So, Lady Gaga landed in South Africa this week to much hype and controversy. The SA Council of Churches has been organizing marches to the department of arts and culture and getting a petition signed. They want to have Lady Gaga banned from the country or at least from performing here. So what is my response?
The way this is reported is interesting because most radio and TV personalities are excited about Lady Gaga being here, so they don’t take the Council of Churches’ concerns very seriously. I’m not sure anyone does. Are they just another group of conservative religious people, who don’t want others to intrude the bubble they find themselves in? Are they ignorant, prejudice, judgmental? Or are they courageous in being firm in what they believe, which, according to them, is the safe upbringing of the country’s youth.
I’d like to focus on the question you won’t hear from the media: What is Jesus thinking of all of this? Just from what I’ve experienced of Jesus, I think he weeps for our world, the way he wept for Jerusalem just before his arrest and crucifixion.
I don’t know Lady Gaga and I don’t want to judge her character based on her music or fashion sense, but some thing do become obvious, for example, like most artists, sex doesn’t seem that sacred and is something to be shown off. I do think lyrics and visuals that mock Jesus make him sad. I don’t think Jesus is OK with darkness being celebrated. Lady Gaga is sometimes called “Mother Monster” and jokes make the rounds about the sacrificing of goats behind stage and other rituals.
BUT, I don’t think Jesus would be at the front of a picket fence. When Jesus came in contact with people, it was always about the person in front him. The Samaritan woman at the well, the poor old lady in the synagogue, the woman accused of adultery, the list goes on… Jesus never joined a furious crowd. So if the journalists turned to him for a response, somewhat like the Pharisees used to do, what would he say?
Well for one thing, what he said in those situations was always counter-cultural and counter-intuitive. If he stood face to face with her, I think he’d have a sad smile on his face; Sad because she’s missing the point. She went to a convent school and never saw him. Sad maybe because he sees issues and pains that she probably doesn’t even understand. Every person I know has those and I don’t think Lade Gaga is any different. He might say “Hey Stefani (her real name). I love you”. I think he’d give her a hug and say something like, “don’t you want to do life with me instead of all this other stuff?”. I think he’d be gentle. Not weak, definitely not weak. He’d name her sin without sugar coating it, but he would do it all in the context of love and compassion. Paul wrote to the Ephesians that people aren’t the enemy, the devil is. So yes, we should confront sin and darkness, but always remembering that we are at war with the spiritual, not sinners.
I think when we write other people off and judge them, we miss the point of life with God as much as with any other sin. Most people, Christians and non-Christians, know John 3:16. But very few people know the next verse:
For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.
A lot of Christians probably feel bullied by culture and I completely understand why. It seems if you want to be significant and relevant you have to stand up and shout whatever it is you feel from the roof tops, or you might be labeled a push over. But I think our relevance comes from being Jesus in this culture. We are to engage with people in a compassionate way, where they are and show them who Jesus is. Only then can we confront behavioural issues and lifestyle etc. It doesn’t make sense to expect Christ-like behavior from people who don’t know him. We are the custodians of the kingdom and if we treat it any other way, we become a religion, where you have to stick to a list of do’s and don’ts in order to be good enough.
So to put it briefly, no, I won’t be going to the Lady Gaga concert and yes, I do think she is a negative influence and I definitely won’t defend evil when I see it. BUT I won’t compromise Jesus’ purpose for us in order to make my voice louder.
Jesus loves and saves.