Warning: The song contains explicit lyrics which are not suitable for children.
Eminem has been on the music scene for a while with harsh lyrics talking about drugs, violence, rape, murder, you name it. Since he’s gotten clean, some of his music has remained as lyrically well crafted, but have take on a different tone. One of his most recent tracks, “Headlights,” is one of those tracks. In it, he along with Nate Ruess of fun. apologizes to his mother for his past actions. The lyrics can be reviewed here. Let’s review Eminem’s lyrics.
He begins by saying, “Mom, I know I let you down / And though you say the days are happy / Why is the power off, and I’m f****d up? / And, Mom, I know he’s not around / But don’t you place the blame on me / As you pour yourself another drink, yeah.” He calls out how he’s been bad to his mother and that she should not blame him for the sins of his father. The first makes sense if you’ve s heard Eminem’s verbal assaults on his mother in the past (ex. Cleanin Out My Closet [NSFW lyrics]). The second is true as well as the sins the individual shall only condemn the individual (Ezekiel 18:20). That said, sin has a trickle down effect which hurts future generations (Exodus 34:6-7).
Eminem continues after the hook by Nate Ruess saying, “Never thinking about who what I said hurt, in what verse / My mom probably got it the worst / The brunt of it, but as stubborn as we are / Did I take it too far? / “Cleaning Out My Closet” and all them other songs / But regardless I don’t hate you ’cause, Ma, / You’re still beautiful to me, ’cause you’re my mom.” In this we have a repentant Eminem apologizing to his mother for his past wrongdoings. We are called to honor and obey our parents by the Lord (Exodus 20:12, Ephesians 6:1-2). I believe that’s an important command and the respect side of that is something Eminem had not historically shown his mother in very public displays of anger, bitterness, and violent language. The Lord calls on us to be better. He also calls us to repent (2 Chronicles 7:14, 1 John 1:9). He calls us to confess our sins to the one we sinned against (James 5:16). Now, sin the end, all sin is against the Lord and one can hope Eminem sought repentance from God in addition to forgiveness from his mother, but I digress. That is a lot to ask of someone of the world who does not know Christ.
Eminem continues saying, “Though far be it from you to be calm, our house was Vietnam / Desert Storm and both of us put together can form an atomic bomb equivalent to Chemical warfare / And forever we can drag this on and on / But, agree to disagree.” Here we see Eminem begin to air some grievances towards his mother. This is different than the way he has done so historically, you may note, as his anger has been re-directed. His anger isn’t as volatile. He has tempered himself, which the Lord tells us is important (Proverbs 14:29). He continues by saying that the two of them together are the cause of their friction – not solely her. That’s a sign of maturity finally accepting the role you play in your own problems. He also is ready to talk more productively to his mother about how he wronged her in life. Christ us to approach and rebuke others in love if they sin (Matthew 18:15). Let’s see if his words match that viewpoint.
Eminem continues, “That gift from me up under the Christmas tree don’t mean s*** to me / You’re kicking me out? It’s 15 degrees and it’s Christmas Eve (little p***k just leave) / Ma, let me grab my f*****g coat, anything to have each other’s goats / Why we always at each other’s throats? / Especially when dad, he f****d us both / We’re in the same f*****g boat, you’d think that it’d make us close (nope) / Further away it drove us, but together headlights shine, a car full of belongings / Still got a ways to go, back to grandma’s house it’s straight up the road / And I was the man of the house, the oldest, so my shoulders carried the weight of the load / Then Nate got taken away by the state at eight years old, / And that’s when I realized you were sick and it wasn’t fixable or changeable / And to this day we remained estranged and I hate it though.” A lot of anger and aggression we see here. Eminem sees him and his mother’s struggle against each other earlier in life as both of their faults. He’s mad about some of the decisions she made, but realized she had problems she could not control at the time. She had a problem with substance abuse. Drug abuse and drunkenness will cause foolishness and many problems in life, therefore the Bible condemns it (Proverbs 20:1, Isaiah 5:22, Ephesians 5:18). The Bible is clear that drunkenness, mind alteration will harm you and, in the case of Debbie Mathers, hurt her son. While your children should not be condemned for your sin, they will feel the effects (Exodus 20:5). This is another reason why being a Biblical parent matters. We are to raise up our children in the Lord (Proverbs 22:6), not discourage them (Colossians 3:21).
Eminem in this section also talks about how they should be able to commiserate with one another as they share the same problem – his father, according to Eminem. Instead, they don’t and constantly argue. We’ve pointed out that both of them are in the wrong in this situation. Both of them were disobedient to the Lord in this situation.
The next verse continues with repentance from Eminem. He apologizes to his mother. He talks about how he is beginning to understand what she went through and why she acted the way she did. He talks about how he knew she did the best she could given the circumstances. He talks about how he loves his mother, how she seems to be dying, and that he hates that they are emotionally distant. We need to repent, as Eminem does, for the sins we commit against each other. We need to bear one anothers burdens (Galatians 6:2). We need to forgive each other (Ephesians 4:32). We need to protect our family members (1 Timothy 5:8). We are supposed to encourage one another in the faith (1 Thessalonians 5:11, Hebrews 10:25). At the sunset of his mother’s life, Eminem is seeking repentance for his sins against his mother. He is seeking forgiveness and is offering it as well. He is also reaching out in love.
Love is critical in all this. While his methods are questionable, in his own way – Marshall Mathers is reaching out to his mother in love, rebuking her, forgiving her, and seeking forgiveness as well. These ideas are Biblical, even if not in the at times aggressive manner Eminem does them. I hope he seeks Christ who will fill the fatherless void he has had in his life. I hope he changes and breaks the chain of sin leaving a generation to follow not filled with the anger, drug addiction of his mothers and his. I pray for Eminem to seek repentance from the one who created Him. I pray one day, I can call Eminem a brother in Christ. In two different tracks, rapper KJ-52 reached out to Eminem. I hope he hears those tracks, hope he hears their message, I hope he one day changes from the Gospel message.