Maybe Lady Gaga Does What The Church Won’t

So another blog post on Patheos has really stuck in my craw and I’ve been doing a great deal of thinking and praying to offer a thoughtful and faithful response. I find I am feeling less gentle than I should so forgive me if I am a tad punchy here. I am troubled by the author’s casual dismissal and even open disdain of a piece of pop culture that points people toward love and kindness when there is so much garbage out there spewing hate and violence.  Readers, please pop over to read the post to which I am responding, I’ll wait here ’til you’re done.

Welcome back.

Here’s what I’m thinking.

1. I’m happy to see anything that makes believing in yourself and treating others with respect a popular notion.  There are way too many messages out there that glorify despicable behavior. So is it really that bad to hear a positive word  from an otherwise bizarre pop star?   Lady Gaga hardly needs to promote a song that is so wildly popular – alleluia she chooses to use her position of influence to create a source of hope and strength.

2. I’m grateful to see any message that just might get through to someone, even if it is only one person, who really needs to hear that they are ok (or heaven forbid, wonderful). What a blessing that someone hears love rather than the constant message that so many churches and families drive home – that they are an abomination and an object of revulsion.

3. It takes a hell of a LOT of courage to be gay in some places in this country so to claim it is “an insult to real bravery” is simply ignorant of reality.   Sometimes it really is a matter of life and death:

It takes courage to be gay when there is a real and constant threat of violence…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

that can even go too far…

 

It takes courage, maybe even more even when the violence is spiritual.

So please let me address the three fantastic quotes offered by the author and share how my heart reads those very same statements.

Madeleine L’Engle wrote, “We have to be braver than we think we can be, because God is constantly calling us to be more than we are.” – This is a wonderful quote that calls me to be brave in the face of certain rejection from my family in friends and maybe even violence at the hands of strangers.  There was a time when I did not think I could muster the courage to go through what I fact did have to go through in order to be all that God has created me to be. I was less because I was living a lie, I am whole because God called me into the light of truth.

J.R.R. Tolkien wrote, “Living by faith includes the call to something greater than cowardly self-preservation.”   – This is fantastic!  What incredible faith in God we must have to step out of the self-preservation closet that many in society would love to lock us.  Self-preservation as a gay person often means lying about who you are, hiding your love and playing the pronoun game out of fear.  What courage has the young man or woman who says they will take all the risk to life and limb to accept faithfully how God has made them?

Winston Churchill said “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” –  Yes! The first time I came out to my parents and our relationship failed, that was not fatal and that was not the end of the story.   When I successfully hardened my heart to them “once and for all” that was not final for God opened all of our hearts anew one blessed Easter morning.

The author’s illustrations of forgetfulness, a few extra pounds or an inability to show up for PTA meetings are no way comparable to being LGBT.  Sexuality is not just some little hiccup in a self-improvement plan. Homosexuality is not something to overcome, it is something God calls us to live into fully and faithfully. For gay and lesbian people coming out IS the change, is the improvement, is the liberation. And it takes a heapin’ helpin’ of courage.

You know, as Christians, if we actually believe the Greatest Commandment – to love God with all of our whole being and to love our neighbor as ourselves…then the triquetra of this commandment falls apart if we do not even understand what it means to love ourselves.  Not narcissistically but with a deep and real respect for ourselves and how we fit in the larger context of family, community and world.   We can only love others if we understand that we are loved and lovable.

The real shame here is that Lady Gaga might get a young man or woman to see themselves as lovable while the church actively wounds or passively remains silent in the face of bullying.  It’s just flat sinful that the first time some kid may hear they are lovable is in the lyrics of a pop song rather than through the words of Jesus.   But praise be to God they can hear it somewhere.

 


I aslo bristled with her use of the phrase “traditional values” as if there is one set to which all Americans or even Christians prescribe. After I do a little more reading and praying I’ll share a post about “traditional values” sometime in the next couple of weeks.

About Kimberly Knight

Kimberly has a long history of back-pew sitting, Wednesday night supper eatin' and generally trying God’s patience since 1969. She's lucky enough to have made her technology addiction a career and serves as both the Director of Digital Strategy as a southern liberal arts college and Minister of Digital community with Extravagance UCC.

  • Nicole

    Being a teacher in a public school where religion is taboo, it is very helpful when there are positive messages about self-image for teens to hold on to. I am the GSA (gay-straight alliance) adviser at my school, and I am also an openly gay Christian woman. This year when we had National Coming Out Day at school we made t-shirts that said “born this way” and “straight against h8″. For so many of my LGBT students it was a way to embrace who they were, as well as embrace those who were different in a public manner amongst their peers. This was especially true for a student who is openly transgender. I had students who were not in our club ask to be apart of celebrating the day because they agreed with the sentiments of the message. I even had several straight students and staff members who asked to wear the “Born this Way” shirts, which led to discussions about the need to embrace people as they were. I appreciate Gaga’s message because for many of my students her song is the anthem that has empowered them to come out.

  • http://tiny.cc/bostonreaders ounbbl

    “Born that way” does not justify who we are. There are born with proclivity to criminal behavior – with specific gene they carry – however, does it justify them? No. We are born sinners – does it justify? No, it’s call for repentance.

