Friday, June 13, 2014

R-E-S-P-E-C-T

(Editors note:  This was originally published in September, 2011, but is, unfortunately, relevant for today.  I hope my words are encouraging to parents and grandparents who may be facing the same problems.  If you are, give your children and grandchildren over to the LORD and travail in prayer for changed hearts.)

I
n 1967, a R & B singer by the name of Aretha Franklin reintroduced a  song that quickly became a hit.  "Respect" was originally released by Otis Redding in 1965, but the two versions were uniquely different.  Redding's version, a blues tune, sang about a "desperate man" pleading with a woman to respect him.  Franklin's interpretation, which had a more up-beat tempo, impressed that she deserved respect, rather than begging for it, and the sexual connotations were evident in the lyrics, "sock it to me," that are sung over and over again.

The song has been touted as a "landmark for the feminist movement" and has continued to be one of the genre's greatest hits.  In fact, Franklin's version continues to be profiled in movies and television, including Steven Spielberg's animated television series, "Tiny Toons" that was produced for children.  "Babs Bunny," the young female rabbit in the series, lip synchs the song as the rest of the cast back her up.  So much for healthy Saturday morning cartoons.

It is disturbing to think that the word "respect" has lost its original meaning, as is evident in the example above.  When one considers how it was implied in the song that bears its title, the definition of the word is no longer used in its proper context to direct one how to either apply it or receive it.  And I think it can be safely said that there is a general, overall disregard for the necessity of respect in today's culture, especially among our youth.  They are simply not being taught the original purpose of the word and the importance of putting it into practice.   Recently, I learned that lesson the hard way through a grandchild's bad behavior and disrespect, and it prompted me to write this.

Webster defines "respect" as having high regard or esteem for a particular person, idea, situation, or thing.  To be "respected" is to have others display esteem upon your person, indicating that the level  of authority you are conveying is worthy of the application.  Everyone wants respect, some demand it, but not all of us receive it, or even deserve it, for that matter.  It can also be said that we must earn respect, and this is accomplished by demonstrating to others something within us that is deserving of the honor.

However, if we take a Biblical look at the word and see how God applies it to all of us, it is possible that we find ourselves recognizing the error in our thinking and how we may have misinterpreted and misused the application of "earning" and applying respect.

One of the most troubling demonstrations of the lack of respect in our society, and a pet peeve of mine, is the refusal of young people to grant it to their elders and those of authority over them.  I don't need to detail the evidence.  It is glaringly obvious in every aspect of society, including the media, the internet, television, schools, and their behavior outside their homes.  There's not a lot of difference between the present and what it was like when Jeremiah lamented over the sins of Israel.  The youth had no respect for the elderly then, either (Lam. 5:12), and the elderly could no longer be found at the city gates where they taught and instructed them (Lam. 5:14).  Children still want to challenge the authority of their parents, their teachers, law enforcement, and even their church leaders who are attempting to guide them.  However, the degree to which they practice disrespect has grown exponentially since the 1960's and has become a serious problem as our youth wallow in "self".

In Luke 18:9-14, Jesus told the parable about two men, one a tax collector and the other a Pharisee, who had gone to the temple to pray.  The crowd that had gathered around Him to hear the lesson considered themselves to be "righteous" and "viewed others with contempt."  As Jesus told the parable, I've often wondered how many hearts understood what He was telling them.  The contrast between the self-righteous Pharisee and the repentant tax collector was vivid.  The LORD'S conclusion to His parable can also be applied to respect or the lack of it:  "...for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted.” 

The "contempt" our children have for society, their parents, their grandparents, and others who have been placed in authority over them have thrust them into a position of "exalting" themselves over others.  It goes without saying that unless they are taught what true respect means, their attitude will never be replaced with a humble one.  If they are living in a home where the husband has no Godly love for his wife and she doesn't respect him (Eph. 5:33), if they are working in an environment where they have no respect for their employers or their job (1Peter 2:18-19), or if they have no regard for their nation and those God has put in place to govern them (1Peter 2:13-17), then we can expect them to continue to be disobedient and stay on a pathway to destruction.

When God gave the Ten Commandments to Moses, the directive He gave in the fifth was aimed at the youth and included a blessing upon them if they followed it.  “Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you."  (Ex 20:12).  Honoring parents and grandparents is a form of respect that is necessary for a healthy and spiritual well-being.  Without it, the child becomes selfish, disrespectful, insolent, manipulating, and demanding.  And as he matures, he will carry those qualities on into every aspect of his life and pass it on to his own children, to the detriment of society as a whole.

Proverbs were penned by King Solomon as a way to instruct his children in the ways of God.  The profound wisdom he impressed upon them would help them to mature into righteous and just men able to keep peace among his people, and the wisdom they would need to attain these things would be proved later in their lives.  As Prov 16:31 impresses, "Gray hair is a crown of glory; it is gained in a righteous life..." and, "The glory of young men is their strength, gray hair the splendor of the old."  (Prov 20:29)  Young people need to be taught that what they mistakenly perceive to be their own fair-haired "wisdom" is nothing more than an immature and disobedient way of thinking and that those with more years and experience should be respected for what they can teach them.

It's time that parents, and even grandparents, started to demand the respect they have earned through a lifetime of experience and God-given wisdom.  If you were raised in a home like mine that taught you to respect your elders, even if you believed they weren't worthy of it, then you need to start teaching your children the same thing and enforcing the necessary discipline upon them when they don't.  When children are taught to REFLECT Jesus Christ, they will also earn the RESPECT they desire.

It's up to you to learn what Scripture can teach you about respect, not what the secular world and its music, videos, and literature want to impress upon you.  Recording artists Redding and Franklin got it wrong.  Get it right and then pass it onto your children and grandchildren.


1 comment:

friv juegos said...

The song was regarded as a "turning point for feminism" What has been and what is shown is really good.