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“Jesus is my Boyfriend?”

  

Received this excellent article in an email. I believe it is from Todd Friel of Way of the Master Radio and was posted at the Christian Worldview Network.

Over thirty years ago, the great philosopher Paul McCartney asked, “What’s wrong with silly love songs?”

Having given this over three decades of serious consideration (OK, at least several months), I have Sir McCartney’s answer. It depends.

If you want to fill the world with silly love songs, there’s nothing wrong with that. But if you want to fill the church with them, I say, “Stop it!” Tune into your “get you through your day” Christian music station and you will hear grown men, whining like love sick puppies, “Nothing else can take your place, or feel the warmth of your embrace.” Who are they singing to? The One who holds the universe together by the power of His word, or a chick?

Take the Quiz – Here are six phrases from six contemporary songs. Can you pick which phrases belong to secular songs and which to the sacred?

1. All I need to do is just be me, being in love with you.
2. My world stops spinning round, without you.
3. I never want to leave; I want to stay in your warm embrace.
4. I’m lost in love.
5. Now and forever, together and all that I feel, here’s my love for you.
6. You say you love me just as I am.

The first three are from a popular Christian band called Big Daddy Weave, the second half are from Air Supply.

More and more of our Christian music is sounding one note: Jesus loves you soooooo much. Do I doubt for a second that Jesus loves His children? Nope, but it depends on what your definition of “love” is. God “agape” loves His children. Agape love is not an emotions based, warm and fuzzy kind of love. Agape love is a self sacrificing, “I will help you despite how I feel” love. William Tyndale was the first translator to use the word “love” for agape. Prior to the 16th century, the word “charity” best described agape. Leaving that debate aside, since Tyndale’s time, the English definition for love has expanded. Our modern day use of love ranges from a love for an object to physical love/sex (eros love). I love that new car. I love that girl. I love that God. That God loves me.

Not only do we use “love” in romantic ways to sing about God, we have added other romantic phrases to our Christian music repertoire: hold me, embrace me, feel you, need you. This criticism is not new, in fact, it has existed since Godly men began endeavoring to sing anything but the Psalms. John Wesley considered an “amatory phrase” to be language that was more feelings based love than self-sacrificing agape love. John deleted “Jesus, Lover of My Soul” from one of his brother Charles’ collections because it was too romantic sounding.

Amatory Phrasing – Not only are musicians guilty of writing amatory phrases, but they are singing with amatory phrasing. Christian men sing with such romantic longing and neediness it makes me want to scream, “Man up!”
Christian women are singing with such throaty breathiness you would think they had just run from their home to the studio. To whom exactly are they singing? Brad Pitt or the Savior?

There are two consequences to this “Jesus is my boyfriend/girlfriend” music. Needy, emotional women continue to need more counseling, self help books and conferences where they can spread their wings and soar. Men simply are not showing up for church. It is my belief they simply can’t stand the mood manipulating worship times designed to help them “feel the Lord’s embrace.”

Musical Mermaids– Without theology in music, we are offering fluff that will not comfort when bridges collapse and test reports are negative. Songwriters could provide true hope if they would write about the sovereignty of God rather than crying about “how safe I feel when Jesus is holding me.” Charles Spurgeon had the same criticism of “Hymns for Heart and Voice” published in 1855. He condemned the hymns as being “little better than mermaids, nice to look at but dangerous because they cannot deliver what they promise.”
Is there anything wrong with being reminded that our God is our help from ages past? Of course not, the Psalms are loaded with promises of God’s comfort. But unlike the Psalms (and theology based hymns), contemporary music is void of the reason why we should not worry. We do not worry because someone purrs that we shouldn’t fret, but because God is our shelter in the stormy blast and our eternal home. Our comfort comes from knowledge, not caterwauling.

If you enjoy a silly love song now and then, knock yourself out. But leave them where they belong, in the world or in the bedroom, not in the church.

This article brings up some great points. I will readily admit that I enjoy listening to popular Christian music on the radio, but I am amazed how ambiguous the music has become. I was recently amazed to hear 3 songs that were done by the recent winners of American Idol on the soft rock station and the Christian radio station! Whats up with that? Songs that would just as easily be sung without hesitation by your pagan neighbor seem odd to be on the Christian radio.

So…what do you think?

7 Responses to ““Jesus is my Boyfriend?””

  1. on 23 Sep 2008 at 7:07 amSean

    As Christians, we ought to be using music to reach people with Jesus; instead, we use Jesus to sell music to Christians.
    –Pete Stewart

  2. on 23 Sep 2008 at 10:59 amFrank D

    As a member of a worship team in an evangelical orthodox church, I completely agree.

