Hozier- Take Me to Church, or Why Non-Christians Don’t Like Christians pt. 2

Click here to read part 1

I’ve heard Hozier’s Take Me to Church in a number of places in recent days and it’s been on my mind a lot.  The song is amazingly well-written but I am troubled by the message of the song for two reasons.

  1. It offers, yet another, insight into why non-Christians are opposed to the Church, namely feeling ostracized and outcast.
  2. It brought to mind the seemingly antithetical Christian response and the conflict that arises within Christianity.

Take Me to Church

In an interview Hozier said that he didn’t intend for this song to be directed solely toward the Church, but rather to any institution that limits the experience of what it means to be human.  However, like any form of art or writing, authorial intent is often overwritten by the interpretation of the consumer and a song called Take Me to Church with continual references  to Christianity is easily going to be heard  in that way.  A few thoughts on the song itself:

The Chorus

Take me to church
I’ll worship like a dog at the shrine of your lies
I’ll tell you my sins so you can sharpen your knife
Offer me my deathless death
Good God, let me give you my life

Much like the article I shared in Why Non-Christians Don’t  Like Christians the chorus of this song indicates a hurt and rejection felt by the artist.  Lies and betrayal are a common source of hatred toward Christianity and the Church from non-believers, particularly those who grew up in Bible-believing evangelical families.

The Human Condition & the Christian Response

‘We were born sick,’ you heard them say it

My Church offers no absolutes.
She tells me, ‘Worship in the bedroom.’
The only heaven I’ll be sent to
Is when I’m alone with you—

I was born sick,
But I love it
Command me to be well
Amen. Amen. Amen. Amen.

No Masters or Kings
When the Ritual begins
There is no sweeter innocence than our gentle sin

In the madness and soil of that sad earthly scene
Only then I am Human
Only then I am Clean
Amen. Amen. Amen. Amen.

This is where things get tricky.  Is it true that Christians are at times responsible for hurting others through word or deed?  Yes.  Is it also true that people have a propensity and proclivity toward sin and feel attacked when it’s confronted or brought up?  Yes.

We don’t want to hurt people, we want them to feel the love of Jesus and to come to him of their own accord.  But we need to be careful not to swing so far to the other direction that we’re not willing to be open about what sin is and isn’t.  Often times  a truthful word spoken in a genuine and loving way will still be rejected because of a hard heart toward repentance.  We should check our motives before speaking into the life of another, but we should not be afraid to be honest.

“Woe to you when all men speak well of  you, for so their fathers did to the false prophets.” -Jesus Christ; Luke 6:26 (ESV)

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2 comments

  1. He’s clearly separating two thoughts. “‘We were born sick,’ you heard them say it” is directed towards “them” (The Church as a comparison or relatable point of reference to his main topic) he then quickly transitions back to the main thrust of his topic (relationship with a woman) with “My Church offers no absolutes.” (Not “the” Church – “his” church) and then goes on in detail about “his” church – the woman he “should have worshiped sooner”.
    If the song were about the condition of the Church (which it isn’t) he would be spot on. In the rush and rumble of the new order Church to be shiny on the outside, they seem to forget Noah the drunk and his son being cursed for gossip, King David committing adultery and murder yet being a man after God’s own heart, Rahab the Prostitute being entered into the eternal journal “as” Rahab the Prostitute, Saul the murderer and later Paul the wandering fool for Christ in rags and isolated and scarred, and many more, not perfect, poor not wealthy, dirty not in suits, rough not polished – human. As you said, before you speak you might check your own motivations. There might be just a smidge of you in there.

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    • Randy, thanks for the comment. Very good insight on the way the song is written and while I acknoweldged that the artist said his song was broader than simply the church I made the point of authorial intent. An author/songwriter can may write something to convey a message that might be recieved very differently by the people to who read/hear it. Kudos to you for taking the time to break down the lyrics and interpret what is being said but you have to acknowledge that the odds are favorable that most listeners don’t have the time or interest to do that and will hear the words then move on.

      The purpose of this post, as the title states, is to help understand why non-Christians don’t like Christians (an applicable, yet gross generalization to be sure) and to help us move in a direction that is lovingly biblical. One of the greatest things of the Bible is that it’s filled with imperfect people being used by God to do great things for His kingdom on earth. Rahab was not simply “the Prostitute”, she was also directly mentioned in the genealogy of Jesus. King David was an adulterer and a murder, yet was repentant and considered a man after God’s heart. Paul repeatedly speaks of his failures both before and after his conversion. And while Noah drank himself to sleep one-time that we know about there’s no indication that his was a perpetual drunk, and quite frankly, given the circumstances (i.e. being one of the only people left on the earth and what we know of today as survivors guilt) his actions are kind of understandable, though not justifiable.

      And thanks for the reminder to check my motivations. I try to make it a habit to do so before I speak here, at home, at work, or wherever because as a human being in a fallen world. I, like the rest of us, am guilty of all of these things in varying ways and degrees at certain points in time. I just want to do better and help others to do better too.

      Thanks again, and I hope to hear more from you in the future!

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