If you are like me you have probably heard the popular song but never really stopped to ponder the lyrics of the song. You get caught up in the haunting melody and soulful voice of the artist and don’t really take the time to dissect the meaning of the words. The song I am referring to is “Take Me to Church” by Irish recording artist Hozier. This song was nominated for Song of the Year at the 2015 Grammy Awards.
In a review of the song by Plugged in writer Adam Holz makes this analysis,
“Perhaps no song and no music video in recent memory better encapsulates our global culture’s confused, paradoxical stance on sexuality: It’s nothing, and it’s everything. On one hand, Hozier suggests that something so natural, so innocent, so universal as sex shouldn’t be taken seriously at all. On the other, he insists that our sexuality is so key to our identity as human beings that it’s transcendent and worthy of being incorporated into the very act of worship.”
Here are some of the lyrics to give you a sense of what the song is about:
My lover’s got humor
She’s the giggle at a funeral
Knows everybody’s disapproval
I should’ve worshiped her sooner
If the Heavens ever did speak
She is the last true mouthpiece
Every Sunday’s getting more bleak
A fresh poison each week
‘We were born sick, ‘ you heard them say it
My church offers no absolutes
She tells me ‘worship in the bedroom’
The only heaven I’ll be sent to
Is when I’m alone with you
I was born sick, but I love it
Command me to be well
Amen. Amen. Amen
Take me to church
I’ll worship like a dog at the shrine of your lies
I’ll tell you my sins and you can sharpen your knife
Offer me that deathless death
Good God, let me give you my life
The writer seems to have had some experience with the Church of God and came away feeling the full weight of the law. What is the law? It refers specifically to the compilation of decrees found in the first five books of the Bible. The Apostle Paul who at one time also was an enemy of the Church of Christ writes this in a letter to the Church in Rome, in Chapter 5,”The Law stepped in to amplify the failure…” The artist Hozier appears to be dealing with this very sense of failure. You hear in the song the pain of not being able to live up to God’s standard of holiness and perfection. So what happens when our sinful life meets God’s holiness? We feel the full weight of God’s wrath and judgment. At that point, we have a choice, change the direction of our life and turn to God through the power and work of the Holy Spirit in our life or dismiss the Church and God as being intolerant and lacking authenticity.
We can run away from God’s presence and go deeper into our current sinful lifestyle. By choosing that path we have to avoid all things God, all things holy, because to come into contact with the Divine only brings back those feelings of condemnation, guilt, and resentment. That feeling of condemnation is the Law of God doing its work, it is supposed to confront our sins, it is supposed to accuse us, it is designed to bring us to our knees until we acknowledge we are on the wrong path and we need something to save us, someone outside of ourselves to rescue us.
However, that is only half of God’s story. Our proclamation of truth cannot leave people here. If we stop here we just expose the wounds caused by the law of God but have done nothing to bind up the broken hearted. We don’t provide a pathway to set the captives free. We are called to do more than give people half the story. The message of the Church is not designed to only accuse, only condemn, it also needs to point hurting and broken people to the answer to that feeling of hopelessness and condemnation. The rest of that verse from Paul reads like this, “, …but where sin increased, grace multiplied even more. The result is that grace will rule through God’s righteousness, leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord, just as sin ruled in death.
Just as much as the law brings people to their knees to repent the Gospel which is the Jesus’ work of saving the world through His death and rising to life again, leads them to their knees in praise. Because just as the Law point out how deeply God hates the sin, the Gospel points out the depth of God’s love for us through the offering of his one and only unique Son, Jesus Christ. The more intense the depravity of our sin the more comprehensive God’s forgiveness in Christ.
You can the find full review of the song “Take Me To Church here: