Taylor Swift and the Christian Worldview: Parenting in Pop Culture

May 30, 2024

Also Available on:

Apple Podcasts
Listen on Spotify
Google Podcasts
Amazon Music

Today's question says, "In a culture that is completely immersed with Taylor Swift, how do we as parents navigate this as Christians? My daughter is allowed to only listen to songs that I've approved of, which is mostly her old music. Is this even okay? I'm trying so hard to find a fair balance between it all."


Note: The following is an auto-transcript of the podcast recording.

Hello friends, and welcome to another episode of the Foundation Worldview podcast where we seek to answer your questions so that you can equip the children that God has placed in your care to carefully evaluate every idea they encounter and understand the truth of the biblical worldview. I'm your host, Elizabeth Urbanowicz, and I'm thrilled that you've joined me for another episode today. Today's question says, "In a culture that is completely immersed with Taylor Swift, how do we as parents navigate this as Christians? My daughter is allowed to only listen to songs that I've approved of, which is mostly her old music. Is this even okay, trying so hard to find a fair balance between it all?" This is such an important question because I think it's one that a lot of Christian parents are thinking through right now. I'm recording this podcast in 2024, and this year and last year, Taylor Swift has been on her eras tour, which has just completely swept the nation across the US and I'm sure it's popular in other countries as well. And right now it's Taylor Swift. In another few years it will be someone else. But this is always important for us to think through, okay, how do we help our children live life amidst pop culture and help them think biblically about it? So we're going to talk about a few things today that I think are principles that we can apply to this situation regarding Taylor Swift, but also just any situation we find ourselves in when we're considering a music artist or a show or a video game. Just some basic questions we can ask ourselves and look through to help our children navigate life amidst popular culture.

Before we dive down deep into looking at this question today would ask that if you found the content of this podcast beneficial, please make sure that you like and subscribe. It doesn't take a whole lot of time to do that, but doing so really helps you because you will never miss a future episode of the Foundation Worldview podcast, and it really helps us as well, because one of our goals is to try to equip as many Christian parents as possible to get their kids thinking critically and biblically.And so when you do that, that helps us out by getting the algorithms to push us out to more people. Also, if you have a question that you would like for me to answer on a future Foundation Worldview podcast, you can submit that question by going to FoundationWorldview.com/podcast.

Now, when this question came in specifically about Taylor Swift, I actually smiled because it was a situation in my own classroom, and this was, oh goodness, it was more than 10 years ago, but maybe like 11 or 12 years ago with my students and it would have to do with Taylor Swift that some girls came into my classroom and they had made up a dance to a Taylor Swift song. And through an interaction with them, I just realized that though they knew lots of biblical answers and they had lots of Scripture memorized, they were completely ill-equipped to apply what they had learned in Bible class to a real life situation such as a Taylor Swift song. So it was that interaction with my former students who actually led me down on the path of researching, okay, what materials can I find that can equip these third graders in my classroom to think critically and biblically in every area of life? And I couldn't find any materials that did what I wanted them to do, and that also did so in a way that was going to transform their thinking. So Taylor Swift is actually part of what started what God used to start Foundation Worldview.

Now, I think as I mentioned in the intro, that there are some general principles that we can apply to the situation and any situation that our children face when it's regarding music that they're consuming or other forms of media, whether that be a show or a video game or a book. So three general principles.

The first one is that in our homes, we should forbid what is vile, that there are things that directly and explicitly go against God's commands, that there are things that just glorify sin. And so anything like that, that is vile, that is glorifying sin, that is directly contradicting God in his word, those are things that we should not allow in our home. That shouldn't even be a question. And when our children want to engage in those things, we can explain to them these are things that God has directly forbidden in his word and we're seeking to honor God in our household so that music or that show or that video game will not be allowed in this house. So that's the first one, to forbid what is vile.

The second is to equip our children to think critically through the rest. So we want to equip our children to think critically so that when they encounter things that aren't necessarily vile but might still go against the Christian worldview, they're able to evaluate all of those claims carefully. Now, those of you who have taken your children through Foundation Comparative Worldview curriculum, that is exactly what we do in that curriculum that we equip children to think carefully, to think critically, to think biblically in all areas of life. And even at the end of each unit, we have some suggested video clips from TV shows or movies that children are to watch and then apply what they just learned in that unit. And we actually ask them, okay, what is the question that is answered in this clip? What worldview does this form of media stem from? So they're actually recognizing this. So this is the second principle to equip our children to think critically through the rest. So if you have never taken the children in your care through Foundation Comparative Worldview curriculum, highly recommend that you do that. That curriculum is in our Biblical Thinking Track. So if you have little ones under the age of eight, you can take them through our Biblical Worldview curriculum, which precedes that, and then our Comparative Worldview curriculum for kids eight on up. And then the curriculum after that is our Careful Thinking curriculum for kids 10 on up. So highly recommend you check out that track. Okay, so first two points: forbid what is vile, equip our children to critically think through the rest.

