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Born This Way
A Quick Music Discussion Guide

Dynamic ImageMain Point of Discussion: Jesus loves everybody—so should we.

The Song: “Born This Way”

Lady Gaga is perhaps the biggest pop-music star on the planet. Known for her unconventional (okay…outrageous) wardrobe choices and Madonna-influenced dancing and vocal style, Gaga has been grabbing scads of awards and critical praise and millions of listeners for several years now.

“Born This Way” is the latest notch on her musical belt. Gaga sang a snippet of the tune (a fairly shameless rip-off of Madonna’s “Express Yourself”) after winning one of several MTV video music awards last September. Her fans have been, well…gaga ever since. She released “Born This Way” on Feb. 11, and it quickly hit the top of the iTunes charts. Gaga performed the single for the first time on the Feb. 13 Grammy Awards telecast, and it’s now atop the Billboard Hot 100 chart as well.

More important than the tune’s undeniable buzz is the content of the lyrics; they champion the idea of loving yourself no matter what you look like or how much money you have or if you’ve ever felt bullied or marginalized—because “God makes no mistakes.” Kudos to Gaga for singing those truthful sentiments. But intertwined with such positivity is her long-held pro-promiscuity, pro-gay agenda (see song lyrics further down). Given the popularity of “Born This Way,” it’s incumbent upon youth workers to dig into the tune and offer their students a biblical perspective, which this discussion will focus on. (For more background, check out the Source’s Youth Culture Window article on Lady Gaga and “Born This Way,” posted last week.)

You can present the song and its lyrics any number of ways, from downloading the track and playing it while your students read from lyric sheets you’ve passed around or projecting a YouTube video with the lyrics on a wall.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Scripture is clear regarding same-gender sexual sin, as it is regarding opposite-gender sexual sin—i.e., they’re both sinful; God isn’t cool with either action. Unfortunately the church has justifiably gained a reputation as a gay-hating institution by, among other things, stigmatizing homosexual sin (and homosexuality in general) to a far greater extent.

As believers in Christ, we need to end homophobia, like, yesterday. That means stopping the gay jokes in youth group; that means confronting hatred for LBGT people within our church walls and challenging believers to instead show love—at least as much as Christ loves straight people who lie, cheat, sleep around, and wallow in all manner of addiction. That also means, as a church, dealing with same-gender sexual sin by the same yardstick as opposite-gender sexual sin—neither is better, neither is worse, and no backing down from either sin.

A final word: Youth leaders must be mindful of the high probability that there are at least some teens under their care who are wondering if they’re gay or who have engaged in same-sex behaviors. And the last thing they need is a couple of Bible verses thrown in their faces while the clique off to the side giggles at yet another effeminate vocal impersonation. These kids need care and protection and listening ears and loving guidance. After all, if the church fails to love them, Lady Gaga (and her ilk) most certainly will. Please keep this in mind as you prepare this discussion.

Introducing the Song —SAY THIS:
We’re going to take a deeper look at the worldview behind the big pop song “Born This Way,” a fairly new Lady Gaga tune that most of you are probably familiar with. Let’s check it out.
(Play the song or run the video.)

Song Lyrics: “Born This Way”

It doesn’t matter if you love him, or capital h-i-m
just put your paws up
‘cause you were born this way, baby

my mama told me when I was young
we are all born superstars
she rolled my hair and put my lipstick on
in the glass of her boudoir
“there’s nothin’ wrong with lovin’ who you are”
she said, “ ‘cause he made you perfect, babe”
“so hold your head up girl and you’ll go far,
listen to me when I say”

I’m beautiful in my way
‘cause God makes no mistakes
I’m on the right track baby
I was born this way
don’t hide yourself in regret
just love yourself and you’re set
I’m on the right track baby
I was born this way

ooo there ain’t no other way
baby I was born this way (2x)
ooo there ain’t no other way
baby I was born
I’m on the right track baby
I was born this way
don’t be a drag—just be a queen (3x)
don’t be!

Give yourself prudence
and love your friends
subway kid, rejoice your truth
in the religion of the insecure
I must be myself, respect my youth
a different lover is not a sin
believe capital h-i-m (hey hey hey)
I love my life I love this record and
mi amore vole fe yah (love needs faith)

don’t be a drag, just be a queen
whether you’re broke or evergreen
you’re black, white, beige, chola descent
you’re Lebanese, you’re orient
whether life’s disabilities
left you outcast, bullied, or teased
rejoice and love yourself today
‘cause baby you were born this way
no matter gay, straight, or bi,
lesbian, transgendered life
I’m on the right track baby
I was born to survive
no matter black, white or beige
chola or orient made
I’m on the right track baby
I was born to be brave

I was born this way hey! (2x)
I’m on the right track baby
I was born this way hey! (3x)
I’m on the right track baby
I was born this way hey!

