Men who've left homosexuality behind for a life following Christ say they have two responses to Taylor Swift's new music video for her single “You Need to Calm Down” that promotes the LGBT movement. One message is for Swift and her fans, the other is for the Christian community.
Swift's music video is an ode to the LGBT community and features a star-studded cast including professing Christian R&B singer Ciara, and preachers' kid pop star Katy Perry. Others featured in the video include daytime TV host Ellen DeGeneres, actor Ryan Reynolds, transgender actor Laverne Cox, and the cast of Netflix’s “Queer Eye.”
The pop star's message, as described in her lyrics, is that people need to stop spewing hate. The song’s lyrics include lines such as: “And control your urges to scream about all the people you hate, ’cause shade never made anybody less gay.” She also sang that those who oppose the lifestyle “would rather be in the Dark Ages.”
The video features an angry mob holding signs that read: “Adam & Eve not Adam & Steve” and “Homasekuality is sin!” The misspelling of homosexuality intentionally presumes that Christians who oppose same-sex relationships are not only homophobic and transphobic, but also are uneducated.
The majority of Christian denominations worldwide adhere to the Bible's stance on homosexuality and teach that while it's a sin, believers are commanded to love the sinner. Swift’s video seems to be poking fun at the Phelps family of Topeka, Kansas, who are best known as the protest group called the Westboro Baptists. Despite its name, the group is not affiliated with any Baptist denomination and has gained notoriety over the years for protesting outside churches, NASCAR races, and soldiers' funerals. At the protests, members are often seen holding signs that read: “God Hates F---.”
Singer Ciara received some heat from Christian fans for the role she played in Swift's video where she's seen officiating a gay wedding and jumping for joy. Ciara shared a clip of her part in the video on Instagram but hit back at Christian fans who didn't like what they saw.
In the comments section, one follower said: "Ciara. You shouldn't be doing this. We respect u too much, Being at a gay wedding is one thing and joining them together is even more a greater sin. We love you but this is wrong."
Ciara snapped back, writing, "Firstly, Christians don't judge. Secondly, #YouNeedToCalmDown."
Luis Javier Ruiz, CEO of the ministry Fearless Identity and a survivor of the 2016 Pulse Nightclub shooting who has since walked away from homosexuality, responded to Ciara's decision to show her support for same-sex marriage and the LGBT movement by starring in the video.
Ruiz, who now travels across the U.S. to hold Freedom Marches where he and others share their transformation in Christ, said he respectfully disagrees with Ciara's views on the topic.
“Going to anyone's wedding is being a testimony of the union and showing that you agree with the event that is happening bound by God," he told The Christian Post in an interview on Tuesday. "I can't affirm what God's word does not affirm and I can't call love what God's word does not call love.
“If they are my friends, they will understand," Ruiz said. "And with that, saying God accepts everyone as they are but the Gospel demands change. We are walking into a time where you will be asked to choose between your faith belief in God or culture or society's belief, and I chose Jesus.”
In the New Testament along with many other verses of scripture, 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 says: “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God,” (1 Corinthians 6:9-10).
Singer Edward Byrd, who has joined forces with Ruiz, the Freedom March, and Uprooted Heart Inc., a group of millennials across the country who are boldly sharing how Jesus delivered them from a lifestyle of homosexuality, says Swift’s video “unfortunately” has some truth to it, as many Christians are not loving toward the LGBT community.
“This narrative that Taylor Swift is showing is not false, and for that my heart breaks and I apologize,” he told CP. “For so long, we as a church have treated homosexuality like the worst and highest sin, like His death and resurrection didn't include homosexuality! There is redemption for all people.”
Byrd, who's been out of the homosexual lifestyle for seven years, went on to say that he is “so proud to be a part of a generation that is leading with love and compassion without compromise!”
“Being a person who once lived as a gender fluid nonbinary individual, I understand and know firsthand the pain of the LGBTQ community,” said Byrd, who also powerfully expresses those sentiments in his debut single, “Ran Into You.” “But I also know the redemptive love and power of God. I no longer Identify as a person of the LGBTQ community and I am truly living my best life!”
Ruiz echoed Byrd’s sentiments and had a similar reaction to the award-winning singer's music video.
“Taylor Swift's video does not surprise me one bit. That’s the reason why I felt a strong pull to ask the LGBTQ community to forgive us, as the Church, in our nation's capital in Washington, D.C. [during the second annual Freedom March],” Ruiz said.
“I no longer identify as gay. My Identity is in Christ as His son. But please hear me out. I do not stay temptationless, and I do understand that hurt and pain and rejection from the churches in the past and still some today. But I don't serve the God of the poster signs saying you're going to Hell,” he declared.
Ruiz said he believes Swift is speaking on behalf of the LGBT community’s place of rejection and pain.
“The video is portraying yesterday's abuse to the Christian walk today. Religion brings ignorance like that. But there are many churches that are walking in true identity and relationship with Jesus and know how to love their neighbors very much. We need more than ever for the Church to wake up and start addressing this identity issue with the love of Christ that can love you for you and still not compromise what the word of God says,” Ruiz maintained.
Byrd, likewise, said that not all Christians have a defensive approach to homosexuality as he himself has witnessed the love of Jesus through His followers who share their beliefs in a peaceful manner.
“I do believe that it should always be OK for a person to express and follow their faith and convictions peaceably without it being looked at as hate. Just because I don’t agree with you does not mean I hate you,” he stressed.
Luiz added that ministries are rising up to help Christians better handle this topic.
“There are ministries like Fearless Identity and Freedom March that are walking in their Fearless Identity in Christ and sharing many stories with the Church on how to love and understand people,” he noted.
He also declared that none of the ex-LGBT leaders of the Freedom March movement have undergone any form of “electrotherapy” or visited a camp to pray the gay away. Their transformations, he said, followed an encounter with God that changed their lives.
“I met a man that is loyal and died for me, His name is Jesus. And through the Holy Spirit, He took my heart of stone and gave me a new spirit and brand new heart of flesh,” Ruiz testified. “That's the man that has had my heart this whole time. Jesus was drawing me to Himself.”
Byrd ended his reaction to Swift's video with one final statement to the singer and her followers:
“Swift's video stereotypes every Christian. There are plenty of Christians that do not picket LGBTQ people! The Christian community is bigger than our view on homosexuality,” he maintained. “In my seven years of walking with God, I have encountered some of the kindest compassionate people who helped me become the man I am today!”
The first Freedom March was held on May 5, 2018, in Washington, D.C. Other marches have since been held in Los Angeles, California, and for a second time in the nation's capital last month. An upcoming march will be held on Sept. 14, 2019, in Orlando, Florida.