More Like Falling in Love Part 1: Why Love Frightens Us

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(Last year I wrote this series of posts in response to questions about the meaning of my song, “More Like Falling In Love”. With the re-release of the song on my current remix project, Song Cycles, I thought it was reason enough to revisit, revise, and repost them.)

It ought to be
More like falling in love
Than something to believe in
More like losing my heart
Than giving my allegiance
Caught up, called out, come take a look at me now
It’s like I’m falling in love…

When I first got the idea for this song, it seemed like an obvious enough truth that God prefers passionate devotion to cool intellectual assent; that he desires the kind of worshipful obedience that overflows from a relationship with him instead of the obligatory obedience based on fear and our misguided attempts at self-sufficiency.

It seemed like Christianity 101 to me, maybe almost too obvious if anything. And yet I’ve been surprised to receive more push back on this song than any other I’ve written. Since its release there’s been a steady stream of criticism that the song is, as one person said, “based too much on love” (which is a remarkable statement in my opinion, but that’s probably a topic for another post).

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not necessarily bothered or threatened by any of this – by and large the majority of listeners have embraced the song and I’m grateful – but I’ve been perplexed by the number of people who have expressed concern over it since it seemed like one of the “safest” songs I’ve ever written. I never saw it coming.

I know that I’m not infallible and that of course there may have been another way I could have written the song that might have been more clear, so I don’t mean this as a defensive missive to silence critics. But everything being equal, it’s given me an opportunity to be curious about the different reasons it may have sparked the response that it has.

For starters, I suppose a lot depends on the predisposition a person brings to the song based on what the words “falling in love” mean to them. I can understand their concern if they assume that the kind of love I’m talking about is based on emotionalism – warm, fuzzy feelings about God, reducing Him to a cosmic boyfriend/girlfriend. Maybe they think what I’m talking about here is the same kind of thing our culture tries to pass off as “love”: self-centered, hormone induced, emotionally driven romantic Hollywood “love” that is soft on commitment, sacrifice, or backbone.

Somebody recently asked my wife in casual conversation if she still felt I was her “soul mate” or if she wanted to “switch it up” and see if there was someone else out there for her. I don’t think this person was maliciously trying to undermine our marriage, but the question revealed how much our culture has distorted the meaning of “love”, reducing it to a matter of selfish fulfillment instead of a life-long bond meant to daily ask of two people to die to themselves and serve the one they have chosen to be bound to.

Our very own Andrew Peterson once said that marriage is God’s way of helping husbands die a little each day to our wives because He knows we aren’t man enough to do it all at once. The same could be said for wives, perhaps (I wouldn’t want to disregard their sacrifices). When we allow ourselves to fall in love with someone, we are in a sense choosing the person that we will die for. Of course that means more than simply taking a bullet for them. As heroic as that may be, it is in some ways easier than the more difficult business of a lifetime of hourly dying to our own selfishness and pride, our need to be right, to have the upper hand, and even the instinct to withdraw and protect ourselves from hurt instead of living open-heartedly toward another.

All this to say that if the word “love” conjures up images of sappy Hollywood rom-coms instead of the idea of a call to radically give ourselves away, I can see why some might be troubled by a song that champions salvation and discipleship as something more akin to “falling in love” than anything else. But I can’t help but think that if these same people were to give me the benefit of the doubt and consider that I’m reading the same bible they are, they might just as easily assume that I’m talking about love as scripture defines it, where, among other things, we are told that there is no greater love than the kind that would move someone to lay down their life for another.

Assuming this context, we might understand “falling in love” as the ignition of a fire that will consume our whole life while it lights up the dark, a wonder as terrifying as it is beautiful.

But there were some who, even if they didn’t have an issue with the word “love”, still took me to task for the decidedly romantic language of phrases like “falling in love” and the image of being “swept off my feet”. I get it, I really do, but c’mon – it’s a pop song. We’re already stretching the medium by asking it to convey theological assertions. Besides, the language still works for me – it serves the breezy light-hearted nature of a pop song about love, but it’s also theologically meaningful for me. “Falling in love” and being “swept off our feet”, in my mind at least, imply a loss of control, a sense of being overcome by love.

And I wonder if this is closer to the heart of the issue for some who have taken offense with the song. Many of us (myself included), though we long for it, are threatened by love and have found a thousand little ways to flee from it. For love – rightly understood – is dangerous. Like no other force, love will cut us to our core and peel back even the thorniest of our self-protective layers – exposing the depths of our hearts, revealing what it wants to heal, all the while asking us to trust, and drawing us out of our hiding places. We are defenseless against a Love that won’t stop until it sets us free. And freedom, of course, is nearly as terrifying as love.

Most of us have been prisoners so long (since the day we were born perhaps?) that we become like inmates who grow to love the predictability of the walls of their prison cell. Freedom is disruptive and represents a new way of living that is beyond our control. The more I think about it, the more I wonder if control is what’s really at stake here. In order to love and allow ourselves to be loved we must give up control, we must become vulnerable.

My wife shared a poem with me recently called “The Man Watching” by Rainer Maria Rilke about a coming storm. Here’s part of it:

What we choose to fight is so tiny!
What fights us is so great!
If only we would let ourselves be dominated
as things do by some immense storm,
we would become strong too, and not need names.

When we win it’s with small things,
and the triumph itself makes us small.
What is extraordinary and eternal
does not want to be bent by us.
I mean the Angel who appeared
to the wrestlers of the Old Testament:
when the wrestler’s sinews
grew long like metal strings,
he felt them under his fingers
like chords of deep music.

Whoever was beaten by this Angel
(who often simply declined the fight)
went away proud and strengthened
and great from that harsh hand,
that kneaded him as if to change his shape.
Winning does not tempt that man.
This is how he grows: by being defeated, decisively,
by constantly greater beings.

Love is the greater thing that wants to defeat us, the “magnificent defeat of the human soul at the hands of God” as Frederick Buechner says. Could it be that by insisting on the legalistic and intellectual terms of our religious inclinations we are trying to maintain control of the relationship – making our salvation, sanctification, and redemption about what we do? Are we refusing to be defeated by Love? Are we refusing to be set free?

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.

Mark my words! I, Paul, tell you that if you let yourselves be circumcised, Christ will be of no value to you at all. Again I declare to every man who lets himself be circumcised that he is obligated to obey the whole law. You who are trying to be justified by law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace. But by faith we eagerly await through the Spirit the righteousness for which we hope. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.
Galatians 5:1-6


162 Comments

  1. Nathan Bubna

    Great post and thoughts! Probably my favorite post of yours, Jason.
    One tiny pushback, though. Asking music and lyric to convey theological assertions is no stretch at all. I’d argue it is one of the things songs, like stories, are best at. 🙂

  2. Cara Maat

    There is nothing more painful or more beautiful than coming to face with the real Love. The beginning years of my marriage have taught me this. In my time as a worship leader I remember having TONS of conversatios with people of the church about their issues in the lyrics of the songs we would often choose- lyrics about love seemed to shake individuals more than any thing. This post helped me understand those conversations better.

  3. Tony from Pandora

    There’s a book called ‘The Rule of Four’. It’s a ‘Davinci Code’-esque puzzle/mystery novel… anyway… in it, the author talks about the phrase, “Love conquers all.” It’s most often meant as an optimistically uplifting idea that no matter how low you feel, love can conquer it. But through the novel the protagonist gives the phrase a more Napoleon like ‘conquering all’, or like Sherman’s March, tearing down everything in it’s path. It’s akin to AP’s ‘Love is a Good Thing’…

    I love the new remix of the song, by the way, still waiting for the CD to show up in my mailbox…

  4. EKB

    Jason, I love this post and will share with several specific friends whose hearts I believe it will touch. I was especially touched by: “Like no other force, love will cut us to our core and peel back even the thorniest of our self-protective layers – exposing the depths of our hearts, revealing what it wants to heal, all the while asking us to trust, and drawing us out of our hiding places. We are defenseless against a Love that won’t stop until it sets us free. And freedom, of course, is nearly as terrifying as love.” This puts me in mind of Ephesians when Paul explains Christ’s relationship to the church (and a husband’s to his wife) as giving himself up for her to present her spotless and blameless. How can we become spotless and blameless unless our spots and blame are exposed and cleansed. It is a fearsome thing to be loved by a husband or a God who wants you to be your best and will not rest until He has made you all He wants you to be.

    – and I totally get how this relationship is like falling in love – you are captured, consumed, and raised –

    Thanks for sharing.

  5. Jason Gray

    @jasongray

    Nathan – TOTALLY agree with you, music is a wonderful vehicle for theology. I should clarify: I think it’s stretching the medium to make a feel good, summertime, 3 and 1/2 minute pop song be both radio friendly and theologically significant. But that’s one of my favorite challenges as a writer.

    While working on this last record that I just finished up, I collaborated with some of the Nashville titans of radio pop hooks. I would then take the songs back home with me and try to write lyrics that I would want to sing. It may just be my limitations as a writer, but I feel like I discovered something, and as I’ve talked with other writers they’ve said they feel the same thing, and that is that there seems to be some melodies that are just really hard to write meaty and compelling lyrics to. The hookier it is, the harder it seems it is to write a killer lyric to. Some writers can do it and make it look easy, but I think it’s one of the hardest things to do.

    I had about three songs that had killer hooks, really infectious melodies, and seemed like a sure fire radio hit, but I abandoned them because no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t make them say something that I felt was worth saying. It was so hard! This industry lives and dies by radio, so to pass on those made my label pretty nervous. In the end, though, I think we found the right kind of songs that feel both like legitimate pop songs but that still say something, something that I want to sing about. It’s a narrow path…

    Anyway, all that to say that as a writer trying to work within these narrow parameters, “More Like Falling In Love” felt like one of the few times where it all came together for me personally. I’m pleased with it as a hooky pop song that connected at radio (my most successful song in that regard) and it’s saying something that I love to sing about.

    I’ve got other songs on my record that probably say more and maybe even say it better, but they aren’t pop songs.

  6. heather

    “More Like Falling in Love” is actually the song that introduced me to your music, and for that I am grateful. It is precisely because it made me uncomfortable that I decided to listen to it again… and again… and again…

    At the end of the day, there has been nothing more true for me than, “More than a name, faith, or creed, falling in love with Jesus brought the change in me.” I’m discovering as I go on that indeed, nothing has ever had the power to bring change (that is, East to West change, rather than swapping one set of behaviors for another that is more acceptable in Christian circles) to my heart like the simple, passionate, furious love of my Jesus.

    And for that I am ever so grateful.

  7. Ugly Biscuit

    Paul McCartney blows me away in a similar way. If you look at the words in the chorus of “Silly Love Songs” they are as follows:

    I love you.
    I love you.
    I love you.
    I love you.

    A bit repetitive and pedestrian it would seem.

    Yet when you listen to it, it explodes with an ear-infectious, yummy sound. A sonic masterpiece really. That just blows me away!

  8. Linda K

    I really appreciated the lyrics of this song from the get-go. The first time I heard it, I thought, “YES! This is the kind of vulnerability and trust that Jesus asks of us.” Being a member of a “doctrinally strong” denomination, I can see why some people didn’t get it. But realistically, some Christians are more passionate about their church kitchen than they are about their Lord and Savior.

  9. David

    Jason,

    Good post, and full of healthy discernment about love and emotionalism. Well done.

    To be a friendly critic of your posted lyric, I’d say the objectionable part of it is in the reductionistic words “more like . . . than”. Losing our hearts *is* giving allegiance to whomever we give our hearts. To the extent that the lyric veers from the biblical vision, it does so in a distinctly American kind of way. Growing up here, we imbibe large doses of autonomy and countless anti-king antibodies with our mothers’ milk, so we’re rather crippled in trying to even imagine how one might heed the New Testament call to really love a lawful sovereign, to whom we owe absolute allegiance. To re-tune our imaginations to the biblical way of thinking about this, Tolkien on loving submission to kings — say, Faramir’s submission to Aragorn — might go a long way.

    Cheers,
    David

  10. Julie

    As our early years in marriage were particularly difficult, I began to despise the phrase “falling in love”. It felt like a trick. The phrase did it’s work to lure us to a place of irrevocable commitment, then the landscape around me rapidly began to change. The choice to love felt unnatural and unfair. At first. But as I slowly began to understand what it meant to die to self, with ever small death came the first tastes of real life. While watching my 6 year old daughter struggle to float on her back (somewhat of an oxymoron) during her first swimming lessons, I was stopped. She was me. I feel like I need to fight – to protect, to be right, to be safe. It is only when I relax – or allow myself to fall, that I have experienced true joy. With that being said, I’m once again a fan of “falling in love”. Thank you for pouring your heart into your music.

  11. Dan Kulp

    I often ponder the struggle of the message vs the media. Songs written for radio rather than writing the songs you want to hear (or perform). Truly, congrats on walking that line; you have done both.

    The business does live & die by the radio which causes this immediate record label push of “what will be playable”. As a listener it can leave a taste of shallow, formulaic, or insincere. Then occassionally there is that nugget that is playable and cuts with truth and sincerity.

    Then at the end of the month you (the artist) have to pay bills. Food & clothes aren’t bought with prima donna music ideals, they’re bought with cash.

    Also thinking in general to any “greatest hits” album. And how they tend to not to be a collection of songs deep fans think best. They are a collection of radio hits. Popular songs does not necessarily mean best songs. The radio hit used to be a great way to have fans buy the album and hear the rest of the material. I don’t know how that works in an i-tunes age.

    As my personal taste and buying has changed, I find the artists I like and buy only their stuff and am slow to change. I trust ppl of similar taste to help me hear new music which moves at slower pace than the weekly top 40. I rarely listen to radio, again in an i-tunes age how do you break to new listeners that have given up on radio. And I can’t even claim that, when I want to give up on radio I get hit with “Lead Me”.

    Toss in a few other factors. The American Idol factor of “I’m a talent and someday you’ll see how special I am” when the person can’t sing to the level of being delusional. OR the contrary of “I can’t perform unless the green room has 4 bottles of iced Evian, 41 orange jellybeans and 42 red jellybeans.”

    My head spins at it, but in a strangely fun way. (especially as a sit in an engineering cubicle.)

    I don’t envy any of the rabbitroom (or extended) performers who have to walk the lines of integrity (to music, truth, themselves and their fans) and taking the easy path.

  12. Chris

    Jason,
    Thanks for your music and this post; I applaud your dedication to conveying truth through song, and it was helpful hearing from you what some of your motivations were when writing this song.
    I’ll have to admit that I’m one who was somewhat frustrated with the song when I first heard it, but not because of the references to love and affection; I think that love really is at the heart of the gospel. My problem is really just with one line of the song: “more like falling in love than something to believe in.” It seems that this line bifurcates affection and belief as if one is more important than the other. Again, I think that having a right affection toward God is essential for the Christian, but affection (even toward God) is useless if it’s detached from proper belief.
    In Romans 10:2, Paul writes that the Jews had a “zeal for God” but that it didn’t matter because it was “not according to knowledge.” Zeal, or passion, must be accompanied by knowledge. If we don’t understand who Jesus is and what he’s accomplished for us, it does us no good to “fall in love” with him. Our experience of loving Christ is dependent upon believing the gospel properly. Maybe I’m misinterpreting you there, but I guess I would just disagree with how you worded that line; it seems like an inappropriate distinction.
    Again, I appreciate your music and this post and hope you understand my critique.

  13. JWitmer

    The advice our culture offers for marriage is “both people give 50%, and compromise so that both can get what they want.”

    But that’s not real love, and it’s a stinky way to relate. You’ll have more fights over who gave more, and deserves more… ugh.

    If that’s what people hear when we talk about being in love with God, no wonder they react badly. It has a disturbing similarity to the attitude of those who feel God gets His dues when we go to church.

    Real love is when both parties give 110% without expecting anything in return. Our Jesus already did that. And thankful hearts can move us toward doing the same for Him, just as love can move man and wife together, through self-death and into a place that is bigger on the inside than on the outside.

  14. Sarah Bergey

    I absolutely love the song and this post is amazing. One thing I might like to add to this is that, well, God is defined as love, yes? He can even be refered to as “Love”. So, “falling in love” could also be thought of as falling into the arms of God. Falling into a definite need and desire to do what He wants and make Him happy and proud of us. That’s what “More Like Falling In Love” means to me. More than just “giving my allegiance” – more than forced loyalty. A *wish* to be loyal, and learning to love Him as much as He loves us. It’s gotta be “more like falling in love, than something to believe in.” Believing is the same as just not doubting. You can easily believe in something/someone without falling in love with it/them. “Falling in love” is more than believing. It’s trusting and putting faith in and living for and dying for.

    You said that someone said the song was “based too much on love”. That isn’t even possible. If God IS love, then how can there ever be “too much” of it? That’s like saying that God is based too much on love. Which is impossible and kinda of messed up thinking, in my mind.

    Being swept off my feet by love sounds like a wonderful idea, even in this world with all of our different opinions of what love really is. How much greater would it be, then, to be
    “swept off our feet” by the Love of God? A love that we can always trust and know is pure and true.

    But then maybe my theology is a little weird. After all, I’m only 15. I’m just learning. What do I know?

    Also, about the radio pop songs thing: my life has seriously been changed my Christian radio. “I Am New” is the most recent addition to the list of songs that have truly changed my life. Also on that list are songs by Mark Schultz, Bebo Norman, and Kutless, to name a few. I don’t know where I’d be without Christian radio. So.. I guess I’m just trying to say that deep theology can really be conveyed even through a fun pop song.
    And now, after reading this post, I really must buy “Everything Sad Is Coming Untrue” and I can’t wait till I have the money for it! =)

  15. Rob Y

    Chris,

    Here’s how I see it. Many things in Scripture are held in balance, with one aspect of Truth being emphasized more in some passages than others. I don’t think Jason is separating love from knowledge any more than Paul is in Romans 10:2. Maybe in response to our culture’s distorted beliefs about love, the church has over-emphasized the importance of right beliefs. “More Like Falling in Love” helps nudge me back towards a heart-felt love for God.

    A friend of mine tells of an elderly Christian lady he knew. He once asked her “What is a Christian?” She responded, “Well, I suppose a Christian is somebody who, if Jesus walked into this room right now, would be overjoyed to see Him.” That’s one of the best (and simplest) definitions of a Christian I’ve ever heard.

  16. BuckBuck the Nordic Wonderduck

    Jason, here’s a theory that might be totally wrong…

    I’m a theology nerd and I tend to analyze truth obsessively. My kids get frustrated about this, because I’m always parsing out the nuances of lyrics (secular as well as sacred), and dicing sermons into quarks.

    Because of these tendencies, I can empathize with folks who cry “foul” when love talk starts to get emotive. All my life, I have been taught to trust my brain over my heart when it comes to God.

    For years, the post-Enlightenment church marched into culture armed with logical arguments. This wasn’t a bad thing in itself, because God has gifted us with organized truth. And there are times when our emotions can get skewed, so we need to trust the truth of Scripture first. However, I think sometimes we drill the idea into our children (and disciples) that love, hope, and faith are things we “will” INSTEAD OF feel. And that can be a dangerous swing too far.

    Is it just my faulty memory, or is there a quote by Lewis in _The Four Loves_ about a newly married couple more interested in a how-to manual sitting on the nightstand than they are in one another? I think that’s what some of us have become. Brains at the expense of souls.

    The past few months have been life-changing for me. In many ways, I feel like I am beginning to understand the gospel for the first time. That has changed how I emote with God.