Transitional Statement:
“Born This Way” is a catchy single that a whole lot of people love—but is that because of the music and Gaga’s appealing vocals? Or could the song’s message be what’s capturing listeners? The Bible definitely has a few things to say about some of the lyrics in “Born This Way.”

Divide into Small Groups:
Let’s go ahead and split into our discussion groups, and then afterward we’ll come together for a final word.

CLICK HERE for a quick training article on how to maximize your small groups using our small group format—a great resource to equip your small group leaders.

Discussion Questions:

  1. AROUND THE CIRCLE: Before we dive in, everybody tell us your name and the city and state where you were born.

  2. ASK A FEW: In “Born This Way,” Lady Gaga sings about getting rid of shame and guilt over things we may not like about ourselves that we can all pretty much agree that we’re born with—e.g., skin color, hair color, personality, etc. So…have any of you ever had braces or changed your hair color? (Wait for a show of hands.) How do you believe God views that sort of “messing” with his creation?

  3. ASK A FEW: Have any of you ever had elective cosmetic procedures or know others who’ve had them? (Wait for a show of hands.) How do you believe God views that sort of “messing” with his creation?

  4. AROUND THE CIRCLE: As you think about your peers, is changing their physical appearance in big ways becoming more of a focus these days—or is it a rare thing that’s not too much of a widespread issue?

  5. ASK A FEW: In the song, Gaga sings, “a different lover is not a sin
    believe capital h-i-m.” What do you think Gaga means by “different lover”? How do you imagine the actual “capital h-i-m” is reacting to these lyric lines?

  6. ASK A FEW: Later in the song, Gaga adds “no matter gay, straight, or bi,
    lesbian, transgendered” to the list of conditions she says some people are born with. What is it about those lyrics that may be attractive to some listeners? Is it the same kind of draw that “a different lover is not a sin” may have? (Leader—answer you’re looking for: It’s attractive because if promiscuity and sexual orientation are conditions we’re “born with,” then hooking up with anyone and everyone is fair game and truly okay with God. Let the good times roll!)

  7. Read the following passage from the Bible:

    Introducing the passage —SAY THIS:
    Realize, you’ll hear some people try to explain away the truth of this passage, saying that this word for homosexuality meant something else, like the abuse of young boys. I assure you, it didn’t. Paul would have just said that. And there are plenty of other passages that are very clear about all these actions he lists as being sins. (Leader- if you’d like to study a little more prior to these small groups to be prepared, you can read our extensive article on the subject here.)

      1 Timothy 1:8-11 (NLT)
      The law was not intended for people who do what is right. It is for people who are lawless and rebellious, who are ungodly and sinful, who consider nothing sacred and defile what is holy, who kill their father or mother or commit other murders. The law is for people who are sexually immoral, or who practice homosexuality, or are slave traders, liars, promise breakers, or who do anything else that contradicts the wholesome teaching that comes from the glorious Good News entrusted to me by our blessed God.

  8. ASK A FEW: What does this verse have to say about sexual immorality and homosexual acts? (Leader—answer you’re looking for: Both constitute behavior that’s unrighteous (v. 9) and contrary to sound doctrine (v. 10).)

  9. ASK A FEW: What is the point of this small passage? Hint—who is God’s law for? (Leader—answer you’re looking for: God’s law- his story- is for all sinners!)

  10. You Say: Yes, in this passage Paul lists the “sexually immoral” and those who "practice homosexuality" among the "lawless and rebellious." It is point blank doctrine: both sexual immorality and homosexuality are lifestyles that are contradictory to the Gospel. But, look what else Paul is doing. He's also clearly saying that God has reached out to the "lawless and rebellious" with His perfect law. Rather than condemn sinners, God desires to redeem them! (just like John 3:17 says).

  11. ASK A FEW: Does the fact that “the sexually immoral” comes before “those practicing homosexuality” in the list of sins make any difference to you? What about the fact that several other sins are listed before these two? (i.e., “lawbreakers and rebels, the ungodly and sinful,” etc.)

