On Katy, Kari, Miley and Why I Don’t Like Going to Church (but go anyway)

This blog post begins with a simple Instagram picture that Kari Jobe posted several weeks ago.  It was a picture of her current favorite song playing on her iPod.  The song? Katy Perry’s new single, “Roar.”

If you haven’t heard the song, I encourage you to listen to it…and buy it and make it your ringtone and play it every morning and before any difficult phone call and on repeat in your car and….well….you get it.  The song is awesome, from a catchy tune to uplifting lyrics and incredible sound production.  In fact, it’s so good I will probably end up hating it because I’ve heard it too much.

Anyway, Kari (one of the most popular artists in Christian/worship music) posted a picture of this song and basically said it was her new theme song and she loved it.  Like all of her Instagram posts, she got thousands of “likes”.

She also got thousands of comments.  Angry comments in all caps.  Comments from Christians who said they were disappointed in who she’d become.  Christians who told her Katy Perry is a messenger of Satan and the lyrics were blasphemous.  That anyone who liked this song clearly is not a believer.  Others said they would pray for her since she had so easily be captured by the world.


I got angry then sad then angry then sad.  Now, several weeks later, I’m mostly just heartbroken with a little bit of anger that I don’t know what to do with.

Does anyone else remember this girl?

This is Katy Hudson…a talented young CCM artist from the early 2000s.  She entered the Christian music scene during the days of Joy Williams, Nikki Leonti and Stacie Orrico…when Christian music producers were trying to find an anti-Britney and Christina.
Katy was a little different from the rest.  The daughter of two pastors, she tried her hand at songwriting and her songs were actually pretty good for a 17 year old.  But the critics were harsh.  Google her name even now and you will find articles calling her a little “too wild” to be a role model for Christian girls.  They say she’s immature and unpredictable (I spend every day with 17 year old girls…it’s the norm, folks).  She didn’t last very long as a Christian artist.
But don’t feel sorry for Katy (at least, not for that…I’ll come back to this later).  If the picture looks familiar it’s because Katy Hudson is now Katy Perry and she’s the one who wrote the Satan-worshipping “Roar” that Kari Jobe and I like so much.
What happened? How did she go from singing, “He’ll prevail in the midst of my trials and tribulations/He’ll prevail in the midst of all my sin and temptations/He’ll prevail when I fall and He will pick me up/For time and time again my faith won’t fail” to “Last Friday night we went streaking in the park/Skinny dipping in the dark/Then had a menage a trois”?
Many journalists have asked but Katy’s answers have been mysterious, to say the least.  Maybe I’m projecting too many of my own feelings, but I think part of the reason she doesn’t want to talk about it is that whatever happened was extremely painful.  And from personal experience I can tell you that there is no pain so great as the pain caused by the one entity that should only ever be an agent of healing.  I’m talking about the Church.
As a child of two ministers, I’m sure Katy was familiar with the critical spirit of the Church long before she released her Christian album.  Her parents probably tried to protect her from it…mine did, too…but no amount of “sheltering” can keep you from hearing about the member who is spreading lies about other women in the church…the one inciting hostility against another…the people who don’t want the single mom working in the nursery because somehow that will suggest we condone premarital sex or divorce or whatever.  I could go on….the ones who don’t like one song and take it personally if it ends up in the order of worship…the ones who tell a young woman they’re not sure she’s fit for ministry…the ones who ask for prayer for other people at Bible study not because they actually hope for their friends’ healing and restoration but because they want to make sure everyone knows that person is a BAD SINNER…worse than the rest of us.
And…of course…the great many ones who stood up and walked out of a church in anger one Sunday morning in 1998….
There are some wounds that take a very, very long time to heal.
Let’s just say I totally understand why Katy walked out and, to my knowledge, hasn’t looked back.
It’s too hard.  It’s not fair.  It hurts way too much.
And sometimes it doesn’t seem worth it.
So…..back to Kari Jobe.  I think this situation has blown over.  She never commented on it and I admire her for that.  She’s a better person than I.
But this is the reason why this whole thing worries me: the Church could ruin her.  Now, I have no doubt that Kari has a strong, ever-growing relationship with her Savior and it in no way depends on what others say about her.  I bet she’s still rocking out to “Roar” whenever she wants.  That doesn’t mean, however, that this wasn’t a painful experience.  She devotes her life to the cause of Christ and this is the reward? It shouldn’t be this hard.  Look, I know there will always be the “crazies” but there are a lot more “crazies” than most of us are willing to admit.  There may come a day when she decides this ministry isn’t worth it.  It isn’t worth the pain.  It isn’t worth the abuse.  It isn’t worth the personal defamation.  Maybe one day she’ll just stop writing songs that lead millions to the throne of grace because she’s gotten one too many “you’re going to hell” comments.  That, my friends, would be a real tragedy.
This just has to stop.
[I have to pause here and add an aside that wasn’t originally to be part of this post.  Unfortunately, as I procrastinated on actually writing down the thoughts in my head, another event occurred that fits right in: Miley Cyrus on the VMAs.  I have to tell you — I wasn’t watching so I only saw the news coverage and the responses from Facebook friends and popular Christian bloggers.  Frankly, I’m more outraged by the Christian response than the event itself.  First of all, Miley doesn’t claim to be a Christian.  She sings about drug use.  WHY IN THE WORLD ARE YOU PEOPLE SHOCKED BY HER BEHAVIOR?!?! Second, the VMAs are aired on MTV.  Stop and think about that for a second.  A lot of my friends talked about how they were watching with young children and that’s why they were offended. It was on MTV.  It was ON MTV.   What did you expect?  If you’re trying to stay pure/keep your kids pure….I’m just trying to understand why you were watching it in the first place…Jesus had a lot to say about reactions like this…whitewashed tombs, perhaps?  I find it heartbreaking that the most “Christian” response to the whole thing came from Richard Simmons, who, with tears in his eyes, said he hurt for her, as she clearly was crying out to be seen…to be loved…to be enough.  Where was the Church to say, “Oh Miley, you are loved — more loved than you will ever know by someone who died to know you.  Someone who loved you at your very darkest moment.  We see you.  He loves you.”  Where is the Church for countless young women crying out with the same questions??]
We’ve got to do better than this.
I hope this post is not a divisive one. I am not trying to call anyone out in particular.  I write as one who has been hurt, but also as one who hopes for healing.  My own path has been a difficult one — I never stopped going to church but there were years that I refused to get fully involved.  It’s too dangerous.  I don’t want it to stay that way.  I want to love going to church the way others do….I want to love all the people in my church the way my sister does…but I am so scared of being hurt again.  
But I keep going, even though some weeks I would rather have a root canal.  And I keep serving, because I trust the One who calls me.  And I keep writing and calling attention to events such as these because I believe we can’t ignore that this is happening.  And I pray for revival.  I pray for hearts to be broken over the wounds we have inflicted on the people we’ve been called to heal…over the chains we’ve put on the ones we’ve been called to set free.  And I will love the Church because Jesus makes it clear that if I love Him I must love His bride as well.  
So tomorrow, I will get in my car and drive to church.  I will probably get a stomachache during that ten minute drive and then heart palpitations as I walk in and I will be a little shaky by the time I sit down.  I will be a little uneasy in the place I should feel the most safe.  But I will be there, praying that He will soon redeem it all.

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