Social media has informed me that a certain popular country music song is masquerading as a “worship song” with a “blasphemous” message. I was quick to notice the grave warnings issued to protect ones ears from Florida Georgia Line’s “Holy.” Deep was the sorrow communicated by furiously typed words and appropriately selected emoji!
Almost instantly, I set about Googling the lyrics of the pseudo-worship song. I felt an eager pull to commiserate with my fellow Christians on popular culture’s latest assault on God! Thankfully, Google swiftly loaded the offending words onto the screen . . . and then . . . everything came into focus. “Holy” is a song about sacramental love in the vocation of marriage.
Don’t feel bad for having missed it! It is not surprising that many of us find it difficult to recognize poetry (song lyrics) about God’s true plan for marital love! Our society has reduced marriage to merely a legal contract of mutual convenience based on transient feelings subject to dissolution when the relationship no longer makes one “happy.”
It is not surprising that a literal interpretation of the lyrics rendered many shocked and appalled. Has the artist replaced true and right worship of God with the worship of a woman?
I can hear the objections loud now and it sounds something like “only God is holy.” In response, I would clarify that God is Holiness itself. God is not just loving and good, but Love and Goodness itself. To those unfamiliar with the universal call to holiness, to say that a person is holy sounds a bit like saying they are equal to God. In truth, all are called to be holy! Each and every person is called to live in the fullness of God’s love without sin!
So what is the song really about?
The woman in the song brings her love out of darkness into the light. She is the “riverbank” of his Baptism, the launching place for his Christian life in Baptism. Through her holiness (her intimate relationship with God), she sanctifies him and brings him to faith (Baptism). He no longer needs the stars (a symbol of false worship) as he now knows love and through this earthly love (marriage) he is brought knowledge of heaven. Marriage and the goods of marriage (nuptial union, sex) are a foretaste of heaven. The song reflects the ability of marital love to heal and bring us closer to God who is the union point in sacramental marriage. Marriage has become the songwriter’s church – that institution which brings him closer to God.
After pondering the lyrics for nearly an hour, someone offered to show me the music video, which was also the first time I heard the song. It hadn’t occurred to me to listen to the music. I am a lover of words. Lyrics are poetry, an art form close to my heart. I don’t know what the writer’s original intent was with his lyrics. Judging by the woman in the white gown at the start of the video, bridal/wedding imagery, it seems to be a safe bet that I am on target here. Laying aside the artist’s actual intent, one could argue that art is for the viewer of the art and less about the artist’s intentions. Ask a Christian and an atheist to interpret The Lord of The Rings and you will see what I mean. If you want to see blasphemy in the song then you will see nothing else. For me, and many others, the song lyrics resounded within and I think it calls to some of us because as with really great/beautiful art, it speaks truth to our hearts.