Jesus is NOT your boyfriend

Conversation | Molk | 20th April 2021

Or your girlfriend. Don’t look at me like that.

A friend of mine linked me to this video and having worked in the Australian Christian music industry I found it both compelling and not at all surprising…

American Christendom, thanks to modern American Christian/Gospel music, is in an interesting place.

For the longest time artists had the freedom to create what they want as long as they met the puritan expectation of the most conservative understandings of faith. As outlined in this video, as soon as artists started asking some bigger, less conservative questions or expressing themselves less conservatively, the market was quick to respond: We’re not interested. And that makes it dangerous, because it means we’re only getting sanitised worship songs that start to sound a lot like each other and don’t challenge us in our walk with Jesus at all.

More recently the rise in modern worship music as a consumable/alternative to popular music has become even bigger business. Not just for churches having the opportunity to hear new music that might help them in their worship times when they gather, but especially because the copyright industry (predominantly CCLi) has ensured that artists rightly get their dues for the usage of their music in worship and at other times.

It is worth BILLIONS of dollars. It’s OK to make money from it. We need to make sure that what we often blindly sing is actually something we agree with, and isn’t some half-baked song about your feelings that, honestly, probably aren’t quite on the money about Jesus anyway.

The challenge I put to you is this: when did you last take a step back from that amazing new worship song with the killer hook and phenomenal riff and read the lyrics? Even investigate them – what is the author/artist communicating in this song? Is it something that sits well with your understanding of who God is? Does it speak consistently to your developing theology and are you comfortable singing it in a personal time of worship or with others when you gather?

There’s a long-standing joke within the music industry that if you can’t make your love song a hit on the popular charts all you have to do is replace “baby/babe” with “Jesus” and you’ll have a solid gold modern gospel/worship hit.

It’s super healthy to look at the lyrics and question what they are saying and what they mean. It’s also really helpful to look at them and ask “if a friend who didn’t know Jesus came to church and saw these words projected on the back wall, would they be able to understand them?”.

NOTE: It is not cool to change lyrics if you don’t like them or don’t agree with them. Doesn’t matter how great the song or how bad the theology–you didn’t write the song, so you don’t get to change them. Even updating the gender of God or making the song gender-non-specific is, honestly, a no-no. If you want to do that, please contact the author or publisher of the song with your request in writing with your suggested alternative lines. If they approve it that’s great. If they don’t…well, you might want to find another song. The lyrics are not yours to change.

While the song might make you feel good and remind you about how you feel about God’s love for you, the time you spend worshipping God through song when you gather is important. It is great to sing more “we”/together songs, and acknowledge God’s greatness, God’s sacrifice and redemption in Jesus, and how God works through all of you by God’s Spirit. It is fine to sing a bunch of “I”/me songs.

Be aware that in the gathering singing a lot about yourself and your relationship with God is counter to the nature of that gathered community. On reflection you might find it’s actually pretty selfish.

Also you might find that singing about Jesus like he’s your boyfriend or girlfriend is…frankly…unhelpful to your discipleship journey.


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Molk is the Senior Field Officer (North), and Young Adult ministry leader as a part of the PULSE team.