Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Swiftly Embracing Darkness: "Guilty as Sin"


Taylor Swift once again has taken the world by storm with the release of her new album, “The Tortured Poets Department,” receiving a backlash of criticism from some in the Christian community, who find her songs like "Guilty as Sin" troubling.

Worship leader Sean Feucht posted this week on Facebook and Twitter, “Almost half the songs on Taylor Swift’s new album contain explicit lyrics, make fun of Christians and straight up blaspheme God.”

One entertainment critic writes in the article, Taylor Swift Mocks Christianity in Her New Album, “The album is full of minor quips that elevate Swift above God while also featuring two songs devoted to tearing down the Christian sexual ethic.”

So what’s the big deal? Plenty of entertainers share songs, books, and movies filled with sensual, ungodly themes. Why the large, recent outcry against Swift?

Here’s the big deal.

1. Swift’s massive influence

A quick Google search about Swift reveals, “Taylor Swift has been one of the most influential artists in contemporary music since she was named the best new artist by the Country Music Association in 2007. In 2023 she was named Spotify's most-played artist, and in 2024 she became the only person ever to win the Grammy Award for album of the year four times.”

She’s experiencing success hardly rivaled. She’s the most streamed artist every globally.  Rick Margin, comparing Swift to The Beatles, writes, “Based on new albums reaching No1 on the Billboard 200 in consecutive calendar years, the Beatles are No1 (1964–1970) with 7 and Taylor Swift (2019–2023) is tied at No2 at 5 with 5 other artists including Paul McCartney (1973–1977).”

Though 1000 lesser-known artists may include sexually-explicit and other blasphemous lyrics in their work, their audience, platform, and influence cannot compare to Swift’s. And as the Bible states, Much will be required of everyone who has been given much" (Luke 12:48 HCSB).

When we want to make a point, we rarely go after the little guy. When someone wants to warn of the danger of monopolies taking over the economy, they don’t write a book about the small town hardware store buying out other small town stores. They write about huge companies trying to take over the market. See Dana Matioli’s brand-new book (released April 23, 2024) called The Everything War: Amazon’s Ruthless Quest to Own the World and Remake Corporate Power.

If a local city councilman in Westerville, Ohio, has an affair or is caught cheating on his taxes, it will make some local headlines, but people won’t be broadcasting about it across the country. But if the Speaker of the House or the Vice President of the United States does, it will be splashed over every news outlet in the country and beyond.

No one has time to point light on all of the small potatoes. Instead, we often shed light on situations by making illustrations of the big fish in ponds.


2. Christians are called to be different and discerning.

The apostle Paul wrote to believers living in Ephesus, a very ungodly culture that embraced the occult, all kinds of sexual perversions, and opposed the Christian reality. In that culture, where Timothy pastored, the apostle wrote, Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret (Ephesians 5:11-12 ESV).

The constant struggle for the Christian in any age is to “not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect” (Romans 12:2 ESV).

Very simply, Paul gives us several warnings:

+ Be careful to not be shaped mainly by the world and its value system

+ Realize the primary place of battle for your character and formation is what you put in your mind.

+ We must learn to practice discernment, testing what is around us to see if it is good, true, and worthy of our attention.

The word discernment means to be able to judge well. One author shares, "It is the ability to make discriminating judgments, to distinguish between, and recognize the moral implications of, different situations and courses of action. It includes the ability to 'weigh up' and assess the moral and spiritual status of individuals, groups, and even movements."

Paul challenged the philosophies of the Greeks and Romans at Mars Hill, the center of thought for their culture. Today, in 21st century culture, one of the main centers of influence is now, sadly, the entertainment industry. So we must practice great discernment with what we see and hear, so that, as Jesus exhorted, we will "be as shrewd as serpents and as innocent as doves" (Matthew 10:16 CSB).

With many choices in life, we have to wrestle with, Whose kingdom do I primarily belong to?  What will I allow myself to be influenced by? And, Will I embrace this culture phenomenon? Where do I draw the line? These are not always easy questions to consider.

3. As the moral needle of culture continues moving rapidly, the entertainment industry more and more openly celebrates sex without any boundaries, the mocking of Judeo-Christian ethics, and the embracing of the occult.

Referencing a Swift music video that includes occult worship, one critic writes, “It provides another worrying example of the way witchcraft and pagan worship are being pushed into pop culture and becoming normalized.”

This is not Rod Stewart singing, “Do you think I’m sexy?” or Alabama singing, “When We Make Love” nor Michael Jackson's "The Way You Make Me Feel." It’s someone, who represents other smaller, less-influential artists, openly promoting Satanic practices. For anyone who doesn’t understand, that is worshiping the personification of evil and inviting him to have influence.