    It is difficult to listen to worship leaders talk about helping people into the presence of God. Most worship music has become about ministering to people instead of worshiping God. Now, I am guilty of serving in the worship team but I do try and teach/encourage the worship leader. There are a large number of songs that do straight forward worship the one true God (Ex: Signature Of Divine (Yahweh) by NeedtoBreathe) but unfortunately, they are often not played in the service.

    Now, I’m going to get a little off topic here, but:

    The Christian music industry has exploded over the last ten years. Every major secular label now has a Christian music department. Yes, they are in it for the money. Can I definitively say that all of the music is bad? Absolutely NOT!. As a former headbanger in the 80’s, I am so blessed that I can listen to bands like Pillar, POD, Skillet, Kutless, Stavesacre, Seventh Day Slumber, Third Day, Disciple, Day of Fire, etc, …
    Because of their sucess, I teach teenagers guitar and use Christian music in my lessons. I don’t have to teach secular music. Also, read the testemony of people like Joseph Rojas from Seventh Day Slumber or Joshua Brown from Day of Fire (former led singer of Full Devil Jacket), these guys are using the music to open doors and talk to people about God.

    Now, there are a number of sides to this subject, I just wanted to point out that, eventhough worship/hyms are always subject to scrutiny over its content (and should be), there is some great Godly things being done in Christian music.

  3. on 23 Sep 2008 at 11:09 amVictor

    Agreed. And my post was not to deride the industry completely but to point out that the majority of music on mainstream Christain radio (which is mostly pop/adult contemp. rather than the bands you listed) is moving away from anything that has to do with Christianity or the Bible. I too am part of the worship team at our church and I really like to think about what it is we’re singing.

    I think that music is very powerful – it can impact peopel emotionally – though I don’t think that is a bad thing – I appreciate that the words we sing also praise God and people get emotional about that – and Him – rather than just because nice music is playing.

  4. on 23 Sep 2008 at 12:16 pmFrank D

    I knew that, Victor. 😉

    I, also, am not trying to support the industry as a whole. I’ve chosen to listen to Christian music since the whole grunge movement. I know that the Christian radio station won’t have vulgar songs playing and it is obviously better entertainment than secular radio. And that is the seperation, entertainment versus worship. There are Christian songs that I won’t listen to becasue (I believe) they are inaccurate. (“How Great is Our God” by Chris Tomlin comes to mind.)

    Maybe more along the line of your original point, there are many many songs out that are being sung to and about Jesus. These make me very uncomfortable as well and are often the source of many amorous lyrics. Make me wonder if there is too much focus on the creature instead of the Creator.

    I assume you play in a Biblical Unitarian church? Would you mind a discussion here about your song lists? I play in an AOG church and try to steer the worship leader into more biblically sound songs. Because of the type of church, we play songs primarily from CCLI and venture into new worship from Hillsong, Vineyard, Desperation Band, etc. I could put a list here but it would get might long. Are there any Biblical Unitarian worship teams with songs I could listen to?

  5. on 23 Sep 2008 at 12:31 pmVictor

    Frank,
    There are many songs that are ambiguous that for those who believe there is only one God the song “Great Is The Lord” is a song to the Father about His greatness – I will even have the powerpoint lyrics read “Great is the LORD” to have some clarity.

    Also, some songs we will alter the lyrics to be Biblically accurate. For example:

    Shout to the LORD – “My Father, Almighty, Lord there is not like you…”
    How Great Is Our God – “He speaks and it is done, the stars the moon, the sun, Creator of all things, creater of all things”

    and there are more.

    Though we don’t do this much and in reality should write more of our own music, there are a number of songs which we find that others write that are Biblically accurate and good songs in general. I don’t know of any specific bands who are not trinitarian (although Phillips, Craig, and Dean are Modalist and have taken some flack for it), we have a number of songs that people in our church or other churches have written. They have put many of the psalms to music. These are some of my favorite.

    As to a list longer, I can email you recent songs we have done if you’d like. Feel free to email me and I’ll reply.

  6. on 24 Sep 2008 at 2:27 pmMark D.

    Has anyone had the opportunity to hear Won By One? Arron Winner as released this CD I think it was April. Absolutely amazing. Or how about Robin Todd he has released I think it is 3 CD’s and is currently working on a new one. There is the McGinty’s of Arkansas and Larry Mayberry also.

    These are all unitarian and Church of God Abrahamic Faith members.

    You can find links to their websites at http://www.cogcast.org
    This is a website using a radio format to share the One true God through song and message. Some of the music goes way back to the 40’s, 50’s, and 60’s but much of it is new and contemporary. One of my pastor friends this last summer after a week at camp remarked that he went through COGCAST withdrawals. He has it playing in the background on his computer as he is in his study all day.
    Mark . DeYoung

  7. on 24 Sep 2008 at 4:16 pmFrank D

    Thanks, Mark. I’ll check them out.

  

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