And then number three, spend most time focusing on what aligns with Philippians chapter four, verse eight. And Philippians chapter four, verse eight reads, "finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable -0 if anything is excellent or praiseworthy - think about such things." So that should be the category in which we're seeking to immerse our children in whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, or praiseworthy. These are the things that our children should mostly be consuming.

Okay, so now we're going to take these three different categories and we're going to filter Taylor Swift music through it. Okay, so first one, which is forbid what is vile? So the question is, does Taylor Swift music fall into the category of what is vile? So that's the first question we need to ask ourselves. Now, full disclosure here, I am not super familiar with Taylor Swift's music. I've heard songs on the radio here and there.

My one interaction with her is actually kind of funny. Those of you who have seen me in person or maybe seen what webinar before knew that I or have gone through our curriculums know that I have really long curly hair. And when I was in college, I didn't know what to do with my hair. So I cut it really super short and it did not look very attractive, but I just had no idea what to do with curly hair. But anyway, I went to a free concert with my brother and sister-in-Law, one of my first years out in Chicago that Taylor Swift was at. And the whole time she was a teenager then, so she was kind of annoying, but she kept flipping her hair around on stage, and I was like, man, this girl's kind of annoying, but I really like her hair. Her hair's really pretty. And then I was like, wait a minute, I have the same hair. It's just not blonde. So Taylor Swift inspired me to grow my hair really long. So that's my main interaction with Taylor Swift.

So I'm not super familiar with her music, especially her newer stuff, but with the question of does her music fall into the category of what is vile, there are definitely some of her songs that do not fall into this category. I know a little bit of her older stuff when she was kind of like faux country and a lot of her songs then were sweet and innocent, and they did not fall into the category of vile. Now, I do not know a lot of her contemporary music. So it is possible that some of her songs, if not all of them, that are more recent fall into the category of vile. So as the questioner suggested, I think this is going to be something that is a song by song basis that we can't throw all of her songs into this category. I don't even know if we can throw any of her songs into this category, but I think it's going to be a song by song basis. So that's the first question. Okay, does her music fall into this category of vile?

Second question. Okay, now we're talking about equipping our kids to critically think through the rest. So the question is, how do we equip them to think critically through her music? So I think there are several key areas that we need to equip them with the truth and then have them filter every single song that they listen to of hers and every single song they just listen to in general through this lens. And so several of the key categories that I think we need to equip them with are the concept of truth. What is truth? Do her lyrics fall into the category of true? Then what does it mean to worship something and what is actually worshiped or elevated in her songs? Then we need to teach them about the concept of humanity. What does it mean to be human? How are we to treat one another as humans? And does her music treat humans as we should be treated? And then the concept of morality. What is right and what is wrong, and how can we discern the difference? And then does her music uphold things that are morally good, or does her music uphold things that are morally wrong? So these are four key areas that we can equip them with. As I mentioned before, this is exactly what we do in Foundation Comparative Worldview curriculum, that actually we have five units and four of them are on truth, worship, humans and morality. And that's why I developed these because I saw this need in my students that they needed these lenses through which to filter everything. And so actually, this is what happened in my classroom when I saw that my students were not equipped to evaluate her song in this way.

Because what actually happened over a decade ago was two little girls from my class came in after recess and they were like, miss U! miss U! We did a dance at recess. Can we show you the dance? And so they did this little dance for me, and while they were doing the dance, they sang the lyrics to Taylor Swift song, I don't even know what it's called, but the lyrics of the chorus are, we are never, ever, ever getting back together. Anyway, they sang the song, did the Little Dance, and I said, oh, I am so proud of you for being so creative and using your time so wisely out at recess. And I said, I have a question for you. And I was trying to get them to think critically, and I said, I want you to think about what are some of the truths we've learned from the Bible about how humans are created? And so we talked through that and they came to the conclusion, the biblical conclusion, that humans are created in God's image. And so then I said, okay, I want you to think about how Taylor Swift is talking about the Boy in the song by saying, we are never, ever, ever getting back together. I said, is she treating him as someone who is made in the image of God and they kind of look at one another? And they were like, no.

