Main Point of Discussion:
Jesus loves everybody-so should we.
"Born This Way"
Lady Gaga is perhaps the biggest pop-music star on the planet. Known for her unconventional (okay...outrageous
) wardrobe choices and Madonna-influenced dancing and vocal style, Gaga has been grabbing scads of awards and critical praise and millions of listeners for several years now.
"Born This Way" is the latest notch on her musical belt. Gaga sang a snippet of the tune
(a fairly shameless rip-off of Madonna's "Express Yourself") after winning one of several MTV video music awards last September. Her fans have been, well...gaga ever since. She released "Born This Way" on Feb. 11, and it quickly hit the top of the iTunes charts. Gaga performed the single for the first time on the Feb. 13 Grammy Awards telecast
, and it's now atop the Billboard Hot 100
chart as well.
More important than the tune's undeniable buzz is the content of the lyrics; they champion the idea of loving yourself no matter what you look like or how much money you have or if you've ever felt bullied or marginalized-because "God makes no mistakes." Kudos to Gaga for singing those truthful sentiments. But intertwined with such positivity is her long-held pro-promiscuity, pro-gay agenda (see song lyrics further down). Given the popularity of "Born This Way," it's incumbent upon youth workers to dig into the tune and offer their students a biblical perspective, which this discussion will focus on. (For more background, check out the Source's Youth Culture Window
article on Lady Gaga and "Born This Way," posted last week.)
You can present the song and its lyrics any number of ways, from downloading the track and playing it while your students read from lyric sheets you've passed around or projecting a YouTube video with the lyrics on a wall.
Scripture is clear regarding same-gender sexual sin, as it is regarding opposite-gender sexual sin-i.e., they're both sinful; God isn't cool with either action. Unfortunately the church has justifiably gained a reputation as a gay-hating institution by, among other things, stigmatizing homosexual sin (and homosexuality in general) to a far greater extent.
As believers in Christ, we need to end homophobia, like, yesterday
. That means stopping the gay jokes in youth group; that means confronting hatred for LBGT people within our church walls and challenging believers to instead show love-at least as much as Christ loves straight people who lie, cheat, sleep around, and wallow in all manner of addiction. That also means, as a church, dealing with same-gender sexual sin by the same yardstick as opposite-gender sexual sin-neither is better, neither is worse, and no backing down from either sin.
A final word: Youth leaders must be mindful of the high probability that there are at least some teens under their care who are wondering if they're gay or who have engaged in same-sex behaviors
. And the last thing they need is a couple of Bible verses thrown in their faces while the clique off to the side giggles at yet another effeminate vocal impersonation. These kids need care and protection and listening ears and loving guidance. After all, if the church fails to love them, Lady Gaga (and her ilk) most certainly will. Please keep this in mind as you prepare this discussion.
Introducing the Song -SAY THIS:
We're going to take a deeper look at the worldview behind the big pop song "Born This Way," a fairly new Lady Gaga tune that most of you are probably familiar with. Let's check it out
. (Play the song or run the video.)
Song Lyrics: "Born This Way"
"Born This Way" is a catchy single that a whole lot of people love-but is that because of the music and Gaga's appealing vocals? Or could the song's message be what's capturing listeners? The Bible definitely has a few things to say about some of the lyrics in "Born This Way."
Divide into Small Groups:
it doesn't matter if you love him, or capital h-i-m
just put your paws up
‘cause you were born this way, baby
my mama told me when I was young
we are all born superstars
she rolled my hair and put my lipstick on
in the glass of her boudoir
"there's nothin' wrong with lovin' who you are"
she said, " ‘cause he made you perfect, babe"
"so hold your head up girl and you'll go far,
listen to me when I say"
I'm beautiful in my way
‘cause God makes no mistakes
I'm on the right track baby
I was born this way
don't hide yourself in regret
just love yourself and you're set
I'm on the right track baby
I was born this way...
Let's go ahead and split into our discussion groups, and then afterward we'll come together for a final word...
Sometimes, popular music can be as difficult to interpret as the Book of Revelation...or Robert Frost's poetry
. Then again, sometimes music's message is easy to understand.
