Archive for July 21st, 2008

I Kissed A Girl

There is a song that has been playing on the radio for a few weeks now that is creating quite a buzz in the youth ministry world.  Katy Perry’s song, “I kissed a girl” has been in the number 1 spot on Billboard’s Hot 100 for the past 10 weeks.  The song, I have to admit, has a great sound.  I find myself getting “jiggy wit’it” when it plays as I drive along in my car (notably the only place you will find me ever getting “jiggy wit’it”)  What has been stirring up all the dialogue about this song is the content of the lyrics.

This was never the way I planned
Not my intention
I got so brave, drink in hand
Lost my discretion
It’s not what, I’m used to
Just wanna try you on
I’m curious for you
Caught my attention

I kissed a girl and I liked it
The taste of her cherry chap stick
I kissed a girl just to try it
I hope my boyfriend don’t mind it
It felt so wrong
It felt so right
Don’t mean I’m in love tonight
I kissed a girl and I liked it
I liked it

No, I don’t even know your name
It doesn’t matter
You’re my experimental game
Just human nature
It’s not what, good girls do
Not how they should behave
My head gets so confused
Hard to obey

Us girls we are so magical
Soft skin, red lips, so kissable
Hard to resist so touchable
Too good to deny it
Ain’t no big deal, it’s innocent

Needless to say, this song shows the culture of curiosity that is prevalent among teenagers.  The real kicker of this whole story is that Katy Perry was once Katy Hudson.  In her former persona she was a Christian artist with a very promising debut album.  Her bio shares of her upbringing in a Christian home and being the daughter of two pastors.  Somewhere along her journey something happened that caused a disconnect.

I see this happening more and more among teenagers as they head off into the world after high school.  There seems to be a point where they begin to doubt all that they have acted on in their younger years and, when challenged about their beliefs, drop their values and follow the loudest voice.  Are we as a ministry creating this culture?  Am I contributing to a shallow faith in young people?  These are the questions that I wrestle with.  What will be the lasting fruit of my ministry?

As a student ministry we try and focus more on what God says about who we are and can be than on what we personally think.  We attempt to root the young people into God’s Word, knowing that it is His word that renews and transforms.  We aren’t heavy on fun events, games, and messy food races.  If kids want to shove lots of marshmallows in their mouth and try to talk they can do that on their own time.  Our prayer is that students would connect with the love of Jesus and enter into a deep relationship with Him that would radically alter their life and help them with their personal struggles.

Walt Mueller, founder and president of the Center for Parent/Youth Understanding, makes a few observations about our response to this song:

  • Because it mirrors our culture, “I Kissed a Girl” offers those called to love and lead kids an eye-opening glimpse into several rapidly developing mainstream cultural realities. Homosexuality is no longer stigmatized, but is now accepted and celebrated as normal. Feelings are the guide for life. Girls are taught to assume the role of objectified boy toys. Our teenage boys increasingly enjoy watching girl-on-girl sexual activity. Our teenage girls – even those void of lesbian leanings or feelings – are engaging in what we might call “experimental homosexuality.” While it’s not pretty, these are realities that we must recognize and understand if we hope to address them.

  • Because it serves to direct young viewers and listeners, “I Kissed a Girl” is more than a song kids will listen to. It actually serves as a map to life, guiding impressionable kids into accepting and practicing the values, attitudes, and behaviors that are depicted and promoted in the song. This includes a postmodern ethical relativism, and homosexuality.

  • The song and video should be played for parents and youth workers. Use it to spark discussion on evolving values, attitudes, and behaviors, along with how to bring the light of God’s Word to bear on those realities in our day to day living with and ministering to kids.

  • Since Katy Perry and her music are finding their places in the collective consciousness of today’s youth culture, she and her music are realities that we can’t ignore. Kids are seeing and hearing the music of Katy Perry. We suggest that after securing parental permission, youth workers view the video and deconstruct its message with their middle school and high school students. The exercise will not only offer opportunities to bring the light of God’s Word to bear on the song’s faulty messages, but will serve to teach kids how to think Biblically and Christianly about their media choices.

  • Katy Perry’s own personal story and transformation can be used to spark a discussion on the true nature of being a Christ-follower, how to integrate faith into all of life, and how to guard ourselves from falling prey to dominant cultural values that oppose the way and will of God.
That is the challenge that I want to take up more and more.  Not that I want to create a discipleship program but that I feel the call to discuss with and help youth and parents understand how to integrate their faith into all areas of their lives.