By Jeremiah G. Dys, Esq.
There’s been no little buzz about the Grammy’s this past weekend. From Taylor Swift being attacked to Natalie Grant walking out to that odd mass wedding thing Latifah officiated over. There was plenty for the talking heads to yap about and more than enough fodder for Facebook to need to add another server so folks could share the juicy tidbits.
And then there are the Carters or, as you would probably better know them, Jay-Z and Beyonce.
Let me lay my cards completely on the table: I own zero albums, tapes, CD’s, mp3’s, or vinyls of either Beyonce or Jay-Z. I’m quite familiar with them, but I could not quote back any of Jay-Z’s songs and am hard-pressed to be able to differentiate among the hundreds of songs sung by Beyonce. I’m not generally a big fan of R&B or whatever their genre of music is. I had to google the lyrics of, “Drunk Love,” the song performed by Jay-Once (how do we refer to them as a couple?) – and I discovered I preferred not knowing what they were singing to actually reading the lyrics. Geepers!
To give you a better understanding of my musical affections, as I type, Haydn’s Concerto No. 5 for King Ferdinand IV of Naples is playing on iTunes. That’s a tad more my speed. Let’s say I’m more Mohler than I am the mix-master Owen Strachan (Did you know he cut a rap CD? Dude’s awesome.).
There are three articles I wanted to pass along to you with a word of cultural comment or two. What the Grammy’s demonstrated is a socio-political worldview on ripe display. It is the fusion of secular humanism and moral relativism put to a scantily clad beat. You may think this is a music awards show (and I suppose it is that), but as you watch, you are being taught someone’s worldview, someone’s political ideology. How does that square with Scripture and the worldview of Christianity? Can it?
First, I was pointed to an article at Buzzfeed entitled, “Beyonce and Jay Z Show How Sexy Christian Marriage Can Be.” Now, you need to be aware that there is both bad theology and links to tempting images all over that site. But, if you do manage to read it, you’ll see what I consider a flimsy argument that suggests that Jay-Z and Beyonce’s performance was a modern-day depiction of the Song of Solomon and that we, as Christians, ought to celebrate the raw celebration of married sex. While I’m the first to glory in the God-exalting physical union that is marriage, I submit that J&B’s performance was lewd. Speaking as a man to a man, Jay-Z should be ashamed of himself for parading his wife in next to nothing for the world to gawk at. His is a duty to protect his one-flesh union. Whatever these two demonstrated on stage, it was not the example of Christ laying himself down for the church, nor the church lovingly submitting to her head. Rather than depict a picture of Song of Solomon, I believe these two perverted that allegory and expressly ignored the Bride’s warning of Song of Solomon 8:4 to not, “arouse or awaken love until it pleases.” Indeed, culture today screams in the face of a love’s slumber, wishing to awaken and arouse it prematurely. Reject that myth; embrace the beauty of the self-denying, self-sacrificing, self-giving love as modeled by Christ to his church and imaged in the gift of human marriage.
That brings me to a secular response that said it a bit more bluntly with the headline, “Jay-Z is a Poor Excuse for a Husband.” This is not a Christian or theological publication. It is a major news rag in a major media market. Even amidst culture’s demand for gender equality and the redefinition of marriage, note how culture yet retains a common grace understanding that whatever Jay-Z and Beyonce did is not right, it is not appropriate, it is not what marriage was designed to be, it is not how husbands and wives are to act, nor certainly what husbands ought to celebrate. If you’re feeling overly judgmental of the Carters (or whatever their married name is), consider that we are to carefully evaluate the fruit of a person’s life. Do they exhibit spiritual fruit? Or are their lives marked by gratifying the flesh? It is not improper to consider such things as we evaluate whether we we will emulate those demanding our political re-education, cultural worship, and stylistic following.
And, I conclude with some massive wisdom by a guy vested in the industry, Tripp Lee. He penned, “5 Questions I Would Ask Beyonce” which capture, in an incredibly gracious tone, several salt-filled questions that someone ought to ask Mr. and Mrs. Beyon-Z (seriously, I don’t know what to call the pair). I am thankful for Tripp Lee’s balanced and evocative questions and pray that he will have the opportunity to personally present them. You might also insert some of these questions in any discussion you might have around the water cooler as folks consider the latest Grammy’s-esque display. Certainly, Grammy’s 2014 is not the last time a cultural fervor will result from musicians centrally gathered!
The point is this: rather than merely smack our teeth at the nonexistent hemlines and overt demonstrations of liberal political ideoloogy, let us lean in to those discussions. There is ample room to engage what our culture is amused by with a discussion of the Gospel. Naturally, we must be prudent about that which we intake – there is truth to what Mom warned us of, “garbage in, garbage out.” Yet, even as you avoid what is unavoidable, look for the hooks in which you might embrace the cultural discussion and challenge the reining worldview with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
To coin John Piper, “Don’t waste your Grammy’s.”
Jeremiah G. Dys, Esq., is Senior Counsel to Liberty Institute, a nationwide religious liberty law firm. As a First Amendment attorney, Dys works with Liberty Institute across the country to restore and defend religious liberty. Dys is regularly featured in local, state, and national print, radio, and television outlets. He lives in a log home on the edge of the country close to Charleston, West Virginia, with his wife and four sons.
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