    For years, I wasn’t able to feel love for God because I didn’t understand how radically the gospel had changed my identity. I knew Jesus had saved me eternally, but I tried to fix the broken stuff about my daily life using my own strength. (Gal 3:3). That didn’t work in Paul’s time, and it doesn’t work now.

    As a result of my inevitable failure, I would approach God with a heart full of shame. I saw myself as a wretch. Most of the theology I read confirmed that I was a wretch. So, I dreaded approaching Someone I knew to be holy.

    My old quiet time journals are what you might expect from a perfectionist — pages, and pages, and pages of writing that was rarely ever more than apologies, mournings, grievings, and confessions. I would grovel and try to outguess the ways that God was furious with me. I would promise to do better. I would resolve and discipline myself toward change.

    I knew God would let me in heaven, but I felt like He was sort of angry and disgusted with me until then.

    It’s very hard to fall in love with someone when that’s your context. An essential part of the “falling in love” emotion is knowing that you are lovable in return, and that was the very last thing in the world I felt. I felt like an ugly beast.

    I wonder if some of those folks who are up in arms over this song have some of these same struggles? The suggestion that we could simply run to God and embrace Him seems naïve… even deeply abrasive when you are caught in a cognitive/performance cycle like I was. I remember feeling angry (at times) with people who were giddy about their love for God. Dogs who are beaten must learn not to shrink from a hand raised to pet them.

    Folks like I used to be are comfortable with the arm’s-length math of God’s acceptance. But the heart stuff of adoring a God who is angry with us… how can we feel anything but fear?

    This is why I love your song “I Am New” as a companion piece to this song. I think we have to understand… REALLY UNDERSTAND… our sufficiency in Christ before we can feel closeness to God. We have to have a tactile grasp on the comprehensive newness we have been given — in the now — before we can ever begin to love Him in return.

  17. April

    “When we allow ourselves to fall in love with someone, we are in a sense choosing the person that we will die for.” Wow.
    Thank you for this beautiful post. I really like “More Like Falling in Love” because I need the reminder that the gospel starts and ends with love. Love lasts longer, stands stronger and rings truer than legalism or simple intellectual assent. As C.S. Lewis wrote, “longing transforms obedience as gradually as the tide lifts a grounded ship.”

  18. Loren

    I’ve been studying 1 Peter this winter and God has worked on my heart in so many ways, one of which has been fleshing out the truth of His amazing, overwhelming love for me. In 1 Peter 1:23 Peter exhorts the believers to “fervently love” one another now that their hearts have been purified by the Word. We delved into “fervently love” and not surprisingly “love” is “agapao” the unconditional love that is a “deliberate choice to delight in someone.” “Fervently” was from “ektenos” which literally means to stretch a muscle as far as it can possibly go. It was such a vivid picture and has been a tangible, beautiful thing as I’ve seen God giving me the ability to “fervently love”–so much more than an intellectual love, so much more than a touchy-feely “Oh we just all get along” love. It’s transforming and life-altering…and I’m “falling in love” with God more as a result.

  19. Mike

    I am convinced that the Church only loves to the degree that we believe we are loved. Therein lies the problem. We become the god that we worship. If we worship a God of love we are loving. If we worship a wrathful, judgmental God we become wrathful and judgmental. Which do you think the Church most resembles?

  20. Fellow Traveler

    Hmmmm…

    I get what you’re saying.

    But I have to say…

    I’m sticking with Rich and “The Love of God” myself. 🙂

  21. Scott Sprinkle

    I am always intimidated to post here; everyone seems so literate and articulate that I just shy away from saying anything. I am putting those feelings aside today, though, because I have been wrestling with “More Like Falling in Love” this very week. First I would like to say to you, Jason, how much I really enjoy your music. “All the Lovely Losers” (the entire album) was a companion to me during a really difficult time in my life. So, I would also like to say thank you for opening your heart through music.

    I digress, though. My mp3 player stays on shuffle constantly (I used to listen to albums in their entireity, but with two little girls it just doesn’t happen). In my travels of the last week, “More Like Falling in Love” has popped up several times. Each time I have listened to the song, I have experienced a different reaction. Sometimes I have wholeheartedly agreed with the statements and sentiment of the song; sometimes I have recoiled from it and thought to myself “nope. . .too easy!”.

    When I think about it, however, I think the problem the song poses is not really some fault on your part, but rather has more to do with the receptivity of the listener. I can see the difficulty in trying to place deep theological truths within the confines of a pop song. I can see how people may interpret “falling in love” as a secularized term, instead of through the lens of scripture. But, honestly, I think it comes down to this: Love that is real and cleansing, healing and freeing, holy and powerful scares the pants off people (okay, me). Like Buck, I am one who has always been caught in the “cognitive/performance cycle”. But I keep getting drawn back to the Lord Jesus and to the teaching that he is the vine and we are the branches. When I stop to fully consider this, to really let that idea seep into the cold places of my heart, following Jesus does indeed seem “more like falling in love than something to believe in/more like losing my heart than giving my allegiance.”

  22. John

    Jason, I think you and your music are fantastic. As one who works in Christian radio, I am not in the slightest surprised to see someone criticize your lyrics. I’ve heard some of the kookiest criticisms from listeners about stuff that just doesn’t matter. What I have found is that the criticism usually comes about because of something with which that person struggles. I think you hit the nail on the head with the last point. There are some Christian who are stuck in “religion,” so the idea of “falling in love” with God doesn’t make sense. They are going to criticize because it is a concept that threatens them and puts God outside of the box in which they have placed him. But to those who understand what a “relationship” with God is, then falling in love totally makes sense. You are such a good painter with words, and I think the imagery of being swept off my feet as I fall in love with the very one who is the author of love is indeed beautiful. You are refreshing, and don’t let the critics get the best of you. Satan loves to use them to throw darts and throw us off track. God is blessing your music, and I see it all the time based on listener feedback. As long as you’re in tune with Him, he’ll give you the right tunes to sing. 🙂

  23. Leighton

    Gotta say that I personally am in total agreement with Jason.

    @The Nordic Ducky, you said: “It’s very hard to fall in love with someone when that’s your context. An essential part of the “falling in love” emotion is knowing that you are lovable in return, and that was the very last thing in the world I felt. I felt like an ugly beast.”

    Well, I don’t know about you but falling in love has a ton to do with the feeling that you don’t DESERVE to be loved but are. It’s a dream come true. That’s the way it is with God. We certainly don’t deserve to be loved, but yet we are, with a love that goes beyond anything imaginable.

    – Leighton

  24. Jen

    Rob Y makes an excellent point… I’m finding more and more that faith comes with a lot of paradox and tension. There’s room for love and allegiance, feeling and knowledge, and a host of other things we can argue about. This song is just one facet of it. (the fact that it’s a fun pop song that radio can play is a bonus. =))

    Maybe I’m reading too much into it, but I see the three singles working together as a trilogy. “For the First Time Again” was the first song I heard by Jason (through radio, by the way ;)), and it really struck me because it was where I was in life… It has a longing for faith to seem real and alive again, maybe even represents feeling stuck in a life of religion and rules without love? “More like Falling in Love” is the turning point, and “I Am New” celebrates new life and identity in Christ. They all offer something different, but come together as a bigger story of grace.

    As for radio, I’m glad there are artists like Jason that understand the needs of radio but only make music they believe in. It warms my heart to hear any of his songs on the air (and AP’s “dancing in the minefields” too!) because I know they put so much into their music, and I hope more casual listeners will catch that too and become new fans.

    Sarah, Christian radio changed my life when I was 15 too. In many ways. It makes me happy to see that. =)

    Scott, I’m glad you shared! Don’t be intimidated. Just jump in like you know what you’re doing. 😉 The Room is a friendly place!

  25. Michelle R. Wood

    Having not heard the song, read the lyrics, or even heard of the artist before (sorry Jason!), I can’t rightly comment on the controversy, though it sounds similar to the silly controversy inspired by Chris Rice’s “The Cartoon Song” a few years back. As you say, pop songs are just that, and sometimes its a stetch to read the same meaning into them you would in a doctorate. Different medium, different methods, different words, same God, same love, same message (1 Corinthians 9:19-23).

    I’d like to quibble with one sentence, though, if I may (sorry again, I have a bad habit of being devil’s advocate in any discussion): “God prefers passionate devotion to cool intellectual assent;”

    I have no issue with the song’s concept of falling in love, or with the imagery of Christ as the beloved Bridegroom (including the erotic Song of Solomon), or any other love imagery whatsover. I believe it. However, I do have a problem when I’m told that my fevor fo God, if not expressed in the same way as others, is somehow … lacking. I don’t think that’s what you or others are trying to say, Jason, but sometimes that’s how it comes across.

    I think God has a phenomenal creative spirit, which has crafted each with specific talents, personalities, and gifts. Some he created with an outgoing personality, overflowing with joie de vire that just inspires with its intensity. But some of us are more plodders, thinking through things, more staid than restive. I think there is room for both personalities in God’s family. Look at Enoch; unlike the warriors and poets the early parts of Genesis is full of, the most the Bible says is that “Enoch walked faithfully with God; then he was no more, because God took him away.” He didn’t preach 100 years or survive a flood like Noah, lead his people out of bondage like Moses, or spiritually battle evil Kings and prohpets like Elijah. Instead, I get the impression he quietly lived his life in tandem with God.

    Now, that’s interepretation, of course, I don’t have a secret expose on Enoch’s life. Still, I think sometimes a person’s choice to quietly live in communion with God is just as passionate an action as the most fiery preacher or brave martyr. Just because a person isn’t demonstrative or outwardly “passionate” does not mean the person doesn’t have firm assurance of God’s love or mercy. Sometimes it means that’s just the way that person walks with God.

  26. Heather Carrillo

    “it seemed like an obvious enough truth that God prefers passionate devotion to cool intellectual assent” Why is intellectual assent always juxtaposed with passionate devotion. I have trouble believing they can’t be both.

    As for the song itself (I haven’t heard it so take what I’m saying with a grain of salt, please), reading the lyrics you’ve posted there, I’ll admit it put me off as well. And perhaps it is the use of the word “in” in the phrase “falling in love.” Love has long ago been separated for me from “in love.” “In love” is the Hollywood kind and God is Love. I imagine I’m not alone in this.

    C.S. Lewis in “Mere Christianity” says the following: “Being in love is a good thing, but it is not the best thing. There are many things below it, but there are also many things above it. You cannot make it the basis of a whole life. It is a noble feeling, but it is still a feeling. Now no feeling can be relied on to last in its full intensity, or even to last at all. Knowledge can last, principles can last, habits can last; but feelings come and go. And in fact, whatever people say, the state called “being in love” usually does not last. If the old fairy-tale ending “They lived happily ever after” is taken to mean “They felt for the next fifty years exactly as they felt the day before they were married,” then it says what probably was never was or ever could be true, and would be highly undesirable if it were. Who could bear to live in that excitement for even five years? What would become of your work, your appetite, your sleep, your friendships? But, of course, ceasing to be “in love” need not mean ceasing to love. Love in this second sense — love as distinct from “being in love” is not merely a feeling. It is a deep unity, maintained by the will and deliberately strengthened by habit; reinforced by (in Christian marriages) the grace which both ask, and receive, from God.”

    I think maybe that is why you have received some pushback from your fans over this song. Just a thought anyway.

  27. BuckBuck the Nordic Wonderduck

    Leighton, I agree. We could never deserve His love. The concept I am explaining is actually the polar opposite of “deserving His love.” 🙂 Let me give you a word picture.

    We garden, and every year I try to work some composted horse manure into the soil. When I am done with the day’s work, I’m not only sweaty but also streaked with dookie.

    Inevitably, my sweet husband will try to hug me as I walk to the house. Automatically, I recoil.

    The last thing I want when I am stinky and covered in horse manure is to be embraced. Emotionally, I just can’t jump into a big old two-way smooch when I am nasty, because I am so self-conscious about how icky I am.

    My husband loves me regardless. He would kiss me regardless. Yet my emotions can’t jump into the game until I get a shower.

    This is not a perfect analogy, but there are some similarities to how I once lived spiritually. When I tried to engage with God as a perfectionist, I could only focus on my failures. I prayed every day like I was covered in horse poop, self-conscious, trying to berate myself into a better holiness.

    Many times, I would push God away until I felt like I had cleaned myself up. (Which, of course, never could happen.) I thought humility and piety meant slinking about in fear, shamefully hating myself like a slave before a King. I didn’t understand how proud it was to operate like this. (Now I see that this is a common struggle, because Galatians 3:3 addresses it directly.)

    During this time, I was sometimes angry with those who flippantly talked about loving God. I felt like they didn’t understand how holy He was and how awful we were. If they understood, they would be frightened and sober like I was.

    Because I was so obsessed with my own dirt, I could only fear God during our times together. I tried to make myself love Him because I knew I should, but I was too focused on my successes and failures to really feel anything else.

    Just like my husband, I think God loved me even when I was dirty and striving. His constant affection was never in question. However, I couldn’t love Him back as long as I loved my own strength more. He was holy, and I felt that. Taking my inadequacy into that environment burned.

    When I finally realized that as part of His love, God had cleaned me up, restored me, and made me beautiful… well, that changed everything. The tenor of our time together changed immediately. Praise came naturally, because it was so evident that I could never have deserved what He had given me freely. I was finally able to be honest about my mistakes, without being obsessed by them — I knew they were absorbed into the context of His unshakable adequacy.

    I am still learning about all of this, so I’m not sure all my words are spot on. But I do know that it’s a profound change to feel love for God.

    I know now that God doesn’t hug me like a dirty pig, trying to smile about it. I am literally infused with the righteousness of Christ, through no effort of my own, I am wholly clean, washed behind the ears, fragrant. So, when He looks at me, He sees the daughter-beauty Jesus has purchased and given to me.

    And let me tell you, I hug back! Woohoo!!! It makes love gush out of my fingertips and ears every time I think on it.

  28. Leighton

    @Ducky,

    I think personally, that we are talking about two different things. I’m talking about the ‘Falling in’ part of love. Falling in love is not about being able to reciprocate fully, it is about the emotion of feeling very loved. I can feel more loved when someone loves me when I’m ‘dirty’, looking through my imperfections. That’s what the song is about.

    – Leighton

  29. Michelle R. Wood

    @Heather Carrillo: Thank you for that quote by C.S. Lewis (which I whole-heartedly agree with), and for this one of your own: “Why is intellectual assent always juxtaposed with passionate devotion. I have trouble believing they can’t be both.”

    You expressed in a few sentences what I tried to in far too many paragraphs. For those of us not so, er, passionate, I thank you.

  30. Heather Carrillo

    @Michelle R. Wood
    Thank you. Even as you quote me I realize that I used “juxtaposed” in the wrong sense and the words “why can’t they be both” seems sort of flimsy and not well put, but I’m glad you got my drift. 🙂
    I was attempting to be concerned over a dichotomy that I don’t believe is there. That in fact, passionate devotion and intellectual assent are different sides of the same coin and must co-exist.

  31. BuckBuck the Nordic Wonderduck

    Perhaps God works differently in different hearts. However, understanding our cleansing can absolutely be central to “falling in love” with Jesus.

    Scripture seems to teach this pretty clearly. Jesus said that the one who has been forgiven much loves much. He knew the spontaneous love that rises when someone has come to the end of his/her own strength and is simply GIVEN newness.

    The demoniac of Mark 5 BEGS to go with the Savior who has made him new. “In love” is pulsing through those chain-scarred wrists: “Savior! Let me go wherever You go, because You changed me!”

    Zoom out and watch the life of Christ, and you will see how this basic principle is made manifest over and over in a plethora of different ways. The dead are made alive. Water becomes wine. The lame walk. The blood flow that has made a woman “unclean” for decades ceases. The blind see.

    Encounters with Jesus make broken things whole. He makes lesser things more. He doesn’t touch things and leave them dirty, unless we refuse His cleansing.

    Look at Saul. He persecutes, then Jesus cleanses Him. He spent the rest of his life in love because of it, and his ministry flowed out of that testimony: I was Saul, now I am Paul.

    To think that we could ever be “in love” with Jesus, in any other context than gratitude for His redemption seems very odd to me now that I have experienced it. Perhaps it can happen. I don’t know.

    But I’m almost 40, I’ve been in church my whole life, and I’ve seen many thousands of people try to love God. I’ve watched thinkers groan, and strain, and prove, and read books, and debate, and blow all colors of theological smoke out their ears telling people how silly it is to expect to feel love for God. They teach that love is only ever something we commit to DOING because … well, I think it’s because some of these guys wouldn’t know FEELING love for God if it smacked them upside their self-satisfied talking heads. I’m saying this pointing to myself. I was one of them.

    They resent the idea that loving the Divine could be as happy and tactile a thing as a child splashing in rain puddles, because despite all their study and effort, they can’t seem to MAKE it happen in their own hearts. They can only regulate and huff about the grim profundity of the matter, making theories that are nearly as life-changing as knowing the ingredients of Spam.

    Their lectures drone on while a drug addict with simple speech and a simpler mind finds Damascus on Main Street. This guy believes it when God changes his name from Saul to Paul. He believes it’s true that God “dwells in the halls of his heart.” He believes he’s been made “a priest and a prince in the Kingdom of God.” (AP)

    And suddenly he’s dancing giddy in love. Telling everyone who will listen. It’s free! It’s good! I’m new!

    Different temperaments will likely process this cleansing differently. I’m not advocating for sensationalism. I’m just saying that it’s quite possible to feel “in love” with Jesus. And that for at least some folks, that experience can be tightly connected to understanding the profound gift of our new identity.

    Blessings,
    Becca

  32. Heather Carrillo

    @Becca
    This language of “in love” is nowhere to be found in the bible or the early church fathers. It’s a very modern, and very western construct. In fact, it is believed to have originated from England in the 1400s and merely referred to the giddy silly feeling of being attracted to someone. I hope my relationship with my God is not like that.

    In order to love someone you must know them, and trust them. You have to read God’s word and know him (with your mind) and that knowledge grows into a very consuming love, and not a “falling in love” sort of love. That phrase just has way too much sentimental baggage that will not leave it.

    I’d caution you (in a highly respectful sort of way) against using these inflammatory words to describe men and women who work very hard trying to learn more and more about the Lord. I believe with all my heart that their love for the Lord is just as true as your own. I am unsure of what churches you’ve been to, but I certainly don’t know anyone who claims you can’t “feel” God. But I do think it’s hard and next to impossible to “feel” God all the time. In those moments it is usually my firm and unshakeable knowledge of a God who is there that sustains me. If I thought I was supposed to be “falling in love with God” all the time I would despair.

    I’m very confused about your reference to Paul. It’s not established that his thorn in the flesh was a speech impediment and if you read his sermons in Acts it’s very clear he was not simple-minded. He was a leader among the Pharisees. I don’t think the guy was just splashing around in puddles all day.

    Above all I don’t think it’s fair to say love vs. intellect. Love wins! (Pun oh-so-very-much-unintended) I think we have to get out of this dichotomy we keep putting up for ourselves. We are after all told by Christ ““You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.” (my emphasis) Matt. 22: 37

  33. UTR Dave

    @Jason – Good thoughts in your #6 comment. Randall G. & I talked for almost 2 hours about that very subject last month. Why did I feel a soul connection to “Shout to the Lord” in the mid 90’s, but almost despise singing it now?

