“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?

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7 responses to this post.

  1. Victor,

    I whole-heartedly agree! Great post!

    In the ministry I am a part of, KidTrek, we are struggling with this same issue as we work with churches around America to intentionally walk with “at-risk” families through life.

    Many churches today are getting caught up in the post-modern definition of love as being a “feeling,” verses understanding the need for consistency, Truth, and sacrifice.

    I would love to know what you think abut what we are doing; to learn more you can either visit our website at http://www.kidtrek.org or our blog, Why Missionaries to America?, at http://www.whymissionaries.wordpress.com.

    I love your blog…keep it up!

    Reply

  2. You know, this made me think of another related issue – how many churches have split because of a difference in music tastes or a change in worship style? It’s so silly – granted I like an upbeat song with plenty of instruments and great lyrics, but if I have to go without them all and sing with a congregation without instruments – well, may the LORD be praised! I remember a few years ago being in an congregational meeting discussing the hiring of a new pastor and many of the people could care less about his doctrine, preaching style, evangelism focus, etc but they just wanted to know if the music was going to change at all, because as one woman said “that’s why I come here”…..oh boy.

    Joseph, as for your ministry – I think that to focus on reaching and loving children is wonderful and important. I was involved in a discussion recently on the importance of the early years in our life on shaping who we will be when we mature. Thankfully the LORD can transform us no matter our background or family history, but it is clear the devil is trying to attack that age group hard for that reason.

    Thankfully we can take comfort that the Kingdom will come soon and set all that is wrong with this world right.

    Reply

  3. I agree – great post! I was involved with worship ministry over 10 years in my local church, and you are totally right — people get SOOO emotional about this subject. Whether it’s their opinion about what they are singing, or they want to be on stage, upfront, and it becomes a ‘show’, worship music and style can cause such ridiculous conflict and ungodly behavior and attitudes. It’s shocking!

    My family and I have visited NUMEROUS churches in the last 3 years, of different denominations and different worship styles, and overall what I have concluded by my informal survey? Most churches feel the pressure to ‘convert’ to upbeat, popular chorus-type songs, despite their lack of musical ability to play and sing these songs, there is a lack of melody in some songs… where it’s hard to follow, and the majority of times, the congregation ceases to sing and participate, and the upfront worship team/band puts on a concert (and usually a bad one at that.).
    I know worship is all about the heart and all, but I think the ‘purpose driven church’ book written by Rick Warren has convinced everyone that if you want to see growth, you have to ditch the hymns and go to the ‘pop culture’. But, I want to share with you, that recently I attended a “Thrive” Conference in Springfield, OH (North Hills Church of God) and a young man, Mark Cain, singly led the worship, playing his guitar…and the simple worship service was the BEST that I’ve participated in for a longggggggggggg time! He led many hymns and spoke just the right thing that was from his heart. The congregation SANG and it didn’t feel like a show…it felt like a meaningful worship service.
    I think it’s time churches across the country quit defining what ‘worship’ should look and feel like, quit trying to manipulate ‘feeling’ and maybe consider that ‘shorter’ is sometimes ‘sweeter.’ 🙂
    In summary, let’s sing “The Kingdom is Coming” with a hearty amen!

    Reply

  4. I have been harping on the feminization of the church for close to a decade now, and this is part of it. When men can go to the Marines and sing about kicking butt, or go to the church and sing about french kissing Jesus, they will opt out of the sultry singfest.
    Why is this important to discuss? Because I have witnessed on the heels of this error an increase in adultery, divorce and lack of discipleship within a church local who practices this foolishness. Once you start allowing emotions to dictate doctrine, it doesn’t stop at worship.
    I most frequently identify this phenomenon when pastors start quoting Song of Solomon and admonishing their parishoners to be more like the woman in this story toward god. Gross! I just leave a church when they start that nonsense. One praise song actually talks about Jesus’ kisses, the smell of His touch and about being taken into His bedroom!!! http://www.worship.co.za/ww/ww-0308.asp If that doesn’t turn a stomach, then that stomach can’t be turned (side note, never watch South Park. But if you watch ONLY ONE episode Ever, watch “Jesus Rock Hard,” where Cartman falsely goes Christian to sell a million albums. These heatherns nail it ON THE HEAD about this sex-praise movement, but I digest…)
    I blame two sources primarily, first, the charismaniac movement and their penchant for allowing female leadership in clear, violent and direct opposition to scripture. This influence has diminished the logical hermaneutic of the past and thrown the door open to the sensory/sensual faith of TBN and the like.
    The second is the emergent/emerging church doctrinal movement. Not so much the awesome style and unique approach of these folks, but their post-modern interpretations of faith and scripture. They seem every bit as obsessed with arbitrary silliness, such as heretical prayer labrynths, as with the truth. I doubt you could teach a lesson about the Divine Feminine from Dan Brown’s books and get kicked out of one of those joints.
    To sum up, don’t just walk out of a church where they grab the knee pads for this movement. CONFRONT! Be a man and tell them that this is wrong, disturbing and destructive. Do it in love, but do it. You may just save your church, or at least save a marriage or two within it.

    Reply

  5. Posted by Sasha on September 19, 2011 at 4:50 pm

    1) What Biblical backing do you have for your opinions?
    2) How do you explain Jesus calling the Church His bride? Seems like a very romantic and descriptive statement to me..

    Reply

    • Sasha, thanks for your comments. I think that there is a deep and serious love between Jesus and his church and God the Father and his children. I just think the blog post points to the fact that we can use the Scripture to base our worship and not just live it to emotion alone.

      Reply

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