San Francisco Church Holds a “Beyoncé Mass” Service
By Tess Farrand, Staff Writer
Earlier this year, Grace Cathedral in San Francisco, California held a church service did something very different. The Grace Cathedral members along with other interested persons, gathered in April for a “Beyonce Mass” where they sang Beyoncé songs in an Episcopalian Mass service that commemorated the pop culture icon while bringing awareness to the way the church has treated women, specifically women of color.
The Rev. Dr. Malcom Clemens Young expressed Grace Cathedrals’ motivation behind the service, “you may have heard criticisms from our fundamentalist brothers and sisters that Grace Cathedral worships Beyoncé rather than our Lord Jesus….” He continued, “a longing for justice lies at the heart of our identity. …We have been surprised by how much attention we have been receiving about this and do expect a large attendance at this worship service. Your friends may ask you about this. You might want to remind them that God is in all the world and that Beyoncé is made in God’s image. The church has not treated women of color fairly, and it is time to face this truth.”
While maybe Grace Cathedral was acting with good intentions, this “worship” service is wrong.
Jesus does love the marginalized and the oppressed, and He died for all people, no matter the sin, unifying us Him. However, our God is a jealous God that wants to keep us from idolatry. “You shall have no other gods before me (Exodus 20:3 NIV).” While some may think the Ten Commandments are dated, we know that God wrote them in stone in order to protect us from the self-destructiveness of sin.
One woman who attended the service shows how Satan can pervert anything to satisfy his motivation of taking our eyes off Jesus. She said, “to use Beyoncé and her music as a platform to bring people into the church to hear the message was truly, truly powerful.”
Beyoncé’s music and social media posts do sometimes include religious imagery. For instance, the pop star’s album, Lemonade has a slew of visuals that playoff biblical ideas or themes, such as the end-times and confession. However, this doesn’t mean that the ideology in her music aligns with a Christian worldview.
Grace Cathedral isn’t claiming that Beyoncé is God, but to the new Christian or unbeliever, their “Beyoncé Mass” certainly reeks of idolatry by putting our focus on a pop-star, or even ourselves.
We don’t need Beyoncé’s music to lure unbelievers, or bridge a gap, because His Gospel is good news enough. During the “Beyoncé Mass,” singers sang popular Beyoncé songs like “Survivor.” While perhaps encouraging, a song like this worships the idea that we are capable of anything, not because of Christ who strengthens us, but because of our own power and will. This, in turn, dissuades us from leaning on Jesus as our source of strength.
Take a closer look into the truth of the living word and this becomes clear as the Holy Spirit moves. Recall how Jesus honored the woman caught in adultery, “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her (John 8:7 KJV)” or the instance where Jesus healed the woman suffering from a severe hemorrhage for twelve years, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace and be healed of your affliction (Mark 5:34 NASB).” The bible is proof enough of Jesus’ respect and care for the oppressed and women.
Beyoncé’s music may have “powerful messages,” but oftentimes her songs promote a sentiment of individuality and vengefulness that the world interprets as strength. Using Beyoncé as a means to get people to worship Jesus Christ is twisted. Jesus doesn’t need anyone to seek out another means to mean find the truth because His messages in the Bible are reason enough. He is the way, and the truth (John 14:6).
There is nothing inherently wrong with liking some of Beyoncé’s music. However, when popular culture transforms into idolatry, and people begin serving “created things rather than the Creator” (Romans 1:25), it further separates us from a God that simply wants us to walk with Him.