    I was arguing the repetition killed it. Repetition kills everything… even DisneyWorld. Randall argued — in line with Jason — that there is something intrinsically temporary and shallow about Pop music. Maybe this is understood by the brilliant songwriters that hang around these parts… but I’m still trying to wrap my head around the whole topic.

    Is the problem with “theology in pop” that the hooks don’t make room for depth…. or is it that the hooks demand repetition. The hookier the hook the more it will be played on radio, and the more we are drawn to listen again & again. Does the hook kill the theology or does the repetition that the hook demands kill the theology?

  34. BuckBuck the Nordic Wonderduck

    Heather.

    The last “Saul/Paul” reference in my post wasn’t referring to the Biblical Paul. I was talking about a modern man who has had his own restoration experience. It was a metaphor.

    For me, this is not about love vs. intellect. Not at all. It’s not one or the other.

    However, because we are products of the Enlightenment, many church goers have been taught that the intellect can stand alone. There is a terrible danger in that.

    I have often experienced intellect without love in the church. Profusely, in fact. I am very glad to hear that you have not.

    “Love” is a confusing term to transfer to our culture. So is the idea of feeling “in love.”

    Not only are there many TYPES of love (C.S. Lewis’ _The Four Loves_ explores the complexity of this term, if you have never read it), but our modern society teaches us that being “in love” is little more than a fickle tingling in the toes.

    That is NOT how I am using the term. I’m talking about living in a state of responsiveness (emotional as well as intellectual) because we have been made children.

    Of course, the intellect matters. And faith based only on emotion often leads to heresy. However, when religion is reduced only to an act of the intellect (which I have seen repeatedly) it quickly becomes hollow.

    When we are forgiven much, we love much. This is the way Christ told us things work.

  35. Heather Carrillo

    @Becca
    Ah ok. Sincerest of apologies. I was obviously very confused. Thanks for clearing up the Paul issue. 🙂

    Yes, I have not experienced intellect over love at all really. I’ve experienced either the complete other direction (as conveyed in the aformentioned song “More like falling in love/Than something to believe in/More like losing my heart/Than giving my allegiance”) or the misguided belief that because people (often in the reformed camp, which I belong to) can sit around for three hours debating one greek word and how it slightly colors a new shade of meaning for the aseity of Christ (or something abstract like that) means they don’t love Him.

    “Love” though abused in our culture (incidentally by the introduction of phrases like “falling in love”) still holds its own. Used both biblically and historically and including action as well as feeling, it can be defended. “Falling in love” however IS nothing more than the fickle tingling in our toes. We can attempt to redefine it, but that is what it is. Words and phrases DO evolve and take on a new meaning, but we can’t just force them to do so.

  36. Leighton

    Becca, (Buckbuck)

    I agree that Jesus’ sacrifice is certainly one of the many things that show his undeserved love for us, while at the same time cleaning us. 😀

    We basically agree. lol

    – Leighton

    BTW, random question, anyone here listen to Tenth Avenue North? Best Christian band ever. Of course I love Jason Gray and AP, but I’m allowed to pick favorites. 😉

  37. BuckBuck the Nordic Wonderduck

    Heather, I really think we are using the terms differently.

    “In love” for me certainly goes beyond tingling toes. In my heart, it is more like “hearts unfold like flowers before Thee.” It is more like the worship of Bach’s music, Soli Deo Gloria.”

    Your _Love Wins_ comment made me curious… if you’re concerned about God-is-love, feel-good universalism, I understand. But that is not at all what I’m advocating.

  38. Heather Carrillo

    @Becca
    I’m afraid you can’t just do that. We can’t have a discussion if we are using words as anything we want them to be. Words mean something. Maybe the “flowers unfolding” is what you think of when you hear the phrase “falling in love” but the phrase was originally coined specifically for that “fickle tingling in our toes.” And the meaning has never changed. An artist can’t just throw in a phrase like that and expect everyone (perhaps aside from yourself) to understand a meaning completely different from the original and what is still used to this day.

    This was the “Love Wins” thing in context: “Above all I don’t think it’s fair to say love vs. intellect. Love wins! (Pun oh-so-very-much-unintended) I think we have to get out of this dichotomy we keep putting up for ourselves. We are after all told by Christ ““You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.” (my emphasis) Matt. 22: 37”

    I actually was not making a Rob Bell pun there, but I think when one use phrases like “falling in love,” one is turning the beauty of God’s love for us and the amazing awestruck love we can feel for God into something silly and trivial. Because again “falling in love” was coined to represent something silly and trivial and at no time in history until the present day has this been changed.

  39. Heather Carrillo

    Excuse me. I misquoted you…”hearts unfolding LIKE flowers” Not flowers unfolding. I hope you don’t think I was being mocking there. I really did remember your quote being “flowers unfolding.”

  40. Fellow Traveler

    Re the long conversation that’s been going on between Becca and Heather: My experience is that the smartest and most knowledgeable people I know when it comes to Christianity are also some of the most concerned with reaching and helping others.

    You can find writers out there like Bill Craig, Gary Habermas, and many more who can debate and reason with the best of them but write and speak with the express purpose of strengthening the faith of believers and persuading non-believers. These are philosophers, scientists, historians… Paul Maier is a Christian historian who’s one of the most highly respected in his field, and I know him personally. Yes, he is a living legend and you can bet your bottom dollar that he knows his stuff, but he is also a joy to be around and a very warm, funny guy.

    I haven’t met the people Becca has met, but I can say that I’ve met many people who would definitely fall into the “Christian intellectuals” category, and I’m just left somewhat puzzled by her characterizations.

  41. BuckBuck the Nordic Wonderduck

    Hearts unfold like flowers before Thee. Those words are from the hymn _Ode to Joy._ 🙂

    I love thinkers like Tim Keller. C.S. Lewis. Ravi Zacharaias. I’ve enjoyed certain writings by Chesterton and John Piper. Those are not the sorts of guys I’m talking about.

    I’m talking about the biting stuff that happens when folks start to get smug and ugly about what they’ve learned. I’m talking about when thinking heads start trying to hurt, insult, and demean other Christians with their own flesh-powered “knowledge” instead of being empowered by God. You can just tell something is way off.

    I’m really thankful if you guys have never experienced this. It’s not a pretty thing to watch.

    Heather, I haven’t looked up the etymology of the term “in love” in the Oxford English Dictionary. I’d love to have the big one at home, but I can’t afford it yet. If you have access to one and can trace it back to tingly toes, I’m OK with picking a different term.

    I consider myself in love with my husband. I have been for twenty years. He makes more than my toes tingle. His love stimulates my mind, my heart, my friendship, my will… I call what I feel for him being in love. It’s wonderful whatever it is.

    But maybe there’s a more appropriate word. It’s OK if you can find one.

    Funny how offensive that term is. Are you guys married? Did your parents stay “in love”?

  42. Heather Carrillo

    I’m familiar with the hymn. I just read too fast. Serves me right for rushing through what you had to say.

    Well, I guess I just think that feelings can be “flesh-powered” too, especially when “in love” is used. Outside of my feelings on the phrase itself though, I think perhaps the push-back from Jason’s fans over this song (and I have read the words now) is that it SEEMS to present a false dichotomy. You are saying you don’t believe in this dichotomy, and I believe you. But the song itself seems to place love OVER intellect, instead of side by side.

    I can’t say for absolutely certain my etymology is correct, just fairly sure. I also have no ability to purchase an Oxford English Dictionary. (wouldn’t that be exciting?) From everything I’m finding online (and filtering for legitimacy) it seems the first meaning of the term was a pejorative one for something very trite.

    Heh…it does seem to be a bigger deal than the poor little phrase can take, doesn’t it? I guess if one is dealing with something seen as trite and applies it to something Holy and Awe-Inspiring and Amazing, it is brought down a bit for some people (me) and we get our hackles up. 🙂

    I am unmarried and I’m assuming that due to just personality my parents would say that they loved eachother rather than say they are “in love.” I’ll repost my Lewis quote which talks about the difference WAY better than I can…of course. From Mere Christianity: “Being in love is a good thing, but it is not the best thing. There are many things below it, but there are also many things above it. You cannot make it the basis of a whole life. It is a noble feeling, but it is still a feeling. Now no feeling can be relied on to last in its full intensity, or even to last at all. Knowledge can last, principles can last, habits can last; but feelings come and go. And in fact, whatever people say, the state called “being in love” usually does not last. If the old fairy-tale ending “They lived happily ever after” is taken to mean “They felt for the next fifty years exactly as they felt the day before they were married,” then it says what probably was never was or ever could be true, and would be highly undesirable if it were. Who could bear to live in that excitement for even five years? What would become of your work, your appetite, your sleep, your friendships? But, of course, ceasing to be “in love” need not mean ceasing to love. Love in this second sense — love as distinct from “being in love” is not merely a feeling. It is a deep unity, maintained by the will and deliberately strengthened by habit; reinforced by (in Christian marriages) the grace which both ask, and receive, from God.”

  43. Pete Peterson

    @pete

    Heather said:

    “I think when one use phrases like “falling in love,” one is turning the beauty of God’s love for us and the amazing awestruck love we can feel for God into something silly and trivial. ”

    If this is truly what you are hearing then this strikes me as an almost willful and deliberate misreading of Jason’s song. Consider me baffled.

  44. Heather Carrillo

    Well, sir, I don’t know how to clear that up for you. I have no knowledge of Mr. Gray or his music so I wouldn’t “wilfully and deliberately” misread his lyrics. In fact, I did read the whole song. I also read his post, so I’m glad he’s clearing the air. But I think a song ought to be able to stand on its own without the artist having to interpret it. When you put in phrases that seem to trivialize our relationship with the Lord, and quotes that seem to create false dichotomies, you shouldn’t be surprised if people hear it in this way.

  45. Fellow Traveler

    Pete, I can help, I think. I haven’t refreshed the page, so maybe Heather has already posted a clarification, but let me add mine here.

    Heather was in no way questioning Jason’s motives when writing the song. She was trying to describe how the lyric comes across as it stands, regardless of what the idea behind it was. The imagery just strikes listeners like her as an ineffective or inadequate way to describe God’s love and our relationship with him.

    My own take on it is, I understand Jason’s struggle to write a pop song that says something important. But I think it’s equally understandable for Heather and others to respond the way they have given the words Jason chose to convey what he meant. Heather has also made sensible points about the false dichotomy that the lyrics seem to present.

    Jason has many good ideas about love, but I would sort of rather he saved them up for something really thought-provoking instead of trying to limit himself to the constraints of a hooky pop number. I know he could do it. Meanwhile… I think what’s happening here is that listeners are responding and Jason is saying, “Wait, that’s not what I meant, I actually meant something really profound…” and I’m sure he did and does, but the song is what the song is. And on the face of it, it just doesn’t seem like enough.

  46. Jess

    What I LIKE about this song is the simplicity of the lyrics that leave us able to think about them for ourselves. I like to decipher what looks like something really silly and realize that it isn’t. That one phrase, “more like falling in love” leaves me pondering the awesomeness and depth of what love really is, just because it is put so simply. 🙂

  47. Sarah Bergey

    @Heather
    As Jason said in his post and as I think was mentioned in the comments, it’s all a matter of perspective. To me, the words “falling in love” mean so much more than simple emotions. They seem huge and incredible to me. But maybe that’s just cause I’m a teen girl who has hardly experienced love yet. Then again, maybe that’s a good reason. To “fall in love” sounds so awesome to me. It doesn’t sound like something small or easy. But as I said, it’s a matter of who you are and what you’ve grown to know as its meaning.

  48. Fellow Traveler

    I’d like to hear Jason’s clarification of a completely different part of the lyrics that nobody has brought up yet. It’s this part of one of the verses:

    ‘Cause all religion ever made of me
    Was just a sinner with a stone tied to my feet

    I think I understand what Jason is getting at here, and lots of other people have said the same thing. “Religion” is understood as a list of rules, and you have to do this and you have to do that, but Christianity is when Jesus comes and frees you from all that if you will only believe in him.

    What concerns me is the tendency I’ve observed to take those images of legalism and paint a large number of Christians with that negative brush. There’s a growing idea that trying to set any kind of a moral standard makes you a Pharisee. And that’s obviously taking it too far in the other direction. I’m not saying that Jason himself would do this, but I’m taking the song lyric and trying to place it in cultural context.

    I also think it’s important not to lose sight of our sin. Yes, Jesus does redeem us, and praise God for that, but we need to remember WHY we were redeemed. We were redeemed because we screwed up, and the price had to be paid one way or the other. By God’s grace, it was paid for us. Yet we should be daily conscious of our need to walk in the ways of God and repent of our sin. The truth that we are indeed just sinners saved by grace is something precious we must hold on to.

  49. BuckBuck the Nordic Wonderduck

    Heather: thanks for the Lewis quote. That does help me understand how you are using the term. Now I see where you are getting the tingly toes.

    My experience with being “in love” has been so much richer than what Lewis describes here. But then again, he was British. Were there any British guys past Keats who even fell in love? (Susan, if you’re reading this, that’s a joke.)

    Maybe the poor guy needed to stop smoking so he would be more fun to kiss. Pipe mouth. Ew. I don’t care how much Middle English you can rattle off.

    For me, being “in love” is more akin to what Wendell Berry describes with his wife… a deepening and merging. (I don’t agree with all of Berry’s theology, but some of his thoughts on marriage are particularly breathtaking.)

    The fact is, I’m WAY more (emotively) “in love” with my husband now than I was with the kid I married twenty years ago. He’s so much more romantically appealing to me than he was then. When he travels, I sleep with his shirts because I miss him so much. It’s that bad.

    Just a few minutes ago, our teenage son was saying, “Do you not find it the least bit ironic that you guys won’t let us watch Ironman because of the love scenes, but we’re constantly walking into the kitchen and catching you two kissing?” It’s that good.

    There have certainly been hard times when we have been tired, fighting, frustrated, up against a wall… and we have chosen to love each other through them. (These were times of commitment and will.)

    But the overall progression of our emotions has become more instead of less stimulating. My husband gives himself sacrificially for me every single day. He reads, he gives, he grows. How can I not feel increasing admiration and warmth for a guy like that? He’s my best hero of all the men in the whole world.

    So, that’s my framework for the term “in love.” There are times when the feeling isn’t there. But overall, it’s something stronger after time instead of weaker.

    I really hate to disagree with my man C.S. Lewis, but he apparently hasn’t been in love with my husband yet or he would be entirely more impressed with the experience. (That’s supposed to be a joke.)

    BTW, he just now handed me a huge bar of Lindt chocolate that he had been hiding. Big smile on his face. Said all sappy, “I’m still in love with you.”

    What a goofball. I’m going to run. You guys have fun!

  50. Loren

    Sounds like you’ve got a winner there, Buck Buck! (But, so sorry, I still think I’ve got the best man; this is an ongoing argument I have with my sisters-in-law as to who go the best brother 🙂 ). I love C. S. Lewis (not in love with him, just love him!), but I have to agree that after being married fifteen years, I am definitely “in love” with my husband more than I was when we married. So many things have happened in our lives to deepen, strengthen and grow our love for each other…and for God.

    In fact, I understand love for God so much more now.

    I am totally one to shy away from the over-emotionalism I see so often in church. I get frustrated with praise songs where the mantra-like repetition is used to work the crowd and get everyone in a frenzy of “worship.” It gives me a gut ache! I also get leery when I sense someone implying that I’m not truly loving God and following Him if I’m not in a state of constant, fiery passion.

    I know for me that words, quiet, and reflection are things that draw me near to God. My heart opens to Him in ways that make me want to sit and think, or have an intense conversation with a friend, because He is teaching me so much and my heart overflows as a result. I’m understanding more and more that this is an expression of love. (In fact, come to think of it, the moments where I love my husband the most is when we have intense conversations–not arguments, conversations).

    I don’t know if any of this clarifies the two sides of the conversation that’s been going on here. I understand the problem of “pure intellect” minus the Spirit–I’ve definitely seen that; a dichotomy between truth and life, speaking the truth without love. I also am slowly learning, though, that in my life my grasp of God’s love for me overflows as I reflect on Him more and read more and learn more (intellectual stuff). And then I love more, and it becomes an emotive love, not because of my emotions but because of allowing His Spirit to work through me, shine through me.

    Sigh! I don’t know if any of that makes sense!

  51. PJ

    Keep in mind, Jason says “it’s more LIKE falling in love”. All I can say is after being a Christian for more than forty years and having Him build a relationship with me I am more in love with Him than ever.

  52. Sarah Bergey

    @PJ Thank you for pointing that out. I meant to say something about that before but i forgot to. Everyone is acting like Jason said “it ought to be exactly like falling in love”. What he said was: “it ought to be more like falling in love, than something to believe in.” More like love, than just believing. MORE LIKE. Not “just like”, not “exactly the same as”. Just “more like”. Something being more than just believing doesn’t have to mean lots of romance and sappy love. Just…more like love. Yeah, I get that you guys are all “thinking deeper” and assuming things. But…really? If you really look at the words of the song and try to understand with a positive mind set, it makes sense. I actually feel weird for pointing that out cause i feel like someone should have already noticed.

    I actually get the whole “falling in love” thing, and i love it. But you guys are all arguing the true meaning of the words so I figure this possible view point should be allowed into the conversation as well.

  53. Pete Peterson

    @pete

    Thanks, Sarah. That’s precisely the source of my bafflement. The intention of the lyric is quite clear, I think. Jason isn’t saying we ought to do away with one (intellect) and choose the other (emotion). The song is about struggling with a perceived imbalance and trying to bring the two into a healthy moderation.

  54. Jen

    Loren: It makes sense to me. 🙂 Like Pete just said… healthy moderation. We’re meant to live in balance.

    I hesitate to join in, because I’m not sure there’s anything I can add. But one thing I did want to comment on… Fellow Traveler said:
    “I haven’t met the people Becca has met, but I can say that I’ve met many people who would definitely fall into the “Christian intellectuals” category, and I’m just left somewhat puzzled by her characterizations.”

    I haven’t met people who are just mean and sour like that, but I do get what Becca’s saying. I’ve known some people — wonderful, Godly people — who are very steeped in a worldview and readily reject ideas that contradict it. They read the right authors, follow the right pastors… there’s no question which theological “camp” they’re in. And while I admire their stance for sound doctrine and learn a lot from them, quite frankly, I find it exhausting. Sometimes, I want to enjoy a pop song and let myself be moved without dissecting the lyrics’ theological content. Sometimes, I want to read a book by someone I don’t agree with 100% for the glimpses of truth that speak to me. Sometimes, I’d like to have a good conversation about what we believe and why to help me sort out my growing, patchwork faith.

    But I feel intimidated, scared, and suspicious when deeper things come up, because I don’t feel safe asking questions or disagreeing. I know I’ll fall into an argument I won’t win and don’t see the point.

    Now I realize this is probably because I’m an abstract thinker and a non-confrontational kumbayah hippie type that would rather everybody get along, and I know my fear is a neurotic thing I have to work through. I’m sure these folks mean no harm… I don’t ever want to question anyone’s heart or motives! I just wish… I don’t know… head people could accept us heart people and be a little gentler? (and to be fair, heart people like me wouldn’t be suspicious or defensive?) Maybe I would be more apt to listen than bristle when I hear the dreaded, “I don’t like _____’s theology.”

    I hope that makes sense and isn’t too far off-topic.

    On a side note: can’t help but be amused that a pop song stirred up this much debate. Could it be it’s not shallow after all? 😉

  55. BuckBuck the Nordic Wonderduck

    Loren, thanks so much for your thoughts. They are helpful.

