There is no sweeter innocence than our gentle sin
In the madness and soil of that sad earthly scene
Only then I am human
Only then I am clean
“Take me to Church”
(Grammy’s selected Song of 2014)
It’s catchy, clever, and provocative. Today, secular music has managed to capture the full attention of the world, utilizing the power in this easily-accessed medium to send messages laced in an appealing rhythm and talented singers. “It’s true—most of the time, secular music is a lot catchier than a lot of Christian songs,” my studio art teacher observed. Her words have stuck in my head through the years and at this point, as a young adult with more freedom to choose the media I consume, I find myself agreeing to an extent with her statement. As a girl raised in a Christian household, I’ve been raised surrounded by Biblical values and truths which I firmly believe in. Yet, I and many other young Christians are familiar with the songs broadcasted on secular radio stations—songs sung by secular stars—songs that echo the mindset of a godless, caving culture. A considerable amount of the music I listen to comprises of songs which I find romantic, relatable, and of course, catchy. But even these positive attributes fail to negate the reality of modern music’s dark underbelly. Top chart songs contain subliminal meanings which promote blatant promiscuity, amorality, materialism. It might not be obvious, but if a listener is careful and listens closely, a deeper malice towards virtue penetrates the soul of contemporary music.
Satan utilizes one of the mediums which touches the hearts and infiltrates the minds of the younger generations. What we simply shrug off as a song really engenders subconscious messages which infiltrate into daily thoughts. These thoughts easily influence attitudes and behavior. For example, a recent billboard chart top hit, “Take Me to Church” by Irish tenor, Hozier, was nominated at the Grammy’s for 2014 Song of the Year.
The song is hauntingly beautiful with subtle verses and a soulful chorus. Admittedly, when I first heard it, I thought, “Wow, this is a powerful song. It’s almost hymn-like.” It’s Elton John mixed with an old Southern Spiritual from the American Civil War.
So said Dr. Taylor Marshall, a professor in Philosophy at University of Dallas. But his opinion changed when he listened to the lyrics:
What’s amazing about his song is that it’s about as offensive as anything produced by Marilyn Manson, Judas Priest, or Slayer – yet hardly anyone recognizes it! It takes rich Catholic sacramental language but re-signifies the imagery as a sexual encounter. And that’s the so-called “genius” of this song.
The music industry is now much smarter than it was in the days of Judas Priest, Black Sabbath, and Slayer. Your daughter is not likely to love Marilyn Manson and erect an idol to Satan in her bedroom. Your son will not likely consecrate his baby to Lucifer and baptize him in goat’s blood.
Overt Satanism is out of style. However, young people are likely to exchange their Christian faith for sexual license. The stats show that young people will likely exchange the sacramental life and liturgy for the liturgy of sexual experimentation.
And that’s exactly why this song has become an American anthem. The devil doesn’t needs a league of heavy metal Satanists. He’d almost prefer to have people mocking the Christian sacraments and images.
If God isn’t real – “If the Heavens ever did speak” – then the only goods to be enjoyed in this life are the pleasures of food and sex. That’s all there is left for humans to experience transcendence. Hozier gets it and he sings for us a catchy hymn.
Dr. Marshall points out how modern society dresses up anti-Biblical messages and ideas and promotes them via the media—music, film, literature, art, and the internet. It’s “just a song”? No—songs like “Take Me to Church” make it to the Grammy’s to become the Song of 2014, and this is a clear statement about the direction in which our culture is hurtling.
As the title of the book by Robert H. Bork so aptly puts it, you could say that America is “slouching towards Gomorrah”. The patterns can be seen everywhere. Rampant promiscuity, invading the mindsets of younger children, blatant homosexuality, devaluing of human life as exemplified by euthanasia and abortion. The materialistic attitude of millions of Americans reflects in our extravagant, reckless lifestyles. Egocentricity becomes the norm, and the 21st century generation embraces the idea of self-love. Some would call it “progress”, but really, it seems that we merely regress towards the days of Nero and Caligula, when orgies and amorality raged the streets of the “Eternal City”. Music hugely impacts the outlook of each coming generation. With the recent trends in blatant sexual experimentation, the arts as an expression of the human soul reveal the deeper darkness that draws us farther and farther away from Christ.
Dr. Marshall’s insights on this particularly popular song, and a simple analysis of modern culture, both provide a sharper view of this disease infecting the nation, the entire world. When songs like “Take Me to Church” twist the sacrosanct Eucharistic, Biblical words and references into a song idolizing sexuality and promiscuity, obviously the slouching has begun. But Satan cleverly wields his deception. He infects us with his poison as we enjoy a top-notch song a talented singer. He contaminates our thoughts when we enjoy a movie with a scene or two that would’ve made a younger, naïve self, blush. His trick? Subtlety.
Here is a link to Dr. Marshall’s article concerning “Take Me to Church” by Hozier: http://taylormarshall.com/2014/12/take-church-lyrics-meaning-christian-analysis-critique.html