Andrew Hozier-Byrne, more commonly known as Hozier, is a mainstream artist from Ireland with a lot to say. Between growing up in Ireland and growing up with parents who were formally Catholics, Hozier has formed an opinion on Catholicism and religion as a whole. His hit single “Take Me To Church” has been number two on the Billboard Top 100 Chart since December 2014.
As Christ-followers, we should be reaching people in our world. This will usually require knowledge of how our world thinks. Does this mean we should let songs and movies that do not honor God change our beliefs? No. It simply means that in order to reach people, we should know where they’re coming from. “Take Me To Church” has had a lot of airtime and influence all over the world. People must find something about it agreeable, right? Let’s take a look at some of the words and meanings in this song. It will enlighten you on the common world-view of the church.
“my lover’s got humor she’s the giggle at a funeral
knows everybody’s disapproval
Should’ve worshipped her sooner”
— Hozier views the church as a toxic relationship with a woman. He thinks it stands for judgmental qualities, such as judging other peoples’ sexuality.
“If the heavens ever did speak, she’s the last true mouthpiece”
— Here he is doubtful that God is even real. He also mocks the idea that the Bible and other ways God speaks to us are even legitimate.
“Every Sunday’s getting more bleak
Fresh poison each week
‘We were born sick,’ you heard them say it”
— Every Sunday he hears messages that tear him down and “poison” him.
“My church offers no absolutes
She tells me worship in the bedroom”
— He feels his only true faith is practiced in the bedroom, since he does not feel himself practicing true faith in church.
“The only heaven I’ll be sent to
Is when I’m alone with you
I was born sick but I love it”
— The Bible says that we are born sinful creatures. Hozier is saying that he loves his sin, and if it prevents him from getting into the Heaven the church talks about, so be it.
“Command me to be well
Amen. Amen. Amen”
— And after all of this, he adds that the church then commands him to “be well”. His point here is that the church cannot command him to be something he is not.
** Another common theme in this song is sacrifice, which is talked about when he says this woman mentioned at the beginning of the song is a goddess who demands sacrifices and expensive things.
Now, let’s take a step back. Church is a community of people who love each other and grow together. To miss the irresistible qualities of God (our creator) is sad, because if we go to church just for ourselves is that enough? We should be doing life together and we spend time together – but we serve in our community, not just on Sunday. We have reach beyond 4 walls. Living without God and without community is boring. The way we live with God in our lives and the way He convicts us should attract people to us and what we stand for. If you think your convictions are above anyone else, you’re wrong. Jesus gave them to us, and they should draw people in and change them.
The danger with drawing people in is that we can mess it up real quick. Those who are coming to church will start to invite others, and your small group of people starts to grow. But, as soon as something goes wrong, the church goes haywire. Suddenly our convictions seem wishy-washy, no longer being an attractive quality. What can we do to change that? Live out your convictions, and do what God calls you to do. People will start to take note. They’ll again wonder why you’re always so happy.
In John 8 there is a story about a prostitute who was condemned by the Pharisees in front of the people who called themselves Christ followers. Jesus saved her life and made a difference in the way the community lived without hurting the woman or anyone in the community. Imagine being this woman, and knowing what you are laying down for the money. You’re ashamed of what you’ve become. Then, a community of people – people with status – start tearing you down and wanting you to die because of your sins. These people, along with the Pharisees, wanted to stone the prostitute.
That sounds extreme, right? We would never do that to someone! But if you think about it, we do. We may not physically pick up and throw stones at people we see less than us, but we do it in other ways. Those looks you shoot at people obviously struggling in the grocery store, or the sly smile as you passed the man who is homeless, thinking “I’m sure glad that’s not me.” Even the woman at school or work who you talk condescendingly about all the time.
What if you began to lay down the stones and listen to peoples’ stories? What if you realized that you’re not too far off from being right where they are? None of us have power to grow even one measly dandelion, but God does.
So, take me to church – the church that it is supposed to be – a place of love and peace and hope. There is no greater place than in the presence of God that heals you. Jesus is the one that gets in the middle and fixes us.
Lord, teach us how to be the church and how to see culture with compassion like you did.