Music has always been a vehicle for expression. It has a way of divulging the emotions of the heart in a real, intimate way. There is something poignant about lyrics that just get us. They explain the situations we are in and evoke emotions that make us cling onto past heartaches or triumphs.
It's not hard to listen to the radio now a days and hear a sappy love song by a teen heart-throb on the radio. It is also not uncommon to hear a gruesomely explicit song about sex bumping through speakers around us. Make rhymes of getting someone into bed, throw in a catchy melody, and a cool backbeat and you might find yourself on Billboard's Top 200.
But this isn't a recent trend, especially in music. Ever since recording music has been around, sexual innuendoes and metaphorical lyrics about love have accompanied it. But recently, the industry has been more tolerant to explicit material and it isn't uncommon to hear these explicit songs being played while you pick up milk and bread at Walmart.
So what happened? How did we get to this?
It is a slow fade. In a culture that thrives for love and acceptance, we have finally totally lost our definition of what love looks like. And this has seeped into Christian culture as well. We have the idea now that love is disposable, cheap, and easy.
The thing that scares me is that we are so hooked on melodies and backbeats in popular music that we ingrain their messages in our head without even knowing it. Lets look at a couple of examples:
"She walks like a model She grants my wishes Like a genie in a bottle Yeah, yeah 'Cause I'm the wizard of love And I got the magic wand All these other girls are tempting But I'm empty when you're gone And they say Do you need me? Do you think I'm pretty? Do I make you feel like cheating? And I'm like no, not really 'cause Oh, I think that I've found myself a cheerleader She is always right there when I need her" - OMI "Cheerleader"
"I eat my dinner in my bathtub Then I go to sex clubs Watching freaky people gettin' it on It doesn't make me nervous If anything I'm restless Yeah, I've been around and I've seen it all I get home, I got the munchies Binge on all my Twinkies Throw up in the tub Then I go to sleep And I drank up all my money Dazed and kinda lonely You're gone and I gotta stay High all the time To keep you off my mind" - Tove Lo "Habits"
As we can see, both OMI's and Tove Lo's ideas on love are a bit perverted. OMI's idea of love is conditional if his "cheerleader" is there when he needs her and is valid because he won't cheat on her. Sounds legit, right? Tove Lo's idea of love seems to have exhausted her to the point were she needs drugs to keep her ex-lover off her mind. It is also important to see that if our relationships and love is based on sex, it is bound to fail us. A thing that is meant to be beautiful for a man and his wife is now worn out and useless to Tove Lo: "Yeah, I've been around and I've seen it all." Sex is now cheapened and seen like quartz rather than the pure diamond that it is.
Love has turned from an unconditional life of service and appreciation to an obtainable, objectified thing that controls our very being. It is something to be used for our own gain rather than something we selflessly give.
We've only ascribed love to be some sort of romantic power, but it's something more than that. It's more than sexual desire. It is more than feelings.
Then what should love look like? We have a perfect example in Jesus.
His love for the world led him to leave his position in heaven to become a servant. His love for the world led him to neglect himself for the good news of God's plan for redemption through himself. His love for the world led to him selflessly give his sinless life as a sacrifice for our sin. His love for the world led to him baring all the sin of the world - past, present, and future - so that we might have a way to God. He loves the world so much that he is returning to rapture his grimy, imperfect church to reign with him.
This is what love looks like. It should be our very character. Our very being. If we are called to be like Christ, this should be our aim. We are called to love one another like Christ loved his church (Ephesians 5).
In 1 Corinthians 13, we get an amazing definition of what God would describe love as:
" Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant  or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;  it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.  Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things." - 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 ESV
If we love like 1 Corinthians 13, our love isn't conditional on how others treat us, but rather unconditional because we are greatly loved by Jesus. So be careful not to let our culture dictate how you love. Do not get your picture of love by some pop star looking to sell records. See Christ as the perfect example of how to love
Photo Credit: Michael Bullard