    In my first post I wrote this:

    “…there are times when our emotions can get skewed, so we need to trust the truth of Scripture first.”

    I was trying to be so clear that this wasn’t about emotionalism at the expense of truth. I sort of feel like a few folks were reading what they wanted to argue into stuff.

    For me, it’s never been about emotions v. intellect. It’s about both.

    I guess I’m just excited about finally experiencing love for God after a lifetime of wanting to, so I’m bubbling over a bit about it. And since I know the dangers of vacant, religious intellectualism best, that’s the contrast I naturally see to the enriched life.

  56. Jason Gray

    @jasongray

    Ugh…. I’ve been driving all day and just got to my hotel to a barrage of these posts in my inbox. I’m tired, I’m grumpy, so that might color my response. Feel free to not read this post.

    Thanks to those who have given me the benefit of the doubt and been gracious with me (Jen – you are continually blessing me with your observations, I loved the thought of the three singles. Fun to watch a theme emerge there… Buck Buck – I’m a big fan. And so many others, too, thank you)

    But seriously. I don’t want to be ungracious, but it seems that some people didn’t read my post at all – which was meant to clarify what kind of love I’m talking about. In spite of what i wrote, I still see people taking issue with a concept of “love” that I just said is not the biblical concept of “love”, and therefore not the kind of “love” that my song is about.

    G. K. Chesterton said that our religion should look “less like a theory and more like a love affair.” This is the kind of wonderful, insightful, razor sharp, and pithy comment we’ve come to expect from G.K. I’m tempted to imagine that people would agree with the sentiment because it was him who said it, but when I try to write a song saying the same thing… Granted, I haven’t had a hundred years to earn Chesterton’s street cred, but still…

    For me it all comes down to giving a person the benefit of the doubt. This is a spiritual discipline I’m trying to master because I’m a notorious detractor. I find fault and hints of heresy in everything. I think that’s why I get so weary of this particular thing in others: because I’m so weary of the similar lack of graciousness in myself. Me sitting in church having to sing popular worship songs is the worst – it’s a constant wrestling match in my mind with me taking issue over cheesy lyrics, half baked imagery, 3rd rate melodies, ad nauseum. The whole while that I’m contemptuously marveling at the bad taste of contemporary worship leaders, I’m self-righteously assured of my own sophistication and intelligence. In the meantime, I was just supposed to be worshipping God. Somehow I turned it into worshipping myself. Gross.

    All that said, everyone is entitled to their interpretation and opinion – I don’t mean to get snarky.

    But can I suggest one thing? How would the song hit you differently if you gave it and me the benefit of the doubt? Might the Spirit speak to your heart if it was receptive? If you’re more of a thinker than a feeler might the sentiment of this song invite you to grow beyond your comfort zone? or is this kind of intellectual scrutiny and parsing of words another one of our attempts at protecting our hearts from the Lord? I know I can effectively shut out the voice of the Spirit when I let my overly active critical filter overshadow the heart of a thing.

    Presumptuous of me to say, critical and ungracious I know. But there you have it.

    One more thought about this – in terms of songwriting, it’s asking a lot of a writer to convey every facet of a truth in a single song. Songs are bite size thoughts. I have written songs where I’ve tried to balance everything at once and it makes for bad songs where every line is qualifying the lines that came before it. At some point a writer has to say, “this song is about saying this one thing. I can say the rest in other songs” – (Everything Sad Is Coming Untrue Parts 1, 2, 3, and 4 anybody?)

    I would like to believe that if you looked at the whole of my work that “More Like Falling In Love” would be a meaningful addition in context.

    The truth is that the song is a self-corrective. I’m a cognitive reflective type – way more comfortable keeping my faith in the realm of the intellect. I’m uncomfortable with emotions (less so as I get older). I get my chops busted all the time by my writer friends for being too careful and conceptual in my lyrics. They challenge me to write with more heart language. I tried to meet that challenge with this song (even though at the end of the day, it really is more of a conceptual song than anything else, complete with conceptual language).

    I remember years ago my wife pointing out to me that we tend to think of growing intellectually more than we think of growing emotionally. Many of us are very suspicious of emotions (although some not suspicious enough, I know, i know…) And yet our emotions are as much a gift from God as anything else. We are made to feel as much as we are made to think. They are two different kinds of knowing. When they come together, though, it is a potent mix.

    About the vernacular of “falling in love” and to answer the advice about not writing pop songs…

    Here’s the thing. My favorite kind of songs to write are the meaningful literate folk song with 12 verses and no chorus. I love that stuff and it’s a much easier kind of song to write.

    But the people that I feel vocationally called to minister to don’t always listen to that kind of song. It’s missional and meaningful – sometimes even sacrificial – to me to write songs that have theological import and that might connect with the kind of person who tunes into Christian radio. If you’ve heard some of the songs that become big hits on radio, I would hope that you would be glad for artists who are intentionally trying to stretch the boundaries and challenge the audience. I cheer every time I hear Andrew Peterson or “Lead Me” by my friends in Sanctus Real getting some airplay. Everybody wins when that kind of thing happens.

    What artist’s have to be careful about is that all the cool kids just want their artists to stay in the cool kids ghetto (meaning that chances are good that Arcade Fire will lose some street cred because they won a grammy, etc.), but that’s not my calling. I would like to believe that I’m writing true songs that speak the native language of my mission field and encourage spiritual growth while challenging the current paradigm.

    Now THAT’s a lot to ask of a pop song. Maybe too much. But if you had my record, I would hope that you would be encouraged that a song like “More Like Falling In Love” could exist on the same record as a song like “The Golden Boy & The Prodigal.”

    If I write the kind of song that some of you are asking me to write, it won’t get heard by nearly as many people (trying not to make a snarky comment about how some of you here haven’t even taken time to listen to the original. Doh! Too late, I just said it…)

    Like I said, I’m tired, I’m grumpy. I also know that I’m not an infallible writer, nor a particularly great one. I listened to the new Paul Simon record today. I know a great writer when I hear one and I’m passable at best.

    But I am doing my best to connect the dots of vocational calling, considering the audience, considering the medium, being true to my own artistic convictions, and submitting all those variables to the truth as best as I can understand it.

    I can’t help but feel, though, that giving the lyric the benefit of the doubt would shed a different light on it.

    But now I’ve done the worst thing possible and I’ve gone and got defensive. That’s gross. I’m just tired. and grumpy. and I’m going to bed. sorry all.

    But thank you for the lively conversation 🙂

  57. UTR Dave

    So, you’re tired … and … something else?

    [I agree with everything, except that you are "passable at best." No way man!]

    +1 with @Jen. Who can’t enjoy a great debate over pop lyrics? Fabulous!

  58. Jason Gray

    @jasongray

    Busted! 🙂

    Probably uncool of me to have posted all that. I’m tempted to delete it, but will leave my uncoolness out there for all to see. Fallible indeed!

    Forgive my foolishness…

  59. Connie Solomon

    One of my favorite hymns as a new believer was “Love Lifted Me”-as a 20 something year old follower of Christ, I went back and read the lyrics and I think they convey the same thing your song does-I love (sorry appreciate) them both-blessings

  60. BuckBuck the Nordic Wonderduck

    I hear what you’re saying, Jason. But I don’t think camels should be used for indoor Christmas pageants, and I’m offended that this song suggests otherwise.

    Rob Bell thinks everybody loves The Camel Song, but they don’t. It just doesn’t work like that. Chesterton didn’t, for example. Neither did Augustine.

  61. JWitmer

    I think of Michael Card as a sort of wise elder in the tribe of Christian musicians, someone I look to at least as much as to Rich Mullens. I admire Card for his writing, theology and music.

    Card wrote a book on Christian creativity, and included only one section of “practical” advice – a list of ten bits of wisdom. High on this list was: “Don’t feel you have to say everything in a single song. Risk not saying everything. Risk being misunderstood.”

    Card takes his model from the Psalms and other hymns in the Bible, many of which are not balanced if sung alone, but for that reason powerfully communicate something true about God.

    Because of the model we have in Scripture, I agree with Card, and disagree with comments that imply Jason was irresponsible in his use of lyric. (I also protest the idea that any form of music is too weak to support truth, but that’s a diatribe for another day.)

    Some of us have a journey similar enough to Jason’s that this song made sense the first time we heard it. I get the battle with legalism (in my own heart). I am comfortable with the use of partial simile (“more like”). Others seem to have to work much harder to appreciate it.

    But Jason is just one part of the body, and this is only one piece of his art. If I had to guess, I’d say Michael Card would approve of Jason’s effort. I’m convinced that Jesus does too.

  62. Jen

    Yeah, that Jason Gray guy… he seems so sweet, but when he gets grumpy….

    Kidding. We still love you. Uncoolness and all. 😉

    Glad you appreciated that observation. I guess after hearing the singles so many times, I start to notice things like that, whether it was intentional or not. (I believe BuckBuck calls that “eigesis”? :)) Thanks for not giving up on radio and trying to make that balancing act work. All of those songs you mentioned did very well here, so I’d be willing to bet that there’s a real hunger for that kind of substance. It’s exciting to me!

    (PS: Oh, for those who don’t know… hi my name is Jen, and I work in *gasp* Christian radio. I also like smart books and literate folk songs and The Rabbit Room. <3)

    UTR Dave: Isn’t it great? What are we going to analyze next week? 😀

  63. Fellow Traveler

    This has all been funny to watch and occasionally participate in.

    I don’t really think the song is worth all the long debate that’s been had over it. It wouldn’t even have occurred to me to take the time to complain about it. Why would I do that? There are so many other things I could be doing instead, and it’s just not worth it.

  64. Heather Carrillo

    Phew! That’s what you get for leaving the computer so long. Obviously I can’t reply to everyone, so sorry if I ignored someone.

    @Fellow Traveler: you speak my language! Ditto everything you just said! Mark Driscoll (a man whom I deeply deeply respect and who quite obviously loves his Savior) uses the word “religious” like a bad thing. I don’t get it. I’d call myself religious. I think you can have a deep personal relationship with God AND not be a Pharisee. Also, it wasn’t that I was attacking this song. I was actually just responding to Mr. Gray’s post.

    @Becca Well, there we will have to part ways. I just don’t care for the giggly dippy “falling in love” image. Barry’s “deepening” is I believe totally on par with Lewis’s version of love. In ways I find Lewis’s take on love to be ten million times MORE romantic because it’s solid, and tangible, and real. Perspectives are just different I guess.

    @Loren, thank you for your good words! Not to squabble over semantics (seeing as this is what I apparently do) but when you say you now have a better understanding of God’s love in lieu of your husband’s…don’t you think that is possibly out of order? I mean, what about us single folks? Are we doomed to never know the love of God? I do truly appreciate what you said about people implying you aren’t loving God if you aren’t in a constant state of fiery passion which leads me to….

    @Jen, my sister, here is where my head tends to explode because you talk in your post about these people who are staunchly embedded in their theology (I have NO idea where this is a bad thing) and who judge you for being more heart than head. I would love to know where you find them because I’m CONSTANTLY being judged as “mean” and “cold” and my personal favorite “close-minded” just because I don’t entertain every new idea/ideology/worldview/style whatever that the church comes up with. I don’t know why “head people” are always painted as the meanies, when we are just as persecuted…for lack of a better term. As for the “shallowness” of a pop song, I hold that no song is “just a song” no movie is “just a movie” no book is “just a book.” We shouldn’t just consume without thought. Everything carries a worldview and especially the art of Christ followers should be held
    To a very high standard.

    @Pete Peterson, Sarah, and others making similar comments…I’m very aware the song says “More LIKE falling in love.” that wasn’t the contention. It is the “It’s GOTTA (imperative) be more like ___, than like ___” that worried me. This did not seem like a balance regained between heart and head. The song lyrics are saying “It’s more like heart than like head.”
    The seeming false dichotomy (even allowing for the use of “falling in love” which I still don’t like) was the main issue I brought up. And really I brought it up as a response to a blog in which Mr. Gray expresses surprise and wonders about people’s objections. Since he took the time to respond and explain, I believe him. I am just saying “This is what it looks like to me and to others like me.” Hope that clears the bafflement?

    @Jason Gray: I read your post. I read the song. I’m unfamiliar with the rest of your work so really mine is one of the most UNbiased critiques. You seemed confused by the reaction the song had received so I was giving you something to consider. Whatever kind of love was meant (and not knowing you or your other work, which I still believe one shouldn’t have to do to understand the song) you used “falling in love.” That will rub SOME people the wrong way. Whatever sort of “balance” you were trying to bring to heart v. head debate, you SEEMED to place love over intellect. Again, I read the post and I’m glad that isn’t what you are doing, but just based on the song, I couldn’t tell.

    Chesterson’s quote: (which I don’t know the context for) on face value, I disagree with it. So, at least I’m consistent am I right?

    Although I do not find you writing that to be “uncool,” I would like to point out, further up in my post I questioned why “head people” are always seen as the meanies. I’d like to take a minute to highlight something you said: “If you’re more of a thinker than a feeler might the sentiment of this song invite you to grow beyond your comfort zone? or is this kind of intellectual scrutiny and parsing of words another one of our attempts at protecting our hearts from the Lord?” Wow! Perhaps I’M the one not being given the benefit of the doubt. I question the lyrics of your song and suddenly I’m protecting my heart from the Lord?

    And look, as far as my personality goes, I just don’t do this. I think it’s a bad idea just to unthinkingly consume media. You can be led astray by all kinds of everything. What if Brian Maclaren (before his actual departure from orthodoxy) told me to do the same thing: give I’m the benefit of the doubt, listened to him without question, get out of my comfort zone? I AM NOT EQUATING YOU GUYS (sorry, no bold type available 🙂 But I’m just saying, no one should unthinkingly consume.

    I honestly thought you were clarifying your song (which was good. Good clarification) and still wondering what the criticism was all about. So, I was offering some pointers. Perhaps, if you only wanted people to reaffirm your original beliefs/thought/worldview and did not want to be challenged, you should have said so. However, as you are concerned that you aren’t getting the benefit of the doubt, I would ask that you do the same for me. Just because my love for my Savior doesn’t look out of control and toe-tingling “in love” it does not mean it is any less strong than your own.

    Aaaaanyways, sorry about that long post, but there were almost fifteen posts since mine, and since I was probably the major dissenting voice. (There goes Heather actually thinking words about God are important again…sheesh!) I thought I’d clear up some things, and I think I’m done really.

  65. Pete Peterson

    @pete

    Thanks for your comments, Heather. All of them. We don’t mind disagreement around here, but we do want to make every effort to understand one another.

  66. Fellow Traveler

    Thanks Heather. We probably understand each other pretty well. 🙂

    Jason should know that nobody is questioning his motives, and if he thought as much, we’ve done everything we can to clear up the misunderstanding. As Heather said, we’re just trying to explain why somebody might respond the way some of his listeners did. He was having trouble understanding their perspective, so we wanted to shed light on it.

    As for “those nasty people who judge you for being more heart than head…” honestly I agree with Heather that if anything it’s more the other way around. I personally am in general more head than heart, but I love the people around me who are more heart than head. I don’t consider myself any closer to the Lord than they are. What I do see, and what Heather sees, is people out there who consider themselves more virtuous for not being intellectual. And the people who are snotty about being “head people” are more often than not atheists like Richard Dawkins.

    As for giving things the benefit of the doubt… it’s just a really bad idea to take that too far. There’s no reason why we have to suspend good judgment and common sense for the sake of being considered open-minded. (Special note: I’m no longer talking about Jason Gray or anything associated with him. Purely general/abstract talk here.) People seem to think that you need to be ready to accept anything that comes down the pike, but that’s simply not true. Some things need only a glance for you to tell that they’re just junk or false teaching or whatever. God gave us common sense for a reason. Let’s not squander it.

  67. Dan Kulp

    I may have started the Christian radio stone casting and I don’t mean to discourage it (Christian radio) at all. It works; God reaches ppl with it. I do feel like its heavily slanted towards the pop realm and would love to hear a blazing pursuit to the challenging side sometimes.

    For me this (and so many mind vs. heart type of struggles) comes back to the “balance” idea, but there is great power and freedom in a holding both blazing concept (from GKC – Orthodoxy):
    “The modern world is full of the old Christian virtues gone mad. The virtues have gone mad because they have been isolated from each other and are wandering alone.”
    (and later)
    “Paganism declared that virtue was in a balance; Christianity declared it was in a conflict: the collision of two passions apparently opposite. Of course they were not really inconsistent; but they were such that it was hard
    to hold simultaneously. ”

    I want to quote about 4 paragraphs on this, but just go read it if you’d like – http://www.gkc.org.uk/gkc/books/ortho14.txt

  68. Jason Gray

    @jasongray

    @ Heather – thanks for weighing in again.

    your wrote: “If you’re more of a thinker than a feeler might the sentiment of this song invite you to grow beyond your comfort zone? or is this kind of intellectual scrutiny and parsing of words another one of our attempts at protecting our hearts from the Lord?” Wow! Perhaps I’M the one not being given the benefit of the doubt. I question the lyrics of your song and suddenly I’m protecting my heart from the Lord?”

    In the moment I wrote that, i was reflecting on myself and my own issues, but I see how careless I was in writing that and am so sorry that it reads like a personal attack. Had it not been so late, I would have reread it again and fixed it, being more careful to express that I was reflecting on an issue I personally struggle with. I’m so sorry that you experienced ungrace from me, I sincerely regret that.

    The line of thinking actually came from a thought that drove me to write the song in the first place, and that was how – in my life – I began to suspect that I intellectualized my faith, kept it all upstairs, perhaps as a way to keep my faith from messing with my “heart”. It seemed to me in my life that I was able to manage my faith better on intellectual terms and that for some reason I was uncomfortable with the idea of engaging it on emotional terms. I felt more danger, I felt less in control, I felt like I risked being caught up and looking foolish. And so the song was a self-corrective, perhaps even a pendulum swing.

    So the thought came into my head, I wrote it, and now I see clearly how unkind it feels. Please forgive, thank you.

  69. Mike

    I had this thought today. If as He is so are we in this world, If Christ IN us is the hope of Glory, If nevertheless I live, yet Christ lives in me, and if the Church is His bride, shouldn’t we “court” those whom we invite into the Church? Shouldn’t we be inviting them into a love relationship? If there is FAITH, HOPE and LOVE and Love is greatest among the three shouldn’t we be offering the world Love over inviting them to have Faith or Hope?

    I’m sure I’m wrong but it’s just a thought.

  70. Jen

    Heather, I was afraid my post might look like I was criticizing you, and I’m so sorry. I was more or less commenting that I understood what Becca’s talking about. It was supposed to have a disclaimer that I was stating an observation and not attacking anyone here, but I think I deleted it as I was editing my comment over and over. 😛

    I realize that in a lot of cases I am the problem, and I’m trying to learn how to be more gracious. Based on the interaction here, I wouldn’t say you’re cold or mean… you’re very passionate about truth and meaning, and I admire that! I agree that there is truth and core doctrine is non-negotiable, but my personality is to at least consider different perspectives, measure it against what I know, and seek common ground and understanding. Like reading your discussion with Becca (which I didn’t see as mean at all, actually), I’d find myself agreeing with both of you sometimes!