Again, Paul warned the Ephesians, “We do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 5:12 ESV). Neil Anderson, who counseled numerous people who came to Christianity out of the occult, explains in some of his books that this verse refers to levels of demonic power, much like the levels of authority in the military. In a nation, for example, there may be varying levels of demonic entities assigned to centers of influence – like the entertainment industry.

Biblical wisdom literature warns about dealing with smooth lips from evil hearts, “Though their speech is charming, do not believe them, for seven abominations fill their hearts. Their malice may be concealed by deception, but their wickedness will be exposed” (Proverbs 6:25-26 NIV).

Rick Renner warns, "One visit to an evening of television will quickly show that which is impure, ill-mannered, improper, unclean, indecent, coarse, vulgar, offensive, crude, lewd, and rude is dominating the air waves and society. What was once considered vulgar is now widely considered appropriate subject matter for jokes and entertainment. What God calls unholy is what society thinks is funny. What has happened to us? These are all signs of the last days.

To remain untouched by this moral degeneration, you must make the decision to keep your eyes on Jesus and please Him. Choose to make His Word the guide for your heart, and never permit yourself to entertain or find funny those things that God deems 'unholy.' This situation is not funny - it is spiritually deadly and damning."

As believers, we are to be testers of the spirits, practicing discernment with what the culture often readily accepts. Why? To keep us from naivety, "to keep Satan from taking advantage of us; for we are not ignorant of his schemes" (2 Corinthians 2:11 AMP).

It's a known fact by now that Adolf Hitler was a closet Satanist, regularly participating in occult practices. That explains the incredible, almost hypnotic power he had to sway a crowd and eventually a country, creating what is arguably the evilest sweep of mayhem in the 20th century. He was being empowered by demonic forces, who can have much influence over this world.

4. Not Hating

Our culture often forgets that it is possible to love a person yet hate the evil they embrace. To call out Taylor Swift - or anyone else - on their embracing wickedness - is not hating them. It's embracing truth. However, we live in a culture that has begun embracing the idea that to call out something as wrong is to hate someone. As Al Mohler says, "We cannot settle for truth without love nor love without truth."

Paul warned us in the New Testament that we need to be able to judge things correctly on earth - because one day we will be judging angels.

The Kettle Keeps Getting Warmer

My wife, a Choral Director this year at our local high school, interacts with a lot of teenage girls. She has told me all year, they are enamored with one artist – Taylor Swift. Though there may be hundreds of other artists around, and some with awful lyrics, none of them have the current influence as does Swift.

Our family has never embraced the tendency of some Christians to “burn all of your rock and roll albums and only listen to Christian music.” Our kids have for years enjoyed a wide variety of music, ranging from classic rock to country to beach music to many other genres. However, we have also tried to teach them discernment – you need to ask questions like, “Where is this artist coming from? How are they trying to influence me? What do they lyrics behind the tune and beat suggest?” And there are times when the answer to those questions means we have to turn it off and go another route.

There's a fundamental difference between my choosing to not play a Dolly Parton song that is "edgy" versus embracing an artist who is mocking my faith and dabbling in the occult.

If a generation is subtly influenced by cultural icons like Swift to throw off all sexual boundaries, mock and reject biblical Christianity, and embrace the occult, they will be lost indeed.

The analogy of the frog in the kettle rings true. Every time culture embraces more wickedness, there’s a subtle temptation to just go along, lower our standards, and be conformed to the pattern of this world.

Jesus understood that the way to our heart was through our eyes (Matthew 6:22-23). And, if he were teaching today, I believe He would add to that through our ears. What goes in the eyes and ears directly shapes our hearts. That’s why the book of Proverbs warns, “Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life” (Proverbs 4:23 NLT). Or, as the NIV puts it, “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”

That’s a big deal. Be discerning.

Here are a few articles worth reading about Taylor Swift and her music:

Taylor Swift Mocks Christianity in Her New Album

Taylor Swift’s Latest Blasphemous Anti-Holy Spirit Album

What Would Taylor Swift Do?

Taylor Swift and the Occult

Taylor Swift is engaging in satanic rituals in live shows, Christian artist claims: 'Music is dangerous'

When American Idol Star 'Realized Satan Was Real', He Left the Occult and Followed Jesus Instead

4 Things I Would Like to Say to Taylor Swift as a Pastor

The Gospel According to Taylor Swift

Images used courtesy of Pexels and of Wikimedia Commons under the Creative Commons License. Photo of Swift by Glenn Francis.

Toglenn, CC BY-SA 4.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons

Discernment image used from

No comments:

Post a Comment