Posters promoting the release of Demi Lovato’s latest album have been banned and taken down across London for causing offense to Christians.
And it was offensive.
The poster for the album, titled “Holy F***,” featured Lovato wearing bondage-style attire and lying on a bed in the shape of a crucifix. Further, she was posed on the cross-shaped bed in a position with her legs bound to one side, reminiscent of Christ on the cross. The Advertising Standards Authority found the poster was “likely to be viewed as linking sexuality to the sacred symbol of the crucifix and the crucifixion” adding that this was likely to cause serious offense to Christians. Particularly as it was placed in locations where children could readily see it.
Yes, you can count me as offended.
But that was simply my initial reaction. My deeper, lasting reaction is concern for Ms. Lovato. This latest album, released in August of last year, chronicles her difficult journey through drug addiction, mental health issues, various treatments, and now, hopeful recovery. She started writing it while in rehab in December 2021.
She started out as a fresh-faced children’s star on “Barney & Friends” and then later appeared on the Disney Channel, but she soon developed an eating disorder. This was followed by horrific sexual abuse as a teenager, which led to self-harm, depression and drug addictions that resulted in a near-fatal heroin overdose in 2018, leaving her with brain damage and temporarily blind.
Lovato has explored Christianity at various points in her life, most recently in 2020 when she shared in an interview with Apple Music’s Zane Lowe that she had been attending a Bible study at a church through the invitation of her manager.
Reflecting on her life prior to that experience, she said she had been seeking God in “relationships or substances.” But she “had to realize the God that I’m seeking, the God that I love and the God that I want to be my God is available 24/7, always at an arm’s length, and constantly with me. And feeling that kind of, that shift, I don’t know, I just feel safer and I feel renewed.”
The feeling did not seem to last.
On her latest album, in the song, “Happy Ending,” she says:
I met god
Just for a minute
Sat in his house
Took a look around
And saw I didn’t fit in
In 2021 she came out as non-binary, saying her preferred pronouns were “they/them,” but has since gone back to “she/her.” And then, of course, there’s the latest album and its less than subtle promotional poster.
So join me, won’t you, in offering a prayer for this precious young woman so beloved by God? A prayer that she really meets God, and for more than a minute, sits among His people, and finds that she – like all prodigals –
... fits in just fine.
James Emery White
Jennifer Meierhans, “Demi Lovato Poster Banned for Being Offensive to Christians,” BBC News, January 12, 2023, read online.
Mark Savage, “Demi Lovato Is Back, and This Time She’s Angry,” BBC News, August 21, 2022, read online.
Jessica Lea, “Demi Lovato Ad Featuring Bondage, a Crucifix and the F-Word Banned in the UK,” Church Leaders, January 11, 2023, read online.
About the Author
James Emery White is the founding and senior pastor of Mecklenburg Community Church in Charlotte, NC, and a former professor of theology and culture at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, where he also served as their fourth president. His forthcoming book, Hybrid Church: Rethinking the Church for a Post-Christian Digital Age, is now available for pre-order on Amazon. To enjoy a free subscription to the Church & Culture blog, visit churchandculture.org, where you can view past blogs in our archive, read the latest church and culture news from around the world, and listen to the Church & Culture Podcast. Follow Dr. White on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram at @JamesEmeryWhite.
James Emery White is the founding and senior pastor of Mecklenburg Community Church in Charlotte, NC, and a former professor of theology and culture at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, where he also served as their fourth president.
His latest book, After “I Believe,” is now available on Amazon or your favorite bookseller. To enjoy a free subscription to the Church & Culture blog, visit churchandculture.org, where you can view past blogs in our archive, read the latest church and culture news from around the world, and listen to the Church & Culture Podcast.