Identity in Christ- A Response to Lady Gaga’s Born This Way

Born this Way is a song  written by Lady Gaga [Real name Stefani Germanotta] and released less than two months ago. As it were,  it is the fastest-selling single in Itunes history, selling one million copies in five days. I have downloaded a copy of the song, but I have absolutely no interest in seeing the music video for it. I hear that it has been highly acclaimed and artistic, but I can’t imagine it being anything different than the sort of garish, hyper-sexualized softcore pornographic spectacle that we have seen before,  and so I would not recommend that anyone view it. That having been said, I would like to apply the biblical lens to this song and give some thoughts first on the person, then on the message of the song.

I should say right out of the gate that I am not a fan or hers, nor do I follow her life and music in any sort of meaningful way. My primary interaction with her is through covers and parodies of her music, as well as when she makes the news and is mentioned in some sort of ancillary way, and I admit that I am more or less ignorant on the matter. It seems that she is often pictured tottering down the street in some outlandish get-up and fright wig, and although she presents herself as the messianic voice of all the misfits, freaks, and non-conformists, there is little evidence that she ever was one. Her upbringing was upper-middle class and eventually affluent. She attended the same upscale Manhattan private school as Paris Hilton. For this reason there’s a wild disconnect between Gaga’s melodramatic self-portrayal as a lonely, rebellious, marginalized artist and the powerful corporate apparatus that bankrolled her makeover and has steamrollered her songs into heavy rotation on radio stations everywhere. She is the shepherd who calls all her sheep to her, the pied piper with bombastic ready-to-mix club beats. Her style and personality is avant-garde, but I wonder for whom she is dressing for.

I think that’s what strikes me about her more than anything whenever I catch a glimpse of her on my You Tube sidebar, or performing at some music awards, that  despite showing acres of pallid skin in the fetish-bondage garb of urban prostitution, Gaga isn’t sexy at all, despite the efforts and millions of dollars that go into painting her as such. As Camille Pagila puts it “She’s like a gangly marionette or plasticised android. How could a figure so calculated and artificial, so clinical and strangely antiseptic, so stripped of genuine eroticism have become the icon of her generation? Can it be that Gaga represents the exhausted end of the sexual revolution? In Gaga’s manic miming of persona after persona, over-conceptualized and claustrophobic, we may have reached the limit of an era…”

For that reason I wonder how many of the young women in the Church see that and are caught up in it? How many of them think it’s cool and courageous? Surely the message of hyper-personalized and radical inclusive individuality must have some sort of effect on them. Because absent a biblical wordview [that is generally absent] I’m not sure how they would be any less susceptible than the unchurched and non-religious youth of our communities to be drawn into what she’s singing about.

BORN THIS WAY

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’re all born superstars
She rolled my hair, 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

Ooo, there ain’t no other way
Baby, I was born this way
Baby, I was born this way
(Born this way)
Ooo, there ain’t other way
Baby, I was born this way
Right track, baby
I was born this way

Don’t be a drag, just be a queen
Don’t be a drag, just be a queen
Don’t be a drag, just be a queen
Don’t be!

Give yourself prudence and love your friends
Subway kid, rejoice the truth
In the religion of the insecure
I must be myself, respect my youth
A different lover is not a sin
Believe capital H-I-M (hey, hey, hey)
I love my life, I love this record and
Mi amore vole fe yah

Don’t be a drag, just be a queen
Whether you’re broke or evergreen
You’re black, white, beige, chola descent
You’re lebanese, you’re orient
Whether life’s disabilities
Left you outcast, bullied or teased
Rejoice and love yourself today
‘Cause baby, you were born this way

No matter gay, straight or bi
lesbian, transgendered life
I’m on the right track, baby
I was born to survive
No matter black, white or beige
chola or orient made
I’m on the right track, baby
I was born to be brave

This song, in every way possible, seems to be an anthem to individuality and to the prowess of mankind. It is the pop refrain of a generation, much like Nirvana’s Smells like Teen Spirit was for the 90′s. Several themes run through the song. Some are admirable and should be echoed. Love and acceptance of oneself and others, that we ought to strive to be comfortable in our own skin, a disparagement of racism, a recognition that God made mankind a certain way and that in his sovereignty he did not make any mistakes, and that there is hope and comfort for the socially marginalized. Those are good things, and I think people looking for validation will find it.

