The current number three on the Billboard Top 100 is Hozier’s “Take Me to Church.” I heard the chorus before being sung by various people, so decided to check into it further. Note, I chose not to post the music video – I didn’t really want to re-watch a video about a gay couple being lynched. I’ll just use the lyrics video instead. Speaking of which, the lyrics can be reviewed here.
Hozier begins by singing, “My lover’s got humour / She’s the giggle at a funeral / Knows everybody’s disapproval / I should’ve worshipped her sooner / If the heavens ever did speak / She’s the last true mouthpiece / Every Sunday’s getting more bleak / A fresh poison each week.” In this one section, he’s turning his lover into an idol. He’s worshipping her. He’s more explicit later in the song about his worship of his lover. He uses lines such as the following:
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
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
If I’m a pagan of the good times / My lover’s the sunlight / To keep the Goddess on my side / She demands a sacrifice
Calling his female lover a goddess, saying he worships her, comparing sexual relations with his lover to a religious experience at church. There are a few different things to call this, but the easiest one to say is blasphemous, un-Christian lies.
In my piece on John Legend’s “All of Me” I make a comment about being careful about romantic love turning into idolatry. I wrote:
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.
In this case, we’re not on the slippery slope toward potential idolatry, the singer is bold faced worshipping his lover. Let me be clear – Biblically speaking there is only God and He is not Hozier’s lover (Deuteronomy 4:35, 2 Samuel 7:22, Psalm 18:31, Mark 12:29). He is male (see my article here). And He lived as a man as Christ our Lord (Matthew 28:19, Mark 2:5-12, Luke 24:52, John 10:30, John 20:28). He is not a female lover of an Irish singer-songwriter who goes by one of his last names as his stage name.
It’s telling that the artist decided to use a direct quote from noted atheist writer Christopher Hitchens in the song, “Born sick, command me to be well.” The song, in many ways, is about losing one’s faith and finding a new faith in a false idol, their lover.
When in the wilderness following the Exodus from Egypt, the Israelites were waiting for weeks for Moses to come down from the mountain while speaking to God. Becoming impatient, the people decided to worship what they felt they could touch instead of waiting on the timing of their God. They created a golden calf for themselves (Exodus 32). Here we have Hozier who is clearly disillusioned by religion, clearly sick of waiting on God to do whatever He is going to do. What does he do instead? Create for himself a god, his lover. He can touch and feel her. It makes him feel good to be with her. Sacrifices are asked, and even they make him feel good. But, like the Israelites in the wilderness – what he is worshipping will ultimately fade away. People die, gold loses its luster and can be destroyed. Putting faith in the temporal is worthless. We need to put our faith in the Immortal One, the only Uncreated One, who can and does command the universe. We put our trust in the one who is called “I AM” and who came to us as Christ. We as Christians do that and we would be foolish to fall for the world’s attempt to convince us to worship our lover.