist church prior to moving to Hollywood in 2005. She attended church regularly while growing up and wore a purity ring.”
    WikiP also says she suffers from a heart condition called tachycardia.


      Well, she’s got the “tacky” part right! A faster than normal heart rate is no excuse for such behavior. Ms.Cyrus obviously has a heart condition – of the sort that can only be cured by a dose of humility and repentance. In moving from her good beginnings in Tennessee, looks like Hollywood got the best of her. I’m praying for her.

Robert Vaughn

The older women should model holy behavior and teach that to the young women (Titus 2:3-5). One shame in Miley Cyrus’ case is that her mother professes to be a Christian, and for a time (whether now or not, I do not know for sure) was a member of a Baptist church. Yet, from what I’ve read, this “Christian Baptist” was plum giddy about her daughter’s vile performance.

Norm Miller

A prophetic voice and perspective — those are good things. They are godly things. But so is persistent prayer.
Max’s words remind me that I should have as much or more fervor for praying for Miley as I have invested in my disgust for her actions. For all who have just read my words, I challenge you to stop and breathe a prayer for Miley and her family. What if we were to read in a month that Miley left her current ways and returned to Christ? What if we prayed that God would call his child back to His side (I say child b/c of the WikiP report that she attended/was baptized in an SBC church — taking for granted her conversion).

Dear Heavenly Father:
Help me not to be so judgmental that your compassion that lives in me is overshadowed — is stunted — is snuffed. We are hurt by any believers who so profanes their witness. Help me to balance rightful disgust with righteous dialog in prayer. I ask in Jesus’ name that you would intervene in Miley’s life. I pray that you would love her back to your will and ways. What a powerful witness she could be, Lord, to the millions who appreciated Hannah Montana, and to those who revel in her activities of late. Help my heart, Lord, and help Miley’s, too. I ask in the strong and saving name of your son, Jesus Christ, Amen.

Will you pray for Miley?

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