Skip to comments.Papa Please Preach
Posted on 01/15/2014 8:23:58 AM PST by Gamecock
You know that churches have dropped the ball when one of the foundational words about church has become a slur. The term preach has been so sullied by the church that it has become almost unusable in polite secular conversation.
Think of the classic Madonna song Papa Dont Preach”:
Papa I know you’re going to be upset
‘Cause I was always your little girl
But you should know by now
I’m not a baby
You always taught me right from wrong
I need your help, daddy please be strong
I may be young at heart
But I know what I’m saying
The one you warned me all about
The one you said I could do without
We’re in an awful mess, and I don’t mean maybe – please
Papa don’t preach, I’m in trouble deep
Papa don’t preach, I’ve been losing sleep
But I made up my mind, I’m keeping my baby, oh
I’m gonna keep my baby
So, Madonna has messed up. Shes been seeing a guy of whom her father doesnt approve, and shes gotten pregnant. In her own words, theyre in an awful mess. So she goes to her father, and her one request is that he not preach.
Phrases like, dont preach at me, or I didnt like that movie; it was so preachy shine a light on the redefinition of the word: to preach, in common parlance, now means “to judge” or “to criticize.” When the Madonna of the song goes to her father, shes saying, I already know that what I did was wrong, so I dont need you to tell me again. I need your help, not a sermon.
And who wouldnt agree with that sentiment? I need your help, not a sermon. But thats the tragedy: sermons are supposed to help!
The preaching event is supposed to be about the proclamation of the Good News: we preach the Gospel. Of course, as some will be quick to point out, we preach the Law, too (and first!) but our sermons should never be typified by law. People should never walk out of our churches feeling the weight of the law; they should walk out feeling the relief of the Gospel.
The church should foster an environment in which Madonna can go to her father and say something like, Dad, Im in big trouble. I kept seeing the guy who you told me was bad news, and we messed up. Im pregnant. I feel terrible. Please preach to me.
The preaching event, typified by the proclamation of the Gospel, is intended to introduce the listener to Jesus Christ, whose yoke is easy and whose burden is light (Matthew 11:30). For the most part, people come into churches like Madonna came to her father: already aware that theyre in an awful mess. Now, that doesnt stop us from proclaiming the law: its important for people to know why theyre in an awful mess. As Stanley Hauerwas has said, There’s a difference between knowing you’re a [bad person] and knowing you’re a sinner. But we never leave people there, not ever.
Preachy ought to be a compliment. Preaching should buoy the listener, and give him hope. It should comfort. It should forgive.
Of course, the degradation of the word preach in secular society is not simply due to preachers who make their sermons all about what we need to do (Do more! Try harder!). It is also due to Christian listeners who actually seem to want such sermons!
Consider another Christian-ese vocabulary word: convict. When we want to praise an especially moving sermon, one that really showed us the difference between who we are and who we ought to be, and has given us a renewed fire to bridge that gap, we say things like, Oh, what a wonderful sermon; I feel so convicted. Thank you, pastor, for your words this morning. They really convicted me.
Listen: the smiles on our faces as we say these words belie their meaning. When has anyone outside a church ever heard the word convicted and smiled? It has never happened. The conviction comes at the end of the trial and means that the accused is about to receive his punishment! The accused could only reasonably smile if he was pardoned!
A proper sermon, a true proclamation of law and gospel, should convict at the beginning and pardon at the end. We never end with conviction because it is not we who have been convicted it is Christ in our place. Perhaps, if we can recover the pulpit for the proclamation of the Gospel, preaching can recover a helpful meaning, a comforting meaning, and a true meaning.
Papa Please Preach. Now theres a song!
The other side of the same coin is the smiling guy in a megachurch who is just as smooth as he can be and does nothing but encourage you to do your best because God is on your side. The astute listener realizes that nothing he can do is good enough, but the preacher makes it sound so simple. The listener knows what a mess his life really is.
Come to Jesus. As said above, his yoke is light.
We all make mistakes, move forward, don't perpetuate them or CELEBRATE them.
NOW and Planned Parenthood probably resent the pro-life sentiment ‘keep my baby’ of the song.
We all receive grace and forgiveness from our Lord.
To the MSM, the preceeding message was "preachy".
yes they did! i remember hearing in the news back then that one of those feminist groups wanted Madonna to do a follow-up song where the gal did not keep her baby... i was pro-choice back then, and even i thought that was ridiculous...
this is actually my favorite Madonna song... i love the classical violin in the beginning... for some reason back then the song brought tears to my eyes.. and it still does whenever i hear it... i think it has to do with the daddy/daughter relationship... Danny Aiello portrays her father in the video...
i just looked into this and it was none other than Gloria Allred who called on Madonna to record another song with the opposite message!
And I hope my “sin no more” comment is taken as intended.
I’ve known women who’ve gotten pregnant unexepectedly. They’ve kept their babies and straightened their lives out (got out of the bars, changed their focus).
None of the ones I know regret their decision to keep their babies. They are proud of their offspring.
Does not surprise me.
Pro-choice so long as that choice is death.
Madonna is preaching in this song (albeit involuntarily). If we interpret real Christian preaching as being so moved by the Holy Spirit to be ‘full and overflowing’ with words, we notice God using this fragile, imperfect human vessel to speak important words for our time: “But I made up my mind, Im keeping my baby.”
I have long used this song in Christian ministry to defy abortion. Mesmerized teenagers actually seem to hear the words.
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