. . . especially in church.
I’ve started referring to this as The Chewing Gum Story. Along the same lines, I remember listening to Christian radio in the car one summer, specifically to a talk show about abstinence. As a variation of The Chewing Gum Story, what I heard was The Cherry Pie Story. A mom was talking about how she taught her daughter the importance of abstinence by using a freshly baked cherry pie. “Look how fresh and perfect it is,” the mom said to her daughter (and into the radio.) “But if we take a piece out of it, it’s not fit to give that pie to someone else as a special gift.” I remember thinking,”That was random.” But looking back, that mom was basically trying to send the same message as The Chewing Gum Story.
According to Elizabeth Smart, she was taught by a teacher – she doesn’t say if the teacher was from school or church – that those who engage in sex before marriage – any kind of sex including the non-consenting kind – was like a piece of chewed gum. And, of course, nobody wants a pre-chewed piece of gum.
This is why she didn’t run for help after being kidnapped as a teenager in Utah. She thought no one – including her parents – would want her anymore.
Elizabeth Smart’s words:
“I thought, ‘Oh, my gosh, I’m that chewed up piece of gum, nobody re-chews a piece of gum, you throw it away.’ And that’s how easy it is to feel like you no longer have worth, you no longer have value,” Smart said. “Why would it even be worth screaming out? Why would it even make a difference if you are rescued? Your life still has no value.”
I pray that no Sunday School teacher, no Scout leader, no school teacher, no coach, no nurse, no parent ever tells a person that he or she has a life without value. No human being is like a chewed up piece of gum.
This is the opposite of the message of Jesus. Do we believe Jesus can redeem even the violence committed against a kidnapped teenager? Do we believe that Jesus can redeem the violence against those women in Cleveland or other victims of human trafficking or pedophilia or other physical abuse?
We cannot allow these lies to be shared ever again, especially in a church setting. Jesus was not out to shame us. Jesus came to save us from shame.