“Roar” is a big hit off Katy Perry’s 2013 album Prism. The song is about a liberated woman who is throwing off the shackles of a bad relationship with another person. She’s ready to roar in her empowerment. The lyrics can be reviewed here.
The song begins with Perry singing the following lines, “I used to bite my tongue and hold my breath / Scared to rock the boat and make a mess / So I sat quietly, agreed politely / I guess that I forgot I had a choice / I let you push me past the breaking point / I stood for nothing, so I fell for everything.” The singer’s perspective appears to be, at first glance, from that of one in a relationship with an overbearing man who forces his will upon his woman. Are those actions from the “ex” Biblical? Short answer – no.
The Biblical relationship of man and woman most addressed is that of marriage. In Ephesians 5:25-29, Paul outlines what a husband is supposed to do. He is supposed to love his wife as Christ loves the church and as his own body. Meaning? Sacrificial love. Willingness to lay down ones life for his wife. No hate (Colossians 3:19). No sexual deprivation (1 Corinthians 7:3-5). Love is supposed to be the attitude toward your wife. If you love your wife as Christ loved the church, you will not “push [your wife] past the breaking point.” You will not make them “scared to rock the boat.”
This passage also talks about a passivity of the singer when she said she would “…bite my tongue…sat quietly, agreed politely.” When things are wrong, we are supposed to speak up. As Christians, we are supposed to rebuke in love (Matthew 18:15-17). This can also occur within a marriage relationship and should.
The chorus then begins with Perry saying, “You held me down, but I got up / Already brushing off the dust / You hear my voice, you hear that sound / Like thunder gonna shake the ground / You held me down, but I got up / Get ready ’cause I’ve had enough / I see it all, I see it now.” Once again, I point to the verses previously mentioned about how a man is to act in a relationship with his woman. But, is the woman to walk out or is another to walk out? Let’s check the Bible.
Once again, the husband is not supposed to be tearing his wife down. He is supposed to be loving her, building her up, and treating her as he treats himself. But, I already addressed this same concern previously. Now, what about their relationship? At this point, we see the singer is ending it after realizing it’s a bad one. Assuming they were married, the word is clear on wanting to keep marriages in tact (Matthew 5:32, Matthew 19:9, 1 Corinthians 7:10-11). The Lord does not want people to be breaking their marriage covenant and ending their marriages.
Now, as I’ve done all this assessment from the perspective of a marriage relationship – what if this isn’t a marriage or romantic relationship. What if the relationship which is broken Perry is describing is a friendship. With that thought in mind – let’s discuss it further.
From the beginning we see a poor relationship where the friend is pushing down Perry. As believers, we are to exhort one another, not push them down (1 Thessalonians 5:11, Hebrews 10:25). We are supposed to work together for the glory of God – together we are stronger (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12). When that does not happen, as Perry describes, what are we to do?
The Bible warns against becoming friends with those who will tear us down (Proverbs 16:28, Proverbs 22:24-25). Paul in 2 Corinthians warns us about relationships with unbelievers who could hurt us (2 Corinthians 6:14-15). Not to say we should not be friends with unbelievers, Paul makes it clear you should (1 Corinthians 10:27). Michael Patton of Bible.org states more clearly that we are supposed to have unbelieving friends. Again, how else are you going to bring new people into the church? That said, be wary and careful around those who do not know Christ. Do not avoid them altogether – but just be careful. They live like as part of the world which hates God (James 4:4, 1 John 2:15) and bad company can breed problems (1 Corinthians 15:33). Be careful, but love sacrificially (John 15:13).
Christians are not to associate with people who claim Christ, but are hurtful, sinful, bad friends (1 Corinthians 5:11). Leave them especially if they tempt you to sin and hurt your walk with Christ (Hebrews 12:1). They can hurt your walk with Christ and, as noted above, we should rebuke them in love (Matthew 18:15-17).
For those outside the church, outside of Christ, we are to expect them to act sinful (1 Corinthians 5:9-12). We should want them to come to Christ and change. But, we should be unafraid to walk away from those who claim Christ but who ignore His truths. We should be unafraid to walk away from those who claim Christ, but continue to try to lead you to sin.
Perry continues the chorus by singing, “I’ve got the eye of the tiger, a fighter, dancing through the fire / ‘Cause I am a champion and you’re gonna hear me roar / Louder, louder than a lion / ‘Cause I am a champion and you’re gonna hear me roar.” Later in the track, Perry says, “Now I’m floating like a butterfly / Stinging like a bee I earned my stripes / I went from zero, to my own hero.” In each of these, I see self reliance, self love, and some danger.
As I have pointed out previously, thinking highly of yourself is criticized over and over in the Bible (Proverbs 16:5, Proverbs 26:12, Romans 12:3). She talks about her perseverance and how she is going to “roar,” becoming her “…own hero.” The Lord wants us to persevere through the hard times (James 1:12) by relying upon Him (Matthew 11:28-30). He is our rock, our salvation. We can not sanctify ourselves (Ephesians 2:8-9).
Self-reliance becomes sin when we turn ourselves into an idol. Who’s the fighter and champion in this song? The singer. Who’s the hero in the song? The singer. Who’s the awesome one? The singer. It’s the same dangerous vanity we see in Aloe Blacc’s “The Man.” As I said then, you are not the man. In this case, roaring against those who have oppressed you does not make you the best. The strength you have, the power to overcome the obstacles the world throws at you is not your own strength. It is from the Lord, whether you see it or not. Do not boast in yourself (James 4:16), but in the Lord (Galatians 6:14).
The song is right to remind us to remove from ourselves things which will destroy us in life, including people. The song is right to remind us to rid ourselves of the people who can hurt us. The song is wrong when it veers deeply into self-worship. This conceit is common among popular music and is easy to get wrapped up in. We all want to think highly of ourselves. We all want things which can build us up and make us feel good about ourselves. The truth is, however, that we are all little clay people created by a benevolent creator who have fallen so far short from His original plan (Romans 3:23). We are not the man, Christ is. We are not to roar in our own greatness, but sing to the Lord thankful for His.