“I Will Follow You Into the Dark” is a haunting and beautifully written 2006 piece by alt rock / indie rock band Death Cab for Cutie. The song chronicles a man and his girl confronting death head on and the lead singers view of the afterlife. His view is that when it’s over, he’ll follow her into the darkness – into death. The music video, shown above, reflects those themes as well.
Now, what does the Bible say about death and these themes? Let’s discuss by going through the lyrics.
The song begins by saying that one day his love will die. We all die, this is a fact of life (Ecclesiastes 9:1-12) until the day when death will be thrown into the lake of fire and we will live with Christ in the flesh (Revelation 20:14). So, he’s right – his love will die. The singer continues by saying, “…I will be close behind, to follow you into the dark.” Judging by statistics – he’s right about the first part; studies have shown that men are more likely to die soon after their wives. That said, he will follow her into “…the dark…” which is the premise of the entire song. What exactly does he mean by “…the dark”?
He answers that in the next line into the chorus where he says, “No blinding light or tunnels to gates of white / Just our hands clasped so tight / Waiting for the hint of a spark / If Heaven and Hell decide / That they both are satisfied / Illuminate the No’s on their vacancy signs / If there’s no one beside you / When your soul embarks / Then I’ll follow you into the dark.”
The outcome for this man’s soul is neither heaven nor hell, just darkness – nothingness, according to the song. From a Biblical perspective, this is categorically false.
We know there is a Heaven. God created it at the beginning of time (Genesis 1:1) and the He resides there (1 Kings 8:30, John 14:2). Those of us who are with Christ will be destined for Heaven in death (2 Kings 2:11, John 14:2, Luke 23:43, Philippians 3:20-21). Our citizenship is not of this world as Christians, but in Heaven. We are citizens of God’s eternal and perfect kingdom. AND, there is only one way of getting to Heaven – through Christ Jesus our Lord (John 3:36, Acts 4:12, Matthew 7:13-14). There is no other method of entering the kingdom of God. There is no other way to the Father except through the Son (John 14:6).
We also know there is a Hell. Christ describes it in Luke 16:19-31 (my sermon on it here). He spoke of this not as a fictional, potential place – but a real place, a real place where the soul is eternally tormented (Matthew 25:46, John 3:36, 2 Thessalonians 1:9, Revelation 14:11, Revelation 21:8). Christ said it would be better to gouge out your eyes or cut off your hand and go hand or eye-less in this life than to face eternal judgement in Hell (Mark 9:43-48). Hell was not a game to play, it was a real place where we do not wish to go.
The Bible is clear on the afterlife and the places we go when we die. Utter nothingness is not among them. Eternal glory with Christ or eternal torment in Hell are the options. The rejection of Hell and Heaven by the singer is a dangerous lie which the world tries to present to us. It’s a lie nonetheless and one which we should reject outright with the word of God.
After some vaguely anti-Catholic sentiment in the middle verse, the lead singer returns to say, “You and me have seen everything to see / From Bangkok to Calgary…” If you have seen all the things on Earth, what is it worth? In Psalm 84:10, the psalmist says that better is one day with the Lord than a thousand elsewhere. Anywhere else is nothing compared to being in the presence of God. Basically to the lead singer of Death Cab for Cutie, the psalmist is saying, “You ain’t seen nothing yet.”
It ends by saying, “The time for sleep is now / It’s nothing to cry about.” He then goes on to say they will hold each other soon. Now, if they are going to nothingness – this is an impossibility. If they are descending into Hell as ones who reject Christ, this is also an impossibility. There is no pleasure and no joy of the warmth of a loved one in Hell – just agony as described in the Bible (Luke 16:19-31). But, there is some merit in not crying over death. Christ said in John 16:22 that though He would be leaving, they would see each other again – and the joy would not be able to be taken from them. He was speaking, of course, of His resurrection. But this concept of reunification in Heaven is true as well. We will see those whom have returned home to God in Heaven. We will be reunified with them and be closer with Christ than ever before. No one can take our joy from us. No one can take away the joy of those who are going to be with Christ. No one.
In the end, “I Will Follow You Into the Dark” is a love song for the atheist. It rejects outright the concept of a heaven or hell and focuses on the here, now, and some vague concept of afterlife which is composed of nothingness. It is theologically incorrect and Biblically unsound. It is a sweet sentimental song, beautifully composed – but theologically wildly inaccurate.