  12. ASK A FEW: Gaga is correct in one sense; we ARE indeed born with original sin and the predisposition to rebel----we ARE born this way. She's got a good point. BUT the big difference is that original sin/sin nature has never been an excuse to keep sinning. God wants our repentance and trust in Christ's sacrifice for forgiveness and his power to "go and sin no more."
    Still, it’s unlikely that quoting Bible passages to fans of Gaga will change their minds. If that’s the reality, what, then, can we do in response that doesn’t involve carrying picket signs?

  13. Read the following passage from the Bible:

      Romans 12:21 (NIV 2010)
      21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

  14. AROUND THE CIRCLE: A lot of people hate the church because of how poorly we’ve treated non-Christians—especially those we’ve “chosen” as particularly sinful (e.g., gays, lesbians, transgendered, the promiscuous). Do you believe the church has been unfairly judged in this way by non-Christians? If so, how? If not, why not?

  15. ASK A FEW: How can this verse from Romans 12 –overcome evil with good—guide us as we engage respectfully with non-Christians—especially those who’ve been hurt (i.e., gays and those who support them, etc.) by the insensitive/dismissive actions of some Christians?

  16. AROUND THE CIRCLE: Everyone close your eyes. In silence, imagine Jesus sitting backstage with Lady Gaga and her dancers after one of their shows (it shouldn’t be so hard to do since Scripture tells us that Jesus hung out with all sorts of people that the “righteous” were surprised he actually liked). How do you imagine Jesus speaking to them? How do you imagine Jesus treating them? Then imagine a few of them start to cry, telling Jesus how hurt they’ve felt because of how others have treated them—how do you imagine Jesus responding to these people? Does he reach out and touch them? Embrace them? Stand with his arms crossed while he tells them to get their acts together? Now imagine you’re sitting backstage with Lady Gaga and her dancers—what do you do?

Wrap Up
The Bible is clear regarding same-gender sexual sin, as it is regarding opposite-gender sexual sin—i.e., they’re both sinful; God isn’t cool with either action. The passage in 1 Timothy says as much. Unfortunately the church is viewed as a gay-hating institution because Christians have placed more weight on homosexual sin (and homosexuality in general) than on heterosexual sin. But God views them both equally—again, 1 Timothy, I Corinthians 6 and other passages say as much.

As believers in Christ, we need to end homophobia, like, yesterday. That means stopping the gay jokes in youth group; that means confronting hatred for LBGT people within our church walls and challenging believers to instead show love—at least as much as Christ loves straight people who lie, cheat, sleep around, and wallow in addiction. That also means, as a church, dealing with same-gender sexual sin by the same yardstick as opposite-gender sexual sin—neither is better, neither is worse, and no backing down from either sin.

Here’s my challenge to you: If you know people who are gay or lesbian, figure out a way this week to demonstrate love to them. Choose to stick up for them. Don’t talk to them about their sin or their lifestyles—instead, overcome evil with good. In time you may gain the right to speak into their lives.

And if any of you have been struggling or wrestling with feeling as though you may be attracted to the same sex—or even if you’ve had same-sex experiences and don’t know who you can talk to—me and the other adult leaders are here to listen to and pray with you whenever you need us. Give us a chance to prove that Jesus is present among this group.

Close in Prayer

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Comments on this post

   Becki Hamel         9/4/2013 6:00:02 AM

I'm torn. I have a sweet, precious girl in my youth group that confessed to me that she had never been attracted to the opposite sex. She said she really believes she is gay. I asked her what she wanted most at this moment (Student Life Camp)? She said to follow Christ but that she had been told that she would go to hell because she was gay. So I led her to Christ because I believe that is her first step. She still feels that she is gay but has not acted on her feelings. Our youth group knows. They love her unconditionally. I don't want to cause her to leave the youth group where she has found unconditional love. I'm afraid that this lesson would cause her to run. What do I do?

   Rick Baker         4/30/2013 5:09:09 PM

I am very impressed by the thoroughness and sensitivity of this study. We Christians truly need to show love to everyone and remember we are all born in need of a savior.

   Richard Glass         5/27/2011 11:34:17 AM

This is good stuff!! Thanks for the materail and resources.

   Johnathan         5/23/2011 3:40:31 PM

Thank you for giving us more than just an article - a springboard to jump into this topic from.

   meredith roberts         5/9/2011 5:11:15 PM

This is excellent! Loved this and I think its very useful

   Rhonda Hines         3/11/2011 5:28:51 PM

Thank you so much for addressing this very timely subject. And so must I with my group. Nearly 100% of my group is from non Christian homes and some have bought into defending the homosexual agenda. Please pray for me as I share God's Word with them on this subject.