    For the record… I’m single too, so I don’t know the tingly “falling in love,” thing And I like and appreciate that C.S. Lewis quote (one of my fave writers). And hate chick flicks. We may not be so different. 🙂

    Again, sorry if I sounded like I was throwing rocks. I vented something that’s been eating at me a while and seemed relevant to the discussion… it wasn’t meant as a slam to your or anyone else. Promise. Thank you for being here!

    Dan, no offense taken. Again, wasn’t aimed at you… when you’ve done this work for a while, you hear it all the time and it’s like a voice in your head or something. 😉 Radio’s totally not for everyone. There are times I’ve heard a song that made me cringe, then have to bite my tongue and tell myself that somebody might be hearing it for the first time and being changed. But I do feel like there’s a shift toward better music happening (pop music, yes, but better lyrically and musically) and it’s encouraging!

    Peace and love. Can we have a fika now?

  71. BuckBuck the Nordic Wonderduck

    Heather, I hope you didn’t understand what I wrote to mean that drippy love is more vital than constant love. That would be a significant misinterpretation.

    Of course the will is more substantial. However, that doesn’t lessen the importance of joy.

    ‘Last thought on love, because all of this is stepping outside the context of Grey’s song. (The rabbit trail has gone too far, I fear.)

    Are you a P&P fan? Charlotte Lucas and Mary Bennett are among the saddest characters in the whole novel. Analyzing. Controlling. Bitter. Yes, licentious Lydia and Kitty are wretched, but the other extreme is just as dreadful and selfish. Proud Pharisee Lucas, rationing matters of the heart like a long division problem, deserves exactly what she gets.

    When I pray for my kids, I pray that they will be given both the giggly drippings and willful commitments. How I hope they never have to settle very long for one without the other! Romance holds so many beautiful shades of different goods. Deciding ahead of time that we are too wise to embrace the breadth of what we might be given is too wise altogether.

    Books like Gaudy Night and Till We Have Faces rail against the consumptive greed mislabeled love. But not every tingle is selfish. Not every dripping is foolish. Why in the world was Song of Solomon included in the Bible if it’s all nonsense and hedonism? Delighting in love’s presence is a beautiful, good thing. And it doesn’t negate a willful commitment during trials.

    Thanks for the conversation! Best to all of you!

    Becca

  72. SecondJon

    Hi Jason,

    As you know, having commented on my blog this morning, I’m one who has expressed concern about this song. I’m here because you shared the link to rabbitroom.com, and I’ll be subscribing. I’m posting my thoughts here, but I don’t plan on being a lurker who only comments negatively. 🙂

    My concern is this: “falling in love” in the song is defined as something that is distinct from obedience (rules), commitment (allegiance), belief, etc. The song says our faith is supposed to be more like “falling in love” than any of these things, and whatever the phrase means means, “falling in love” is contradictory to or at least superior to obedience, commitment, and belief.

    Yet these are the very concepts used in the Bible to define what love between us and God is.

    I’m not okay with saying that obedience (“and what is love? That we walk in obedience to his commands” – The apostle John. “If you love me, you will obey my commands” – Jesus), allegiance and belief are secondary when the Bible places them as primary.

    It’s certainly possible to act religious without love (1 Cor 13). But it is impossible to love God without obedience, allegiance, and belief. If these are removed from the biblical definition of love, nothing is left. It’s like saying the real oceans are not like water and salt, or like Reese’s are not like peanut butter and chocolate.

    That’s my beef with this particular song. I do like the music and some of the lyrics, and whenever I respond to comments about it, I then have the song running through my head all day.

  73. SecondJon

    Oh! About Chesterton’s quote – I couldn’t find it word for word in a search of his writings online, but I found the sentence I believe it’s derived from, from the beginning of Chesterton’s book St. Francis of Assisi. It was about St. Francis of Assisi 🙂 .

    Sorry for any typos here, I typed this because I wasn’t able to find an electronic copy of the book online:

    [Francis of Assisi] was a lover. He was a lover of God and he was really and truly a lover of men; possibly a much rarer mystical vocation. A lover of men is very nearly the opposite of a philanthropist; indeed the peantry of the Greek word carries something like a satire on itself. A philanthropist may be said to love anthropoids. But as St. Francis did no love humanity but men, so he did not love Christianity but Christ. Say, if you think so, that he was a lunatic loving an imaginary person; but an imaginary person, not an imaginary idea. And for the modern reader the clue to the asceticism and all the rest can best be found in the stories of lovers when they seem to be rather like lunatics. Tell it as the tale of one of the Troubadours, and the wild things he would do for his lady, and the whole of the modern puzzle disappears. In such a romance there would be no contradiction between the poet gathering flowers in the sun and enduring a freezing vigil in the snow, between his praising all earthly and bodily beauty and then refusing to eat, between his glorifying gold and purple and pervesely going in rags, between his showing pathetically a hunger for a happy life and a thirst for a heroic dath. All these riddles would easily be resolved in the simplicity of any noble love; only this was so noble a love that nine men out of ten have hardly ever heard of it. We shall see later that this parallel over the earthly lover has a very practical relation to the problems of his life, as to his relations with his father and with his friends and their families. The modern reader will almost always find that if he could only feel this kind of love as a reality, he could feel this kind of extravagance as a romance. But I only ntoe it here as a preliminary point because, though it is very far from being the final truth in the matter, it is the best approach to it. The reader cannot even begin to see the sense of a story that may well seem to him a very wild one, until he understands that to this great mystic his religion was not a thing like a theory but a thing like a love-affair.

    (Don’t blame me, it’s Chesterton who chose to put no paragraph breaks in there!)

  74. Sarah Bergey

    @SecondJon I feel like the scriptures you used there actually worked against your point. At least they did in my mind. And if you can’t have biblical love without obedience, commitment, and belief, then.. Well, wouldn’t that simply be expected to go along with the love? If the biblical definition of love includes verses that say that if you love God you will obey Him, and that love is “that we walk in obedience to His commands”, then I don’t really see your point, considering that Jason said in his post that he meant “biblical love”.
    Also, as some have said here before (including me), Jason did not say our relationship with God must be only about love. He simply said that it ought to be “MORE LIKE falling in love” (not shouting there, just emphasizing). That does not mean a lack of the other qualities of love.

    Lastly, I would like to point out that in 1st Corinthians 13, it actually says “the greatest of
    these is love” (verse 13). Yes, it also says you can do all those things without love, but if you do them without love, they mean nothing. Love is the greatest. So why are we all debating this?

  75. Sarah Bergey

    I apologize if that last comment sounded… Mean in any way. I reread it just now and it struck me as rude in some places… Sorry. It wasn’t intended to. :/

  76. Fellow Traveler

    SecondJon, I read what you wrote about the song on your blog. I really agree with a lot of what you said.

    I know that it must have taken Jason a lot of time to write this series clarifying what he meant, and that’s not unappreciated. At the same time, I would humbly and respectfully suggest, as SecondJon did on his blog, that since far more people will hear a song than read long blog posts, it’s important that song lyrics be as unambiguous as possible from the outset. Nobody likes to be misunderstood. So it seems to make sense to write in a way that will communicate your intentions clearly.

  77. Linda K

    I’ll try to be nice about this, but too many of you don’t bother to edit your thoughts in order to state your opinion clearly. Keep it short, to the point. “No bloviating,” as one commentator says. Then I’ll read your post. (Jason, this does not apply to you!)

  78. Fellow Traveler

    I pride myself on being concise and lucid, but sometimes I get a little long. Especially when I’m ranting. But y’all haven’t seen me rant here. 😉

  79. Mike

    “It’s certainly possible to act religious without love (1 Cor 13). But it is impossible to love God without obedience, allegiance, and belief. If these are removed from the biblical definition of love, nothing is left. It’s like saying the real oceans are not like water and salt, or like Reese’s are not like peanut butter and chocolate”

    Is it possible for that obedience, allegiance, and belief to look so different than ours that we wouldn’t recognize it.?

  80. BuckBuck the Nordic Wonderduck

    (These thoughts address last night’s critique of Jason being unclear not LindaK’s last comment. I wrote this around midnight, but I wanted to sleep on it before posting.)

    – – – – – –

    Being clear was not always the main goal for Jesus. In fact, sometimes He used confusing and controversial word pictures on purpose. At times, He did this so that the self-satisfied and proud would misunderstand what He was saying.

    Quoting Mark 11:

    for those outside everything is in parables, so that

    “they may indeed see but not perceive,
    and may indeed hear but not understand,
    lest they should turn and be forgiven.”

    Was Jesus only trying to be clear when He made statements about:

    1. Cutting off an offensive hand… Did some think He was advocating self mutilation?

    2. Eating blood and flesh… Did some think He was implying cannibalism?

    3. The Rich Man and Lazarus …Did some think He was suggesting that we can communicate with the dead?

    And on, and on, and on.

    Of course, these aren’t the conclusions Jesus intended. We know that now. But when the religious folks in His audience heard some of these things spoken the first time, they were shocked and offended. They thought He had chosen His imagery poorly, because they didn’t get the main point.

    This idea of using “imperfect” imagery is foreign to us. We are post-Enlightenment, and we rarely doubt the power of our own words. We believe that people will understand hard concepts when we do a good job explaining them, and we believe that they won’t if we do not. But looking at the whole of the Bible, there are many times when Divinely-inspired words were misunderstood by the masses.

    At times, Jesus intentionally spoke in such a way that His message was foolishness to the proud and learned. That’s part of what I find beautiful about knowing Him. No matter how voraciously I train my mind, I cannot understand His truth unless I am willing to become a child in need. There is no other way.

    I’m not saying cryptic, offensive songs should be the goal. I agree that, in general, clarity is a good thing, because God has made the universe orderly. Having a clear, ready defense is one way that we can honor Him.

    Yet the Bible repeatedly shows us that there is sometimes value to being challenged with images that make us uncomfortable. (What if Jason Gray felt God calling him to lie on his left side for a year like Ezekiel? Or preach naked like Isaiah? Thank goodness we just got a song about falling in love.) The Bible is full of images that seem odd at first, even offensive. But calls us to suck the juice from them and leave the pits.

    Last night, my husband was saying that perhaps these sorts of images are harder for us because they require a deeper humility. As long as our analogy is seamless, we have little need for God’s assistance. We think He is safe and containable if we can control every implication others will draw.

    But when He stirs up an image that doesn’t quite seem to fit, we need God’s help understanding it. We need Him to be alive and close enough to fill the gaps in our reason/knowledge with His living instruction.

    All that said, the central idea of Jason’s song — that duty/willpower cannot make us faithful — seems to withstand Biblical scrutiny pretty well. Paul states that trying to obey rules makes sin increase. That seems very close to what Jason is saying as well.

    Pulling specific examples from Jason’s lyrics:

    Giving allegiance: We can watch Peter trying to give His allegiance before Christ’s crucifixion. It didn’t work. He failed.

    Trying to believe: We can watch Peter trying to believe enough to walk on water. It didn’t work. He failed.

    Creeds: We can watch the Pharisees who knew Isaiah 53 and Psalm 22 miss the Messiah. Their creeds didn’t work. They failed.

    A name: Jesus said people would cry, “Lord, Lord,” and totally miss Him. So, simply speaking the right name doesn’t always work.

    What works is faith. Abiding.

    For me, the imagery of falling in love is a fitting one. Why? Not because faithfulness relies upon emotion. Not because religion is just about feeling. Those interpretations are looking at the word picture wrong.

    The image works because falling in love implies a relationship. There is something burning alive about romance, an exchange of energy and power. There is a 1+1 = 3 to being “in love” that makes things happen. And when I really set aside my flesh abilities and begin to walk faithing… that’s very similar to what happens between me and the Lord.

    Jason is absolutely right that we can’t just determine to be faithful. We are made to NEED God’s aliveness in us. Real time.

  81. Loren

    Look what all goes on when one misses a day checking in! One of the things I love about the Rabbit Room is that the comments (and resulting dialogue) are often as interesting as the original post (even when people write reams…. 🙂 ). I also love it when we get further feedback from the author of the post, so thank you Jason, for your wise words and patience with our “love” rabbit trail! I do appreciate your song, too, and the beauty and truth you are contributing.

    Just a final word (I hope of encouragement!) @ Heather in response to your question to me re: more love for God following love of husband, and what hope does that hold out for one who’s single (I know that’s a paraphrase–I hope it is close enough!). I know that God has used the things in my life to draw me closer to Him, and that’s found in each of my experiences or relationships (husband, children, etc.). I know that He is faithful and true, and He will use the experiences and relationships in your life to draw you closer to Himself, no matter what form they take. And after all, it was Paul who said, “…An unmarried woman or virgin is concerned about the Lord’s affairs: Her aim is to be devoted to the Lord in both body and spirit. But a married woman is concerned about the affairs of this world–how she can please her husband. I am saying this for your own good, not to restrict you, but that you may live in a right way in undivided devotion to the Lord.” ~1 Cor. 7:34, 35. So you see, you have an advantage on us married folk 🙂 !

    Thanks again, All!

  82. Jen

    Oh but Linda… that’s what happens when you a bunch of passionate, nerdy writer people get together! 😉 Good point though. Loren, I agree! Love the dialogue that happens here, rabbit trails included!

    This may be only tangentially relevant, but hey, remember that post Sarah Clarkson wrote a while back about “Dreamers and Keepers”? (handy link: http://www.rabbitroom.com/?p=11285) I happened to think about it today, and realized her thoughts were really similar to the discussion going on here.

    Which makes me wonder… is this a recurring theme? Living in the tension of keepers/dreamers, thinkers/feelers, and (for the sake of this song’s discussion) intellectual belief/falling in love? And how do we reconcile those concepts without misunderstanding, fighting and losing our sanity?

    I’d like to think The Rabbit Room is a place where those two opposites converge. We have a lot of both here, a lot of deep theology and celebration of art and beauty… and I love that! It’s the thing that has me coming back every day. I’m glad we’re having these conversations.

  83. Jason Gray

    @jasongray

    LindaK wrote “I’ll try to be nice about this, but too many of you don’t bother to edit your thoughts in order to state your opinion clearly. Keep it short, to the point. “No bloviating,” as one commentator says. Then I’ll read your post. (Jason, this does not apply to you!)”

    I beg to differ – I’m willing to admit that I’m the worst offender :- )

    Buck buck wrote: “(What if Jason Gray felt God calling him to lie on his left side for a year like Ezekiel? Or preach naked like Isaiah? Thank goodness we just got a song about falling in love.)”

    Thanks for that disturbing mental image. And thank God the world was spared of it :- )

    I think a lot of what’s been spoken here kind of reinforces what I wrote in my post – that you’re reaction to the song lyric depends, in part at least, to the predisposition you bring to it. Different people read the very same lyric differently. The lyric hasn’t changed, so if I were a detective trying to figure out what’s going on, I’d be left to assume that each person has a different filter they run the lyric through.

    The best thing that this conversation could accomplish in my mind is if it led each of us to be curious about our own individual filters. These filters are invisible and therefore something we rarely think about out or are even aware of. Speaking for myself, it’s always good for me to be made aware of my own filters, assess them, and at times even cultivate a healthy suspicion of them.

    If that is the fruit of a conversation like this one, then I imagine it has been well worth our time. Either way, I thank you all – you honor my work by engaging it in such a way (even if you don’t like it ;- ) Thank you, I’m grateful.

  84. Jen

    Buck, they’ll either ban you… Or ask you to speak. 😉

    PS: I’m totally stalking you at hutchmoot if you don’t get banned. Are you okay with that?

  85. Jen

    Okay, “stalking” is not the best word choice. More like say hello and high five or something. But seriously, I enjoy your posts and your insights.

  86. BuckBuck the Nordic Wonderduck

    Yay, Jen!

    But, I’m thoroughly boring in person. I’m talking piece-of-cardboard boring.

    However, if you sit with me on a couch, we can watch my three-hour collection of pointless YouTube videos. Or make up a secret handshake. Or something.

  87. SecondJon

    @Sarah Bergey “I feel like the scriptures you used there actually worked against your point. At least they did in my mind. And if you can’t have biblical love without obedience, commitment, and belief, then.. Well, wouldn’t that simply be expected to go along with the love? ”

    “considering that Jason said in his post that he meant “biblical love”.”

    “So why are we all debating this?”

    It seems you backed yourself into a corner. You’re saying that everything I wrote is going against what you think my point is. My suggestion: you don’t understand my point. Perhaps the thinking goes like this: I like Jason’s song/concept, therefore it’s biblical and everything in the Bible backs it up; anyone who disagrees is simplybeing unbiblical by arguing against a song/concept I like.”

    The song in itself does not describe love the way the Bible defines it.

    That’s my beef.

    For all those who aren’t willing to read posts of a couple paragraphs in length, I’ll break up my comments so they can read the shorter ones.

  88. SecondJon

    I’m shocked by the refusal among a lot of people to consider things biblically. We like this idea of faith. It’s appealing. The problem? We’re not asking if it’s biblical. Anyone who dares ask if it’s biblical is acting in line with the Bareans in the book of Acts but instead of being engaged in dialog, we’re simply slandered. If anyone disagrees, they’re shutting themselves off to Jesus. If anyone questions, they’re prideful. If anyone dissents, they’re filtering truth through erroneous ideas.

    The problem, of course, is that standing on high and demanding that everyone humbly submit to you and your ideas is a prideful act. My suggestion is that we submit ourselves to the clear teachings of the Bible. (Yes, there’s unclear things as well, I’m specifically talking about the clear things.)

    @BuckBuck the Nordic Wonderduck
    “This idea of using “imperfect” imagery is foreign to us.”

    The problem isn’t imperfect imagery, but promoting beliefs that are in contradiction to the crystal clear teaching of the Bible.

    “His message was foolishness to the proud and learned….perhaps these sorts of images are harder for us because they require a deeper humility.”

    Sorry, forgot that anyone who disagrees is simply living a life of sin in pride. (end sarcasm here) Slander is rarely the best way to continue a discussion, but it’s a great way to get people who offer differing perspectives to stop engaging.

    “Yet the Bible repeatedly shows us that there is sometimes value to being challenged with images that make us uncomfortable. ”

    Yes – so my challenge is, consider the idea of love presented in the lyrics of this song as they stand on their own, and compare that to what the Bible says. Biblically, you cannot separate love from obedience, allegiance, etc., which is what this song does. But then again, if I try to challenge, I’m just being prideful.

    You give a few examples to prove it’s all about a concept, falling in love (which coincidentally appears no where in the Bible):

    “Giving allegiance: We can watch Peter trying to give His allegiance before Christ’s crucifixion. It didn’t work. He failed.”

    • So Peter didn’t give allegiance, but he should have. The point being: He should have giving allegiance. Check. I agree. I also agree that he failed. I also think a valid point here is that having such a close, even emotionally close relationship loving Jesus didn’t keep him faithful. Are you really saying that Peter did not love Jesus? Peter hated Jesus and that’s why allegiance failed? That seems silly.

    “Trying to believe: We can watch Peter trying to believe enough to walk on water. It didn’t work. He failed.”

    • So Peter didn’t believe, but he shoudl have. The point being: He should have believed. Check. I agree. I also agree that he failed in believing. Is the conclusion then to jettison the idea of belief, or, as Jesus then said, that he had little faith – he wasn’t believing enough?

    “Creeds: We can watch the Pharisees who knew Isaiah 53 and Psalm 22 miss the Messiah. Their creeds didn’t work. They failed.”

    • Well… I agree that incorrect theology is not a strong foundation. Reading over people’s theology as it applies to loving God is scary when it is divorced from the biblical meaning. What is love? Walking in obedience to his commands. Rather than being swept off our feet like a scene that makes teen girls cry, we’re suppose to be walking on our feet in obedience.

