An Open Letter to Kanye West (1 of 2)
Published on October 4, 2012
Painted by: Howard Barry (@HBCreative)
Dear Mr. West,
First of all, I wanted to say thank you for willfully engaging in this discussion on the use of the word b**** in our culture and specifically your music. I know that ultimately you seek to make music that accurately highlights your talent and express your thoughts clearly. Thus at the end of the day it doesn’t really matter to you what people say about it. However I would request that you give this letter a read through so that you can understand the Christian worldview on the topic and hopefully get an answer to your question.
This whole conversion has its genesis in the fact that you wrote a song about Kim Kardashian called “Perfect B****” and were challenged for giving her that name. Merriam-Webster defines the word b**** as:
1 : the female of the dog or some other carnivorous mammals
2 a : a lewd or immoral woman b : a malicious, spiteful, or overbearing woman —sometimes used as a generalized term of abuse
3 : something that is extremely difficult, objectionable, or unpleasant
4 : complaint
Although the above definition doesn’t reflect your meaning of the term in this case, it is what the wider culture will think of when you refer to Miss Kardashian using that word. Why should you care what people think because she understands what you mean? Well as it is a song that you will publicly distribute, I assume that on some level this is a public declaration of your feelings for her. However society at large will not see it that way and in some instances, have and will mock her. I reckon that you were not intending to cause her shame but that word has a solely derogatory meaning in the English speaking world. Also young impressionable children will most likely come into contact with this song and not understand the subtle nature of your usage of this word. This may have the unintended effect of leading young girls to allow for certain abuses or them trying to become the image of the loose woman that the word usually refers to. To be frank, even if you were to erase that word from your vocabulary, you would still have a greater problem. Mr. West, the use of that term in your lyrics is the fruit of your view on monogamy, marriage, sex and ultimately God; which are all skewed.
In the song “No Church in the Wild”, you said “One read ‘No Apologies’ / The other said ‘Love is Cursed by Monogamy.'” I take that to say that you feel that monogamy restricts a person’s ability to love. Also earlier in the verse you say “We formed a new religion/No sins as long as there’s permission/And deception is the only felony/So never f***nobody without telling me.” Thus it seems that trying to promote open relationships or ethical polyamory. This view assumes two things: monogamous marriage is purely a social construct and that as long as the parties are willing, nobody gets hurt. Both of these ideas are erroneous.
In Matthew Chapter 19, the Pharisee seeking to trap Jesus, asks him a question about divorce. He replies by saying this: “ ‘Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate. Matthew 19:4-7 (ESV)’” Jesus says that God designed and defined what a marriage is from the start of creation. Also in Proverbs we find these words: “Let your fountain be blessed, and rejoice in the wife of your youth, a lovely deer, a graceful doe. Let her breasts fill you at all times with delight; be intoxicated always in her love.” Proverbs 5:18-19 (ESV) Here we see the Bible advising men to remain and be satisfied with the wife (singular) of our youth. The Bible never endorses polygamy and all of the polygamous marriages in the bible produce dysfunction at some level.
Then we must ask ourselves this question: What is the purpose of monogamous marriage? The Bible asserts many reasons for monogamous marriage: 1) fellowship (Genesis 2:18) 2) procreation (Genesis 1:28) 3) avoidance of sexual immorality (1 Corinthians 7:2) 4) a stable environment to train children (Deuteronomy 6:7; Ephesians 6:4) 5) sanctification (Ephesians 5:26) 6) an illustration of the relationship between Christ and His church (Ephesians 5:22-33). Allow me to elaborate on the last reason because it is the seminal passage on marriage in the Bible.
In Ephesians chapter 5, the apostle Paul makes a startling statement: “ This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.” Ephesians 5:32 (ESV) God, from before the foundation of the Earth, had the plan for redemption in mind. Thus from the beginning he created an illustration of it from the foundation of human relationships. The church is referred to as the bride of Christ at various points at scripture (Revelation 19:7-9; 21:1-2). Also this means that sex is a fore taste of the pleasure and joy that the church will feel when she is united with Christ. So when you talk about having sex outside of marriage the meaning gets degraded. Mr. West, every time you indulge or make music that indulges in sexual immorality, you illustrate man’s continual attempts to find that ultimate joy and pleasure in something other than Jesus Christ. This is a terrible act of rebellion against God and thus when you engage in these acts you are waging war against God.
I feel that it would be wrong to criticize how you wish to honor Miss Kardashian without giving you an example of how one can praise the woman they love. In his recent album entitled The Last Missionary, Stephen The Levite wrote a song for his wife called “S.O.S” (Song Of Solomon). The song starts with: “She’s my sister and my cistern/ the well that I drink from when I sense thirst/ her body is all mine and mine is her’s/ yeah I said it ‘cause he said it, they’re his words.” Stephen is referencing two passages of scripture in these lines; Proverbs 5:15 says: ”Drink water from your own cistern, flowing water from your own well. (ESV)” The meaning of the verse refers to advice teaching a husband to be satisfied with his wife alone and to see her as a source of refreshment in his life. The second verse is from 1 Corinthians 7: 4 : “For the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. Likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does (ESV).” Thus Stephen, in effect, is saying that he is no longer his own but his wife’s and she is his.
The Bible actually pushes the thought of mutual ownership between married couples even further by saying: “In the same way, husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, Ephesians 5:28-29 (ESV)” From a biblical perspective your wife is not just yours…she is you. Stephen also relates this truth as he later says “She is my bride, we are His church/ though we’ve become one, we’re one in Him first.” We can see that from the very first lines of the song Stephen has called his wife a life giving source of refreshment, someone he has wholly given himself to and a part of his very being. These are statements of high praise that honors his wife in the eyes of all men. Likewise I am pleading that you take a look at what the Bible says about how one should love the woman in their life and ask yourself: Am I expressing this kind of love to Kim?
I recently heard “I Wish You Would” by DJ Khaled featuring Rick Ross and yourself. In the song you say: “If we believe enough, will we ever get to know ‘im?” This sounds like you wish to understand whether or not, the Christian life truly allows you to know God be in good standing with Him. To answer your question I will write a second part to this letter discussing who God is, what he demands of us and how that compares to some statements you have made in the past. I’m looking forward to talking more about this subject with you in my next letter.
Concerned In Christ,