Every now and then I catch a glimpse of the nightly news. It’s often a fleeting glimpse as I wrangle children to bed, but one evening something caught my eye. It was on Channel 10’s The Project—a show known for pushing the envelope. On this particular evening they were playing rapper Cardi B’s latest song. The accompanying clip was confronting, to say the least. Even more perplexing was that I had no idea who this Cardi B was. The fact I didn’t know this so called ‘superstar’ irked me. So I did what anyone does in 2020:

I Googled. (Perhaps I shouldn’t have).

But here’s what I found:

Forbes calls her one of the most influential rappers of all time. At the time of writing, Cardi B’s latest hit ‘WAP’ is number one on the Global iTunes table.

This tells me two things.

  1. I am old and out of touch
  2. This song (and artist) is a current driver of popular culture

Then I read the lyrics to her song ‘WAP’. I shan’t repeat them here, as they’re somewhat unrepeatable. To say they are crudely sexualised would be a massive understatement. If that wasn’t shocking enough, my teenager pipes up and says, ‘Yep Mum, I have to deal with peeps doing Tik Tok dances to that song!’ I push back images of teenage girls dancing to a song that can only be labelled as pornographic.

Then the fury hit…

How is this possible? How does Cardi B think these are good lyrics? This version of sexuality is a tragic counterfeit

How is this possible? How does Cardi B think these are good lyrics? It’s incomprehensible to me. But it gets worse. The New York Times deems it as ‘an event itself,’ stating that both rappers (there are two in her song) are ‘sharp’, in a song that ‘luxuriates in raunch.’ The Los Angeles Times takes it one step further, labelling it as ‘sex positive’.

Excuse me, ‘sex positive’?? I’m too old to use an emoji as a verb—but this has to be an exception: cue, head explosion. If this song is ‘sex positive’ then my daughter’s generation is in far greater danger than we think. By now I’m just plain mad. I’m angry at what is clearly a distortion of truth. This version of sexuality is a tragic counterfeit of God’s good original.

As my rage starts to ease, my brain starts to kick into gear, and I’m reminded of a truth that I sometimes share in the counselling room.

Underneath anger is sadness…

I’m sad that popular culture thinks this is the best that sex can get.

I’m outwardly furious because I’m inwardly sad. Sadness often masquerades as anger. And so, I press pause on my fury long enough for the sorrow to seep into my consciousness. And as I reflect on these emotions, here’s what I discover:

  • I’m sad that the goodness of sex has been warped into such a crude caricature.
  • I’m sad that female sexuality has become so distorted that it’s now devoid of any of its original beauty.
  • I’m sad that popular culture thinks this is the best that sex can get.

Without the Creator, Sex Goes Wrong

We do ourselves an enormous disservice if we buy into the sexuality Cardi B is selling. The kind where lust, desire and self-satisfaction are at the centre, yet described as ‘liberated’. This kind of sexuality is anything but liberation.

The sexual revolution has led to people having less sex, not more

The apostle Paul’s words in Romans 1 captures the sexual distortion that we see in songs like WAP: a distortion brought on by a failure to honour our Creator God. A failure that lures people to ‘worship and serve the creature rather than the Creator’ (Rom 1:25), and leads to all kinds of sexual impurity (Rom 1:24,26-27).

When a society drinks deeply from this corrupted well, sexual brokenness is the result. Not only that, but the quality of sex outside marriage is poor. It doesn’t fulfil the promise of the sexual revolution. According to Oxford researcher into people’s sex lives, David Spiegelhalter, the sexual revolution has led to people having less sex, not more:

At this rate of decline … a simple, but extreme naïve, extrapolation would predict that by 2040 the average person will not be having sex at all.[1]

That’s not liberation. That’s being sold a lie—and suffering the consequences.

The Creator’s Better Story

Cardi B’s WAP sings the narrative of the Sexual Revolution: you can have (satisfying) sex however and whenever you desire it. But it’s not delivering on its promises. Such unbridled desire leaves a trail of destruction.

Whereas our Creator gives us the better story of sexuality and meaningful relationships: a story where his Son came into the world to redeem broken people like us, that we might know true love. Not the faux love of a sexual fling, but the love that emanates from the heart of God Himself: a love that heals the broken hearted; a love that washes clean the sexually stained; a love that leaves us whole and pure.

If we have this “Better Story”, let’s tell it …

Our bodies are holy. One day God is going to make them completely new … he calls us to a better story

When we hear a song like Cardi B’s it’s tempting to do as my title says and just wish we could ‘unsee’. To bury our heads in the sand, emu style. But buried heads won’t help our young people. It won’t help my daughter’s generation, nor the young adults that are seeking answers to love and longing.

Christian author and psychiatrist Glynn Harrison in his book ‘A Better Story: God, sex and human flourishing’, says:

Good storytelling in the area of sex and relationships needs to embody both truth and grace …To embody our convictions in the daily rhythms of our lives….We must teach them to our children, discuss them in our homes and small groups and proclaim them from our pulpits, with compassion and sensitivity.[2]

Our bodies are holy. One day God is going to make them completely new (Phil 3:21). And so he calls us to a better story: using our bodies for his glory and for his Honour. Whether single or married, he calls us to embody what we believe.

It’s a tall order, but that’s a story worth telling.

[1] D. J. Spiegelhalter, Sex By Numbers: What Statistics Can Tell Us About Sexual Behaviour (London: Profile Books, 2015), 20. Quoted in Glynn Harrison, A Better Story – God, Sex & Human Flourishing (London: IVP, 2017), 92.

[2] Harrison, A Better Story, 192-193.