(This post originally appeared on the Texas Baptists web site.)
Pop singer Taylor Swift is famous for putting her hurts and pain into song. She’s done it again. The word on the street (the web) is that another pop icon, Katy Perry, is the newest object of her ire. That really doesn’t matter; the words matter.
Now we’ve got problems
And I don’t think we can solve ’em
You made a really deep cut
And baby, now we’ve got bad blood, hey!
Many of us can identify with those words. People hurt us; they figuratively cut us. Our hurt and pain causes our blood to rise, as the saying goes. We get angry.
Did you have to do this?
I was thinking that you could be trusted
Did you have to ruin what was shiny?
Now it’s all rusted
Did you have to hit me where I’m weak?
Baby, I couldn’t breathe
And rub it in so deep
Salt in the wound like you’re laughing right at me
This lady can write songs. She has once again captured pain in a lyric and mixed it with a catchy tune. Bam! A hit is born.
Appreciation stated, I have a problem with the video for this song, which shows Swift first being injured physically and then reemerging with weaponized friends to fight back.
This song and video captures our cultural moment. This culture is not a Jesus culture. We no longer value turning the other cheek; we now value revenge – you hurt me, I hurt you. Eye for eye, tooth for a tooth, slander for a slander.
In short, revenge doesn’t work. It doesn’t get us down the road to healthy relationships with the people around us, with the people who hurt us.
Jesus famously said in the Sermon on the Mount:
“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist an evildoer. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also; and if anyone wants to sue you and take your coat, give your cloak as well; and if anyone forces you to go one mile, go also the second mile”(Matthew 5:38-41).
If you can’t help but tap your foot to this new song, then at least remember the words of Jesus and know that the attitude expressed by the words and the video are part of the problem, not the answer. And here are a few words of advice from the Apostle to help further along this road:
“If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave room for the wrath of God; for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” No, “if your enemies are hungry, feed them; if they are thirsty, give them something to drink; for by doing this you will heap burning coals on their heads.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:18-21).