The messages in this week's top four songs are crystal clear...even though I wish some of them weren't.
Usually, I recap the biggest songs of the year in December, but after taking a look (and listen) to the top songs on the charts right now, I'm compelled to address their messages...even though it's only February.
Not all of these songs' messages are bad; but not all are good, either. What these five songs have in common is a clear message that will strongly resonate with today's kids. Here they are, as found on Billboard.com
Born This Way by Lady Gaga
Gaga has always been known to make an entrance. Her highly anticipated song, Born This Way
, followed suit breaking all barriers in the first week. The song jumped #1 on iTunes instantaneously and seized the #1 slot on Billboard in just one week with a record-breaking 448,000 opening-week digital sales (top female, third ever), and with the highest opening radio airplay ever (a first week audience of 78.5 million). To top it all off, Born This Way
happened to be the 1,000th #1 song on the Billboard Hot 100
Gaga told Billboard, "I couldn't be more blessed to have the fans that I have."
What are the millions of Gaga fans absorbing from the very preachy Born This Way
? After all, her pro-LGBT message is politically correct, readily accepted by many churches
, and the majority of America agrees with her
What do your kids think?
What should they think?
We just wrote a brand new Music Discussion using this song
as a springboard to talk about this with your kids (complete with scripture, small group questions and a wrap up). We've also already devoted an entire Youth Culture Window article
to this song exposing its message to young people today. I encourage you to take a peek at both of those free resources.
Firework by Katy Perry
I should start off by saying I'm torn with this one. I'm not a Katy Perry fan; in my parenting seminars
, I've even branded her as "the most toxic influence" in youth culture today...though Lady Gaga sometimes gives her a run for the money
. For the most part, Firework
is a simple song about letting your light shine. That's a great message; even Jesus had something similar to say in His Sermon on the Mount. Perry's version goes like this:
You just gotta ignite the light
And let it shine just own the night
Like the Fourth of July
Cause baby you're a firework
Come on show 'em what you're worth
Make 'em go "Oh, oh, oh!"
As you shoot across the sky-y-y
Baby you're a firework
Come on let your colors burst
Make 'em go "Oh, oh, oh!"
You're gunna leave 'em fallin' down-own-own
The official music video
mixes in some compelling scenes: an overweight girl finally chooses to go swimming with the "perfect" girls at a pool party, a teenage boy breaks up his parents' fight, and a young boy with cancer regains the courage to live his life. The video even features a guy winning over a few thugs who are out to mug him. I can get behind all of that. The video definitely stirs those "let's-make-a-change-so-we-can-make-a-difference" feelings many of us have.
However, since it's a video from the girl who brought us I Kissed a Girl
, it also features two guys kissing. It's just another example of the ever-present discussion of homosexuality in our culture today
Now you can see why I'm torn about this song: teenagers will clearly hear the call to "shine" and "let your colors burst," which are terrific challenges, but because Perry's examples in the music video include homosexuality, they might also be misled into believing homosexuality is a viable, alternative lifestyle (even if they're heterosexual).
If the Apostle Paul were to address this song, as he did his "foolish Galatians" in the New Testament, he would probably remind us that, "A little yeast works through the whole batch of dough" (Gal. 5:9). In other words, if we're not careful, the homosexual scene/message corrupts the wholesome message found in the song.
When it comes to sex, I wish Katy Perry would finally pick sides. In one song, she talks about melting popsicles (while mimicking oral sex
). In another she's talking about kissing girls. In her latest song, two guys kiss. The sexual ambiguity is probably just Perry's way of ensuring her records sell to people on both sides of the fence.
But one day, that firework is going to blow up in her face.
Grenade by Bruno Mars
Bruno Mars, who changed his name from Peter Gene Hernandez, is becoming a regular on Billboard's Top 10; in fact, he's even becoming a regular in the #1 slot. His last hit, Just the Way You Are
, not only scored the #1 position, but it was the only song (for a while) that had a super positive message in it... especially for young girls lacking self-esteem
. Essentially, it was a love song for his girlfriend, telling her exactly how wonderful he thinks she is...