And so this is just what we want to equip our children to be able to do that anytime they're consuming media to be able to ask themselves, okay, so what these lyrics that I just heard, or this show that I just watched, or this book that I just read, is it promoting what is true? What is real? What is worshiped in this media? What is elevated as being most important? How are humans talked about in this media? Are they talked about as if they're made in the image of God? Are they talked about as if they are fallen or as if they're just basically good and perfect? Then morality, what is upheld as being right and what is upheld as being wrong? And are these things true? So we want them to be able to evaluate every form of media in this way.

And then the third part about spending most time focusing on what aligns with Philippians 4:8, to ask ourselves the question, okay, does listening to Taylor Swift music lead us to spending most of our time focusing on what is true and noble and right, and pure and lovely and admirable and excellent and praiseworthy? No. That's not what Taylor Swift music does. Even the sweet innocent things really don't lead us to focus on those things. So that means that if we've decided that certain of her songs are okay for our kids to listen to, and we have equipped them to evaluate the messages, then should we spend most of our time listening to Taylor Swift music? I would say no, because most if not all of her songs do not fall into this category of Philippians 4:8, meaning it's not all that should be played.

Now, I'm sure many people are thinking, oh, well then clearly Taylor Swift music should just be avoided altogether. I'm going to give a little caution here. I don't think that that's wise either, because our children are going to encounter Taylor Swift music. They're going to hear it in the grocery store. They're going to hear it just on certain TV commercials. I was watching a few nights ago, I actually watched the movie Letters to Juliet, and her song Love Story is the theme song of that movie. They're just going to encounter it in different places, and especially with their friends, they're going to have lots of friends that are just kind of obsessed with this music. So if we keep them from it completely, one, they're not going to be equipped to evaluate it, and they're probably going to be more drawn to it just because it's something that we have completely forbidden. But it's not something, or many of the songs are not things that are explicitly vile.

I would recommend that if your child has no interest in Taylor Swift, don't force them to listen to Taylor Swift music. But if your child does have an interest in it and their friends are interested in this music, I would highly recommend that you listen to the songs with them and that you can talk about things that you enjoy about it. She is a talented artist. That is a gift from God. When good music is produced, it's usually just the lyrics that there's an issue with. So equip them to think critically through that. But again, don't spend most time focusing on this because especially when our children are under the age of 12, what we are doing in the home is we are cultivating the appetites that they're going to continue to have for the rest of their life. We understand this when it comes to the food that we prepare for our children, the types of food that we prepare are helping to cultivate their appetites. Now, just because we feed our children five servings of vegetables every day, doesn't mean that they're going to suddenly love vegetables, but they are getting in the habit of eating them, and the vegetables are becoming not awful to their taste. Where if we let our children just eat Oreos all day long, that's what their body is going to crave when they leave our house. And so it's the same with the type of media that we have in our house. We want to make sure that what we are mostly immersing them in and exposing to is stuff that aligns with the biblical worldview. Now, it doesn't mean it needs to be distinctly Christian, but that it needs to align with things that are those categories of Philippians 4:8, that are true, noble, pure, lovely, right, admirable, excellent, and worthy of praise.

So I hope as we walked through this that just these three steps are things that you can take in your home and implement with any form of media. One forbid, what is vile? Two, equip our children to think critically through the rest. And three, spend most time focusing on what aligns with Philippians 4:8. And again, if you have not checked out our Biblical Thinking track at Foundation Worldview, highly recommend you do so. These podcasts are meant to be helpful little snippets to help you think and to get your kids to be thinking. But our curriculums are meant to be the foundation to actually transform the neurological pathways in your child's brain so that they are trained to constantly evaluate and discern truth from error. So highly recommend that you go and check out that Biblical Thinking track today.

Well, that's a wrap for this episode. But as always, my prayer for you as we leave our time together is that no matter the situation in which you and the children God has placed in your care, find yourselves that you would trust that God is working all things together for your good by using all things to His Son.

Share this article

Related Posts and insights

Homosexuality in Kids Media

In this episode of the Foundation Worldview podcast, host Elizabeth Urbanowicz addresses a parent's question about responding to same-sex marriage portrayed in a children's show. Listen in as she provides guidance on discussing feelings, desires, and the concept of truth with children, while encouraging them to evaluate ideas against the biblical worldview. Join us as we help you navigate these complex issues with your children.

Witchcraft, Magic, and Sorcery in Media

Today's question says, "should I let my children watch shows and movies with magic, witches and sorcerers when the Bible says to avoid these things?"

How Much Podcast Time is Too Much for Kids?

Today's question says, "My 6-year-old son is an only child. He loves listening to podcasts and asks to listen frequently while playing. I worry that his imagination will be stunted if I allow him to listen often. What is an appropriate amount of time for a child to listen to podcasts rather than play in silence?"