Friday, 20 July 2012

Jesus is (not) my boyfriend

I blush to remember that a couple of decades ago we thought nothing of singing a song with our Youth Group that began:

'Hold me Lord (hold me Lord)
In your arms (in your arms)...

These were teenagers, male and female; some quite street cred, not necessarily all church kids. It's a bit cringe-able looking back.

But not altogether unusual as worship songs in the charismatic tradition go.

The song 'Light of the World' (Tim Hughes) contains this line about Jesus:

'You're altogether lovely, altogether worthy, altogether wonderful to me,' a line which I was quite happy to sing, till a more, shall we say, gritty Christian, suggested that 'lovely' was a word unworthy of a man who hung on a cross dying a terrible death for us.

As subjective expressions of love for God abound within the contemporary worship scene, one is left wondering about the balance between objectivity and subjectivity. At Theological College our worship offerings in chapel were scrutinised by tutors for skill and appropriateness, but the other students who'd been on the receiving end were never asked 'how did you experience God during that act of worship?' - that was considered 'too subjective.'

If God isn't experienced as personal, is it worship at all? And yet someone else's 'personal' worship experience, recorded in soft breathy tones in a studio and brought out on their latest worship CD (which you can buy at all major Christian book stores and at all Summer festivals kicking off with New Wine A in two days' time) sometimes comes across as a bit self indulgent.

Try this:

'I still remember falling to the floor and 
Now I often wonder how I ever dared to let you come
Even closer, closer than the air around me,
Underneath my skin...' (Paul Oakley, 1999, I Still Remember, subtitled: Kiss the River').

Being generally way out of the contemporary music scene, I find it takes me a while to re-engage when I arrive at the New Wine festival. Maybe things are moving on. Maybe we're going to have a renaissance of the objective...a bit of Miriam's song writing skills perhaps:

"Sing to the LORD, for he is highly exalted. The horse and its rider he has hurled into the sea." (Exodus 15:21)

I kind of hope so because much as I am not ashamed to say that I love God; Jesus is not my boyfriend.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Claire,
    I never really think about the words until I have to sing something that is really OTT. Then I lose the sense of worship completely, but perhaps younger people interpret it differently. As you say, worship means different things to different people.