If Taylor Swift thinks she can bat her whopping eyelashes at me and win me over, she is sorely mistaken.
She’s got a lot to answer for, particularly for “Love Story” and “You Belong with Me.” It’s not that I don’t like country-that-isn’t-really-country, or that I think Beyoncé had one of the best videos of all time.
It’s … well, have you seen the video for “You Belong with Me?” First, what self-respecting marching band nerd has her sloppy blonde braids hanging all over the place in uniform? And stop waving that clarinet around – you’re going to either put an eye out or break your reed.
But what really gets me about this story is her feelings for Cutie McFootballstar. He’s pursued a relationship – or been hen-pecked into one – with a catty, domineering diva. Whenever he’s not getting what he needs out of his girlfriend, he turns to a girl he won’t commit to, offloads his wounded heart and kicks some flirting in for good measure. I can totally see why our geeky heroine is into him. (I’m only half-sarcastic here.)
And then there’s “Love Story.” The protagonist, beset by a Romeo-and-Juliet romance, can’t wait to run away with her prince, escape the naysayers and live happily ever after. Oh, Tay-Tay. As a person who once kept a relationship secret for several months because I knew it was a bad idea and my friends would call me out, I can assure you that fleeing your disapproving loved ones does not a sustainable romance make. I mean, it totally worked out for Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, who are currently sipping Mai Tais in the Bahamas, but they’re a special case.
The part about this song that gets me tripping is when Juliet is pointing out to Romeo that he has been completely ignoring her for so long she wasn’t sure he’d ever turn up again. What’s his solution? A ring and a proposal. Because getting married will magically transform your broken relationship into a fairytale, infused with love and faithfulness and possibly unicorns.
We generally like the magical transformation myth. If I date this charming yet immature guy, my love will turn him into a man I can respect. If I pass this class, life will be easy and pleasant. If I get this job after college, I’ll make enough money to never have to dig through the dumpster for Carl’s Jr. coupons again, and I’ll finally have satisfaction.
Sometimes, we try for a quick fix; other times, we put in long hours of work to solve our problems. Either way, the connection between our efforts and the marvelous result is a little bit mystical, and we don’t mind it.
But we don’t like the magical Christian transformation myth. What, just because you “got religion” you’re better than me? God’s going to let you into heaven because you’re all uptight and follow his rules? I’m a good person, too, you know. I have morals.
Well, shoot. If being a good person is the prereq for getting into heaven, I’d better start packing for my Harry Potter closet in hell. I don’t even know which staircase it would be under, because I’m pretty sure I’ve hit up sins on every level of Dante’s Inferno.
See, I used to do a lot of bad things, and failed to do a lot of good things. Then I got serious about Jesus, and a funny thing happened:
I kept sinning.
Let’s be real. When someone becomes a Christian, they’re probably going to get kind of weird, not super-holy. Suddenly, they start using “disciple” as a verb and answering requests for dates with “I’ll pray about it.” But usually, they don’t stop being rude to their families or give up their porn addiction overnight. They’ll change over time, but they’re still dirty sinners. And dirty sinners don’t go to heaven.
That’s the bad news. See, when it comes to God, there’s no “good enough.” The standard for innocence before God isn’t “worse than Mother Teresa but better than Hitler.” It’s actual innocence, and none of us have it.
None but one.
Jesus never faltered. In the final exam of life, he got a 100 percent. And here’s the ridiculous, scandalous, countercultural truth of the gospel: He wants us to trade his 100 percent for our 2.5 percent, or our 1 percent, or our slept-though-the-final-because-I-was-hung-over. You’ll never, ever, ever score 100 percent. You’ll never earn forgiveness. But you can have it for free.
Will you take it?
BETH SEKISHIRO sees you football players at the DC all the time, but you never sweep her off her slip-resistant soles. To ask for a dinner date, contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Then she’ll pray about it.