   Brian Clark         3/3/2011 7:43:55 AM

good stuff, respect you guys a ton and love using this website for about a decade now!

   Vanessa         3/2/2011 6:42:52 AM

Thanks for writing this up. I'm a K-12 teacher and youth leader, and will be using this with my students tomorrow. I'll let you know how it went. God bless you guys - what you do here is a real blessing.

   Michelle         2/24/2011 11:39:51 AM

This is truly powerful!!! I have been looking for a way to introduce this at a teen conference and you nailed it. God provides all that we need.

   James Bills         2/23/2011 11:09:06 AM

I am pleased to see that this lesson has been changed. It says a lot about the person or persons putting these lessons out here for us to use. I realize that some who read this comment will not understand what I am speaking about, however, allow me to say one thing. This site has been a great help to me and a lot of other people in youth ministry, and for the person or people responsible for making this material available, to change a lesson because of Biblical reproof (2Tim 3:16) speaks volumes about your character/s. May God continue to bless this ministry because of your willingness to accept Biblical reproof and instruction. There are not many ministries out there that would change a lesson even with all the Biblical evidence I presented to you. The very fact that you did change the lesson tells me that you seek to honor God and not man. Praise God for your willing heart/s because without HIM, man is all you would honor. I will be using this lesson and I will be passing it on to others in my local area. And to my brother Juan Gonzalez, I pray you did not misunderstand my position. I agree with some of what you said. Please allow me to clarify; Jesus did chastise and talk down to sinners, you are mistaken to believe he did not. For some reason, people forget the fact that the teachers of the law – Pharisees – are sinners along with everyone else in this world. Paul dealt with this mindset in his epistle to the Romans, “What then? Are we Jews any better off? No, not at all. For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin, as it is written: "None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one" (3:9-12). So yes Jesus did chastise sinners and not always in a loving way either. In the Gospel of John we find Jesus telling them that they are the offspring of the devil (Chapter 8); this statement in itself can be said of every person that cannot bear to hear the Word of God (v.43). This type of chastisement is harsh but we look past it because we do not want to believe that Jesus was capable of speaking to someone like this; and it is all because we lack knowledge about the God we worship. There is no fear of God because the world has painted this picture of a god that is only loving and not condemning. Please! Do not misunderstand me. We MUST love as Jesus loved us and we MUST show the same grace and mercy to others which Jesus has extended to us; but we cannot do that by creating a god that does not exists Biblically. The fine line is this, God loves mankind because He created us in His image. However, God hates the sinner. See the problem God is faced with? How does He reconcile this problem? He sends His only begotten son to die for the sins of the world and to save those who will believe in Him. And all those people who refuse, Jesus does not have to condemn because God has declared them condemned already (John 3:16-21). We show the love of God by presenting the true God of the Bible, not a created god who makes us comfortable. The sinner needs to be told they are lost and condemned and the only way to salvation is through Jesus Christ. This is the way in which we love the homosexuals, adulterers, coveters, idolaters, liars, murderers, or simply put, the sinner. Thanks again for a great lesson.

   biodun         2/22/2011 9:31:49 PM

I have just finished reading this and it is a wonderful blessing. May the Lord give you more voice among the people of this world.

   Patrick         2/22/2011 6:10:50 PM

Out of sight ... I thoroughly enjoyed the articel your two wrote the other week, now, a real tangible way to take all of it and make it work with our teens. Thanks for so much work and for using a big song to do it.

   Juan Gonzalez         2/22/2011 12:01:08 PM

This is a very good resource in my opinion. The issue of homosexuality in the church is a serious one that should be addressed like said in this lesson "with love". As far as the brother who mention that we are all sinners at birth, he is correct but also we must remember that we where born into "adams sin" and a young child does not know (much less a new born child) the difference between right and wrong and choosing to do the wrong. which is the most basic defintion of a sin. and with people who are on totally different spiritual level than we are we must not bring the spiritual hammer down on them. that's what gives the church a bad name!we should love the sinner and hate the sin, just as christ did and encourge the person the leave that way of life to follow christ, just as He did. When we follow Christ example of ministry we will see that He didn't chastize or talk down to the sinners, the only ones he did that to was the teachers of the law. which is what we must becareful not to become,hipocritical,self loving,self justifying pharriseses!

   Lee Mueller         2/20/2011 12:32:21 PM

Thanks for a great and timely article. We will be using it in Youth this Wednesday.

   Yvonne Bronson         2/19/2011 9:12:55 AM

Very Good resource, used with sunday school lesson on choices