In the just over two months since it was released, Lady Gaga’s latest Album Born This Way has created quite a stir. Specifically, the title track “Born This Way” has ruffled quite a few feathers. It was well-received in the world of music, spending seven weeks at #1 on the Billboard 200 chart and topping several others as well. However, unlike other songs that make reference to God, the response to this song from the Christian community was largely negative.
The chorus to the controversial song is as follows:
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
Later the song clarifies:
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
As one might guess, much of the controversy surrounding the song centers on its accepting attitude toward homosexuality. I don’t want to make that the focus of my writing, though, for two reasons. First, I feel like there are already enough people out there blasting homosexuality. A common perception of Christians is that they’re full of hatred toward certain lifestyle choices, namely homosexuality and abortion. Suffice it to say that I don’t want to contribute to that stereotype. Secondly, I think there is a bigger issue driving the mentality behind the song, and that’s what I want the focus of the conversation surrounding this song to be.
This song makes two main points: first, that homosexuality is not a choice but instead is a genetic character trait, and second, that this means homosexuality is necessarily acceptable. Most of the focus of the homosexuality discussion in our culture centers on the first point. Is a gay person “born this way,” as the song suggests, or is the person making a conscious choice to follow a lifestyle? There is a place for such discussion, but because it is already so prominent, I don’t want to join it. Instead, I want to address the second issue, because the implications of it are bigger than just homosexuality. For now, let’s just assume the song is correct and homosexuality is a genetic trait. It’s important to note that I don’t necessarily agree with this – I only suggest it for purposes of discussion. The bigger issue here is this: does the fact that something is genetic mean that its consequences should be excused?
Let’s leave the homosexuality issue alone for a minute and consider other implications. Let’s say you have a child in elementary school who just got beaten up by another child. Both you and the other child’s mother are called to the principal’s office. When asked about the fight, the other child’s mom states matter-of-factly: “He just has anger issues. He gets it from his daddy.” Does the fact that anger runs in this child’s family excuse the fact that he just beat your kid to a pulp?
Or consider infidelity. If you’re in a relationship and you catch the other person cheating on you, does “sorry, I just have wandering eyes; I was just born that way!” work for you as an excuse?
Child molesters and pedophiles serve as additional examples. “I’m just attracted to kids” doesn’t excuse such behavior!
The deeper issue here has more implications than just the nature of our actions. It has more to do with accountability. I believe it’s a result of what is known as antinomianism. Basically, antinomianism is the belief that moral law is obsolete because of the freedom we are given in Christ. It’s essentially saying, “Anything goes because I know Jesus will forgive me.” It takes advantage of grace. Though it has been spoken against since Reformation times, it is still a somewhat commonly used excuse. I believe it is closely related to the argument being made in Lady Gaga’s song, essentially “God made me this way, so why would He want me to change? Just be who God made you to be!” The problem with excuses like this is that our actions often fall short of what God made us to be. Whether our struggle is anger, infidelity, homosexual attraction, or something else, we should not be content with giving in to our desires. Yes, if we ask God for forgiveness, God will grant it, but we should not take advantage of God’s offer of forgiveness. Even if we believe our actions are a reflection of the way we were made, it does not exempt us from a call to be holy. So let the discussion on the nature of homosexuality continue, but meanwhile, pursue holiness – even if it doesn’t come naturally.
I like your post, It was well written. Good job! The only part I would take issue with is where you talk about other people using “Born this Way” as an excuse. Infidelity, assault, and pedophilia all have victims. You can’t use being born a certain way as an excuse to hurt people.
However, if you’re talking about two consenting adults who fall in love with each other, who is the victim?
I am very impressed with the way you wrote this. I actually read it because I assumed you were going to pursue the “first path” towards homosexuality to which you referred. However; I feel you did an incredible job of positing a question on which for us all to think. I DO believe homosexuality is genetic because why would anyone CHOOSE to be ostracized and the subject of massive inequalities? But the similes were nonetheless quite thought provoking.
Very well written post. I think you did a good job of addressing the issues without blasting homosexuals, which as you wisely point out is done way too often in the American church.
The argument you give is very similar to one I’ve heard Matt Chandler give. He said the question of whether or not gays were born that way is irrelevant. Most straight men were born with a desire to to sleep with any attractive woman they see, but that does not make doing so a right or beneficial action.
As long as we are throwing around theological terms, I’ve also thought you could relate Gaga’s song to the idea of “Moral Therapeutic Deism,” that is a phenomenon among the younger generations in America. In other words I think it reflects this theology out there that God doesn’t demand any accountability, growth, or change in my life. He just wants me to be happy and feel good about myself Thus, theres no real right or wrong behavior, as long as I think what I am doing makes me happy. If it “feels good” it must be okay cause God wants me to feel good.
I will say I think its good that Gaga whats to encourage people who may feel like outcasts that they are beautiful and unique creations of God, and that they should love themselves the way God loves them. I think that is very Christlike. However, I think some kind of line has to be drawn where we can understand that yes, God created us, God loves us for who we are, but that doesn’t mean that everything we do is necessarily pleasing to God.
@Brandon, I guess you might could say the “victim” of homosexuality, as with many sexual sins is one’s own self? Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 6: “Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body. 19 Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20 you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.”
Jonathan, as always I enjoy and learn from your viewpoints. I like the way you express yourself on these issues.
Interesting that she’d include transgender people in the lyrics.. aren’t they identifying as something they weren’t born as?