Note: This post contains sexually vulgar and profane language deriving from quotes regarding two artists who performed their music at TCU's fall concert this month. In an attempt to be as genuine as possible, I have left these lyrics as is.
Earlier this month, Texas Christian University held its annual fall concert. For the TCU community, the fall concert has always promised nothing short of spectacular, family-friendly talent. In recent years, we have hosted artists including Blake Shelton, Lady Antebellum, OneRepublic, and Little Big Town. This year's concert included Luke Christopher, the opening act, and Jason Derulo. While many enjoyed the concert, I found it to be dishonoring to women, immoral in comparison to Biblical standards that God has placed before us, and the exact opposite of what TCU supposedly stands for.
Listed below are four lyrical samples from the two artists who performed in front of over five thousand students (Note: This is where the suggestive language occurs in this post.):
As a student at Texas Christian University, I'm embarrassed. This year's concert was announced later than normal due to issues with a "morality clause." However, the performances by Luke Christopher and Jason Derulo completely contradicted and violated this principle, which sent the wrong message to the TCU community. The lyrics were appalling, the dancing was indecent, and the dialogue was offensive.
To make matters worse, student body President Cody Westphal issued a letter to the editor of TCU360 about the fall concert. In his letter, he acknowledged that the concert objectified women; yet, he never took a stance. In fact, he told us that it's our job to stand because he is unsure of how to respond without sounding hypocritical. When asked if Derulo's lyrics positively impacted TCU's culture, he wrote, "My answer has been that some of Jason’s lyrics do objectify women, but just because you listen to certain music doesn’t mean you have to agree with the lyrics. It’s a beat to nod my head to, not gospel to guide my life." He continued, "C’mon. It’s not a big deal. He’s a popular musician and most people realize that you shouldn’t treat women the way he does in his songs.”
Don't get me wrong, I respect Cody for who he is and what he has done for our campus, but the fall concert and his response to it were equally wrong. He's asked us to discuss the implications of the fall concert on TCU's culture amongst ourselves, so that's what I'm doing with this post.
There's a lesson to be learned...what you permit, you promote.
Sometimes, we get so caught up in the seductive beat that we ignore the message of the song. While "Jay-son" may be known for his moves and beats, the message presented has nothing to do with dignity, respect, or responsibility; rather, it has much to do with how women are sex objects for lusting boys. This issue is not bound to just objectification. Likewise, it is more than just gender equality. The problem is that we have bought into a lie, and chosen to promote a false gospel.
In the classrooms, we are telling our students that they have a voice, and that their voice is equal to those seated on their left and right. However, in this performance, we tell our students that their voice matters only if it promotes sexualization and objectification of women. Seriously! We are letting our students know that their offering to society matters only if they are sexy enough or can twerk the best. If this were false, then why did Derulo had five TCU students dance inappropriately on stage in front of their peers? For TCU to allow this to happen means that they promoted more than just a beat; they promoted his message. Nobody grabbed the mic. Nobody stopped the music. Nobody put an end to the "twerking".
The sad thing is that there's no equality there. It's simply a competition to see who can be the most sought after "prize," and it's incredibly self-destructive. It destroys the honor that is meant to be cherished in relation to a woman. It destroys the value that a woman holds in her purity and her self-respect. And ultimately, it distorts the direction from which our significance comes from. For our value and identity comes from the Lord, not sex and materialistic possession. What we are doing by promoting this type of behavior is choosing to live a lie and LOVE it.
Am I overreacting? Was Cody right in saying that the beat justifies the message, or better yet, outweighs it in importance? Listen, when we give our foolish hearts away to futile ideologies, the Devil sets up camp. It starts with a beat, then it's lyrics, then it's images, and then it becomes a part of who you are. Maybe this isn't the case for everyone, but for those who decide not to question this lifestyle, are the majority of you listening to this music and watching this dancing without battling lustful thoughts, actions, or intentions?
Let me talk to the dudes for a second...look, I'm one of you. I know it's hard to walk around campus where the ratio of females to males looks like the final score of the TCU v. SMU football game. It sure doesn't help that the majority of the females on our campus are some of the most gorgeous women on the face of the planet. Heck, I'm dating the most beautiful girl here; yet, I still have other girls fighting for my attention by the way they dress and act. However, is that a justifiable excuse? Since we are blessed with a mass majority of beautiful women, do we have the right to transfer the blame of responsibility and respect onto them? Can we honestly say that the problem is women who simply don't dress or act modest enough for guys to rightfully battle lust? If that were the case, then why do the majority of guys go back to their dorms/apartments and struggle with pornography and masturbation? Nobody's perfect-I get it. But it's time for the boy to sit down and the man to stand up. Think about it-are you viewing women as beautiful creatures of God, like you would look at your mom or sister, or as objects for sex and play? Are you aware of your limits, or are you choosing to sit in a heaping load of sexual temptations? Are you giving respect or stealing virginities?