And yet we see different aspects of the song which are troubling and which seek to burn to the ground the foundation of the biblical worldview I spoke of earlier. These would be an overemphasis  and a glorification of  self-love, self-hype, self-aggrandizement, and self-esteem. The eschewing of biblical sexual ethics whereby the expression of free love and the promotion of homosexuality, lesbianism, and the encouragement of sexual experimentation is lauded and encouraged. We see God/ Capital H-I-M make an appearance, but any notion of holiness and majesty is reduced to a deistic being who creates mankind and then endorses  and blesses every action and feeling they have. As it were, the whole song screams the message “I was born this way, and so whatever I chose to do and think and be is good in and of itself, and no one can tell me otherwise.”

At its core the message of Lady Gage and of “Born this way” is unrestrained unaccountability that is fueled and powered by subjective experiences, all of which according to her should be accepted as legitimate and good. It is a seductive message, and one that I think rings intuitively as true for most people who hear it because that is the experience in their own lives.  She comes into our homes through the airwaves, belting out the clarion call that is a simple continuation of the greater themes of our culture- that you are not fallen. You are not fractured. You are not a sinner. You are not broken. You’re perfect just the way you are, and instead of needing redemption from something outside yourself, you just need to look inward and love and accept yourself more,. Then you’ll be okay.

Our response to this then should be simple. The antidote to a script that says we ought to find our identity in ourselves by virtue of ourselves, is that we should find our identity in Christ. That’s the contradistinction that should effervescent in our bones, spirit, blood, skin and brains.  That’s the message that we need to communicate that will tear down the walls of self-lust and the pride of life; that our questions are given answers in Christ. Our insecurities are made secure in Christ. Our uncertainties are made certain in Christ. Our burdens are made light in Christ. Our hurts are made whole in Christ. Our attitudes are bent towards God in Christ. Our incompleteness has been made complete in Christ. Our tears are dried away in Christ. Our sexuality is redeemed and restored in Christ. Our pain is understood and made pure in Christ.

What Lady Gaga offers is nothing but a cold, hard, calloused imitation. It’s a dry husk. It’s a corpse. Its a prison of self-reliance disguised as freedom but betrayed by its own fragility. For this reason it won’t last long, and we need to be there with the truth of the gospel when this worldview collapses in on itself.

3 thoughts on “Identity in Christ- A Response to Lady Gaga’s Born This Way

  1. I agree with everything except this:

    “despite showing acres of pallid skin in the fetish-bondage garb of urban prostitution, Gaga isn’t sexy at all, despite the efforts and millions of dollars that go into painting her as such.”

    I don’t think she’s trying to be sexy at all, and I don’t think she’s intending to come across that way. Sexual, yes, but not to be sexy.

  2. Having admitted you’re not a fan, can I recommend the video? Lady Gaga’s works are anything but “garish, hyper-sexualized softcore pornographic spectacle[s].” In fact, a large part of her appeal is the fact that she is rarely an object of sexual focus, even when singing about sexual subjects. She plays with feminity in intriguing ways that reveal the cultural artifice behind them, and it’s very hard to be attracted to a large scale deconstructions of gender roles. In awe, yes. Sexually attracted, no. And that’s exactly the point. Girls have plenty of models for being sexy. We have very few for figuring out what ‘sexy’ means, and whether we want a part of it. Because we were ‘born this way’ whether we like it or not.
    Watch the video. It’s a total headtrip.

  3. The music video is nothing but satanic trash straight from the pit of hell, and I am being mild here. When I saw this video I was disturbed troubled and very angry. This video is highly graphical and offensive and potrays a womans vagina opening although some would call this nothing. I was glad about the maturity with which this article was written and hope others may get something from it.

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