    Most of music so called ‘praise’ serves man’s need (human, I mean) – make feel us good. But do they really glorify God and sanctify His name? In the world of pursuit-of-happYness and pleasure-driven humanity do we hear His call to pick up our cross day after day and deny ourselves to be our own Master? Yes, our own master who decides what is right and wrong apart from God, just as the Serpent challenged Adam and Eve, let each us be a honest one. Most so-called Christians (like many others), if Christ is subtracted, there remains intact ‘Self’ with all the power, pride, possession, position, pleasure, being driven by whatever purpose one is after. Like Yogi’s phrase, the Satan we meet is us!

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  • http://coswiccamom.wordpress.com Cos Wicca Mom

    You guys give me hope in Christians. Too many Christians are filled with hate or fear or judgement and its refreshing to see Christians who remember what Jesus teaches. You guys are Christians I could be friends with like my mom and best friend. You guys make me happy!
    Blessings!

    • Kimberly Knight

      Thank you Cos!

  • John (not McCain)

    If you haven’t seen, there’s a part at the end of Lady G’s Madison Square Garden concert dvd where she and a couple of other people perform an acapella version of Born This Way. It sounded like a hymn and brought tears to my eyes. One of the most beautiful things I have ever heard.

    • Kimberly Knight

      I’ve not heard that John but will go looking for it! Thanks :)

  • http://exclusionandembrace.blogspot.com rob g

    Hi Kimberley: Thanks for addressing that other post in the way that you did. You and the other readers might also be interested in Richard Beck’s excellent post on “The Gospel According to Lady Gaga” http://experimentaltheology.blogspot.ca/2011/09/gospel-according-to-lady-gaga.html

  • Jeremy

    John thank you for your service!! As I’m typing this I’m tearing up. So glad to see your comment, made me smile. Glad you’re safe!!! God Bless you and your whole family!!! :)

    We all fight to have a place in this world and theres no damn reason why each one of us should not have one.

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  • John

    I am not sure I would have even dignified Mrs. French with a response. Her story reveals her ignorance. Yes bravery is often displayed on the battlefield but that will never be diminished by the bravery it takes for a little boy to step up to the plate for the first time.
    Bravery is personal and cannot be judged from outside the heart of the one taking the journey.
    Take the Journey!!!
    John
    United States Marine… Multiple tours… Decorated for Valor in combat….

    • Kimberly Knight

      Love you man and thank you for speaking up! On the journey with ya!!

  • http://bonniemcnair.wordpress.com Bonnie McNair

    I’m always amazed at people who forget the greatest commandment as they spew their form of love. No wonder so many people are hurting in the world today. Thank you Kimberly for being you and taking a stand for what is love. I want my grandchildren to grow up in a world where God’s love does not hurt.

    • Kimberly Knight

      Well said Bonnie, thanks for all you are in God’s creation!

  • http://meganwillome.com Megan Willome

    I told a friend this week that she reminded me of Lady Gaga because she is willing to take risks. Totally with you on this.

    • Kimberly Knight

      Thanks Megan.

  • Jersey Boy
    • Kimberly Knight

      Yeah, at it again to raise ratings is all. Since I am not in this for the rating I’m gonna ignore this one.

      • Jersey Boy

        You already succeeded

  • Jersey Boy

    Amen

  • Jeff Straka

    “You, yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.” ~The Buddha

    • Kimberly Knight

      Perfect Jeff! Thanks for bringing that :)

  • Nicole Amalfitano

    I believe that Lady Gaga has expressed herself to her Little Monsters so much she makes it seem like family. She’s my inspiration that will always get me through the day. What I don’t understand is why is she getting picked on? I think anyone should be able to tell someone positive advice or to make them feel loved not just by the church. I love Lady Gaga because she can be herself and she doesn’t give up on people and I know that through her music, and hopefully if I get to meet her, that she will spread that love to me.

  • http://Facebook Charles

    I am a WASP straight male. She is comparing oranges and apples. You don’t have to have bullets flying all around you to be brave. It comes in many forms. I would not want to be a gay and have to come out in this Society. Gaga has a great message for the people who listen. God makes no mistakes. We are not perfect but he is.

  • Jk

    Yeah….well written. Thanks…..

    …beautiful in my way,
    ….’cause God makes no mistake,
    …..Nothing wrong with loving who you are,
    …cuz He made yoy perfect babe.

    Gaga is crazy and weird in her own way, but she knows what is right.

  • Jeremy

    A well written artcle, I wish I could put my point just like you did! God loves his children, otherwise we wouldn’t be here. I think Gaga is a great role model. I’ve personally have learned not to take shit from anyone. We were all brought to this planet for a purpose, I’m still trying to find mine here. The Born this way foundation will be here to stay. Thank you once again.

    • Kimberly Knight

      Jeremy,
      Thanks friend – you keep on standing up to shit when it comes your way! Live your purpose and be your own role model and one for others too!
      K

  • Ridge Welch

    Thanks so much for writing this wonderful article!