Now, let me talk to the ladies for a second...girls, you were made by and for God, but also for man. If you look at the creation account, you see that the only dude on the planet needed more than just animals, plants, and food to live. He was alone (which is fine), but lonely (which isn't). As great as brotherhood is, God decided to make the greatest thing apart from himself-that's you. If you've read the story, you know that Adam was alone in the garden, so God gave him Eve. Eve is tempted and decides to sin. Then, she tempts Adam and he chooses to sin, too. LADIES! Don't let yourself fall into the arms of a boy who balks on owning his God-given responsibility for leading you. You are far too valuable for fooling around with pre-marital sex, twerking, and immodesty. The purpose of your body is not to be rated or ranked, but rather it is a temple to be taken care of and guarded carefully. Don't let these fleeting things distort your views of love, marriage, and sex. God gave you the gift of men to keep and protect you from evil, not to stand shirtless for you to gawk and stare at like a thick piece of meat. There are Godly, responsible men that God is preparing for you right now-I meet each week with a group of guys who helped me write this very message to you. They are out there. Now, allow God to transform your heart, as well as your future husband's...you are worth the wait, I promise.
It breaks my heart when guys and gals come to me for advice over broken relationships. Yes, I love to serve them, but it reminds me of how terrible an exchange we've made in our culture. What kind of society do we live in for a school based on Christian values and beliefs to bring in an artist that ultimately promotes "twerking" as the highest standard of a woman? Since when is a woman's value found in how good her butt looks on Instagram? Or how low she can drop it? Or how fast she can shake it? Or how big her boobs are? Or how sexy she is out at a bar? Or back in some dude's bedroom? Even apart from TCU, as children of the Living God, what kind of standard are we really appealing to? Do we truly believe that this, in any way, honors God and puts our hearts and our well-being in a good position?
Ultimately, you attract what you are. Ladies, if you want a responsible man, choose to be a respectable woman. Men, if you want a respectable woman, choose to be a responsible man. Anything less, and we sell ourselves short of what we were created for.
Listen, the amount of talent Team Derulo possesses is astounding. However, the message portrayed is filthy, and my desire is for TCU, as a community, to want nothing to do with it. The words sung and the dances performed are futile-there's no purpose, no value, and no worth. I promise you, as much fun as loud music and strobe lights can be, this is a trap. The value of being objectified and promoting immorality means to sell yourself short for a false gospel that's simply not worth living for.
The issue with the fall concert is that Texas Christian University brought in Derulo who promoted the one lie that almost every college student falls prey to - don't think about it, just enjoy it. College students are "supposed" to ignore reality for fantasies. "Why grow up now when you have the rest of your life to grow up," we are supposed to ask. We are taught to be freethinkers, yet to uphold a set of morals and beliefs. We are taught to live responsibly, yet to embrace the motto, "YOLO." We are taught to challenge the status quo, yet to conform to the PC (politically correct) ideology of our University. How could anyone get away with this logic? It's simple, really. Once you believe the lie that your value is defined by how you live your life, you exchange your identity for a lesser value.
Team Derulo offered a message. TCU promoted it. However, I'm here to propose an alternative. Why fool around now when the next breath isn't guaranteed? Why waste your life when you are not in control of it anyway? Why believe the lie that our identity lies in our own skills, abilities, and talents? (If this were true, Jason Derulo would be far more valuable than those who stood, stared, and celebrated because he was the one on stage; yet, we argue and debate for equality across genders, races, and social classes.)
WAKE UP! Stop nodding your head to the beat of a song and listen to the message your heart hears! It matters, and it adds up. It's a compound effect that will make you or break you based on your awareness of it. Don't believe the lie that this isn't a big deal. Don't wait until the repercussions come and affect your marriage, your family, and your livelihood shortly thereafter.
Don't believe the lie that the beat exceeds the message. Don't believe the lie that sex or another mate is the answer. Don't believe the lie that your worth is found in your body, your talents, or your abilities. Your worth is found in your Creator and your Cross. He is the One who made you, who sent his Son to die for you. You have been deemed worth dying for by the Lord Almighty, the Maker of the stars and the skies. Let your life reflect who He is and how strong His love for us is, for this is an identity that can never be taken from you.
My prayer is that we, as a community, would choose to worship the Creator, not the creature. That we wouldn't allow our foolish hearts to accept these fleeting, futile ideologies. That we would not give ourselves away to pre-marital sex, broken relationships, and immodest dance moves/outfits. Rather, that we would choose to seek something (or someone) greater than ourselves because we realize our brokenness and failures as people. Let us realize that our worth comes not from ourselves, but from a power that's greater than this world.
Listen, I know this message is long and uncomfortable. But something needed to be said. To be quite frank, I don't care if I'm the only guy in the world who thinks so, but I choose not to celebrate any part of this lifestyle for moments of my satisfaction. I pray that you, too, will choose this path alongside me.