Currently #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 is John Legend’s “All of Me.” It’s a love song like many other before it. This has a fun twist in that Legend reportedly used this song to propose to his wife. But, what are the theological implications of this song. Let’s discuss further. To follow along, here are the lyrics.
Legend begins the song by saying, “What would I do without your smart mouth? / Drawing me in, and you kicking me out / You’ve got my head spinning, no kidding, I can’t pin you down / What’s going on in that beautiful mind / I’m on your magical mystery ride / And I’m so dizzy, don’t know what hit me, but I’ll be alright.” What is he saying here? He’s saying she’s intelligent and while he does not always understand her, he’s ready to stand with her. The sweetness of her voice, of what she’s thinking, he loves even if he doesn’t understand it. Solomon can relate (Song of Solomon 4:11). He loves his future bride and everything about her, whether he understands it or not, is exactly what he wants.
After a pre-chorus line where Legend effectively says that the two of them are crazy for each other, he continues with the chorus singing, “Cause all of me / Loves all of you / Love your curves and all your edges / All your perfect imperfections / Give your all to me / I’ll give my all to you / You’re my end and my beginning / Even when I lose I’m winning / ‘Cause I give you all of me / And you give me all of you, oh.” As Legend is singing this to his future bride – let us view this through the lens of marriage.
First, it is not uncommon for a man and it is fitting for a man to view his bride as perfect for him (Song of Solomon 4:1-7). He’ll love her imperfections because to him, she is perfect (Song of Solomon 6:9). Song of Solomon is filled with beautiful comparisons of a man’s bride’s beauty. We see Legend doing the same here for his bride. He then speaks of giving his all to her asking for her the same. This is not an un-Biblical view of marriage. Wives are to lovingly give their all, trusting in their husband to lead their family (Ephesians 5:22-24). Husbands are called to give their all, laying their lives down for their wives and loving them as their own flesh (Ephesians 5:25-30). You are not your own, but your wives / husbands. You literally give your all; and yes, this include sex (1 Corinthians 7:3-5). As God commanded us to be fruitful and multiply in marriage in the beginning (Genesis 1:28, 2:24), Paul reminded us to not deny our spouses sexually but to give to each other freely (1 Corinthians 7:3-5). This is a reminder as to why the Shakers died off – no sex in their marriages.
Marriage is when two people become one before the Lord. It is a holy covenant between two people and God. In so doing, they give themselves to each other much as Legend said in his song. They pledge their lives to each other to love, cherish, and to love each other in the faith (i.e. help them grow spiritually). While this may not have been Legend’s intent with this line, the implication is there when you think upon Christian marriage.
With his second verse, Legend sings, “How many times do I have to tell you / Even when you’re crying you’re beautiful too / The world is beating you down, I’m around through every mood / You’re my downfall, you’re my muse / My worst distraction, my rhythm and blues / I can’t stop singing, it’s ringing, in my head for you.” Here, Legend reaffirms his belief in the beauty of his bride. He also says that she’s his muse, she’s his motivation in life. Here is where we need to be careful.
If we are not careful in our focus, we can turn our love for another into an idol. While most of us think of idols as statues which gain worship, when we put something before God it becomes an idol for us (Matthew 6:19-21). While in Lystra, Paul and Barnabas are mistaken for gods as they proclaim the Gospel and perform miracles in the name of Jesus Christ (Acts 14:8-18). When this happens, they point the crowd back to Jesus and barely stop them from making sacrifices. When we put another person in our lives before God, we are putting them in the role of our god. They become the center of our world. They become what we worship – whether in the traditional sense of the word of not. Like Paul and Barnabas, we need to reject that mindset.
It can be difficult. It’s nice to be worshiped. But, we are called to point others to the one deserving of all glory and worship – the Lord.
This song does point out some truths about the romantic love we see in marriage and are supposed to seek in marriage, but like many modern songs on romance it can lead us to idolize those we love. Let us love them as Christ calls us to love them. Let us love our brides as Christ loves His bride. Let us worship Him alone and let us love like the Lord calls us to love.