As Katy Perry accepted the Human Rights Campaign National Equality Award in L.A. on Saturday night, the singer took a “trip down memory lane” that is gaining overwhelming praise from the LGBTQ community and equal backlash from Christians.
The singer opened in saying, “My first words were ‘mama’ and ‘dada,’ ‘God’ and ‘Satan.’ Right and wrong were taught to me on felt boards and, of course, through the glamorous Jan Crouch crying diamond tear drops every night on that Vaseline-TBN television screen.”
In her 10-minute speech that advocated for LGBTQ values while simultaneously mocking her religious upbringing, the most provocative statement was perhaps a reference to her 2008 hit, “I Kissed a Girl.”
“I kissed a girl and I liked it,” Perry proudly proclaimed to the audience before elaborating that the lyrics of her song did not do the extent of her sexual experience justice. “I did more than that,” she admitted:
“Truth be told, A.) I did more than that, but B.) How was I going to reconcile that with a gospel-singing girl raised in youth groups that were pro-conversion camps? What I did know is that I was curious, and even then I knew sexuality wasn’t as black and white as this (ruffled Rasario) dress. And honestly, I haven’t always gotten it right, but in 2008, when that song came out, I knew that I started a conversation that a lot of the world seemed curious enough to sing along to.”
The age-old cliché that we chalk up to killing the cat has ironically become today’s “life-giving” idol, I thought.
Perry chronicled the steps that led her down the path of embracing the homosexual lifestyle that her Christian roots were so adamantly against. If you’re anything like me, just her first few quotes are enough to make you cringe. So as she continued, admittedly, my mind initially couldn’t help but combat/complement each sequential statement with a Scriptural snippet.
The Katy Perry vs. my brain ping-pong match ensued a little something like this…
“When I was growing up, homosexuality was synonymous with the word ‘abomination,’ and ‘hell,’ a place of gnashing of teeth, continuous burning of skin and probably Mike Pence’s ultimate guest list for a barbecue.
(“You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination.” ~Leviticus 18:22)
No way, no way. I wanted the pearly gates and the unlimited FroYo toppings, so most of my unconscious adolescence, I prayed the gay away at my Jesus camps—but then in the middle of it all, in a twist of events, I found my gift, and my gift introduced me to people outside my bubble, and my bubble started to burst.
(“Refusing to know God, they soon didn’t know how to be human either—women didn’t know how to be women, men didn’t know how to be men. Sexually confused, they abused and defiled one another, women with women, men with men—all lust, no love. And then they paid for it, oh, how they paid for it—emptied of God and love, godless and loveless wretches.” ~Romans 1:26-27)
These people were nothing like what I had been taught to fear. They were the most free, strong, kind and inclusive people I have ever met. They stimulated my mind and they filled my heart with joy, and they freaking danced all the while doing it.
(“There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death. Even in laughter the heart may ache, and the end of joy may be grief.” ~Proverbs 14:12-13)
These people are actually magic, and they are magic because they are living their truth.
(“I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” ~John 14:6)
Oh my goddess. What a REVELATION, and not the last chapter of the Bible.”
(“I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book.” ~Revelation 22:18)
Phew. I thought, “Well that’s that. Just craziness, obviously. She doesn’t know what the heck she’s talking about. What a lost woman. She needs Jesus.”
Then, after I got off my holier-than-thou preaching pedestal where I spewed not even remotely theologically sound or comprehensive scripture refutations, something hit me. We could all probably spew out about 10 million reasons why Perry’s assertions are biblically off-base and downright offensive.
But that horse has been BEATEN and this issue certainly isn’t going away, so I figured I could either choose to bash the obviously blasphemous statements along with the crowd, or try to understand what they’re rooted in, in hopes of effecting cultural and Christ-like change.
So as I bit my lip during the “hip-hip hoorays” for homosexuality, I started to evaluate Perry’s “trip down memory lane” from a deeper perspective.
What occurred to me is that Katy Perry has heard ALL of this before, as many members of the LGBTQ community have as well. They’ve heard the hellfire and brimstone message, the Bible verses, that God hates homosexuality, that He created them male and female in His image, and that His way is the only way.
They’ve heard it, and guess what?—it hasn’t changed a thing.
As I asked myself that question, my mind clung to this phrase of Perry’s:
“These people were nothing like what I had been taught to fear. They were the most free, strong, kind and inclusive people I have ever met.”
Perhaps because the freedom, strength, kindness and inclusion they’ve witness in their own communities, from those who don’t know Jesus, isn’t projected to them by Christians who say they follow Him—Christians who have committed their own variety of sins that the Bible deems just as abominable (See Proverbs 6:16-19). Jesus hung out with the thieves, tax collectors, adulterers and prostitutes, loving them like he did his own disciples—but we want to cast the first stone because of someone’s sexual orientation? As those who are supposed to be the living representations of Christ on earth, can we blame them for questioning, “What kind of Savior is this?”
Now, hear me out. I certainly don’t want to turn this into a church-bashing session either, as I know there are Christians who have done an admirable job of exemplifying what it looks like to love the sinner and hate the sin. There are also Christians who battle with homosexuality themselves. And on the flipside, there are homosexuals who have been graciously presented with the gospel, and welcomed with opened arms—while still choosing to reject its Truth. Ours is both a God of mercy and a God of judgment, and those choices will hold eternal consequence. But that calls for a whole different conversation.
All I would like to do today is present a little food for thought for those who, like me, may be a little too quick to jump on our Christian high horses. Instead of charging that the LGBTQ community “pray the gay away,” let us reach out with the same love our Savior has shown us, who have sinned against Him in equal capacity.
I pray we start there.
And I pray we do it so well that they question in awe and wonder, rather than disdain, “What kind of Savior is this?”