As we were finishing up the oneg after Shabbat last night, someone at the table brought up the recent brouhaha over the song titled Baby It’s Cold Outside. In their introduction they said that they weren’t sure about the subject or lyrics and that apparently, some were associating the song song with sexist or sexual harassment and/or possibly pedophilia. Nobody at the table knew the truth of the matter, and because of the potential for it heading into areas that we didn’t want to go, we decided not to explore the topic publicly.
So, this morning, after a cup of coffee, I had a few minutes to privately open that can and see what the issue is. While I no longer celebrate Christmas, avoiding the incessant shop-inducing music, prevalent even in the grocery store, is nearly impossible. Therefore, hearing that a song from the mid-1940’s is being vilified, is of interest.
A quick search of the internet revealed multiple articles that cleared the matter up rather quickly and exposed again one of the great problems not just in our culture, but in Christendom as a whole and even, to a degree, the Hebrew roots movement. This song and the current debate are worthy of exploring and understanding. There is a lesson here.
As background, apparently a Cleveland radio station, WDOK, removed the song from its holiday playlist due to some listener complaints about the lyrics. KOIT, in San Fransisco followed suit, citing WDOK, but a massive listener backlash caused them to reverse the decision and put the song back into their playlist. Allegedly, the #MeToo movement, a popular hashtag highlight on the prevalence of sexual harassment, is the driving force behind the desire to remove the song.
But, is this right?
Susan Loesser, daughter of Frank Loesser, the original song’s author, is rather angry about the whole affair. She rightly claims that the context of the culture in which the song was written and the meaning of the lyrics at that time are not being taken into account by modern cultural warriors who vilify it. Even a cursory review of the lyrics and culture exposes a simple maxim: Context is king. The truth of the matter is easily settled by looking at the context. Culture warriors prefer redefining terms and elements to suit their agenda.
Now, please understand, I am absolutely not in favor of sexual harassment, nor am I minimizing that issue. Rather, this song and the surrounding bandwagon circus are a great illustration for several important matters Biblically.
Over and over and over, one of my seminary professors stressed the phrase, “Context is king!” There are a few other memorable moments and thoughts from his class, but towering over them all, almost screaming, is the profound truth that affects far more than we realize. “Context is king.”
The ease with which the culture warriors can stir the pot with Baby It’s Cold Outside is because few stop to consider who wrote the song, why he wrote the song, when he wrote the song and what his audience heard and understood when the song was first sung by he and his wife at dinner parties. The culture warriors either do not know the context or they willfully ignore it in order to accomplish their personal agendas, truth be damned. All those duped by said warriors are equally guilty by not familiarizing themselves with the context before forming an opinion and echoing the false claims of the warriors, again, truth be damned. But, truth seeking and contextual understanding takes effort. Effort few are willing to put forth.
Christendom performs much the same way, only some of the false claims have been accepted for so long that their veracity is even beyond question according to most. Literally, woven right into the warp and woof of doctrine are elements and traditions that simply are unsupportable by Scripture when understood in its original context. For that matter, the entire New Testament can’t be understood without a very good and clear contextual understanding of the Hebrew roots of the faith as articulated in the Torah and the prophets.
At this time of year, many bash the soon coming holiday because of its verifiable unBiblical roots. My point is much, much broader. There are truths that even many in the Hebrew roots community choose to ignore because they either have never dug into Scripture and investigated them, or they choose willful blindness because it is more comfortable than a difficult stand on truth.
The question for all who claim Scripture as truth, regardless of the label or sub-category we might classify ourselves with is, are we willing to go to the effort of understanding Scripture within its original context and then accept that as foundational truth? Where we have often erred is by allowing our cultural context to not just color, but to overturn truth. The enduring context of Greek Hellenism has affected Christianity to a greater extent than we realize.
Honestly, there are so many avenues I could pursue from here, but I would simply be getting on my soapbox. The rest of this blog dives into many inconvenient truths from Scripture. Digging in though, takes effort. The chief thought I want you to grapple with today is, ‘am I willing to embrace and walk according to Scripture as it was originally intended to be understood?’
Let’s take a lesson from the ‘Baby it’s Cold Outside Brouhaha’ and examine Scripture in its original context so that our opinions and understandings are true to the Author’s intent.