Born This Way

Born This Way

Lady Gaga (Stefani Germanotta) speaks for millions in her song “Born This Way,” when she declares,

I’m beautiful in my way,
‘Cause God makes no mistakes
I’m on the right track, baby
I was born this way (Streamline/Interscope/KonLive, 2011)

The song is a hodgepodge of pluralistic affirmations, but its dominant message is unmistakably sexual, which Gaga’s music video makes explicitly clear (viewer discretion strongly advised):

No matter gay, straight, or bi
Lesbian, transgendered life
I’m on the right track, baby
I was born to survive

“Born This Way” is a pop anthem of Western culture, a musical declaration of sexual independence. But it is not revolutionary, like Queen’s “We Will Rock You” or “We Are the Champions” from a generation ago. Gaga (a name inspired by Queen’s “Radio Gaga”) is singing a mainstream manifesto, a dominant cultural belief about self-identity: I am my sexuality (my sexual desires and self-determined gender identity), I am beautiful, and I was born this way.

As Christians, how do we respond? This question is crucial. And for many of us it is not abstract, but personally painful. For not only do we live daily engaged in a war of resistance against our own sexual brokenness, but people very precious to us have anguished and struggled over disordered sexual orientations and desires and, not seeing change, have embraced this manifesto. And in our biblical convictions they often hear an unloving rejection of who they believe they are as persons. What do we say to them?

A Loving Affirmation of True Personhood

The first thing we say without hesitancy is that we really do love them deeply. And God, who is love, also loves them deeply—deeper than they (or we) comprehend (1 John 4:8).

And we do love them for who they really are as persons. But who they are fundamentally is something far greater than their sexual experience, as prominent and at times dominant as that can feel. They are glorious creatures uniquely made in God’s image as males and females (Genesis 1:26–27).

Though Christians are accused of holding bigoted and inhumane beliefs about sexuality, this is not true. Our view of sexuality is rooted not in fear or self-righteous prudery. It is rooted in our high view of human dignity as God’s image-bearers. That’s why we do not believe that sexuality defines humanity, nor do we believe humanity defines sexuality. Being human, and thus made in the likeness of God, is so noble a thing that God alone reserves the right to confer the definition of our true personhood. We do not say with Lady Gaga, “I’m beautiful in my way.” We say, “I am beautiful in God’s way.” To the degree that we abandon God’s way, we abandon our beauty.