Some Thoughts on Macklemore’s Song “Same Love”

“In regione caecorum rex est luscus.”

(“In the land of the blind the one-eyed man is king.”)

Desiderius Erasmus, Adagia, 1500

 

tumblr_static_imageI remarked to my daughter recently that her generation will grow up in an America that more closely resembles the ethics, morals, spiritual outlook, and overall milieu of the 1st century Roman Empire than any other generation in American history.  I did not mean the statement for shock value nor did I mean it as a romantic gloss on earlier periods of American history that, in their own way, resembled Rome here and there.  No, I actually and simply believe that to be the case.  Modern America is now decidedly post-Christian and is steering into heretofore uncharted waters spiritually and morally, at least in our own story as a nation.

The moments where these things become most clear are in large public displays of the modern zeitgeist, such as award ceremonies like the Grammy’s, which aired on January 26.  I watched some of the Grammy’s and was able to see Macklemore’s performance of his pro-gay anthem, “Same Love.”  I had never heard of Macklemore or his song before last Sunday night.  The purpose of this post is not to critique the strange, Moonie-esque mass wedding of gay and straight couples that accompanied Macklemore’s performance and was “officiated” by Queen Latifah (with a dramatic appearance by Madonna to boot)…not that such a critique is not deserving.  In and of itself, the spectacle of this whole thing (Latifah’s intro, the church set, etc.) is worthy of consideration concerning what it reveals about where we currently are, and you can see it here if you would like:

But evaluating the spectacle is not my purpose in this post.  My purpose, rather, is to suggest that the lyrics to Macklemore’s gay rights anthem perfectly encapsulate the current worldview of modern America.  Let’s work through the lyrics.

The Predisposition Argument

When I was in the 3rd grade I thought that I was gay ’cause I could draw,
My uncle was and I kept my room straight
I told my mom, tears rushing down my face, she’s like,
“Ben you’ve loved girls since before pre-K”
Trippin’, yeah, I guess she had a point, didn’t she?
A bunch of stereotypes all in my head
I remember doing the math like “Yeah, I’m good a little league”
A pre-conceived idea of what it all meant
For those who like the same sex had the characteristics
The right-wing conservatives think its a decision
And you can be cured with some treatment and religion
Man-made, rewiring of a pre-disposition. Playing God
Ahh nah, here we go

It is not suprising that Macklemore offers this argument first.  It is a staple in pro-homosexual arguments and is to be expected.  It also rests on a terribly and, it turns out, simply flawed premise.  The premise behind the predisposition argument appears to be that innate desires, desires we are born with, are justifiable by virtue of being inherent.  If this is not the premise, I would love to be corrected.  That is because it is a demonstrably false and, if consistently followed, dangerous premise.

I rather suspect that the same people claiming that inherent predispositions are thereby justifiable predispositions do not really mean this.  We all know that many of us have dispositions towards this or that habit, desire, or action that we must war against: anger, lust, physical violence, alcoholism, etc.  Some people struggle with this predisposition and others struggle with that, but, again, I seriously doubt that anybody really believes in any consistent way that inherent desire is thereby justifiable desire.  It makes a nice mantra for modern sexual tolerance, but, here again, it cannot be consistently applied, unless, of course, we would like to say to incarcerated pedophiles who claim to have always had a predisposition for sexual attraction toward children that their desires are therefore justifiable since they are inherent.  Of course they are not justifiable.  Here is where the premise breaks down.

What is more, Macklemore’s oversimplified argument about “right wingers” thinking it is a choice is naive.  I, for one, have no problem believing those homosexuals who say that they have felt same-sex attraction from their youth.  I realize some Christians do, but it has been my experience that when you really talk to those who seek to deny this they usually reveal that they have not thought through their own Christian confession consistently enough.

What I mean is that it is a tenet of orthodox Christianity that human beings are born fallen, broken, and with our hearts turned from God.  In truth, those Christians who want to deny that some might be born with these inclinations are actually granting legitimacy to the faulty premise I just mentioned.  Orthodox Christian teaching would not say, “No, you cannot have been born with these desires.”  Orthodox Christian teaching would say, “Perhaps you were, perhaps not, but the Bible teaches that we are born fallen and that the inclinations of our hearts are evil from our youth.  If you were born with these desires, it neither validates the desires nor invalidates Christian truth, for Christian truth proclaims that we are born with our hearts innately predisposed to all kinds of wickedness.  Therefore, your argument in no way proves your premise and in no way disproves the Gospel.  Rather, it confirms it.  We are born sinners in need of forgiveness.”  (As an aside, I do wish  more Christians in America would think these issues through biblically.)

Macklemore and Scripture

America the brave
Still fears what we don’t know And God loves all his children it’s somehow forgotten
But we paraphrase a book written thirty-five hundred years ago
I don’t know

I will not deal with the cliche’d charge of homophobia (“America the brave still fears what we don’t know”) because it is so palpably unjust.  One does wish that gay activists would realize what I suspect, deep down, they know:  it is profoundly unhelpful to suggest that the options in the gay debate are (1) a modern education leading to knowledge that will inevitably lead the recipient to see the sterling beauty of homosexuality or (2) gross, backward, ignorance buttressed by fear and leading to hatred.  No, in point of fact, there are many people who have thought very deeply and very well on this issue and consider homosexuality to be morally deficient for precisely that reason.  But I digress.