  89. SecondJon

    @Jason Gray
    “Different people read the very same lyric differently. ”

    There’s a trend to say that nothing has inherent meaning of it’s own, not just beauty but also truth is in the eye of the beholder. Whatever you want something to mean is just fine for you. I disagree. I believe that words have meaning, or else there’s no way to communicate with language. I believe the words of the Bible have meaning. I believe the words of your song have meaning. I believe the words of this sentence have meaning.

    I think it’s a dangerous thing to go mucking around with the definitions of words, though we do need to bring clarity all the time. “Love” is a good example. It’s a huge concept biblically, and is worth clarifying. The biblical authors sometimes made statements like “God is love” and “love one another,” and then took a lot of time to clarify exactly what they meant, which was in start opposition to what the world meant by “love.” There’s historical examples of this – the Roman citizens believed Christians were incestuous because they said they “loved” their brothers and sisters. Indeed, if the Christians understood “love” to mean being swept off your feet and falling in love that really would sound incestuous! But that’s not what the Christians meant.

    The Apostle John asked the question “and what is love?” His answer? “That we walk in obedience to His commands.”

    If the detective you mentioned was asked to define love on the basis of the lyrics of the song, what would his answer be?

    I will admit it: I have filters, and I have a bias. I filter things through scripture and I think good things ought to line up with scripture. It’s out there: I have a bias!

    I recognize that many church-goers’ filter is something like: Anything I hear that’s labeled “Christian” is good unless I don’t like it. I fundamentally disagree. Whether it’s labeled as Christian or not, whether I like how it sounds or makes me feel, it’s worth the scrutiny not of myself, but of the Bible.

    I’ve mentioned a few times what I see the contradiction being: the definition of what it means to love God.

    It would bring great clarity if I could get a clear response from someone who disagrees with me. So far I haven’t had a lot of clarity in responses, just mostly accusations and slander. Here’s the question:

    Do the lyrics of this song draw a distinction between love and obedience, belief, religion, and allegiance?

    It seems to me that’s the point of the song. It should be more like this (love) and less like that (belief, allegiance, etc.). The problem is, the biblical authors said those things (belief, allegiance, etc.) is their definition of loving God.

  90. Julie

    I’m new to this… feeling like I’ve been somewhat of a stalker with my nosed pressed against the window. So I’ll take a leap of faith and step inside to express what is churning in me as I continue to read through the conversations.

    I’m (re)reading The Great Divorce, and one of Lewis’s themes always seems to grab me: “Every poet and musician and artist, but for Grace, is drawn away from love of the thing he tells, to love of the telling till, down in Deep Hell, they cannot be interested in God at all but only in what they say about Him.”

    I’m struck that part of my own filter is one of too much self-examination, introspection, and “Greek-esque” intellectualization. The same attributes that on one day can be devotional can on the next be idolatry. I’m constantly pulled away from worshiping the Father to yes, even worshiping (cringe) the discussion about him. I love the heart of Jason’s latest post (95) suggesting that the value in the conversation is found not in the answers, but in the questions that they should pose for each one of us as individuals. If we are willing to look at those questions honestly, by grace, our own particular brand of idolatry can be surfaced and dealt with so that we may experience the love of the Father with our filters becoming less of a barrier.

  91. Pete Peterson

    @pete

    SecondJon said:

    “Do the lyrics of this song draw a distinction between love and obedience, belief, religion, and allegiance?”

    Yes, and no. The song, it seems to me, is about a personal struggle with what motivates ones faith. It points out that a works-based faith (i.e. religion, obedience, allegiance) is destined to collapse if it doesn’t have love at its center and as its anchor-point.

    The consequences of biblical love are faith, obedience, allegiance, etc. Without them, love does not exist, or is fundamentally broken.

    But the converse is not necessarily true. The consequence of faith, obedience, and allegiance may be something other than love, even to the point of contempt. All these things are a subset of Love, but Love itself is the thing binding them together into a fruitful whole. Else, collapse. Hence Jason’s song suggesting that all these spring from Love and not the other way around.

    If you disagree, or interpret things differently, or just plain dislike the song, that’s fine, but I don’t see that there’s anything to be gained by continuing to press your dissent. You’ve expressed yourself very articulately. Thanks.

  92. Jen

    Buck: sweet! I’ve always wanted a secret handshake! Nothing boring about that.

    Jason: The stalking is mutual, sir. 😉 twitter has been good practice.

  93. Jason Gray

    @jasongray

    Pete – well said. I should let you write the song next time :- )

    I think maybe the problem is (as I also stated in the post) that this all depends on the assumptions you bring to the lyric.

    My assumption is that Love produces obedience, and it produces the best kind of obedience. Love is the gas that fuels all our virtue, both the Love we receive and the love that we can’t help but give back (in the form of God honoring living) will produce the fruit of obedience.

    I have put the cart before the horse and tried to please the Lord with my own efforts, more out of fear than love, but it doesn’t get me far before I’m the joyless and self-righteous elder brother from the story of the prodigal son. When I obey out of love rather than fear or the pressure to perform, it’s always more fruitful.

    So this is one little song looking at one tiny bit of truth in all of the bible. The truth that I’m after is that God wants our heart. Obedience is an assumed part of the package in my mind. It’s an inevitable consequence of love.

    (If obedience isn’t there, then it reveals that what we’re really involved in is self-love. But that’s probably a whole other post)

    Here’s how it looks in marriage. The second most common trouble between husbands and wives is sex. Yep, I’m going there.

    There’s even that little verse that says that spouses shouldn’t withhold sex from each other. And sex for most men is a very, very important expression of love. So wives should be sexually generous with their husbands and husbands have a right to hope and even ask for this. But here’s the problem. The moment the wife feels pressure to give this to her husband is the moment it all starts to break down.

    If a woman gives herself to her husband out of obligation, then more often than not that’s going to start to take the form of co-dependency, that she gives sex to appease her husband. In time she will grow weary and resentful of this obligation and it will lose all joy for her. She will learn to do her duty, give her body, but little else. But in that exchange, the husband doesn’t get what he really longs for anyway, which is her heart, intimacy, the radical self-giving of his wife’s heart to him. She may give her body, but she can do so without ever giving her heart.

    The husband still wants sex, but it will never satisfy his deepest longing which is the heart of his bride. if her heart is never available in the event, then it’s not really what he wanted in the first place. There is a very, very real difference when sex between a husband and wife is about the radical self-giving of each other’s hearts through a physical act.

    We can speak of all of our shoulds and shouldn’ts. We can speak of the importance of our allegiance, our obedience, but if we never give God our hearts in the exchange, then we miss the mark. It may even be a kind of spiritual codependency where we give and give to the Lord in order to please him – a worthy goal in its way. But that only ever gets us halfway there. He came for our hearts. His desire is intimacy with us. This seems to be the big idea of the whole of scripture to me. We walked with Him in the garden, we ran away, he comes to bring us back.

    We can give obedience without giving our hearts. But we can’t give our hearts without also giving obedience. This is a solid truth that I assumed people would bring to my lyric.

    I can’t help but feel if you read the lyric through that filter there would be less opportunity to be troubled by it. If there had been room for enough syllables in the melody to add the word “merely” (it ought be more like falling in love, than merely something to believe in…) I would have done that. But songwriting has a lot of confines you have to work with and so you hope people give the benefit of the doubt and catch the spirit of what you’re trying to say, getting what’s implied when there isn’t the room to state everything.

    That’s what I meant in my post where I said that if you assume that I’m reading the same bible you are that many of the concerns might be cleared up.

    Voltaire (I think) said that the way to be a bore is to say everything. That is good advice for writers. And though I may have accomplished that in my song, I’m probably in great danger of being a bore in my blogs and comments about it :- )

    I got to talk about sex in the rabbit room. Awesome. I’m going to bow out now and try to not speak up anymore. This business of defending myself is kind of gross to me.

  94. Jason Gray

    @jasongray

    And please don’t think me misogynistic – I know if many marriages the roles may be reversed. I was just trying to give an example of one form of the longing for intimacy and used a more stereotypical model.

  95. BuckBuck the Nordic Wonderduck

    Dear SecondJon,

    I understand that you feel this song separates love from obedience. I don’t think so. I think it is about what FUELS obedience, and that is certainly not our own efforts.

    You wrote that Peter should have given his allegiance. If you mean that he should have tried harder to be more faithful, I totally disagree. Peter trying would be the most futile, proud thing he could have done.

    No matter how adamantly he worked, Peter would have failed. And because of His personality, he would have tried harder, and he would have failed again more robustly over and over again. (I think Peter was chosen specifically because of this trait, actually.)

    In fact, if you look at his life, this try-fail cycle was exactly what happened. After the walking on water incident, Peter kept working.

    But he fell asleep in the garden when Jesus asks him for company. He couldn’t even summon up the allegiance to fight his own fatigue.

    And when he finally did wake up, he got enough strength to hack a bad guy’s ear off with a sword. (He couldn’t even hit the guy square on the head.)

    Jesus cleaned up the mess of Petter’s efforts and gave a response that was something like this:

    “Peter! You fight, and you fight, and you fight. You try, and you try, and you try. Don’t you see that all this trying is going to kill you? The war of trying kills everyone who tries. That’s why I’m here.

    This isn’t about you trying harder. It never was about you trying harder. Don’t you know that I could bring the heavenly troops down to wrap this up in no time flat? I don’t need you effort. You need MINE.”

    The fruit of Peter’s striving is made clear a few hours later. He can’t even — in his own strength — admit that he knows Jesus to some girl. This is what happens when we rely upon ourselves to be faithful.

    What finally changed Peter? What transformed Him into a fearless, faithful, OBEDIENT disciple who could finally follow through? It certainly wasn’t trying. He didn’t finally master allegiance, or obedience, or self-control.

    The Holy Spirit came down and a bunch of quivering ninnies were changed into sons and daughters of a King. With that identity change, eternal resources suddenly opened to them. They no longer fought with the strength of their arms, or with their own willpower, but with the power of God.

    I understand that this is a confusing concept. It sounds like I am saying that obedience isn’t important. It sounds like I am saying that allegiance isn’t important. Neither is true.

    I am saying that being good in our own power is utterly impossible. Which is what I heard in Jason’s song.

    I love to read what Peter has (finally) learned by the time he wrote his second epistle. II Peter 1:5-9 urges his readers to “make every effort” to be virtuous, obedient, self-controlled, steadfast. So, at first glance, it looks like those readers are simply being told to be good.

    But what is the fuel supposed to be for those fires? Did he tell them to just try harder? No.

    If you go back to 1: 3-4 you find the only way obedience can ever be accomplished.

    “His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness,”

    He wasn’t just telling them to righteous things. He was asking them to remember who they really were now. And he was urging them to tap into the resources that would allow them to live that newness out in the flesh.

    In my opinion, the very last thing Peter should have done while sinking in the water is try harder to be more faithful. He should have simply been honest about what he needed from the abundance of God.

    (Rereading Matthew 14 makes this so vividly clear. Peter steps out into the waves trusting the power of Christ instead of His own. But the wind shakes him — and he is jolted back to the remembrance that flesh-Peter isn’t strong enough to fight the elements or gravity. His reliance clearly shifts at this point from Christ to self, and he falls. Then Jesus says, “Why did you doubt?”

    Was Jesus questioning why Peter doubted his own fleshly ability to walk on water? No. Jesus knew Peter couldn’t fight physics. Jesus was asking, “Why did you trust self and doubt that I was enough to keep you afloat.”)

    I don’t think Peter sank because he didn’t try hard enough. I think he sank because he tried at all.

  96. Fellow Traveler

    I’m still a little curious about the lyric about “religion.” I brought up the fact that it seems like there’s a tendency for folks to have a knee-jerk reaction at the sound of the word “religion” and to paint Christians with values as being self-righteous and Pharisaical. Then the next line says that religion made me “just a sinner with a stone tied to my feet,” and I was noting that it’s important not to fall into the trap of thinking that we are anything BUT sinners.

    I don’t know what Jason had in mind, but it just piqued my curiosity because of how it seems to complement those trends in the church today. It’s probably not what he really meant though.

  97. Jason Gray

    @jasongray

    “Religion” can be used in a colloquial sense as word that sums up the more legalistic obligatory observance of faith. Of course that is not the strict sense of the word. It can be used in a beautiful dignifying context, too. The context colors the word. In my usage it’s short hand for the kind of faith observance that is characterized by rule keeping, etc.

    But I think you know that. I assume you’re taking issue with me choosing to use that word in that context. That it is a reduction of all that word could mean. That’s fair and I considered that. But again, I only have so many syllables, and so I went for using it as short hand and colloquial.

    But even Tim Keller, who I imagine you would approve of as a very orthodox pastor/teacher of the reformed persuasion, uses the word in this manner. One of his recent teaching series is called “Losing My Religion” and advocates moving beyond formal observance into dynamic relationship.

  98. Fellow Traveler

    Sure. My point was just that there’s been a movement to label as “legalistic” certain aspects of Christianity that are actually important. It just seems like the greatest good is tolerance and the greatest evil is judgmentalism. So anytime somebody sets up standards or rules… he must be a Pharisee.

    This isn’t something I assume you would agree with, but I was sort of thinking out loud in terms of the “big picture.” Cultural context can have a huge impact on how people interpret a lyric. So I guess I was trying to say…don’t be surprised if people take that particular line that way given what’s afoot in the church nowadays.

  99. Pete Peterson

    @pete

    I don’t want to stir anyone’s pot, but I just came across a passage in The Mind of the Maker by Dorothy Sayers (amazing book) that, while she’s addressing a significantly different issue, made me think of this discussion.

    “. . . an inner voice reminds us that the Christian God is Love, and that love and resignation can find no common ground to stand on . . . Our confusion on the subject is caused by a dissipation and eclecticism in our associations with the word “love.” We connect it too exclusively with the sexual and material passions, whose anti-passion is possessiveness, and with indulgent affection, whose anti-passion is sentimentality. Concentrated, and freed from its anti-passions, love is the Energy of creation.”

  100. BuckBuck the Nordic Wonderduck

    I just ordered that book tonight, Pete. Thanks for the teaser!

    Fellow Traveler,

    I agree with what you wrote about the movement to label important aspects of Christianity “legalistic.”

    In our culture there is a strong tendency toward universalism that is anti-gospel. There is also a post-modern, experience-based push to verify beliefs via emotion alone. Neither aligns with Scripture.

    A knee-jerk reaction can be to fight these heresies by putting our faith in intellect alone (v. faith in God). I am not saying you are doing this. I’m saying that I have seen it happen.

    Don’t you think the book of Romans is a great example of the mind employed well in a gospel context? Paul was brilliant; and yet he doesn’t substantiate his work with that qualification.

    He cites a personal commission from Christ as the primary justification for what he is about to do.

    -I was called
    -I was set apart
    -I have received grace and apostleship to do this work

    Then he does something even more interesting. In verse 1:16, he talks about how his work will be accomplished. He says the gospel is, “the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes.”

    All of the beautiful intellectual work he does within the book enfolds into a clear, gospel-empowered paradigm.

  101. Ron Block

    @ronblock

    A Christianity that leaves out Christ as the wellspring and source of love and righteousness living within us will put us under the power of sin. Mere forgiveness cannot make us holy; we can’t simply be thankful to God for having our sins forgiven, try harder and be holier. That was the heresy of the Judaizers. They mixed their own human effort with Christ dying for their sins as the Passover Lamb, leaving out the inconvenient truth of their own essential weakness and inability.

    We can talk about commandments and laws as portraying what love really looks like, but the Law cannot fully describe love. Love is situational. There is nowhere in the Law where it says Rahab can lie about the spies and be justified for it. There is nowhere in the Law that allows Corrie Ten Boom to lie and say “There are no Jews here.” In such a case, to tell the truth would be to sin.

    This is why it is vital to first take Christ within us by faith, and then abide – rest – rely – trust (whatever we want to call it). In our human selves we are too weak and pea-brained to know what is going on inside another’s head and heart enough to figure out the loving thing to do and then do it. We have to have God in us directing the show.

    I think we’re often afraid of this. People have been directed by God to do some really weird things (as in lay on your side naked for three years, or cause people to drop dead, or to bake bread using human excrement). We’re afraid God will direct us to do something really weird and out-there, like talk to someone on a plane, so we would rather quantify exactly “What I Must Do” and “What I Must Not Do” and codify righteousness. That keeps it all safe, with no unexpected adventures of talking to a prostitute on a street corner while church members can see us. The thing is, we want to be liked and respected by whatever group of people we value. Religious people (using the word in a negative sense) like the approval of other religious people and will go to great lengths to get it, even to the point of hurting and turning away the lost.

    The Law as Director is over. The Law cannot make us holy. It cannot even make us halfway holy. It can only make us sin if we pick it up. The Law was given that offenses might increase.

    Rules and standards of course exist. But we don’t put the trailer before the pickup. Christ is at the root of us – he is love. If I trust that Christ lives in me and is perfect love for my wife, and maintain that awareness, it will change my attitude and behavior toward my wife.

    That’s how the Cross changed everything. Instead of effort, the Ten Commandments turn into the Ten Promises. You shall love the Lord your God. Why? Because his love lives in me and is my power source. I won’t have any other gods. Why? Because I have the only God living in me as my power source. I shall not hate in my heart, or commit adultery. Great, God! Get to it! You’re my Source at the root of me, my deepest Me of me; the union of You and me is what I was created for.

  102. S.D. Smith

    I love Jason.

    But I have a lyric complaint, too.

    Why did you say “Giving my allegiance,” instead of “PLEDGING my allegiance?”

    Why, why, why?

    Do you hate God and all good things like horses and the KJV?

    Do you pledge allegiance to the Christian flag and the Bible every morning wearing a suit and tie without any gushy, lovey-dovey, “oh, please give me a hug” crap? Sometimes I think you don’t do that as you ought. Do ya now?

    I’m not trying to be mean but I kind of hate you in a Christian way.

    And is your hair over your ears? I bet you “love” that. It’s GOTTA be more like…get a haircut hippie!

    And your song about a “live lobster tank?” I mean, come on. That’s NOT how you ended up here, buddy. You ended up here because God put you here. Don’t you have faith or anything?

    If this comment is too long then ex-yoo-hooz- me for living. But I vote and pay my taxes and pledge allegiance to the America flag too buddy so why don’t you back off and go hug a tree like your best friend Obama from kenya.

    I thank God I’m not like other men, like Jason Gray, I do good and don’t let my emotions get me off course and I think thinking thoughts with my mind all the time and never hug anyone just to be safe. Amen.

  103. Fellow Traveler

    Um, S. D., I think you’re pigeon-holing a few folks. Just sayin’. 😉

    Ron, I understand your remarks, and you’re saying things that make sense and that I agree with. I’ve never downplayed the importance of love and following the will of God in unexpected ways.

    But… this is the pattern of responses that I see over, and over, and over. Not here, but elsewhere, between one kind of Christian and another kind of Christian:

    Christian A: “I believe Christians should oppose gay activists.”
    Christian B: “HOMOPHOBE!”

    Christian A: “I’m uneasy about divorce and remarriage.”
    Christian B: “STONE-CASTER!”

    Christian A: “I think capitalism is a good thing.”
    Christian B: “PIG!”

    Christian A: “I like Sarah Palin.”
    Christian B: “HICK! TEA-DRINKER!”

