I’m a huge Prince fan. Prince was a rising star during my formative years; his music had a huge impact on my life and how I see the world. In my massive music collection, I own more music by Prince than any other artist. One of the things I loved about Prince was his merging of religion and sexuality. He wasn’t afraid to talk about God and he wasn’t afraid to be sexual at the same time. I didn’t really understand it back then; all I knew was I had both of those feelings too and here was a person telling me that was okay. In retrospect, I realized he was saying that sex is a gift from God that is beautiful and there’s nothing to be ashamed about. Even though Prince created a hyper sexed image in order to sell more records, if you actually listen to the words of some of his songs he often talked about beautiful sexual experiences in long term meaningful relationships (Adore: “Until the end of time, I’ll be there for you”).
I recently read a biography about Prince written by Toure called “I Would Die 4 U.” In it there is an analysis of the impending-apocalypse-party song, 1999. In the book, James Hines, PhD in Church-State studies from Bayler, says
“If Prince is trying to get us to accept a new religious paradigm, that paradigm would have to be that religion is fun, as evidenced in the voice of God at the beginning of the song [ 1999]. If religion is supposed to be a party, if spirituality is not supposed to have us running fear, then referencing the lion could mean Prince’s approach to religion. When Prince says ‘If U didn’t come 2 party / Don’t bother knockin’ on my door / I got a lion in my pocket / And baby he’ ready 2 roar’ is it possible Prince is making an allusion to evangelism? Mentioning door knocking make me think he might be saying ‘If you’re coming with that old, dry, sad, afraid religion that makes people scared, then don’t knock on my door with that.’ If that’s where Prince is going, then the next line has to be a Christ reference. Prince would be saying that he already has Christ with him, the lion of Judah in his pocket and that lion is getting ready to change the way we do things (in terms of spirituality and religious expression).”
Religion is fun? We shouldn’t live in fear of spirituality? Christ is here with us and just waiting for us to let him loose?
I don’t know about you, but for most of my life, religion was synonymous with rules. Being a Christian meant a laundry list of things you weren’t allowed (or shouldn’t) do. Breaking any of these rules meant displeasing God and that was not something you wanted to do. Lot’s wife was turned into a pillar of salt. Ananias and Sapphira were instantly killed for lying. Ticking off God was a definite no-no. The sad part about living like that, is that is exactly what Jesus came into the world to change. His message was not about rules. It was about people. Loving people. Helping people. Serving people. Being in authentic relationships with people.
If we are to listen to His Purple Majesty (and Hines said we must assume Prince is deeply familiar with the Bible because there’s evidence of it throughout his work) then the nature of Jesus isn’t this tame creature that can be defined and confined by legalism. On the contrary, he’s a beast that is ready to tear things up (in a good and exciting way). And that’s exactly what Jesus did when he stepped on the scene. If you’re a CHRISTian, then it’s your turn to do the same.