Saturday, 7 May 2011

Lady Gaga's "Judas" and the Battle with Sin

A friend practically begged me to translate into English the post I did in Afrikaans about Lady Gaga's new single “Judas”. I was reluctant because it requires time – something I'm stingy of, but I'm giving into her request; although this will be a very direct and very sloppy translation:

Lady Gaga's new song “Judas” from her most recent album “Born This Way” is not finding favour in South Africa. Many radio listeners have requested that it be removed from the air.

The speaker in the song says that she is in love with Judas and that she washes the feet of Judas with her hair. The speaker draws thus a parallel between Jesus and Judas and like Mary Magdalene washed the feet of Jesus and dried it with her hair, so the speaker will also wash the feet of Judas. In effect, Judas becomes a parallel Messiah of worship deserving figure. Her love for Judas is unconditional. She will forgive him if he were to “lie through his brain”; even if he were to cheat on her “three times,” she would still forgive him. Judas is not good for her, nonetheless does she love him unconditionally and therefore she describes herself as a “Holy fool.” By implication, Jesus is also a “Holy fool” because he loves us unconditionally and because he forgives us ceaselessly.

The song makes a strange turn in the bridge when the speaker describes herself as a “fame hooker, prostitute wench” that “vomits” her thoughts. The prostitute that washed Jesus' feet, found forgiveness for her sins in Jesus. The speaker in the “Judas” song finds her forgiveness in Judas: “Judas kiss me if offensed.” She is unhappy that her loyalty to Judas is incomplete because “something's pulling me away from [Judas].” That something that pulls her away from Judas is Jesus. She finds herself in a double bind: “Jesus is my virtue, / Judas is the demon I cling to.”

What exactly Lady Gaga's intention is with this song I do not know. If Judas is a symbol for the sins in her life with whom she has a relationship, then I have much sympathy for her. I have also written about my (love) relationship with sin – poems inspired by my battle with habitual sins.

[I'm too lazy to translate the poems.]

And just like Lady Gaga have I described myself as a whore, in much worse terms than those she use in her song.

Anyone that has an honest recognition of his or her own sins knows that it is a type of love relationship one has with the deed. You know that it is bad for you, but you can't help it. Even the Apostle Paul was honest about this:

Romans 7:18, 19, 24 (my translation): “For I know that in my, that is in my flesh, resides nothing good; for to do is present in me, but to do good, I find not. Because the good that I wish to do, I do not, but the evil I wish not to do, that I do . . . O, woeful human! Who will save me from this body of death?”

Paul was of the opinion that as a Christian one is in a double bind battle: “For I embrace the law of God to the inner man; but I am aware of another law in my body that fights against the law of my mind and captures me under the law of sin that is within me” (Romans 7:23, my translation.) There are two laws in us; two forces: one good and one bad; the influence of Jesus and the influence of Satan. Lady Gaga describes it in her song as “Jesus is my virtue, / Judas is the demon I cling to.”

There is a moment of hope in Lady Gaga's song; that line: “Jesus is my virtue.” Nowhere is she trying to redeem herself. She is a “Fame hooker, prostitute wench” that clings to sin – almost without hope. Paul's exclamation is similar: “I, woeful human! Who will rescue me from this body of death?”

But then Paul answers his question: “ . . . Jesus Christ, our Lord!” (Romans 7:25); like Lady Gaga: “Jesus is my virtue.”

I'm not trying to defend Lady Gaga's song. I agree that it leaves a bad taste in the mouth. Nonetheless, it reveals a pertinent Christian point: The battle with sin is an intimate reality – almost like being in love or addicted; however, there is hope: “Jesus is my virtue.” Paul continues in his argument saying that “the Law of the Spirit of the life in Christ Jesus freed me from the law of sin and death” (Romans 8:2, my translation). Paul's advice is to keep our hope in God and to turn our thoughts away from the “fleshly,” and rather contemplate spiritual matters. It requires a conscious purposeful choice to rather think upon the “spiritual things” (Romans 8:5). Eventually, like Jesus said, we have to choose—we cannot follow two masters. Either Judas or Jesus.

Until you have not had the experience of struggling with personal intimate sins, be not too hasty to judge Lady Gaga.

There are two things that I can say about Lady Gaga. It is not my type of music, but there is no question that she has an excellent voice and is very talented. Secondly, she is brave. Not any person can do what she does. Call it sensationalism if you wish. Nevertheless, it requires guts to expose yourself like that.

Lastly, what do I think about the reaction of South Africans and them requesting the song being removed from the airwaves. I like it. Consumers need to be more proactive in what they want. It is not necessary for us to just gobble up everything the mass media throws at us. We need to be given a choice and we need to strive for quality. I hope that South Africans will also start to criticise all those other (Afrikaans) trash that are polluting our radio waves.

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