Second Sunday of Lent

shutterstock_145681610Contributed by Mary Burnett. This is the second in a series of blog posts for Lent. This post is based on Romans 5:12-19.

This passage from Paul’s letter to the Romans moves me to take action. The actions Christ took to save us inspire me to follow him and take action myself to right the wrongs that have been perpetrated against the body of Christ. It is easy to see the offenses against us, but it can be difficult to be the person to right these offenses.

Perhaps one of the biggest crises in modern times is the misrepresentation of women in the media. Although this topic may seem juvenile held up against more graphic tragedies, in my belief it is the root of most problems for women.

Although popular singer Katy Perry’s cotton candy dress and Bella Swan’s inability to protect herself in the Twilight series may seem innocent enough, these ideas and images forever play on our young girls’ minds.

These images are Adam’s forbidden fruit only, sadly, they are much easier to access then biting into an apple.  Over-sexualized women are before the eyes of our children with increasing frequency. It is getting easier and easier for people to see these images and, like the apple in the Garden of Eden, partaking of this fruit is not healthy for us.

The most prevalent images of women that our girls see in the media do not promote independence and strength. A study done by Stacy L. Smith found that only 28.3% of female characters in family films had speaking roles. According to the Women’s Media Center, at the rate we are going it will take until 2080 for women to be equal with men in leadership roles in government/politics, business, entrepreneurship, and nonprofits.

But as Paul says to the Romans, in the same way that Adam’s sin brought us death, Christ’s action gives us life. There are many Scriptures in which Jesus lifts women up, shows them respect, treats them as equal in God’s eyes to men. We need to follow Jesus’ example and teach our girls what real women are made of. We can do this by setting an example. Next time you’re at the grocery store put down that trashy tabloid and pick up the Times. Turn off “America’s Next Top Model” or “Real Housewives” and pick up Jane Eyre. Talk about strong female role models with your daughters, nieces, girls in your Sunday school class room, students, girls in your congregation. Be sure they know who these women are and what traits they have to emulate that could help girls grow into healthy women, confident of themselves through Christ.

But, most of all, always remember to let Christ’s actions inspire you. For we can rest in the promise that Paul reminds us of, “much more surely have the grace of God and the free gift in the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, abounded for the many,”(5:15b).

For an excellent documentary on the representation of women in media, check out Miss Representation.  It is also available through Netflix. A few images depicted are graphic but they’re very infrequent, and the information is excellent. This would be a great tool for discussion in a women’s or older girls’ ministry. Preview to determine appropriateness for your group.

MaryBurnett2013smMary Burnett is a senior in high school and an active member of the First Baptist Church of Salt Lake City, Utah. Mary serves as convenor of the national leadership team of AB GIRLS, AB Women’s Ministries.

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“Fields of Mudan”

I’ve seen “Fields of Mudan” several times over the last few years and it still affects me deeply and profoundly each time. This is an intense, but necessary film.

Mudan is a young Asian girl who is forced into sex slavery by a brutal madam in a child brothel. Mudan clings to her memories of her mother, and her hope that her mother will one day rescue her and take her to America, a land of promise and dreams. In the midst of the hostile surroundings of the brothel, Mudan befriends another brothel girl, Faye, and the two seek out any small opportunity they have to live as ordinary girls. Those opportunities are few and far between, and eventually their circumstances overtake them.

Created as a masters thesis project in 2004 by Stevo Chang, a graduate student at the film school of Florida State University, “Fields of Mudan” has won numerous awards and recognitions at film festivals in the U.S. and abroad, including the Amnesty International Award and as a finalist in the 2006 Academy Awards. Stevo cites his his five-year-old niece, and his realization that girls the same age as his niece are being enslaved all over the world, as his inspiration. He therefore used his thesis project as an opportunity to speak out against sex slavery and child prostitution in a deep and meaninful way.

AB Women’s Ministries has shown the film in small group settings several times. However, we always let people know ahead of time that it is an intense film so they can discern if they want to stay. In some instances, older teen girls (juniors and seniors in high school) have seen the film with parental permission. It is not an easy film to watch, but it is an excellent resource for engaging in the issue of sex trafficking and child prostitution.

“Fields of Mudan” (23 minutes) is available through Indieflix.com for 30-day streaming for $1.95. Proceeds go to The Polaris Project and International Justice Mission. The film is also available as a manufacture-on-demand DVD through Amazon.com for $9.95.

–Sandy