If you are like me you have heard the popular song but never 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 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 encapsulate 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 experience with the Church of God and came away feeling the full weight of the law. What is the law? It refers 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 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 perfection? We feel the full weight of God’s wrath and judgment. At that point, we have a choice, change the direction of our lives 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 sense of conviction is the Law of God doing its work. God’s perfection is supposed to confront our sins. And when purity meets sin it accuses us; it brings us to our knees until we acknowledge we are on the wrong path and we need something to save us, someone else to rescue us.
But, that is only half of God’s story. Our proclamation of truth cannot leave people here. If we stop here, we expose the wounds caused by the law of God but have done nothing to bind up the broken hearted. We don’t offer a pathway to set the captives free. We are called to do more than to give people half the story. The message of the Church is not designed only to accuse, only convict, the gospel needs to point the hurting soul and people broken by their decisions in life to the answers the offer restoration and healing. Faith directs individuals who feel hopelessness and condemnation by the guilt of their past to the love and grace of a loving Savior. Paul finishes the story, “, …but where sin increased, grace multiplied even more.” Grace rules through God’s righteousness imparted to us through Jesus death and resurrection. Faith in this sacrifice leads the believer to eternal life. Sin once ruled but through faith in Christ death has been swallowed by life.
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 points out how deeply God hates the sin, the Gospel shows the depth of God’s love for us through the offering of his one and unique Son, Jesus Christ. The more intense the depravity of our sin the more comprehensive God’s forgiveness in Christ.
You can the find the full review of the song “Take Me To Church here: