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The Graceful Antithesis of Love

There’s been some disagreement from time to time here at the RR about this or that. One such debatable item is to what extent we should expose ourselves to the toxicity of the world in art. Some say more, some say less. Pretty much everyone believes we should be thoughtful about it and remembers that we are called to be holy. Without holiness no one will see the Lord.

One area where I find it pretty soul-destroying to be in the toxic waste is in the area of music about love. We’ve pretty much boiled ourselves in a slow stew of erroneous notions of love for quite a while. So much so that if we aren’t intentionally counter-cultural we develop many horrific assumptions. Some of these are pornographic, some sentimental, but the field is full of lies and it’s hard to walk anywhere without being inundated with selfish messages which, if ingested, are a poison pill for us and those we ought to love.

I actually heard a song on the radio once (what I was doing listening to the radio I don’t know) and it was a song dedicated to extolling a mistress, even containing the phrase, “the entrée’s not as good without a little something on the side.” Wow. That’s not helpful.

OK, that’s a downer. But I am writing to commend. In the wasteland of love-songs which feel like the coordinated efforts of hell, there is a break in the fog. There are some grown-up love songs. And by grown-up I mean mature, in the sense of that great, biblical objective. There are songs which encourage a sacrificial and committed love. There are songs that admit weakness, but foster passion for the wife of your youth, for the woman of your vows. There are songs that speak the truth with beauty, and I love them. I’m certainly not someone who insists on message music, or message art in general. But messages are everywhere, and I’ll just say that it is much better for me in every way to hear AP’s “Don’t Give Up On Me,” than the “A Little Something on the Side” song

“Don’t Give Up On Me” is perfectly expressive of real, grown-up, married love. Not sentimentalized for a sort of emotional pornography, or celebrating intimacy of body and detachment of committed life. It doesn’t take an advanced degree in a social science to see that everyone does better when mom and dad are committed to each other, faithful, passionate for each other, not lied to about the cost of messing with God’s design.

I think songs like “Don’t Give Up On Me” help us maintain the necessary antithesis with grace, something that’s sometimes pretty hard to do.

I have to mention one other song and that is Sara Groves’ song “Loving a Person.” Sara has many songs that fit in the category of “grown-up, truthful love songs,” but this one may be the best. (Plus it’s right after my favorite Sara song, “Why it Matters.”) Check out the simple profundity of the chorus:

“Hold on to me I’ll hold on to you Let’s find out the beauty of seeing things through”

That’s grown-up love. That’s the kind of song I want my kids to think of when they think of love.  And myself. That’s the song I want stuck in my head while I’m at work, or when I’m walking past a Victoria’s Secret store.

So my question for you, kids, is what grown-up, truthful love songs do you love?  I call “Don’t Give Up On Me” and “Loving a Person.” And I’m fighting the urge to name some other favorites.

What are your favorites? Why?

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