The Awful Brevity of Nicety

Girl Book on Head

According to Miley Cyrus being nice isn’t a suitable destination. I concur.

In her first in-depth interview since her explicit performance at the VMA’s, Cyrus spoke with Rolling Stone magazine and commented on the person she has become. I have not read the entirety of the article but a single statement in an excerpt had me thinking, and ultimately writing. Miley described her friendship with Justin Beiber as a nurturing one. She feels that she can play a guiding role as he matures in his art. “I’m not much older than him, so I never want it to feel like I’m mentoring him. But I do mentor him in a way. Because I’ve been doing this (expletive) for a long time, and I already transitioned, and I don’t think he’s quite done it yet.” It was the word ‘transitioned‘ that caught my attention.

I am extrapolating here, but I think I am being accurate when I interpret this transitioning as the process of exiting teeny bop stardom into a more mature artist. Miley has, as some commentators put it, ‘killed’ Hannah Montana. The somewhat wholesome, everyday girl was adequate for her teens but womanhood demands a worldlier stance. It was nice being nice as a kid but an adult artist cannot flourish under such confines. Niceness must be discarded in favor of aggressive sexuality.

Miley may be proud of her transition but her detractors are many. Mom’s who sanctioned Hannah Montana as approved viewing for their daughters are disgusted and left feeling betrayed. It would be better had Cyrus just stayed a nice girl. Maybe, but being nice isn’t a suitable destination.

Polite society has its merits, and it is unquestionably better than vulgarity, but its members reside in a moral ‘halfway house’. Being nice makes for good neighbors and a sturdy citizenship but it isn’t meant to be the destination of humanity. Niceness exists, as I define it, as the DMZ between worldliness and holiness. It is an imitation of righteousness without any relational commitment to Christ. Nicety champions traditional values but it lacks a champion—it’s all decency without devotion. Nice people protect their heart from God and their feet from the mud.

The problem is that niceness is delusional. Cyrus has not transitioned so much as she has slid. When a clean kid like her embraces depravity, they are not changing sides, they are simply succumbing to their nature. There is no DMZ between worldliness and holiness. Worldliness may be measured in degree but anything outside of life in Christ is death. The death throes among the nice may be more dignified, but they are dying daily nonetheless.

As a church community we cannot be deluded by nicety. We are surrounded by many, many nice people who are generally decent. They are pleasant people who live with us and around us and are in the grips of sin. Their sin may not be displayed crudely but it is no less obscene and no less deadly. These friends and family are in eternal jeopardy and unless they ‘transition’ into new life in Christ they face damnation. Nice people need the gospel.

There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death.  Proverbs 14:12

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