    Christian A: “I grieve that we have a President who believes in killing babies.”
    Christian B: “RACIST!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” (Wow. That was loud.)

    I guess I’m just trying to say that there is a lot of knee-jerking going on out there, but the most dangerous kind of knee-jerk isn’t coming from evangelical Christians with standards. It’s coming from people who are bent on moving the Church to the left.

    Christian A: “I think Bono sounds like a dying cat.”
    Christian B: “BLASPHEMY!”

    (Okay, I made that up. 🙂 )

  104. Fellow Traveler

    BuckBuck:

    Well, actually my first point is that the amount of knee-jerking on the evangelical side is probably exaggerated. Just look at the whole _Love Wins_ fuss. There was all this complaining that Rob Bell’s opponents had been harsh, dismissive, etc., when most of them were actually spending a lot of time going through his book with a fine-toothed comb, having long discussions, and writing long reviews. If anything, they were almost too nice to him.

    But my second point is that what some people might mockingly call a “knee-jerk” can actually be a good and a healthy instinct. So for example, liberal Christians say that conservative Christians who oppose homosexual activism are having a “knee-jerk” reaction and are being un-Christian, unloving, etc. But the instinct to oppose this sort of thing has a solid scriptural foundation. Plus, it’s a straw-man argument to say that conservative Christians “hate gay people.” Fred Phelps is an anomaly. It’s possible to earnestly hope that gays will turn away from their sin while steadily fighting the inroads they would like to make on our culture.

    It seems to me that this kind of so-called “knee-jerk” is much less dangerous than a knee-jerk on the other side, which compromises and leaves us vulnerable to corruption.

    And on the abortion issue, I’m sure you would agree that a “knee-jerk” reaction to say “This President is pro-choice. This is bad,” is certainly less dangerous than a knee-jerk to the effect of “We can’t say anything negative about this President because of his race. How dare you bring up moral questions?”

    A knee-jerk is dangerous when it leads people to compromise the Word for the sake of pushing a political agenda. Conservative Christians are accused of doing this constantly, but it seems to me that it is, ironically, even more true of their accusers.

  105. BuckBuck the Nordic Wonderduck

    FT: That helps me understand your thoughts, thanks.

    I guess I wouldn’t consider, “The President is pro-choice. This is bad,” to be knee-jerk. That statement doesn’t have a reactionary, incendiary flavor to me at all.

    (Though “bad” can be a difficult term in light of God’s sovereignty. The Holocaust was all things terrible. Yet God was able to bring spots of beauty from those ashes. Bonhoeffer’s wisdom. TenBoom’s grace. Etc. But that is a rabbit rail.)

    As I read what you have written, I’m hearing three primary themes emerge. I’d like to repeat those back to you, and maybe you can tell me if I am hearing you inaccurately.

    1.) It seems you have a deep fear that an unseen spiritual/cultural power is threatening to overwhelm the true church. Is that correct?

    2.) It seems you feel that liberal theologians have created a polemic conversational environment where truth, and those who stand for it, are going to be mocked and derided. This makes you feel trapped, misjudged, and angry.

    3.) It seems you believe that universalism/humanism is a more dangerous heresy than religious self-sufficiency. Therefore, you feel most safely grounded fighting heterodoxy from the cognitive.

    Am I hearing you correctly?

  106. Fellow Traveler

    “1.) It seems you have a deep fear that an unseen spiritual/cultural power is threatening to overwhelm the true church. Is that correct?”

    I don’t know if “unseen” is exactly the right word. I see it everywhere. But certainly I believe that as the devil would love to undermine the true church, he is probably delighted by the movement and is working behind it in some sense.

    “2.) It seems you feel that liberal theologians have created a polemic conversational environment where truth, and those who stand for it, are going to be mocked and derided. This makes you feel trapped, misjudged, and angry.”

    This is interesting to answer. First, it’s not theologians, it’s liberal Christians in general. As for how I feel, I am definitely angry. Am I “trapped?” Perhaps in the sense that people like me are routinely pigeon-holed, but not in the sense that I feel unable to defend myself or take action. Misjudged? Again, conservatives can be demonized, e.g. “Conservative Christians hate gay people,” so in that sense, sure. But I think many liberal Christians understand conservative Christians very well. That’s why they’re determined to turn people against them—because they know what conservatives stand for, and they hate it.

    “3.) It seems you believe that universalism/humanism is a more dangerous heresy than religious self-sufficiency. Therefore, you feel most safely grounded fighting heterodoxy from the cognitive.”

    I actually wasn’t discussing universalism—I brought up Rob Bell just as an example of how evangelical Christians can take undeserved flak. And I think “humanism” is a broad term that covers many ideas both good and bad. But I’m interpreting those terms per their technical meanings—perhaps you meant to refer to something more general. I guess I can’t really answer this until you re-write and clarify. 🙂

  107. Laura Peterson

    Before this thread takes off on a mini-thread about knee-jerks, I just wanted to jump in and say that I’ve read skimmed through all of it this morning. I was REALLY nervous to do so…I’ve been staying away because I tend to be like Jen said in comment #64 – can’t we all just agree?? But, then things would be pretty boring around here. 🙂 I found myself enjoying all these comments and challenging my own thinking about what “falling in love” means to me and to our culture. Thanks, Jason and everyone, for some good brain and heart exercise this morning.

    A few specific shout-outs:
    @UTR Dave #46- I love those questions you bring up. Guest post, perhaps? (Also, UTR is my work soundtrack. Thanks!)
    @ BuckBuck and Heather, #50-51 – We have a complete OED in my office, and I reference it every time I have the tiniest excuse. “Falling in love” is an entry under Falling, defined as “the state of becoming enamoured,” and if I’m reading the entry correctly, the first recorded us is in the National Review in 1859. That seems way too late, so maybe I’m reading it incorrectly. Aren’t dictionaries fun?

    @Pete, #117 – Thanks for the quote. Maybe I should have a copy of the OED handy when I read “Mind of the Maker.”
    @FT, #122 – Bono. Haha! But – I’m not sure what I think about the rest of your examples. I think I know a lot of evangelicals (or those who label themselves Christian A) with twitchy knees….

    Jumping back out now. Cheers!

  108. Fellow Traveler

    Laura, are you by any chance related to the proprietor? I’ve been wondering for a while. 🙂

  109. S.D. Smith

    I made things worse! I was trying to be funny, didn’t mean to make things worse, but I can see how that might have felt like an attack on those critical of Jason. My bad.

    Satire is sometimes an inexact art. Deliberate overstatement also has its limits in usefulness.

    I need to attack self-righteous liberals now to bring balance back to the force. That is, of course, a very easy task. Too easy.

  110. Laura Peterson

    FT – Nope. I mean, maybe we have a random Swedish cousin in common? I’m a terrible liar, otherwise I’d use that coincidence to try to score a free concert ticket once in a while. 🙂 (Kidding.) There are a handful of Lauras around the RR (hey there, LauraP, LauraB and Laura Barton) so when I first started commenting I thought I’d just be clear about it. Maybe I should come up with an awesome nickname? Hmm….

  111. BuckBuck the Nordic Wonderduck

    http://www.iclnet.org/pub/resources/text/wittenberg/luther/gal/web/gal1-01.html

    No more extended comments on this. I’ve (more than) exhausted my views on the subject already. ‘Apologies for that.

    I just wanted to share a link that I found helpful this afternoon. Several months ago, a friend clued me in to Martin Luther’s _Commentary on the Epistle to the Galatians_ Every time I’ve spent time with it, I’ve been blown away with how readable and applicable it is.

    Some of what I read today seemed relevant to our conversation here, so here’s the URL for anyone interested. If you’d like to read the whole thing, click on the URL. This is Page 1. The Table of Contents for the rest of the work can be found by clicking “Contents Galatians.”

    Thanks for the conversation,
    Becca

    “We find no rest for our weary bones unless we cling to the word of grace.”
    Martin Luther

  112. JayDeeJaye

    I don’t know if my perspective can add to the conversation, but “More Like Falling…” flows like a narrative on my life over the last 20 years. I think of myself now as a liberal Christian, but it wasn’t long ago that I was more of a conservative fundamentalist, with all the stereotypes that implies, both deserved and undeserved. Maybe it was my early story, losing my parents to tragedy, growing up surrounded by bitterness and knowing only a twisted, broken love, but the idea of a loving God is, well, appealing. Liberating. Life-saving.

    Somehow, I always knew there was a God. Belief was never a problem; but a God who loved me, who didn’t *need* me yet *wanted* me, that was new. My true self, a passionate, loving, intimate self would not have come awake if I didn’t give over to His courtship for me, and let myself fall in love with Him back. Our relationship would not have gone any further than nameless servant to Master. He is the love of my life for which my heart starved for as long as I can remember.

    And as our relationship grows and the me that He loves awakens more, my perspective changes. My Beloved is bigger than any political issue or question of judgment or threat to culture. My ego doesn’t need to be defended, and those I used to have “problems” with are safer around me because I’m learning how to love from the One who wrote the manual.

  113. Heather Carrillo

    I have been ill the last couple of days and haven’t really been able to respond to anything. I feel that it wasn’t right of me to just say all that and then say “well, I’m done.”

    LindaK: May I suggest you not read ANYTHING by the early church fathers. 😉

    JayDeeJaye: So would you now consider yourself a liberal Christian, with all the stereotypes impled?

    S.D. Smith: Thanks for actually being honest about how my disagreeing and my “conservativism” or “religion” or whatever you want to call it is often taken.

    Becca: Yes, huge P&P fan, and I’m very aware of the light Ms. Lucas is painted in. But, I kind of get her. I’ve fallen in love more than once and it hasn’t worked out. I think I’d just like to love someone and have them love me back. I could do without the butterflies. I would recommend “The Magic of Ordinary Days” by Ann Howard Creel. It has a take on love that is much deeper and more romantic than the silly notions we have today.

    Laura Peterson: I’m jealous of your OED. Although I am a bit confused by the date. Shakespeare used the term and he wrote well before 1859.

    Jenn and Jason: Thank you for clarifying your words.

    Everyone else: I feel like my fellow “dissentors” have said enough of what I’ve already been thinking so I don’t feel like I have to go any deeper. I do think people should check this out http://www.christianpost.com/news/moralistic-therapeutic-deism-the-new-american-religion-6266/ Perhaps this is the “unseen spiritual power” discussed a few posts above. This is newly gathered data on the church today, and from the findings of Christian Smith and his fellows at the National Study of Youth and Religion it seems that we have a lot of feelings flying around, but no firm basis for our beliefs. I guess that’s what I’m driving at.

    So, anyway, since I’ve helped make these comments riDICulously long. I will stop now, unless someone has a direct comment or answer to me. I’ll just watch. Thanks. 🙂

  114. Jason Gray

    @jasongray

    Hey Sarah! Thanks for seeking those out : – )

    But yes, I’m amending those original posts and they will appear here, in fact, I’m putting a couple in the queue today. In other words, you check out the link, but the forthcoming versions here will be better.

  115. Fellow Traveler

    Heather, I agree. I’m just about wore out with this thread too. Good thoughts, and I’ve enjoyed reading your contributions.

    The article you linked to was spot-on as well. I just might pass it around. Thanks.

    I think I’ll go read some Paulin bloviations now. Toodle-oo!

  116. Canaan Bound

    My Song Is Love Unknown (text by Samuel Crossman, c.1624-1683)

    My song is love unknown, my Savior’s love to me,
    Love to the loveless shown that they might lovely be.
    Oh, who am I that for my sake my Lord should take frail flesh and die?

    He came from His blest throne salvation to bestow;
    But men made strange, and none the longed-for Christ would know.
    But oh, my friend, my friend indeed, who at my need His life did spend.

    Sometimes they strew His way and His sweet praises sing;
    Resounding all the day Hosannas to their King.
    Then “Crucify!” is all their breath, and for His death they thirst and cry.

    Why, what hath my Lord done? What makes this rage and spite?
    He made the lame to run, He gave the blind their sight.
    Sweet injuries! Yet they at these themselves displease and ‘gainst Him rise.

    They rise and needs will have my dear Lord made away;
    A murderer they save, The Prince of Life they slay
    Yet cheerful He to suff’ring goes, that He His foes from thence might free.

    In life no house, no home, my Lord on earth might have;
    In death no friendly tomb cut what a stranger gave.
    What may I say? Heav’n was His home, but mine the tomb wherein He lay.

    Here might I stay and sing, no story so divine!
    Never was love, dear King, never was grief like Thine.
    This is my friend, in whose sweet praise I all my days could gladly spend!

  117. Fellow Traveler

    Those lyrics contain a curious little historical slip. It implies that the same Jews who cried “Hosanna” cried “Crucify” later, when actually this is very likely not the case. If anything, Jesus’ popularity with the masses only grew through the course of Holy Week. Every time the Jewish leaders came to trip him up, they fell flat on their faces. He never missed a beat. There was no way he could have been LOSING popularity.

    So then you may be wondering, where did the crowd on Good Friday come from? Well, it’s actually very simple: There were thousands of people working in the temple, and a few hundred of them were told that if they wanted to keep their jobs, they should be in Pilate’s courtyard at the right time to follow directions. Only a few hundred were needed, because no more could fit into the courtyard. So sympathetic Jewish people would not be able to come in. And you’ll notice that on the Via Dolorosa, there are people lining the streets, weeping. There’s your Palm Sunday crowd (very likely).

    So there. Holy Week history tidbit for ya. 😀

  118. Shaun Groves

    Jason, thanks for the open dialogue and for being so gracious and humble with us all in the process.

    But.

    I disagree with the message of this song – and it has nothing to do with a a sappy soft definition of love. Quite the opposite I think.

    In the lyric you’ve seemingly set up an either/or choice for listeners. Either the kind of relationship/faith God wants for us or “allegiance” and “religion.” This is odd since allegiance and religion are very much central to the message of Jesus as I understand it and to historic Christianity.

    Jesus offered life for those who repent. “Repent and live,” he said. This language wasn’t unique to Jesus. We know from secular writings of the period that when Caesar overthrew an enemy he offered the conquered army the same choice…using the same Greek word “repent.” In other words, the army could shift their allegiance to the conquering king or die. The soldiers would literally raise a hand and swear an oath of allegiance to their new king. For the first 30o years of Christianity Christians did the same. At conversion, after a length training period, they raised their hand before a crowd of witnesses and swore “Jesus is Lord!” That’s quite possibly the context of Romans 10: If you confess with your mouth Jesus is Lord…

    So allegiance as I understand the word is central to early Christianity. So central that many – including many Mennonites and, well, me – won’t pledge allegiance to anyone or anything else. Jesus is Lord and no one else.

    Second, religion. Religion comes from a Latin word that means to be bound. The word Paul used most for “worship” was a word meaning menial labor – slave labor. The psalmist uses “abad” an awful lot – same meaning. We’re bound to Christ – servants, bondservants, no longer slaves to sin but slaves nonetheless.

    My issue with your lyric wasn’t love. It was the death of paradox. We are loved sons and daughters of God our Father. Jesus is a friend closer than a brother. He is in me and I am in Him. I am his beloved and He is mine. BUT God demands my allegiance and service…I think in response to God’s love, because of it, not instead of it.

    I’m sure you didn’t intend to but you kinda said I have to choose between allegiance/service and a deep intimate forever love. I want both. And I think God does to.

    Thankful for your music and your heart, friend.

    -Shaun

  119. Jason Gray

    @jasongray

    C’mon Shaun. After all the times I’ve left nice comments on your blog, the first time you leave one on mine, it’s this? ;- )

    I want to be teachable, I really do, but I guess I still don’t see that I’ve necessarily made an either/or proposition here. Maybe I have a major blind spot… I do say that it’s more like one thing than it is merely another, but I never say it’s one thing or a different thing.

    I just don’t see it as the death of paradox, either. Admittedly, this particular song isn’t about paradox, so it’s not coming from an angle that illuminates paradoxical truth. It’s less about paradox and more about adding to, or deepening what’s already in place. You’ve pledged allegiance to Christ – great, but the song is suggesting that there is more than just that, that there is a deeper level available to you, and by the way it is full of delight! It’s like discovering that in the parable of the man who sold everything he had to buy the field and obtain the treasure buried in it, that the person you thought all along was you – called to give up everything in order to obtain the treasure of the Kingdom of God – may actually be Jesus, and that in fact you may be the treasure in the story that he gave up everything in order to obtain.

    Of course both are true, but the latter discovery is the more overwhelming of the two, the one that has the power to radically transform you.

    And anyway, all of this specifically has to do with the particular audience this song is directed at.

    The first line is:
    “give me rules, I will break them…”

    Right at the outset I think it’s pretty clear that I’m talking about legalism and the impossibility of justifying myself, saving myself with my own dutiful righteousness. With that as a context, it seems that the chorus lyric is warranted. It’s addressing a very specific malady, the malady of ritualistic, works driven religiosity devoid of an intimate connection with Christ. (not that ritual is necessarily bad – I’m NOT saying that). it’s not intended – nor is a single song able, I don’t think – to say all that could be said about every facet of our relationship to Christ. This song is meant to be only one of many conversations to be had around the subject. This one is about, as Chesterton said of Saint Francis, the idea of our Christian faith looking less like a theory and more like a love affair.

    This is where I got the more like/less like language.

    I don’t think anyone would accuse Chesterton of proposing that we abandon reason or that he’s saying there is no place for a vigorous intellectual life for a Christian. My read of it is that he’s offering a pithy corrective to a certain kind of Christian, a reminder that for some of us who are inclined to intellectualize our faith, we shouldn’t forget the heart of the matter. At least if we feel like we want to smoke whatever Francis of Assisi was smoking.

    As I’ve stated elsewhere, I’m not as comfortable with the emotional expression of my life – at least not as much as the intellectual. But I started to feel convicted that I was maybe guilty of intellectualizing my faith as a way of protecting my heart from the Lord. If I kept Him upstairs, i could manage Him better. But emotions are strong, and if I let Him come downstairs He could really turn things upside down. So I wrote the song as a self corrective. Elsewhere I’ve written songs about the danger of the other side of the ditch: emotionalism.

    But I still think you help make my point. The soldiers who pledged allegiance to their conquerer… It’s hard to imagine them doing that out of anything but fear. Fear will get you a certain quality of allegiance (perhaps even a fickle allegiance that will be given to anything that conquers it), but love produces an entirely different kind of allegiance, the kind that I will give my life for.

    I risk being very dismissive and unteachable here, but it’s hard for me to not see this as another case of bringing a pre-disposition to this lyric. In this case, I would propose it’s a predisposition to see my lyric as an eithor/or proposition, perhaps because of a passion for paradoxical truth (which is a worthy passion, and my favorite toy box to play in).

    The predisposition I would have brought to this song about 5 years ago is the fact that I HATED any song that had a whiff of God as my girl/boyfriend, or even the buddy Jesus vibe. Man, I could smell that stuff a mile away and I hated it. “I am a friend of God…” ewww… I hated that song. i would have hated “More Like Falling In Love” had I heard it, too. But that’s kind of the reason why I wrote it.

    I’m not sure why this song triggers people the way it does. On different days I’m tempted to think I failed in the writing of it, and others I’m tempted to think that I inadvertently struck a nerve and did something terribly right for once. Maybe both are true, or neither. But for whatever reason, it seems to invite theological nitpicking.

