Tuesday, June 25 2019
Generally speaking, the entertainment industry is no friend to Christians attempting to raise their children to resist worldly conformity and embrace Godliness. Taylor Swift’s recently released Christian-mocking, LGBT-affirming anthem You Need to Calm Down is the latest example.
The 29-year-old pop sensation brings together a cast of colorful celebrity collaborators to depict those who would choose to promote biblical sexual ethics as backwards, mean-spirited, even toothless cretins, angrily berating anyone who expresses their sexuality in a nontraditional way.
The tune itself is classic Swift – hardly a compositional masterpiece destined to stand the test of time, but aggressively repetitive and catchy, which coupled with its lyrical fidelity to the spirit of the age is sure to achieve immense popularity.
So how should the Biblically-faithful respond? Might I suggest that instead of calling for boycotts, desperately purging our kids’ Spotify playlist of all T-Swift material, and futilely trying to explain how the devil is brainwashing them with worldly music, we try a different approach?
Of course it’s appropriate to point out what Swift’s song and accompanying video gets wrong, so long as it’s done in a genuine and rational way. For instance, assuming that you and your fellow Christian friends don’t act like gay-hating cretins, ask your Swiftian kids if Taylor was right to depict all believers in that way, or if doing so actually contradicted the very message she was trying to sell. If your children are Christians themselves, ask them if it’s fair or moral to portray them, their youth minister, and the gentle and kind elderly couple from your church as raving bigots.
But then quickly acknowledge what Swift got right. The climactic line of her anthem destined to be immortalized on rainbow placards for the foreseeable future proclaimed:
For those who aren’t fluent in the language of modern pop culture, “shade” means disgust and condemnation (again, the very thing Swift ironically throws at faithful Christians in her video). I think it would be most beneficial to the cause of Christ in our culture, particularly with young believers so constantly barraged by the world, to acknowledge our agreement with this declaration.
There’s so much hatred flying from every direction in our culture, amplified by the echo chambers of social media, that we’d all do well to restore the peace with our fellow man. And for Christians, derision, mockery, and contempt are not tools of effective persuasion. Our calling is to be truth-telling, love-showing ambassadors of Christ, not attempting to turn gay people straight, but to bring sinners to their Savior.
Remind your children of that, as well as the fact that the Holy Spirit empowers us to live lives of joy, doing good to and for our fellow man, with the blessed assurance that there’s a place in eternity prepared for us by God Himself. There are no unhappy, mean-spirited, saints. Those of us who know what it is to have been shown grace must redouble our efforts to show the same to others – others we may disagree with, others we know need that same transformative Spirit to change them as He’s changed us.
And as Taylor points out, playing into the world’s caricature of shade-spitting, bitter-clingers isn’t likely to help. Rage against her influence if you like, but I’d prefer to see Christians take captive her worldly thoughts and make them obedient to Christ.