Recently, Taylor Swift put out her latest music video, Wildest Dreams. It is an incredible video, beautiful in every way. Like all of her songs, Taylor Swift wrote, produced, and had major input into the style and direction of this video.
I can imagine as God was crafting T Swift uniquely in her mother's womb, He was finding complete joy in creating a woman who would be so gifted and talented. He knew that there would be this moment in time where this uniquely gifted woman would be the ruler of the music industry. She is so powerful and influential that she has unending sold out stadium shows and can even make apple and spotify buckle to her demands.
At the same time, I imagine that God would be equally heartbroken by this latest song that she released. For as amazing, beautiful and powerful Taylor Swift is, there is some broken part of her that crafted a song about, at best, being in the wildest dreams of a man she had a weekend affair with. In this era of girl power and women rising to all heights economically and politically, there is still some not so hidden part of women, where they slip into some cultural expression of them not being all God has designed them to be.
If I had a moment to sit down with Taylor Swift I would want to share with her what good news the ministry of Jesus Christ is and what that means for her. You see, Jesus made it his business to push back hard against social, religious, and political norms to make sure that the have nots of society knew they had value and a place of importance.
Jesus was the first feminist!
In Luke 10:38-42 Jesus has an encounter with Mary and Martha. Martha was being a good woman, a good hostess and servant to the important work of Jesus. Jesus was a respected rabbi who would sit in a seat of honor and teach those around him. Culturally those who would sit and learn from him would be men, because it was men who lead, teach, and were smart enough to "get it."
But Jesus doesn't let this cultural norm stand. Jesus makes it clear to Martha and to all the men sitting at his feat learning from him, that women are valuable, and even more than valuable have things to offer the world more than just being a hostess or homemaker. Martha complains to Jesus because her sister Mary is sitting with the men learning instead of serving. And Jesus says that Mary is doing the better thing.
In fact, all throughout the scriptures, Jesus affirms women, makes space for women, gives voice and leadership to women. And the trajectory of the early church had plenty of spaces for women to lead and teach.
Our culture, yes, our "enlightened" culture says with its words that it values the place of women. But with its actions says that women are still a commodity, objects to be acquired, arm candy to give status to the men around them. And this is working its way out in one of the most powerful women in the music industry.
While this may be the core of our cultural values towards women, this is not the value that God has intended for women. Jesus offers good news to women and affirms that they are uniquely created, gifted and called to do any and everything. Women are to lead, speak, preach, bring their passion, insights, wisdom and discernment. And any church that doesn't make space for women to do just that are missing the trajectory that Jesus has for His Kingdom.
The church, which is the body of Christ, must be front and center in affirming the gifts and talents and calling of the women in their midst. The church is the place where women are seen, not as a servants or objects, but as people made for great things!
My hope and prayer for Taylor Swift, for the students in my ministry, and for my very own daughter is that they would know that God has uniquely crafted them for amazing things. And more then know in their head, but would experience in their life, that they are not mere objects. Rather, they are precious, deep, incredible people who must bring the best of who they are to a world that desperately needs their unique contributions.
(And shame on us when we, through word and deed, unintentionally pile on the cultural expectations that women are mere objects and arm candy for the men around them. Women deserve and should demand so much more from the men in their life then simply be a memory found in their wildest dreams.)