Pop icon Katy Perry was recently on the cover of Vanity Fair magazine and was interviewed about what it was like growing up. In her words, “I didn’t have a childhood.” The article goes on to explain how the twenty-six-year-old’s inquisitive side was relentless and says she felt compelled to push the boundaries strict family life. She said: ‘I have always been the kid who's asked 'Why?'’
Kids and teenagers need a safe place to ask big questions and grapple honestly with life—their experiences, hopes, fears, doubts, and desires. Christianity is the kind of thing that you can investigate—it will hold up to scrutiny. It actually rises to the level of being true or false and there are good reasons to believe that Christianity is true.
Let me be clear. It is not my intention here....
to pass judgment on how her parents—who the article says are evangelical Christians—raised her or what they did or didn’t do. I don’t know. I was not there. I do know already how hard it is to be a parent. But apologist Josh McDowell’s words are appropriate here: “Truth without relationship leads to rebellion.” We must remember these wise words. Maybe that's her story.
Now for some—admittedly unsolicited—advice to the mega pop star for her spiritual journey and her understanding of faith. Perry explained: ‘In my faith, you're just supposed to have faith. At this point, I'm just kind of a drifter. I'm open to possibility.'
Being “open minded” can be a good thing for a season of exploration. However the goal of opening your mind is to eventually close it around truth. But the notion of faith for faith’s sake that she espouses is both ubiquitous in our culture and deeply flawed. Here’s why: Faith is only as good as the object in which it’s placed. Sincerity is not enough. That is true when it comes to parachutes opening when they are supposed to or whether the God of the Bible exists. If our own desires, experiences, and beliefs are the object of our faith then we are doomed to an ever changing faith because our beliefs, desires, and experiences constantly change. We need something outside of ourselves to anchor our faith—something or someone that is a worthy object of faith. I would suggest Jesus of Nazareth as an excellent candidate to investigate.
Moreover, I would gently remind Katy that belief is not what ultimately matters—truth is. In other words, people are entitled to their own beliefs, but they are not entitled to their own truth. Our believing something is true does not make it true. The Bible isn't true simply because I have faith. Truth is what corresponds to reality—telling it like it is. There is a way the world is and we either cooperate with it or bruise ourselves against it. Truth is discovered, not created.
So with much compassion for a young woman who is now on the biggest stage there is, I would encourage Katy to keep on looking and keep on asking the why questions. Because it may be that what she really rejected was not the life Jesus offers, but a caricature of Christianity that says it’s all about the rules you need to follow. At the end of the day, Christianity best answers the big “why questions” of life.
Why are we here?
Where did we come from?
What is life all about?
Is this life all there is?
It may be that she is running so hard away from her past that she is not running toward anything. But one day she will stop running away and ask where she is going. I hope and pray that when that day comes she will find the truth that has been there all along—her heavenly Father who created and loves her longs for her to come home. (Luke 15:11-31)