On the way home from fellowship at my local church, my daughter and I enjoy listening to music. On a particular occasion, my daughter, who was dancing in her seat began to hear a song on the radio and without warning quickly changed the tuner. I asked her why was she changing the radio station, and she said that she did not like the new Ariana Grande song that was out, which she said was titled, “God Is A Woman.” I had said to her that this was a good time to listen to the song and examine from the lyrics what Ariana Grande was attempting to communicate with a song like this. I turned it back to the station, and my daughter and I listened intently to the song in question and discussed some of the themes that were found in the song. These themes that I discussed with my daughter are observed below:
The “source of authority” for God is Ariana Grande: When an artist makes music, most of the time the lyrics of the song reflect the worldview of the artist. This is especially true when the music video is seen. The very title gives away the point she is making in the song, however, the shots of the music video are very telling. For example in almost every scene when Ariana Grande is either larger than everything (e.g., her sitting on top of the globe controlling weather patterns) or she is in the center of everything (such as in the center of what looks like a circle of where a ritual, which is focused around her is happening). In the song (and video), she is representative of all women, encouraging them to feel empowered and strengthened by who they are. This is somewhat expressed in the lyrics below:
(Yeah) And I can be all the things you told me not to be (Yeah) When you try to come for me, I keep on flourishing (Yeah) And he see the universe when I’m the company.Grande, A. (2018). “God is a woman.” Retrieved from https://genius.com/Ariana-grande-god-is-a-woman-lyrics
The source of authority that Ariana Grande uses is herself, and she comes to a conclusion because she is female that she is “all-powerful,” in control, and “god-within.” She states this as one of the themes in an interview when she says the following:
Its about female energy, its about feminine energy, being responsible for the whole creation of the universe…its within.Sang. Z,. (2018). “Ariana grande talks god is a woman.” The zach sang show. Retreived from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qOTPgR9zYUI
Once more the standard by which she uses to make this claim is herself. That her strengths, and the mere fact that she is a woman, gives her a deified perception of herself and females in general.
The sexual attitude of the Song: The sexual references of the song speak loud and clear in the lyrics themselves as noted below:
You, you love it how I move you You love it how I touch you, my one When all is said and done You’ll believe God is a woman And I, I feel it after midnight A feelin’ that you can’t fight, my one It lingers when we’re done You’ll believe God is a woman.Grande, A. (2018). “God is a woman.” Retrieved from https://genius.com/Ariana-grande-god-is-a-woman-lyrics
The message is after a man engages in sexual intercourse with a woman, he will see that she is more than meets the eye. In fact, for the man, it will be almost a spiritual experience (i.e., worship) for him when they engage in sexual intercourse. Ariana Grande mentions this as well in her interview about the song:
Ariana Grande: But God is A Woman its not actually about God.Interviewer: Yeah its about the power of a woman.Ariana Grande: …and f**king.Sang. Z,. (2018). “Ariana grande talks god is a woman.” The zach sang show. Retreived from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qOTPgR9zYUI
This is also seen in the video with the sexual innuendos in the lyrics and in most of the shots in the music video. These are also themes which are seen in the progressive feminist movements where sexual expression and oppression of women were issues that were protested in society. However, when it comes to this song, and the messages it expresses about women there are several things that must be noted.
The title of the song itself: Ariana Grande says that the song is not actually about God, however, the title of the song is making a theological claim, whether she knows it or not, or wants to admit this or not. She has stated one of the themes for the song is women being responsible for the whole creation of the universe. That woman gives life (and takes away life), the woman gives pleasure (and give pain). According to this title, women are the Life itself. However, according to the biblical worldview, it is true that women are resourceful, intelligent, and valuable to society, but not because they are gods within, but that they are created by God, who gives life because He is life (Gen. 1:27; 2:22; 1 John 5:11). This gives every single female intrinsic value and worth.
The emphasis on sexual intercourse: This was a theme Ariana Grande highlighted in her song and mentioned that sexuality is part of what it means to be a female and that women should be able to break out of traditional cultural constructs, express, and define sexuality the way they choose. This is also what the song and the music video underscored. According to the biblical worldview, it is also true that men and women were designed by God for sexual intercourse (within a monogamous marital relationship) not just for procreation (Gen. 1:28), but to enjoy and pleasure one another as well (c.f., Prov 5:15-19). However, sexuality does not make up a female’s identity, instead, a woman should find their identity in the true God, who has created them, died for them, and wants women to be known and honored for virtuous deeds and character, not their sexuality (c.f., Prov. 31:10-31; 1 Tim. 2:9-10).
Doubled-Mindedness in her message: Ariana Grande, in an interview discussing some of the imagery in the music video expresses that women should not be viewed as sexual objects. Yet in the exact same breath, she adds that if a woman chooses to be a sex object than this is okay with her:
So, so its best to represent the frustration of being a misunderstood woman, poping on the ground, being seen as just a p***y, sometimes; and just screaming, frustrated like how I’m not just a vagina. So it’s just the frustration of being a woman, feeling misunderstood, unheard, and we’ve been screaming for decades for equality and also to be understood, and to feel heard…yeah. To be seen as not just a vessel for sex. Yeah…which like we totally can be if we choose to be, which is [cool].Sang. Z,. (2018). “Ariana grande talks god is a woman.” The zach sang show. Retreived from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qOTPgR9zYUI
The problem is she was talking out of both sides of her mouth: The same thing she is frustrated about (women being viewed as”vessels for sex”) is the same thing that she is promoting women do (she is okay if women choose to be objectified as “vessels for sex”). There is dignity and equality that is higher than the perspective of Ariana Grande, and that is found in the biblical worldview. True equality comes from the reality the God of creation made both male and female. In addition, Paul wrote that men should show dignity to the woman due to the interdependence of the male and female. Even though the woman was made for man, the man comes from the woman (1 Cor. 11:11-12).
Ariana Grande is right to be concerned about the dignity and significance of women in the world, however, the theological implications of this song are dangerously misleading. It may lead a woman to believe that they are a god unto themselves, rather than observing that there is a Creator who has created them. It may lead a woman to identify themselves as just a sexual creature, rather than a spiritual being that God has created in a body. This same God who created man and woman had come in the form of a man, took on sin and the wrath of God for both male and female, died and resurrected, and by being assured in His message, God in the Person of the Holy Spirit lives in both male and female to empower them to glorify God and do good works for their neighbor. The contrast of theological messages could not be clearer.
Let us continue to promote the dignity and equality of women, due to the reality that God has created them male and female, and not by our own ideas, or concepts. For by this we promote true equality and honoring women who are made in the image of God, for the glory of God. Amen.
Until Next Time
Soli Deo Gloria!