Why Should You Care About Katy Perry’s Approach to Religion?
By Candi Finch
The cover article of this week’s edition of Entertainment Weekly looks at the life of pop superstar Katy Perry. One comment in the article stood out to me as the singer discussed her relationship with God:
“My upbringing was so strict and sheltered and rigid, and now it’s a lot more loose. I believe in God [but] not as an older guy with a long beard sitting on a shiny throne, or heaven or hell as a destination. I believe you can have your own hell on earth from the actions you do. If you don’t have that accountability, then why don’t you just do everything selfishly or be a menace to society? I have a lot of spiritual, New Agey stuff that I’ve applied to my life now” (EW, 11/8/13 issue, p. 30).
Before you dismiss what she says, consider that both of Perry’s parents are in ministry and that she grew up in church. And, Perry is not alone in her beliefs. Many young adults who grow up in church wrestle with the same things Perry expressed above and has voiced in previous interviews: Some kind of moral compass or accountability seems wise, but the exclusive “Christianity-is-the-only-way” version of religion seems intolerant.
The Katy Perrys in Your Church
On any given Sunday, thousands of young people wrestle with whether or not they truly believe this whole Christianity thing. I am talking about all of those kids who have grown up in church, who were probably in the church nursery the week after they were born. It is what they grew up hearing, it is what their pastor and youth pastor believe, it is what their parents believe, but do they really believe it?
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I pray for all the young women that I teach to have that specific question roaming around in their heads and to wrestle with their faith before they leave the youth group. I want their faith to be authentic and built upon a firm foundation so that when tough questions or situations come, their faith will not be shaken. I want them to have confidence in how to search the Bible for answers. I want them to come and ask me their tough questions so that when they get to college or out in the workplace and someone asks them why they believe in Christianity, their response isn’t, “It’s just how I grew up.”
In the book You Lost Me: Why Young Christians are Leaving Church…And Rethinking Faith, David Kinnaman looks at why so many youth disconnect from church. Among the significant themes that emerged were that many young adults wrestle with the exclusive nature of Christianity and that the church appears to be unfriendly to those who doubt. Fifty percent of those surveyed for the book said they did not feel like they could ask their most pressing life questions in church (190). If not the church, then where?!
The Exclusivity of Christianity
Because our youth have grown up in a culture that idolizes tolerance and acceptance, it is no wonder that the exclusive nature of Christianity is a stumbling block for many. However, John 14:6 is clear that Jesus is the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Him. There are not many paths to God. Consider two very specific attacks on the exclusive nature of the Gospel message that are present in contemporary American culture…