When I heard Macklemore’s song on the Grammy’s, these lines about the Bible jumped out at me.  What is fascinating here is that Macklemore (1) makes a theological claim (i.e., “God loves all his children”) while (2) offering the typical Richard Dawkins-esque rejection of the veracity of scripture on the basis of its antiquity (“a book written thirty-five hundred years ago”).  The line about us “paraphrasing” the Bible, just before the line dismissing the Bible as ancient and irrelevant, is confusing.  Is he suggesting that those who view homosexuality as sinful have skipped the particulars of scripture in favor of a vague sentiment of condemnation?  Is this the paraphrase he sneers at?  That would seem odd since (a) a non-paraphrase approach to reading the Bible would lead to a more careful exegeting and interpreting of the text…a phenomenon that does not work well for the gay movement and (b) Macklemore’s maxim, “God loves all his children,” would seem to be a paraphrase itself, especially as it is eisegetically loaded up with a definition  of “love” drawn more from modern American sentimentalism and permissiveness than love biblically defined.  Which is to say that Macklemore seems to be the one who has paraphrased scripture towards his desired end, not those who take scripture at its words concerning the sinfulness of homosexual behavior.

In short, this is a profoundly muddled hermeneutic leading, understandably, to irretrievably muddled conclusions.  One could indeed use the lyrics of “Same Love” as a case study in the sheer chutzpah of the hermeneutics of modernity and the selective reading of a text for a desired and politically advantageous end.

Macklemore and Moral Reformation

And I can’t change
Even if I tried
Even if I wanted to
And I can’t change
Even if I tried
Even if I wanted to
My love, my love, my love
She keeps me warm
She keeps me warm
She keeps me warm
She keeps me warm

This cry of futility regarding change is telling.  Paul said essentially the same thing in Romans 7, with the very different conclusion that, while he could not change himself (“wretched man that I am”), Christ could indeed change him.  And Paul had seen Him change others, including homosexuals.  This is how Paul put it in 1 Corinthians 6:

9 Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, 10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified,you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. [emphases mine]

If Macklemore wants a non-paraphrased Bible (a worthy desire to be sure), then perhaps he will reflect on these astounding verses.  Was Paul mistaken?  Was he lying?  Or had homosexuals not been freed by the blood of Christ?  What is more, the complete absence of the core of the gospel at this point is tragic.  There is no hint of that to which Paul points in v.11:  the power of Christ to free us and change us.  Finally, keep these words of Paul in mind, for Macklemore will conclude his song by quoting Paul.

The Charge of Hatred

Part and parcel of the gay assault on the biblical sexual ethic is the charge of hatred.  Macklemore does this effectively by lumping the church in with those who launch crude, verbal assaults against gays.

If I was gay I would think hip-hop hates me
Have you read the Youtube comments lately?
“Man, that’s gay” gets dropped on a daily
We’ve become so numb to what we’re sayin’
Our culture founded from oppression
Yeah, we don’t have acceptance for ’em
Call each other faggots behind the keys of a message board
A word rooted in hate, yet our genre still ignores it
‘Gay’ is synonymous with ‘the lesser’
It’s the same hate that’s caused wars from religion
Gender to skin color the complexion of your pigment
The same fight that led people to walk-outs and sit-ins,
It’s human rights for everybody
There is no difference
Live on! And be yourself!
When I was in church, they taught me something else
If you preach hate at the service, those words aren’t anointed
And that Holy Water that you soak in is then poisoned
When everyone else is more comfortable remaining voiceless
Rather than fighting for humans that have had their rights stolen
I might not be the same, but that’s not important
No freedom ’til we’re equal
Damn right I support it

I don’t know

And I can’t change
Even if I tried
Even if I wanted to
My love, my love, my love
She keeps me warm
She keeps me warm
She keeps me warm
She keeps me warm

Perhaps I can be excused for wanting a bit more definition on what Macklemore means by preaching “hate at the service.”  Does he mean the truly hateful rantings of somebody like Fred Phelps?  Or does he mean that a pastor like myself who would stand and preach faithfully the Word of God on this issue of homosexuality is being hateful?  It would be most helpful to see this distinction made, for it is a distinction born in reality.  Here is a key that gay advocates must come to terms with:  it is indeed possible to consider homosexuality sinful and not, in fact, hate homosexuals.  Indeed, if the Bible is right, the careful, redemptive call for homosexuals to repent is the ultimate act of love.

Is there hate preached from pulpits?  I have no doubt there is.  But the careful proclamation of the Word on these issues is decidedly not hate.  Even so, one looks in vain for any trace of this vital distinction in “Same Love.”

On the Notion of Progress

C.S. Lewis once spoke of modern humanity’s notion of progress as hopelessly and paradoxically backward.  What humanity often sees as progress is, in fact, usually a regress.  We see this same certainty in Macklemore’s next words.

