Gaga Does God’s Work



Lady Gaga continues to spread her gospel of self-acceptance.

Lady Gaga was born again last Sunday night at the Grammy Awards, emerging onstage from her fiberglass cocoon with an upbeat anthem of personal empowerment, “Born This Way.” The song was aimed particularly at her fans in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community. Encouraging her listeners to love who they will (“Don’t be a drag, just be a queen”) and even invoking the possibility of Divine favor (“I’m beautiful in my way ‘cause God makes no mistakes”) while her half-naked dancers did their standard bump-and-grind, the performance is already raising alarms from religious conservatives.

The gospel according to Gaga appeals to individuals and communities that have been marginalized from traditional religion. She has an innate understanding of how these exiles have found spiritual expression in dance and theatricality, and have come to see their diversity and nonconformity as a sign of spiritual favor, not rejection. Lady Gaga has become a spokesperson for her congregation of “Little Monsters”—perhaps even a pop messiah.

If “Sister” Gaga’s message of radical welcome is controversial, it is only because so many churches and denominations have abandoned the message of God’s love. If churches have forgotten how to uplift, encourage, and affirm, they should not be surprised if society turns to such pop culture messiahs to receive the message that God loves us as we are.

One of the song’s concluding lines is, “Whether life’s disabilities left you outcast, bullied, or teased, rejoice and love yourself today.” This encourages separation of self-perception from the judgments of family, religion, and society. If you’re different, it’s the inability of the world to embrace or interact creatively, and not judgmentally, with you that’s the problem—not the fact that you have listened to the call of your own truest self. The Church would do well to heed Sister’s advice: Love people as they are, and “don’t be a drag.”

Also check out Richard Lindsay’s review of Lady Gaga’s “Alejandro” video.