And second. . . let’s think about Lady Gaga and her halftime show. . . beginning with some thoughts on Super Bowl halftime shows in general. As a culture-watcher, I’ve always processed the Super Bowl halftime show as something very, very significant. For one thing, the NFL is trying to develop new young fans. Consequently, their choice of performers lets us know who their research tells them is the best connect with the emerging generations. This year, it was Lady Gaga who spoke both for and to the emerging generations. Whether you like the performer or not, it’s important that we watch the halftime show each and every year. It offers quite a wide-open window into the culture.
A quick processing of Lady Gaga’s halftime performance through a theological grid yields some initial thoughts. . .
First, she is an amazing talent. Her voice is stunningly good. In a world where music has relied on generic formulas, repetition, and auto-tune, she’s a breath of fresh air. Lady Gaga is gifted. The gift-giver is God. I have a hunch she knows that. . . regardless of how she might define who God is.
Second, her talent and creative ability scream “Glory to God!” The image of God has been created into each of us. While we are indeed all broken people as a result of our sin, the imago dei is something from which we cannot cut ourselves off. Lady Gaga “cultivates” and creates by using and developing the “tools” and gifts God has given to her. As an artist, she relentlessly pursues the development of her craft. And like all other artists, regardless of the trajectory of one’s lyrical and visual content, one’s talent and use of that talent offers an apologetic which affirms the uniqueness of humanity in God’s good creation. We are image-bearers because we are co-creators. And every time that’s done well, it screams “Glory!”
Finally, a comment about just one lyrical aspect of her halftime show. Granted, there was much to celebrate. But as one who has worked to deconstruct her music and message over the years, there’s one lyrical moment that we cannot reconcile with Scripture. As her halftime medley took her into “Born This Way,” she justified the pursuit of any variety of sexual or gender options based on what she understands as God’s creative intent. Last night, she included “gay, straight, or bi, Lesbian, transgender. . .” in that mix.
In my ongoing conversations regarding being “born this way” as a sign of God’s intent for one’s life, I would like nothing more than for everyone to freely follow their heart and their feelings into what we believe will ultimately bring happiness. When almost forty years ago a good friend came out to me and then asked me “What do you think?”, I was honest. “I wish that with everything that’s in me I could affirm this. But I can’t. God’s Word calls me to something different. That doesn’t mean I don’t care for you.” Since then, I’ve looked for loopholes and become convinced that there are none. The calling to something different rests in cement that has hardened over the last forty years.
Just to clarify, I believe that there are those among the “gay, straight, or bi, Lesbian, transgender. . . ” who have been born this way. But there’s a huge difference between God’s created intent as being behind the birth (prior to the fall), and the birth “this way” being a post-Genesis 3:6 result of sin and brokenness. Our culture, along with a growing number of folks within the church who fail to recognize Genesis 1 and 2 as God’s order, design, and intent for human flourishing are jettisoning the thread of biblical orthodoxy that has survived two-thousand years of history and challenge. Of course, sexual brokenness takes a variety of forms and effects us all in some way. . . all of us. This makes life hard. It makes living to the glory of God a dangerous and difficult path. And, it causes us to appreciate the redemptive work of God’s Son and the sustaining work of God’s Spirit. We have not been left and lost to ourselves.
Ultimately, we image God best and most faithfully when we pursue His Shalom. Because of sin, we’ve all been “born this way.” And the enemy of our souls would like nothing more than to see us justify the pursuit of our post-fall inclinations void of any knowledge of God’s creation intent. To fall victim in one area of our lives makes it easy for us to fall victim in every area of our lives. Sadly, Lady Gaga is one voice among many that is opening that door.