We do live at an interesting moment in history. I watched the Golden Globes and wondered when actors and entertainers began to think their job was to influence the world. And I wondered if the average people in our nation genuinely believe they should.
I found it ironic to watch women in low-cut, beaded, sequined, skintight dresses express their distaste toward being objectified by making sure the color of their gown was black. I found it ironic that many of the films and shows that won Golden Globes reportedly contained graphic content. Hollywood’s confusion was apparent when the same crowd that gave the standing ovation for Oprah’s speech offered murmurs of discomfort as Dakota Johnson, the actress in the Fifty Shades movies, walked to the platform to present an award. It’s hard to look innocent when you are covered in the evidence.
People who read this blog or hear me teach are familiar with my love/hate relationship with Oprah. I think Oprah is a remarkable woman who was both savvy and smart with her career. She took advantage of her opportunities and achieved a great deal of fame, which led to a great deal of influence, which lead to a great deal of power. I respect her business savvy, but I have always cautioned people against her message.
Oprah knew she would receive the Cecil B. DeMille award at the Golden Globes. She was well prepared to give her acceptance speech. She was both eloquent and powerful with her words and with her presentation. She began by describing herself as a young girl watching television and ended with saying she knew she would be influencing young girls today. Judging by the faces in the crowd, she was influencing more than the young girls.
I watched Oprah influence the women of my generation. Almost all the women I knew watched her afternoon show. Those who worked often recorded it to watch later. Oprah confessed her abuse and campaigned for change. She promoted reading and education. Oprah encouraged equality and fought the prejudice that she had grown up with. She was a talk-show host who used her platform to accomplish a lot of good things.
But Oprah spoke about marriage as unnecessary for women because it gave their power away to a man. She illustrated her point by openly living with her partner. She gave advice on raising children even though she never allowed hers to be born. Her vocabulary was filled with catchphrases like “personal truth” and “self-empowerment.” She defined truth as whatever a person wants it to be and encouraged people that they had the power to choose their version of truth over anyone else’s.
So why am I using a blog post to put Oprah on display? Because I want us to consider her influence and ask ourselves why she has it. I would almost bet my house that Oprah’s speech last night was the first of many. I think she has wanted to be the first female president for a very long time, and I think she used her Golden Globe speech last night toward that end. I won’t elaborate on why I think that is true. There are plenty of articles on the subject.
I would ask each of us to consider this important lesson from Oprah’s story. Have Christians worked as hard as Oprah to achieve a position of influence with our truth?
Oprah spoke to a confused crowd and a confused world at the Golden Globes and offered them answers. She told people to believe the World Press because of their “insatiable dedication to uncovering the absolute truth that keeps us from turning a blind eye to corruption and to injustice.” I think the most telling portion of her speech reflected the theme of the evening at the Golden Globes. Oprah used the story of Recy Taylor’s horrible abuse to say, “She lived as we all have lived, too many years in a culture broken by brutally powerful men. For too long, women have not been heard or believed if they dared to speak their truth to the power of those men. But their time is up. Their time is up.” She concluded her speech by saying that truth goes marching on with “every woman who chooses to say, ‘Me too.’ And every man — every man who chooses to listen.”
Oprah’s speech was powerful, moving, and influential. The danger is that her speech was partial truth rather than full truth. The media does not have an insatiable dedication to uncovering absolute truth, but if Oprah chooses to run for president, the media will love her for saying so. Our culture has not been broken by brutally powerful men who hindered women who dared to speak “their truth.” Our culture has been broken by both men and women who, like Oprah, think “their truth” is the truth.
It occurred to me that, in today’s political climate, King Solomon would never have been elected. When Solomon was crowned king, God appeared to him and said, “Ask for whatever you want me to give you” (2 Chronicles 1:7). Solomon answered, saying, “Give me wisdom and knowledge, that I may lead this people, for who is able to govern this great people of yours?” (2 Chronicles 1:10). Israel achieved its height of power and influence under Solomon. Solomon’s great strength was that he knew he needed God. His weaknesses were apparent when he began to trust his own truth instead of God’s.
I’ll conclude my blog by rewording Oprah’s words, with biblical truth in mind:
All of us live in a culture that for too many years has been broken by sinfully powerful men and women. For too long, God’s truth has not been heard or believed because people have dared to speak their truth rather than rely on his. But their time is up. Their time is up.
Truth will go marching on when every Christian chooses to hear God say, “Choose me,” and every person, men and women alike, chooses to listen.