We press play Don’t press pause
Progress, march on!
With a veil over our eyes
We turn our back on the cause
‘Till the day That my uncles can be united by law
Their kids are walkin’ around the hallway
Plagued by pain in their heart
A world so hateful, some would rather die than be who they are
And a certificate on paper
Isn’t gonna solve it all, but it’s a damn good place to start
No law’s gonna change us
We have to change us. Whatever God you believe in
We come from the same one
Strip away the fear
Underneath it’s all the same love
About time that we raised up

And I can’t change
Even if I tried
Even if I wanted to
And I can’t change
Even if I tried
Even if I wanted to
My love, my love, my love
She keeps me warm
She keeps me warm
She keeps me warm
She keeps me warm

I would simply point out that the advice to “press play” and “don’t press pause” is as apt a description of the current American tragedy as I have ever read.  In contrast, I am reminded of William F. Buckley, Jr.’s  desire to “stand athwart history and yell STOP!”  This dizzying charge into the future of sexual anarchy and moral redefinition is clearly not being accompanied by solid, careful thought, if Macklemore’s anthem is any indication, which, I suspect, it is.  It is all inertia, all momentum, all “press play.”  America is a nation that is being compelled forward by the impulsive glandular proclivities of an aggressive and hungry minority that will not stop until the old verities have been thoroughly discredited, besmirched, and, at least, obfuscated.  These lyrics capture that reality perfectly.

Macklemore and the Apostle Paul

Finally, in a move that is frankly stunning in its capacity to affect complete confusion concerning Macklemore’s hermeneutic and general epistemology, he quotes the words of Paul from 1 Corinthians 13…proclaiming that these words will now liberate him from ever having to feel guilty on a Sunday!

Love is patient, love is kind
Love is patient
Love is kind (Not crying on Sundays)
Love is patient,(Not crying on Sundays) love is kind (I’m not crying on Sundays)
Love is patient,(Not crying on Sundays) love is kind(I’m not crying on Sundays)
Love is patient,(Not crying on Sundays) love is kind(I’m not crying on Sundays)
Love is patient, love is kind

This is staggering.  Is this quoting of Paul a vote of confidence by Macklemore?  Surely it cannot be for Paul speaks plainly of how homosexuality falls short of God’s design for us.  Will Macklemore at least have the honesty to let the author whose words he has lifted define love as he means it?  Not to do so is disingenious, for whatever Paul means by “love” he does not mean that state of mind and heart that looks upon sinful behavior as acceptable before God.  On the contrary, Paul’s writings suggest that he felt God’s love was such that it refused to leave us in our sins, and our own love should be such that it calls those who have turned from God, even in their sexual lives (1 Corinthians 5), to repent and come back home.

As I said:  we are living in a cultural milieu that is becoming increasingly pagan and muddled in its thinking.  We are morphing into an outright carnival of the absurd, both in our brazen rewriting of the moral code and in our shocking parading of that rewriting.  What is more, truth now seems to be a matter of emotionally-driven platitudes that borrow here and there from the sacred text, redefining as it goes, and castigating scripture at the same time.  In a world of biblical illiteracy this is shockingly easy to do, of course.  What is more, in a world that has forgotten how to think well and deeply, these mantra-driven assertions of modernity appear profoundly serious (note the deeply emotional reactions to this Grammy presentation online), when, in fact, they prove inevitably to be trite and vapid on closer examination.

Even so, “In the land of the blind the one-eyed man is king.”

May God give us the courage to speak truth in love against the new sexual orthodoxy.

13 thoughts on “Some Thoughts on Macklemore’s Song “Same Love”

  1. Wyman, thank you for taking the time to help me think through this issue. Truth seems to be a still small voice these days.

  2. Most profound to me was the use of pointed arches for the stage set during the marriage ceremony. I know a lot of civic buildings have gothic architecture, but they were obviously going for a church setting. Maybe I’m digging too deep, but I feel like they deliberately used that symbolism to make a statement: “We don’t think Christians should have the monopoly on marriage, or truth, or even ‘church’ anymore.” What are your thoughts on that Wyman?

    • I couldn’t agree more. The whole vibe had a definite churchy feel to it. That set combined with the lyrics was chilling in the way that it redefined church around modern, secular platitudes.

  3. I only wish that all could read this. Well said, Wyman. We are living in a time where raising children is more and more challenging. Hollywood and social media are interpreting the Bible and our Christian faith for us. I am proud that you are using your voice to speak truth. Mom

  4. Great take on the bizarre!
    First century Rome makes more sense to me. Christians were willing to be martyred rather than burn the pinch of incense for Caesar. Today it seems more fashionable to scratch our heads and sort out what’s happening, as if we don’t know. Paul seems infinitely more reasonable than the PC dribble that floods today’s airways.
    Sorry I missed the Grammy’s, sounds like more laughs than AFV.

  5. Very good article! I’m blessed having my son and daughter-in-law sitting under the teaching of a man that preaches the Truth from the Word!

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