You know how it is when you learn a new vocabulary word and then you suddenly start start hearing it all the time? It’s that way for me with songs. I don’t listen to a whole lot of music, and so when I hear the same song twice in two days, I notice.
Which is what happened to me this week with the new (I guess it’s new?) single, Ain’t My Fault. I first heard it performed live by a group of adorable, fresh-faced college students at a concert last weekend. And then, yesterday, I heard the recorded version by the actual artist (a Swedish gal named Zara Larsson) during my workout class.
Here are the lyrics (in case you are like me and you are a “Billboard Hot 100” ignoramus):
It ain’t my fault you keep turning me on
It ain’t my fault you got, got me so gone
It ain’t my fault I’m not leaving alone
It ain’t my fault you keep turning me on…
No I can’t be responsible
If I get you in trouble now
See you’re too irresistible
Yeah that’s for sure
There’s more, but you get the idea. And when I heard the song for the second time (and yes, I was trying to figure out the lyrics while everyone else was perfecting their squats), I thought to myself, “What the heck?”
What the heck is wrong with us? We can’t be responsible?
Can you imagine what a prosecutor would do with that line of defense in, say, a sexual assault case? Or even a theft? “That diamond necklace was just too irresistible…”
Even more than that, though, I feel like this song (which is of course very upbeat and catchy and actually a little bit irresistible) typifies so much of what is upside down in our culture. A friend of mine, who is mom to three young adult men, tells her sons that a woman should be able to walk, stark naked, through a fraternity or a bar, and be safe. She wants her boys to have enough self-control to respect every woman, no matter how she acts or looks.
As a mom to three young adult daughters, I take a similar-but-opposite tack: “Don’t you dare walk through a fraternity or a bar lookin’ like that.” I want my girls to demonstrate the exact same measure of self-control and not disrespect the young men in their world by trying to attract their attention in an inappropriate way.
In both cases, for our sons and our daughters (and for that matter, for us), it comes down a willingness to be responsible. To exercise self-control. Because words like “It ain’t my fault you keep turning me on” are baloney. We all have eyes; we can look away. We all have feet; we can walk out.
Back when I wrote Praying the Scriptures for Your Children, I devoted an entire chapter to stories and prayers about self-control, diligence, and self-discipline in our kids. Back then, the need for self-control centered around things like swiping erasers from the first-grade supply closet, or even falling out of your chair at the dinner table (something our kids managed to do with astonishing regularity). Now (and I am not telling you anything you don’t already know) the need – in my kids’ lives, and in mine – is much more serious. Like, I wish my biggest self-control issue was needing to stay in my chair.
If you, your child, or someone you love struggles with personal responsibility (or if you’ve maybe heard “It’s not my fault” one too many times), here are three of my favorite prayer verses from that long-ago chapter. They worked for the stolen erasers and, thanks be to God, they are just as powerful for our lives today:
May _____ make every effort to add to faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge, and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. (2 Peter 1:5-7)
Do not give ______ a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love, and of self-discipline. (2 Timothy 1:7)
May your grace, which offers salvation, also teach _____ to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions and to live a self-controlled, upright, and godly life. (Titus 2:11-12)