Sunday, May 12, 2013

Wretched Christian Song Lyrics, Revisited

After the first 2 minutes of this, I feel confident that I've parsed Todd Friel's criticism of 'Christian music' correctly:

A song is played, that's supposedly intended to encourage people with body image or 'self esteem' issues. Here are the lyrics:
You were walking on the moon, now you're feeling low || What they said wasn't true, you're beautiful || Sticks and stones break your bones, I know what you're feeling || Words like those won't steal your glow, you're one in a million
This, this is for all the girls, boys all over the world || Whatever you've been told, you're worth more than gold || So hold your head up high, it's your time to shine || From the inside out it shows, you're worth more than gold
It came out last year, was at the top of the Christian contemporary billboards for a while, and now is being re-released into the mainstream market. Not surprising at all, says Todd: there's nothing distinctly Christian about it.

This is the problem with most things put out from and marketed to the Church these days, be they sermons, 'self-help books,' conferences or music. There is an attempt to make people feel good about themselves, so praise is heaped on them, but this Mr.-Rogers-approach to solving problems doesn't accomplish the solution, because it is only ever the symptoms that are recognized, and not the underlying illness.

Body image issues and lack of self-confidence, and everything that is termed "self-esteem" by the school system, all stem from the same place that everything wrong with this world stems from -- sin. There's two ways this can be true: it can be a result of the original sin of Adam, which essentially broke the once-perfect Creation, resulting in what we know as The Fall, making all sorts of natural evil and chaos to be a normal occurrence in this world we live in. The other way is a direct result of someone's sin -- a mean word by someone, or guilt over the wrong things you yourself have done or thought, can make you feel bad about yourself. The world has its own solution to this: to stop feeling bad, a person must simply tell and be told enough nice things that the bad feelings are drowned out by good ones. But this doesn't deal with the problem at its root, and the potential for a recurrence is still there. God's solution to the problem of sin is not for it to be ignored, but for it to be destroyed--and for all who take His offer, they'll have forgiveness in the meantime. Being forgiven, as anyone who has experienced it can attest, is freeing. There is a very real sense of closure when you are forgiven of the totality of your sin, because the problem has now been dealt with, and anything you feel between now and the Resurrection is merely the aftershocks of the Fall, which no longer has the potential to hurt you eternally, only temporarily. 

Music that would encourage people with guilt or confidence issues would then necessarily point to Jesus Christ as the solution, and not settle for vain compliments. Here are some songs that I suggest as more Gospel-centered alternatives to the song from the podcast above. Each addresses feelings of guilt, inadequacy, hurt, etc from different angles. Each is more or less blatantly referential to Jesus.

Beloved -- Tenth Avenue North
Corinthians -- Apologetix
Dear Heart -- Sanctus Real (for personal guilt)
Faith to Be Strong -- Andrew Peterson
Love is Not A Fight -- Warren Barfield (for relationships)
Healing Begins -- Tenth Avenue North (for someone hurting; applicable to bullying victims or those feeling lots of peer pressure)
Before the Morning -- Josh Wilson (for having a big-picture perspective to suffering)
Fall Apart -- Josh Wilson (very similar to Blessings, by Laura Story in its "angle")
You Loved Me Anyway -- Sidewalk Prophets (lyrics come from the "angle" Todd was talking about in the podcast)
Who Am I -- Casting Crowns
I'm Not All Right -- Sanctus Real
Forgiven -- Sanctus Real (this song brings the closure I was talking about)

If you're struggling with body image issues, bullying, teasing, social ostracism, relationship difficulties, personal guilt over dirty secrets you have, etc, then please take a listen to any one of the songs above. I hope it'll give you both perspective and the appropriate encouragement.

~ Rak Chazak

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