    As a theological nitpicker myself, it’s weird (and good for me) to be on the receiving end of it. Maybe that sounds like I’m painting myself a victim. I don’t feel that way (heck, this is by far my biggest song – if I’m a victim, I’d be grateful to be victimized more often :- ). I am, however, grateful when I experience people giving me and my song the benefit of the doubt. I deserve to be taken to task for many, many things, but every angle I try to look at this one, I can’t see that it’s warranted. Not yet anyway. Sorry. I want to be open, though…

  120. Shaun Groves

    Ha! Sorry, friend. I should have planned this better huh? Maybe a few “I want to be like you when I grow up” comments before this one? But that goes without saying doesn’t it? ; )

    So appreciative of your humility and thorough response. Great points all throughout. And you’re right: I bring a predisposition to this lyric. And every other. As do you. That’s the greatest struggle in writing for me: I just can’t predict the predisposition of every listener out there!

    Thank God that when I’m misunderstood (or I miscommunicate) it becomes an opportunity to wrestle together with what we believe. You’ve wrestled me in some good directions with this song – and I’m better for it. Thanks, Jason.

  121. Ron Block

    @ronblock

    As a long-time traveler (and often a time traveler) on the Christ-road, I’ve been through many phases and misconceptions of “What Christianity Is.” And what it most certainly is is paradoxical. I can’t remember if Chesterton or Lewis said it, but being “in love” causes us to bind ourselves with promises; we swear allegiance due to being “taken up” with another person. And quite often everything seems beautiful and easy for a time. . We go on for awhile fueled by “being in love,” really pleased to help, to support, to give into the wishes of our spouse.

    But in a sense we really don’t know what we are doing. We have no idea how 10, 20, 30 years of marriage plays out physically, psychologically, spiritually, either in ourselves or in our spouse.

    What gets broken down by 20 years of marriage and having children (speaking from experience) is primarily our pride; pride in our knowing, our strength, our wisdom. Doubtless, other things are broken down as well.

    Now, in the Christian frame, when we come to know God’s grace in Christ, when we first see that we are sinners in need of a Savior, and there stands Jesus, resurrected, ready, able, willing, we burst with gratefulness. We take what he offers. And we bind ourselves with promises. In many cases, everything seems beautiful and easy for a time. We’re living the life. Wow it’s beautiful. We’re fueled by “being in love” and for a time we are really pleased to give into Christ’s desires for us. It makes us feel good to do so.

    But pride has to be broken down. “I am living the Christian life” has to give way to “I cannot live the Christian life.” At some level we have to fail in order that our self-willed “holiness” can give way to humility. This is the state Lewis described through Screwtape: “The most alarming thing in your last account of the patient is that he is making none of those confident resolutions which marked his original conversion; no more lavish promises of perpetual virtue, I gather, not even the expectation of an endowment of Grace for life, but only a hope for the daily and hourly pittance to meet the daily and hourly temptation. This is very bad.”

    The original fueling of our actions by emotion has to be broken down, and in fact is inevitable. We will eventually fail God, fail others, fail ourselves; that is the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil – failure.

    So – all that to say, mere allegiance through fear cannot keep us. Allegiance through love for Christ cannot keep us. And even “my love for God” cannot keep me.

    What keeps us is the unilateral covenant God made with us, his one-sided allegiance. This unstoppable Love keeps coming to us even in our failure; it loves us when we hate ourselves; it loves us when we are self-righteous Pharisees. The allegiance of God to loving us comes from the Covenant he signed in his blood. God is committed forever to us, committed to seeing his divine life within us come to fruition within these branches.

    What we do is surrender – yes, swear allegiance, but not in our own power. As I have gotten older and hopefully wiser I see more and more that I can safely swear allegiance only by trusting that Christ’s power within me is stronger than any force of world, flesh, devil, and will keep me to the end. He is literally our Fortress, unassailable.

    Love drives all this, but it is his love. Real, other-centered, die-for-your-enemies Love is the sole province of the Trinity. Wholehearted commitment to God is conceived, mid-wived, nursed, raised, shaped, taught, and fueled by God himself – God himself in us.

    In marriage the initial in-loveness has to give way, has to be broken down to break both spouses to be real marriage material. Pride, fear, baggage, all has to give way in a Christian marriage. And what happens, at least in my experience, is a growing faith in Christ in the spouse, and a growing faith in Christ within ourselves. “In-love” gives way to real, other-centered, self-giving love that is no longer based on emotion.

    All this is paradoxical, and can be looked at from different angles. But this is the essential Pauline truth as I understand it.

  122. Jason Gray

    @jasongray

    Shaun, you probably won the humility badge with this one :- ) I’m afraid I just sound like I’m determined to be right. I hope that’s not the case… Thank YOU.

    Ron – thank you. In the subtext, I think I wrote a lot of the lyric with this kind of thing in the back of my mind, like “it was love that made me a believer” for instance – thinking of love as compelling me, overpowering me, and having it’s way in my life.

    Even over the years as I’ve sung “More like falling in love, than something to believe in…” the mental image that comes into my mind when I sing it is this vast space that opens up beneath my feet and I fall – more or less stumble, and not of my own accord – into it. I think of it as something larger than me that swallows me up. I don’t think the lyric clearly says that, but that’s the image that always comes to my mind. I guess you could say that it’s my pre-disposition that I bring to my own lyric :- )

    It would be a better lyric if it more clearly conveyed all of that, though.

    But I have friends all the time who challenge me to let some songs be simple, and this was one of them. And yet it’s meaningful enough to me personally that I really enjoy singing it every night – especially in the context of the other songs I sing in a night. But it really is a rather very small part of the conversation of what a relationship with Jesus looks like. A limited view, one tiny piece.

  123. Becca

    Reading Dorothy Sayer’s _The Mind of the Maker_. Found this quote interesting and possibly relevant to the concept of metaphor:

    “…the physicist, struggling to interpret the alien structure of the atom, finds himself obliged to consider it sometimes as a ‘wave’ and sometimes as a ‘particle.’ He knows very well that both these terms are analogical — they are metaphors, ‘picture-thinking,’ and, as pictures, they are incompatible and mutually contradictory. But he need not on that account refrain from using them for what they are worth. If he were to wait till he could have immediate experience of the atom, he would have to wait until he was set free from the framework of the universe. In the meantime, so long as he remembers that language and observation are human functions, partaking at every point of the limitations of humanity, he can get along quite well with them and carry out fruitful researches. To complain that man measures God by his own experience is a waste of time; man measures everything by his own experience; he has no other yardstick.”

    “When we use these expressions, we know perfectly well that they are metaphors and analogies; what is more, we know perfectly well where the metaphor begins and ends.”

  124. Canaan Bound

    @148

    Ron,

    “What keeps us is the unilateral covenant God made with us, his one-sided allegiance. This unstoppable Love keeps coming to us even in our failure; it loves us when we hate ourselves; it loves us when we are self-righteous Pharisees. The allegiance of God to loving us comes from the Covenant he signed in his blood. God is committed forever to us, committed to seeing his divine life within us come to fruition within these branches.”

    I’ve read through each comment here and have been keeping up with new things posted. What seemed to be missing is the Love that God has shown us. My love for God (however you may define it) is fickle, at best. I cling to this truth: that His love is constant. His love remains, redeems, and reclaims. Thank you for sharing this essential truth so eloquently.

    CB

  125. Becca

    Two more Sayer’s quotes that seemed relevant. This whole chapter was actually fascinating, but I will try to include the bare bones at least.

    “‘Sacrifice’ is another word liable to misunderstanding. It is generally held to be noble and loving in proportion as its sacrificial nature is consciously felt by the person who is sacrificing himself. The direct contrary is the truth. To feel sacrifice consciously as self-sacrifice argues a failure in love.” (133, 134)

    . . .

    “The Puritan assumption that all action disagreeable to the doer is ipso facto more meritorious than enjoyable action, is firmly rooted in this exaggerated valuation set on pride. I do not mean that there is no nobility in doing unpleasant things from a sense of duty, but only that there is more nobility in doing them gladly out of sheer love of the job.” (134)

    . . .

    “Our confusion on the subject is caused by a dissipation and eclecticism in our associations with the word ‘love.’ We connect it too exclusively with the sexual and material passions, whose anti-passion is possessiveness, and with indulgent affection, whose anti-passion is sentimentality.”

    . . .

    (Sayers goes on to discuss the conscious v. unconscious cooperation of artistic matter, humanity being the most developed self-conscious means of co-operation…)

    “To Love-in-Energy, the only effective response is Love-in-Power, eagerly embracing its own sacrifice. In other words, the perfect work of love demands the cooperation of the creature, responding according to the law of its nature.” (137)

  126. Cam's Mom

    I’m late. It seems the party on this blog has come and gone and I missed it. I apologize, but I spent most of Feb and March parked at the RR waiting for a new post from Jason and I got discouraged and left. I came in today and saw Part 3, and the OCD kicked in and I thought I had to read them in order. And as I read I thought of some comments, but I wanted to make sure I wasn’t repeating someone else, so I tried to read everything and now my head is spinning and I can’t remember what anyone said. But I wanted to say a few words to Jason even tho it won’t be as profound as what others have said…

    1. I appreciate your desire to write songs w/ substance. I like to write but I never feel like it comes close to saying all that I want it to. And I guess I haven’t thought about it in terms of being a limitation of the medium or something “real musicians” struggle with. I just thought I was q bad songwriter. So, thank you for a new perspective.

    2. I did not interpret the song accurately before, so I’m glad to hear your thoughts on it. We live in a world where the Gospel is so watered down because we don’t want to offend anyone, and I’ve often felt the term “falling in love with Jesus” was used as a way to tell non-believers that they should jump on our bandwagon because it’s all good times. And the truth is that it’s not all good times, and so I shy away from that kind of language. I want my walk with God to be like a love affair, but I also need faith that endures in the times when it’s not.

    I don’t mean that I thought it was fluff! I’ve heard and read enough of your stuff to know better. What I came back to time and again was your comments on being raised in a legalistic environment and I assumed what you meant was that you wanted more than just a bunch or Pharasaical rules. Again, thank-you for being open to critique and for being willing to talk about your work.

    3. It’s been a tough ride lately and I have often woken w/ one lyric or another in my head. And God has used this to comfort and minister to this tiny heart. The ones that come to mind most frequently are from “I Am New”… I’m not who I was, I am being remade… For the One who is making everything new doesn’t see me the way that I do.” It is terrifying when it feels like He’s rewriting the rules. But there is comfort and peace and I just wanted you to know that God is using your work to minister to a frightened soul.

    So sorry to crash the party and revisit the old stuff. But thanks for putting it out there.

  127. Cam's Mom

    Sorry, one more… In regards to my comments about “watered down” theology, and I think relevent to your concerns about writing meaty lyrics in a pop environment… This was posted on another blog recently…

    “Personally, I’m glad Christians have decided to blend the morals of the 21st century with their desert demiurge, along with a naive and sanguine mix of Jesus’ words with something akin to lyrics from a Beatles tune. Makes our job easier as rationalists as you’re not a danger to the race. But the belief in this deity IS a danger to the race if its words are taken as literally as they were written. We see this en masse in Islam, and to a much smaller degree throughout Christianity.”

    I am so challenged by these words. If these words are true, and I think for many they are!, then we have failed our God. Haven’t we? I fight with wanting to be seen as reasonable as someone with a “legitimate point of view”. I don’t want to be seen as someone who’s just out there fighting and judging and picking on the little guy with my Big God. But the world sees our beliefs as a “danger to the race”. And that is not a reaction to me, but a reaction to God. By trying to reason with people, am I in fact watering down the Gospel and making it irrelevent? Has my faith been blended into “feel good” lyrics to a peppy tune? Am I failing my God?

    I would be interested in others’ opinions on this, if you don’t mind opening back up discussion over here. I’m really quite upset by the whole thing. I will post a slightly edited version of his full post below so it can be read “in context”.

  128. Cam's Mom

    Christian,

    You sound like a reasonable person with a good heart.

    Yet, the fact remains that the Yahweh these *** worship is nary a cry from the Yahweh of the Old Testament… No amount of loving doctrine from Christ (although his ‘new’ concept of hell was certainly not that loving) will detract from the evil tyrant of the OT… Calvinists are twisted sorts, but they are also a chip off the old block.

    Personally, I’m glad Christians have decided to blend the morals of the 21st century with their desert demiurge, along with a naive and sanguine mix of Jesus’ words with something akin to lyrics from a Beatles tune. Makes our job easier as rationalists as you’re not a danger to the race. But the belief in this deity IS a danger to the race if its words are taken as literally as they were written. We see this en masse in Islam, and to a much smaller degree throughout Christianity…

  129. Heather E. Carrillo

    @Cam’s mom, were both those last two posts from you? It seems like you are saying to really really different things. In the second to the last one you seem to be reacting to that (yes!) bone-chilling assesment of the really awful job we’ve apparently been doing to show God in all his aspects to the lost. But then the second one seems to support the statement. Please clarify!

  130. Heather E. Carrillo

    @Cam’s mom…wow and now I feel really stupid for only skimming your first comment. haha!

    I agree, and that is originally why when I read the lyrics to this one song by Mr. Gray I had the reaction that I did. I worry that people only hear mushy stuff and not the “meaty” as you put it.

    And this is also why I get so terribly confused when people claim that “the church” puts more emphasis on sin/judgment/wrath, and needs to be more about the love. I mean, if this is a typical statement by an unbeliever that he is “glad Christians have decided to blend the morals of the 21st century with their desert demiurge, along with a naive and sanguine mix of Jesus’ words with something akin to lyrics from a Beatles tune,” there is a possibility we need to show that God is a lot bigger than they may think. Just a thought.

  131. Cam's Mom

    By the way, Jason… I don’t want you to think I’m just revisiting criticism. I’ve actually come to love this song. Even moreso after reading this blog…

    “the mental image that comes into my mind when I sing it is this vast space that opens up beneath my feet and I fall – more or less stumble, and not of my own accord – into it. I think of it as something larger than me that swallows me up…”

    I LOVE that imagery! Just had a lot on my mind from the other blog and it seemed to coincide with some of the concerns you mentioned, the limitations of the medium and trying to say something profound inside this “little bitty space” and the effectiveness of what we do and… And all that jazz!

    Ok. I’ll leave you alone now!

  132. The Happy Nona

    Jason, I just want to tell you what this song has done for me. It totally spoke to the core of my being. Last summer I had my heart broken (after 15 years of “going it alone”) it was more like shattered and sent me into an unexpected tail spin. I had previously thought I had it all together–hah! Anyway, my thought process was, why? Why did God make us to desire to be loved, to be intimately loved and understood, to connect deeply? It isn’t about sex, of course that does not require intimacy. The human race can go on without intimacy in sex. It’s not about procreation. So why? (again, this is the process). Why did God even create us? What was the point when He knew how it would all go…..(it was an ugly place for a person who usually sees a cup nearly full–not ready to slice my wrist or anything close, but ugly none the less.) Then, I hear your song on the radio, and I swear (I know I am not supposed to–the rule breaker in me) that God spoke to me (not in audible voice–although I am very quirky). I always had the idea of the “God-sized-hole” inside me, fillable only by Him. That place where I tried to fill it up with stuff that only made the whole bigger. That deep dark place that hungers for more. I have been a Christian my whole life (though I couldn’t prove it by what I have done) and was totally at a dry, dark, lukewarm place. More Like Falling in Love, started a conversation between me and my Beloved. It started a wonderful journey of self discovery and figuring out who I am (Remind Me Who I Am)–honestly! But what I heard Him say is that He created me (us) in His image with His emotions. That He has a “me” sized whole in His heart that only can be filled by me! (me = everyone) I desire passionate love, intimacy, deep understanding because He does. EVERY word of the song speaks to my heart and how I feel about my relationship with The Creator. That everything we do is out of a response to that love, both sides of it, how He loves us, how we love Him or choose not to…. It’s never been about the “rules”, it seems as though we always put the cart before the horse. When we say I love you, most often the emphasis is on the I of that statement when it should be on the YOU. When we focus on Who we love, instead of what we want from it, everything falls into place (even when we don’t get what we think we want).

    All of this isn’t revolutionary, it just was for me. I am a slow learner, apparently. I am not sure any of this will make sense to anyone besides me, but in my head it makes perfect sense! The process, the journey is ongoing, not easy but no longer dry, or lukewarm. I am pretty sure this is a season, and not a calling, but there has been very unexpected side trail to this journey. God has allowed me to be used to address our congregation from the pulpit with what He reveals to me. So our church gets a healthy dose of “Jason Gray” lyrics, I read one of your songs every time I preach. So now they are all well acquainted with you.

    Thank you for using your gift, and allowing God to use you. He continues to minister to me through your words….and it is after all, all about me. (except when it is all about Him, which is always, well mostly….I am working on it….)

  133. Bradley Robinson

    Hi Jason,
    Thanks for posting your thoughts. I’ve been thinking about your song lately and I’d like to add my thoughts and see what you think.

    I think my main problem with this song is that you pit two concepts against themselves that the Bible holds hand in hand. ‘Falling in love’ and ‘intellectual assent’ are two different things, but the Bible calls us do both of them. I absolutely agree with you that falling in love, turning our affections to God is absolute necessity. I also think that we are absolutely called to give our intellectual assent to the truths of the Bible. There are way too many references in the gospels where Jesus says “Believe in me” or “Believe in him who sent me” for us to minimize the importance of belief.

    The problem with your song is with one word…”than.” I think this is where it strays from the Biblical message. The Bible calls us to love God with all our heart, believe in him with all of our intellect, and to add one more, follow him with grateful obedience. It’s more like falling in love and something to believe in.

    If you want to communicate that “worshipful obedience that overflows from a relationship with him” is better than “the obligatory obedience based on fear and our misguided attempts at self-sufficiency,” then do just that. But, don’t mistake that belief equals “the obligatory obedience based on fear and our misguided attempts at self-sufficiency.” That’s the indirect conclusion of your analogy.

    I don’t know if you’ve read him, but John Frame has done some good work on Tri-Perspectivalism. His Biblical evidence is overwhelming, but his basic premise is that our relationship with God is tri-perspectival, it involves the normative (our belief in his truths revealed in scripture), the existential (our personal feelings of love and affection for him) and the situational (our obedience and actions in response to who he is and what he has done for us). He has really helped me think through some of these things. I would encourage you that as you keep writing and playing songs, don’t pit these things against one another, even if it makes the song more catchy.

    One final note, I am a Christian and I believe you are a Christian. These words are tough and you’ve taken your fair share of them. Remember that we have an enemy and he is seeking to kill and destroy. I pray for your mental, emotional, and spiritual health throughout all of this. We are to sharpen one another as iron sharpens iron, but I pray against the temptation to despair or be filled with anger. May God grant you peace, we’re all on this journey and bear trials along the way, peace, Brother.

  134. gary

    Jason,
    I appreciate your love for the Lord and your concern for producing lyrics that are doctrinally accurate. The problem with this song is that it can be taken two ways. One way is doctrinally accurate and the other is heresy. If a person has a faith that is based on intellectual assent without love, your song should encourage them to open their hearts to Jesus. This is good and is perfectly in line with historic Christianity. But, unfortunately this song also encourages a person who believes that religion and creeds don’t matter and that loving the “god” that they have created in their minds is all that matters. So depending on a person’s predisposition your song could lead them into truth or into error. This is an important issue in the United States where many churches are abandoning the creeds of historic Christianity and replacing them with a pluralistic, universalist “Love is God’s only attribute” faith. As Christians we must be very careful that we don’t do anything to encourage this heresy.

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