I read this article:
Lady Gaga and Self Acceptance
It struck a chord in me. I mean here is a good way to view and love others; the whole “little monsters” thing is part gimmicky, but more so its very much a reality.
Lady Gaga has not only picked up on the monster part, but also the acceptance part.
Both I think Christians have gotten seriously wrong.
Lady Gaga 1. Christians 0.
And I don’t know why Christians have gotten it wrong either. Both ideas are clearly (and blatantly so) compatible with and, more so, are essentially Christan theology and practice, except with a few word changes.
Christianity calls it sin as a result from the Fall; Gaga calls it “monsters.” Both grasp the idea of it being something that we are essentially born into (“Born this Way” and “Sin of Adam”) and can’t do anything (under our own volition) to change. Then of course we diverge in practice, but not principle. Gaga accepts herself as “momma monster” and all others as “little monsters” which then encourages them to accept their own “monsterness”. Christianity has this guy called Jesus, who pretty much did the same thing. Of course he is not a “momma monster” but Son of God and has this whole thing about forgiveness of sins and coming to the unclean and unrighteous, and accepting them even after they’ve taken all he’s given them and blown it all the wrong things. He hangs out with them, you know, the “others.”
Of course in principle this idea of acceptance and love is totally there, but where has it gone in practice? The biggest sin of Christians is that, for whatever reason, too often they forget their own fallenness, their own “monsterhood.” I’ve been around Christians my whole life and too often have I been in a group that is very homogeneously clean and right. As if they were anal retentive mysophobes, because there is no dirt on them at all and their life is totally in order. If you got problems, then you would feel very insecure there, because someone may find out and that’s a bad thing. Because then you’re a sinner and you’re one of the others; there’s a large inability for many Christians that I have been around to really love “the others.” I mean sure, they can be pleasant to them when they are around them and treat them respectfully, but there is just an air of… negativity. And pride, because they need to minister to you and help you become like them.
This is due to (at least) two things I think.
One righteous insolence, (due in no part, of course, to bad theology) people grab hold of the Bible and wield it with a furious, destructive force. I remember seeing two Christian evangelists (if that’s what you want to call them) during my undergrad years on campus mercilessly condemning people for moral wrongs and then encouraging them to come to Jesus (there are multiple things wrong with this 1. Sheer lack of mercy and 2. A gross detriment in the art of argument (but they were very argumentative) and debate, amongst others). The problem is that they know whats right and true (and evidently live that way); therefore, they have a right to condemn others for not doing so. There is an opposing side to this, but this is more of an intra-Christian issue and is not what most extra-Christians experience or take issue with.
The other is righteous ignorance. One is the true denial of their own fallen state. They “get saved” and then all of the sudden they have everything together. They change their ways; they no longer struggle with the “big” sins, which are ones obviously seen by others and taboo to Christian and non-Christian culture alike. What normally doesn’t get fixed, however, are the structural and subconscious type issues. We think the way we do, more often than we think, because of society and culture, the structures around us (advertising and the American Dream anyone?). That then influences our actions in very instinctual, non-conscious ways. Thus, the wrong ways we act and operate seem OK because most everybody operates that way, so hypocrisy, gossip, judgmentalism and hate (internal or external) operate freely.
The other aspect of righteous ignorance is the fact that often Christians make critiques, judgments and decisions without truly knowing the thing which they are critiquing or judging or the opposing side’s (logical) reasoning.
For example, I’ve known a person who disdains The Beatles (I am madly in love with them, in that before it was even hip to do so kind of way, because I can out hipster you any day), he critiques them but he’s never heard their music, except what I have played that he’s overheard, nor has he heard much, if any, of the musical environment that they were in that made them special. Thus, his critiques are uninformed and his decision lacking, to say in the least (and, of course, I am incredibly biased). This leads to demonizing the other and creates an almost insurmountable gulf, that is, if I don’t try to understand him, nor him I. Doesn’t mean he has to fall in love with The Beatles or that I start having to hating them. Just means we both have our own good, personal reasons for our preferences. (I know it gets a little more difficult with things that go beyond mere musical preference, but I am under the assumption that people, being the imago Dei, are motivated towards and by good (I didn’t say good theology). Pro lifers, for instance, don’t hate rape victims, women and liberals just as pro choicers don’t hate Christians and babies.)
Now that can result in emotions ranging from down right vehement, hatred to apathetic indifference, both I think are rather unloving.
This lack of love is where the good theology of love stops and the bad actions of sin take over and I find it unfortunate. Because what Lady Gaga is on to is a good thing, it leads to strong identity development, and from my time studying human development in undergrad, I know this is a good thing. There is nothing more fulfilling than being OK with who you are and were made to be. I have found this in Christianity, so I know its there, unfortunately, its more so elsewhere, because society’s pop psychology doesn’t get much beyond acceptance and as much as I have found a secure identity in Christianity, I have also experienced emotions of negativity and insecurity as a result of the Christian community that I was a part of.
Personally, I prefer having a secure identity…
It doesn’t mean that I know that I’m at the top of my game, perfect all the way around and don’t need to change and if you try and challenge me you’re just ignorant and judgmental . It can, but doesn’t have to. It can also mean that I am a monster, but I can be made into a better monster. Shrek maybe?
Developing a secure identity comes from no holds barred acceptance, not conditional acceptance. I found that in the Christian faith and Christ while a high schooler.
Many Christians and parts of Christianity would do well to learn from Lady Gaga’s acceptance of others.
They don’t have to take it whole hog, but they should take pointers none-the-less. Christ’s acceptance of Saul, lepers, fisherman and whores went, and is still going, a long way
And if you’re concerned with how people will grow in sanctification… don’t be, because that’s the Spirit’s job. One can condemn what is wrong with out condemning people.