Taylor Swift Does Not Belong in Your Christian Era

Women deserve better stories than Taylor Swift's songs. Our daughters deserve better role models than the singer. It’s time to grow up.

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Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last year, you’ve no doubt heard about Taylor Swift’s record-breaking Eras Tour. A reference to the various “eras,” or phases, of the singer’s life, the Eras Tour features a 44 -song set list spanning hits from every album of her 17-year-career. Time magazine reported that “[by] the end of 2023—less than halfway through the tour’s scheduled 152-show run—the Eras Tour had earned over $1 billion to become the highest-grossing concert tour of all time.” Sky-high ticket prices and near-instant venue sellouts led to the release of The Eras Tour movie on Disney+, and over 4.6 million viewers have now streamed the concert from the comfort of their own homes. 

Now, I may be dating myself here, but I will readily admit to being among the first of the now-three generations to fall in love with Taylor Swift’s music. I vividly remember driving around Charleston, South Carolina, where I attended college, with a 20-piece chicken nugget meal from McDonald’s (oh to have that metabolism again!) singing “Love Story” at the top of my lungs like it was written especially about me. The next year, in 2009, I had a blast with my best friend at Swift’s Fearless Tour. I sobbed to her song “Back to December” on repeat in 2010 after what felt like a life-shattering breakup. And then there was that time I jumped on stage at a friend’s wedding reception, circa 2014, to belt out “Shake It Off” with the band.

But then something curious began to happen. As I left my college and law-school eras, filled with all the joys and sorrows and mistakes of youth, I entered a new series of eras: motherhood, then wifehood (suffice it to say, the order of these personal eras is a subject for another article). Then more motherhood. Then a conversion to Catholicism. As I grew and matured, however, Swift seemed to remain stuck in an earlier era. I found it more and more difficult to relate to her songs. 

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As I grew and matured, however, Swift seemed to remain stuck in an earlier era. I found it more and more difficult to relate to her songs. Tweet This

There’s a reason Gen Z and Gen Alpha love Swift with an ardency that surpasses even that of the Millennials who loved her first: Taylor Swift, though 34, is still “feelin’ 22.” It’s readily apparent that this is a woman entering the latter part of her prime childbearing years who remains lost and alone. She is a billionaire with the world at her feet, but it’s clear she has no real idea what to do with it. She remains emotionally stunted, repeatedly trying to fill the aching cry of her heart with created things and transient romantic relationships.

The only evidence of “maturity” in her music over the last decade or so—and it is a false maturity to be sure—is that instead of the fairly innocuous lyrics of fairytale dreams and true love that were the central themes of much of her earlier music, she’s now unafraid to incorporate all manner of curse words (albeit sparingly compared to much other pop music) and make both open and veiled references supporting same-sex relationships and premarital sex. Some of her most popular songs still contain a troubling element of bullying, a mean-girl streak that most of us hopefully outgrow by the time we enter adulthood. There’s also a darker imagery that has crept into her work, with occult symbolism showcased throughout the Eras Tour and an overtly sexual cover for her latest album, The Tortured Poets Department

Despite the seemingly stagnant personal growth, Swift wields massive influence. Politico reported that Democrats are planning to hold voter registration drives at her concerts and hope an endorsement for Biden from Swift will help turn swing states like Florida blue. Various publications ran entire articles on the “Swift Effect” on NFL viewership after the singer began dating Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce, concluding that her attendance at games caused a 20-percent increase in sponsorships and an increase of more than 2 million female viewers. Cities where Eras Tour venues are located report massive economic bumps. For example, the California Center for Jobs & the Economy estimated that her six concerts in Los Angeles would result in a $320 million increase to the Los Angeles County GDP.

And then there’s the emotional influence: Instagram reels show women of all ages crying as they listen to Swift’s latest album. More satirical videos depict women pretending to leave their husbands or sitting on the couch for days on end with blankets over their heads, ignoring their families, while they “have a moment” with Swift’s latest lyrics. It’s not at all unlike what I did at age 21…except there’s a massive difference between someone wallowing in their emotions in their early twenties and fully-grown women, Swift included, doing the same thing in their mid-30s. 

Which finally brings me to my point: Taylor Swift does not belong in your Christian era. I’m not arguing that listening to her music is sinful per se (though it certainly could be, depending on the song); and I’m not saying that everything we do has to be overtly Christian to fit in with the pursuit of a faithful life. It is, however, a matter of prudence. And a good, honest look at why so many Christian women rabidly defend listening to Taylor Swift—and worse, allow their young daughters to listen to her—is worthy of reflection. 

Women are, by nature, more empathetic than our male counterparts. This empathy is a gift that allows us to envision ourselves more easily in the place of others, and it makes storytelling a particularly powerful tool with women. Swift is, unarguably, a great storyteller, and this explains much of her success. Are the stories Swift is telling, however, the ones we really want to be telling ourselves? Are they the ones we want our daughters listening to? 

Scripture gives us a wonderful metric to use when it comes to making prudential decisions such as these: “Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things” (Philippians 4:8). There’s not much that passes the Philippians 4:8 test about a “revenge track,” or singing about a string of failed romances marked by drugs and cheating, or bashing your exes with snide lyrics, or narrating sensual fantasies over an uplifting beat and questioning how these thoughts could be “guilty as sin.” This is, in fact, a nearly full summary of the themes of every song on her latest album. 

Women deserve better stories than these. Our daughters deserve better role models. It’s time to grow up. Taylor Swift does not belong in your Christian era. 

[Photo Credit: Getty Images]

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