There is great wisdom in accepting that we are made in the image of a God who created with words. He spoke, things happened. We do that, too. We speak, things happen. We alter mindsets, outcomes, personalities, and people when we open our mouths and let words come out.
If you’re a parent, you know the power your words have over the formation of your child. If I tell my child he is unkind, unworthy, a failure, and ugly then he will believe these things about himself. The words I spoke over him become his truth and he feeds that into the world. But I also have the power to call him creative, strong, kind, gentle, and loyal – and watch as those become the bedrock of his identity and are poured out into the world.
So, when I consider what 118 million people had chanted over them by a beloved American celebrity – I cringe. I fear the outcome of individuals waking up this morning and humming these lyrics as they go about their work. This wasn’t a small concert somewhere. Not something that a tiny portion of the nation did or did not elect to hear. This was performed at the largest sports event in the nation, a part of the fabric of the culture here. Do you know the lyrics of the Beyonce song “Formation” that she performed last night? Here’s a sampling [warning: foul language]:
Oh yeah baby, oh yeah I, ohhhhh, oh yes I like that
I did not come to play with you hoes
I came to slay, bitch
I like cornbreads and collard greens, bitch
Oh yes, you best to believe it
I see it, I want it
I stunt, yeah, little hornet
I dream it, I work hard
I grind ‘til I own it
I twirl all my haters
El Camino with the ceiling low
Sippin’ Cuervo with no chaser
Sometimes I go off, I go off
I go hard, I go hard
Get what’s mine, take what’s mine
I’m a star, I’m a star
Cause I slay, slay
I slay, hey, I slay, okay
I slay, okay, all day, okay
I slay, okay, I slay okay
We gon’ slay, slay
Gon’ slay, okay
We slay, okay
I slay, okay
I slay, okay
Okay, okay, I slay, okay
Okay, okay, okay, okay
Okay, okay, ladies now let’s get in formation, cause I slay
Okay ladies, now let’s get in formation, cause I slay
Prove to me you got some coordination
Slay trick, or you get eliminated
When he fuck me good I take his ass to Red Lobster, cause I slay
When he fuck me good, I take his ass to Red Lobster, cause I slay
If he hit it right, I might take him on a flight on my chopper, cause I slay
Drop him off at the mall, let him buy some J’s, let him shop up, cause I slay
This is how we, as women, use incredible gifts like music and television? This is how we better the world? This is how we use the equal voice we have? By singing about sex and what we do to reward a man if he’s good at it? By encouraging people to, Get what’s mine, take what’s mine?
“Whoever hits you on the cheek, offer him the other also; and whoever takes away your coat, do not withhold your shirt from him either. Give to everyone who asks of you, and whoever takes away what is yours, do not demand it back. Treat others the same way you want them to treat you…”(Mark 6:29-31)
There is no power in selfishness.
No joy in being stingy.
No strength in taking.
No actualization of the mature self is found in demand.
Your best self doesn’t take; it gives.
Thankfully, the halftime show ended with Coldplay’s “Fix You” with slightly adjusted lyrics.
We gonna get it, get it together right now
We gonna get it, get it together somehow
The crowd held up signs that read, “Believe in love.”
“Love is patient. Love is kind. It does not envy. It does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking…” (I Cor. 13:4-5)
I wonder if Beyonce read those cards in the crowd? Did she feel a twinge – even a tiny one – that she’d just spewed self-righteous ugliness all over a crowd now encouraging millions to focus on the opposite of her diatribe? Did anyone at CBS pause and wonder if maybe this wasn’t the highest use of their ability to reach millions?