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  • http://Yahoo Thea

    Wow. I was mistaken about this site. Wonderful article that made me think and reconsider. It truly wishes to promote love as Jesus did in a world where hate abounds even among my fellow Christians. When did the message of Jesus get lost in all this hate spewed by certain Christians. I can only assume they are not Christians at all. Jesus said by there fruits you shall know them. To think that in the name of Jesus Christ a mother called her daughter an abomination. She will have to answer for that not to us but to God. I only hope her daughter will some day forgive her.

    • Kimberly Knight

      Thea,
      Thank you for taking the time to read and process what’s here instead of being content to assume what its about – that is cool and takes a bit of courage too! And the daughter has forgiven her mother though hasn’t forgotten all the ways they wounded each other. One day at a time :)

      K

  • http://www.butnotyet.com JoelR

    Oh, come on, Kimberly. You know bravery is a male attribute and is associated with wiping out all those evil muslims. Truthfully, right now, the bravest person I know is my youngest daughter who is dealing with anxiety disorder and general teenage bullshit. Not to mention, she recently came out as bisexual and was told by her mother that she was an “abomination”. Don’t worry, though, her mother (a good Southern Baptist) assured her she still loved her. My girl doesn’t take crap from anybody and firmly asserts she is just the way God made her. She makes me proud every day.

  • Nikki Gill

    Thank you, Kimberly, for posting this. You posted what you thought and that itself takes a lot of courage. I believe in everything you talk about. God is good. And so is Gaga. As you said “But praise be to God they can hear it somewhere.” When people ask me why I like Gaga so much it’s hard for me not to get upset, how can you NOT like Gaga? There are so many reasons why she is amazing and she stands for God. She is truly amazing!
    Thank you so much for posting this! It’s so great to read what other’s think and feel, especially when it is SO great.
    I have an idea to bring Gaga, Monsters and God together. If you are curious here’s the basis of my idea: http://www.twitlonger.com/show/h604sj
    Once again thank you for speaking your mind and being such a pleasure!
    Nikki

  • Jeff Straka

    I would be willing to bet that the church Nancy French attends in Brentwood, TN had a 4th of July “God and Country” celebration. It’s tragic that theses “Christians” that claim to follow Jesus do NOTHING of the sort. They do NOT love their neighbor AS themselves (not “as much as” themselves, but AS ONE). Nor do they follow in the anti-empire, nonviolent way Jesus lived out of – they PRAISE and WORSHIP our military industrial complex”! Jesus lived a path of non-tribal, all-inclusive, boundary-less Love (including abolishing the Levitical purity codes in favor of Love!) yet these “Christians”, out of fear, are more tribal and exclusive than the Pharisees of Jesus’ day!

    What I wonder is why the UCC or Believe Out Loud Organization didn’t co-sponsor Lady Gaga’s campaign…of course that REALLY would draw the ire of these so-called “Christians”, wouldn’t it! :)

    • Aaron

      Actually, Mr. French has appeared on David Barton’s (A fake historian that conservative Christians use to pretend that the founding fathers were all conservative evangelicals who wanted to form a Christian State) show more than once, so your analysis of that is definitely correct.
      Being bi and in the military, I’ve about had it with all Christians to be honest. One side can’t side me because of my sexual orientation, the other can’t stand me because of my profession. I hate how conservative Christians worship us (when they think we are straight and Christian) but delight in sending us into unjust wars to be killed, and I hate how sometimes progressives seem to react with their own fear and dogmatism and treat military members the same way conservatives treats GLBT: like we are a disease.
      I love this blog and I love the UCC; I wish there was one within 100 miles of where I am stationed :(
      My advice would be to stay away from French’s blog; I throw up in my mouth every time I read his blog. He is a common source for hate groups like FRC and AFA, and is a professional culture warrior with a strong ability to fear monger.

  • Ahmed

    I totally agree that it is sad that someone who needs to hear they are loved is thru a pop song but nonetheless praise God for it! God is everywhere and speaks through everyone and any means to tell his children they are loved!

    Amen on how you presented the greatest commandment as a triquetra! That’s how I’ve come to understand it and preach it because it’s so true. There are many who are missing that very important part of the commandment and that’s actually falling in love with ourselves as God’s precious and beloved child. There are a lot of mixed messages in the world about whose are, what we should look like and who we should be. But none of that matters because it’s about loving, knowing, appreciating, embracing and being content with who we are! This is difficult and challenging but is a necessary part of our journey!

    • Kimberly Knight

      Thank you Ahmed! Blessings on your own journey of always becoming :)

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/daughtersofeve/ Crystal Blanton

    Thank you for writing this. I responded to some similar experiences from reading blogs of others who approach religion in this way in my newest Patheos Daughters of Eve post. I loved reading this. Although I am not Christian, I connect with your soul in writing this and the spirit of spirituality that I often feels is missing from others. Thank you for being brave and posting such an important post.

    • Kimberly Knight

      Thank you so much Crystal. I’ve not been aware of your blog here on Patheos (there are so many good ones) but will make it a point to get to know your work!

      Peace,
      K

      • http://Yahoo Thea

        I know I feel the same way. So wonderful to talk about the love of God at this site.


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