At the 787 Collective, we couldn’t help but notice Beyonce entered faith discussions at what seemed a higher rate than usual last month. With the publication of his book I Can’t Date Jesus: Love, Sex, Family, Race, and Other Reasons I’ve Put My Faith in Beyoncé, Michael Arceneaux invites the reader on his own journey of self-acceptance and self-discovery in the midst of his family’s Catholic beliefs and identity. Here’s a reflection on the some potential how’s and why’s of the phenomena by our colleague Audrey Burnett, with links to learn more about Arceneaux’s book and other Beyonce/Bible/Theology related media that popped up last month as well:
When we face difficult times, we turn to different things for help: Perhaps friends and family, church, or even the Bible. For some, turning to church or the Bible is significantly more complicated because they have been rejected or ostracized by them. The Bible says wonderful things about God’s love and how we should love others but unfortunately humans tend to lift up the things that divide and oppress rather than focusing on the love or the things that bind us together. This causes many people to turn away from church when they don’t feel accepted for who they are. Thankfully, sometimes they turn to other healthy things that are sending messages that they desperately need to hear.
Growing up I remember drawing strength from songs like Survivor by Destiny’s Child. All those years ago, Beyonce’s words began to lay a foundation of support for those who needed them. Beyonce receives a lot of attention for being one of the outlets that people, especially young adults, turn to. She and her songs send a message of love, acceptance, and fighting for what you believe in. Why aren’t people finding what they need in the church? Are we preaching love, acceptance, and empowerment of the downtrodden? Are we lifting up the Bible passages that build up and strengthen our neighbors and encourage love and support of all others? It’s easy to fall into divisive narratives, but perhaps the church is being called towards something more. I believe we could learn a lot from Beyonce and her ability to bring people together and lift them up as beloved.
For more on Beyonce and faith, check out the following resources:
Terri Gross interviews Michael Arceneaux about his memoir I Can’t Date Jesus: Love, Sex, Family, Race, and Other Reasons I’ve Put My Faith in Beyoncé.