Dear HCMC, 

Lent season this year has coincided with one of the greatest cultural events of our era—Taylor Swift’s The Eras Tour. From 2 to 9 March, Swift performed night after night in front of a packed National Stadium in Singapore. There is no need for me to rehash the stratospheric global impact of the Taylor Swift phenomenon. The media is replete with news reports on her. Besides, I am no expert on Taylor Swift. Rather, my concern is to pause and ponder our Christian response in the midst of all this. 

How should Christians regard such a cultural phenomenon? Is it alright for Christians to be ‘Swifties’? 

There is nothing wrong with enjoying excellent music and exhilarating concert performances. These are good gifts from God. Taylor Swift is no doubt an exceptionally gifted song writer and musical performer. She has wowed the world with her God-given musical talent. Furthermore, she comes across with an ‘everywoman’ vibe which makes her highly relatable. Her songs are also relatable, with lyrics that give voice to our everyday struggles with broken relationships and life’s misfortunes. If you are a Swiftie, you will probably have much more to say in praise of her! 

What we need to watch out for is idolatry. Modern celebrity culture encourages this. Swift is certainly not the only celebrity to be idolised, though she is the main one at the moment. The snare of idolatry encompasses not just ‘bad’ idols, but ‘good’ idols as well. According to the late Timothy Keller: ‘Idolatry happens when we take good things and make them ultimate.’ No matter how good or influential a person is, when the person takes the place of God in our hearts, we have fallen into idolatry. Can a Christian be a Swiftie? Only if you are sure that Swift is not your idol. She is not to be worshipped. She is not the ultimate answer to your needs.  

We also need to guard against negative role-modelling. For all her positive qualities, there are aspects of Taylor Swift we should not emulate. From the way she dresses on stage, to aspects of her lifestyle, or her relationships, or her views on faith or gender ideology—she is not someone I would regard as a role-model for my children. She grew up in the ‘Bible Belt’ in America and claims to be Christian, but this is questionable. Yet because of her tremendous accomplishments and the kindness and authenticity she portrays, she is being held up as a shining example for all. In the words of TIME Magazine, who selected her as Person in the Year for 2023: ‘In a divided world, where too many institutions are failing, Taylor Swift found a way to transcend borders and be a source of light.’ For Christians, the ultimate source of light is Jesus Christ, ‘the true light that gives light to everyone’ (John 1:9). He is our true role-model. 

Finally, especially in this season of Lent, let us consider some contrasts between Taylor Swift and our Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus could have become the most famous and powerful person during His time on earth. With the miracles He was performing, He could easily pack out the ‘National Stadium’ night after night. He would have been crowned an earthly king. But He set aside all these worldly accolades, lived a simple life of servanthood, and humbled Himself even to the point of suffering and dying on the cross, in submission to the Father and for the salvation of the world. 

In this era when Taylor Swift has captivated the world, would we be captivated even more by Jesus Christ?  

Rev Timothy