I wrote recently about how Christians need to critically evaluate the songs they listen to in the culture, and I’m going to put that into practice now.
I first heard of Macklemore several months ago due to the song called Thrift Shop, where he more or less makes fun of excessive materialism in a goofy beat. The song isn’t exactly wholesome, but the lyrics are sometimes amusing, if not really stupid. Macklemore’s new song, however, aims to be serious and preachy as he defends homosexuality and homosexual marriage. He certainly has every right to write a song in a way that he wishes, but of course, others have every right to critique what he and his co-artists say. His lyrics, on the surface, may sound convincing, and he actually makes a few good points. Overall, though, the argument in the song is flimsy and built upon a great many misconceptions about God, the Bible, and why religious people like Christians affirm traditional marriage as the norm.
The song is called Same Love with Ryan Lewis and Mary Lambert, and I first heard it on the radio and listened carefully to it all the way through. It’s definitely a song that is in-step with how the culture is going, but that, of course, does not mean that it is right. Thus, I think it will be helpful to dissect the song. I’ll put the lyrics in bold and respond below them.
When I was in the third grade I thought that I was gay,
‘Cause I could draw, my uncle was, and I kept my room straight.
I told my mom, tears rushing down my face
She’s like “Ben you’ve loved girls since before pre-k, trippin’ “
Yeah, I guess she had a point, didn’t she?
Bunch of stereotypes all in my head.
I remember doing the math like, “Yeah, I’m good at little league”
A preconceived idea of what it all meant
For those that liked the same sex
Had the characteristics
The right wing conservatives think it’s a decision
And you can be cured with some treatment and religion
Man-made rewiring of a predisposition
Playing God, aw nah here we go
America the brave still fears what we don’t know
And God loves all his children, is somehow forgotten
But we paraphrase a book written thirty-five-hundred years ago
I don’t know
Macklemore makes a decent point that people shouldn’t stereotype homosexuals, but he makes the puzzling argument that people who think homosexuality is a decision are somehow playing God. He has to presume a few things to make this argument: 1) That homosexuality is something that people are unavoidably born with, which, contrary to popular sentiment, has simply not be shown (and even if it is the case, he must argue that this automatically means that living that lifestyle is justified), 2) That only “right wing conservatives” think so, which is also not true (there are even some homosexuals who will quietly say that it’s their decision, though they defend their right to make it) and 3) That those “right wing conservatives” are all about “curing” homosexuality, which is again not true because many Christians are less concerned about making gay people straight as they are about introducing sinners to Jesus. Of course, it is quite ironic that Macklemore decries stereotyping in the first part of this verse but goes on and simply stereotypes whom he feels to be the so-called “right wing conservatives.”
Due to this assumption, he goes on to curiously claim that to challenge homosexuality is to play God. Isn’t defining marriage and sexual ethics as mere humans “playing God?” What if God truly did put boundaries on acceptable sexual relationships? Are we going to absurdly accuse God of “playing God?” The only way he can make this assertion is to just assume that God is already on his side, though it is unclear how exactly he knows this. He argues that “God loves all of his children,” which is somehow forgotten, but how does he know that? Did God reveal something especially to him? Does he mean passages in Scripture such as John 3:16? It seems he DOES mean the Bible, but then he goes on to accuse people of “paraphrasing” it, with the added implication that a 3500 year old book shouldn’t be adhered to (not exactly accurate, since the New Testament is not that old, but we’ll let that pass).
So we have this really bizarre methodology of pointing to Scripture to talk about God’s love but then accuse others of merely “paraphrasing” apparently unimportant parts of it to teach against homosexual relationships. First of all, no one is “paraphrasing;” it’s abundantly clear what Scripture’s view on it is. Secondly, who made Macklemore the judge of what we should consider true in Scripture and what we should not? Isn’t THAT playing God?
It didn’t take long for Macklemore’s argument to fall to pieces, but we’ll continue on with the song.
And I can’t change
Even if I tried
Even if I wanted to
And I can’t change
Even if I tried
Even if I wanted to
She keeps me warm
She keeps me warm
She keeps me warm
She keeps me warm
This part is sung by Mary Lambert, and I will agree with her somewhat: She can’t change by herself. However, it is possible for her to change with the help of God, and in fact, many homosexuals have changed and are married to people of the opposite gender and have families, which is either ignored by pop culture or viciously attacked as people who are being dishonest with themselves (wait, isn’t that judging?). There are also many Christians who struggle with same-sex attraction their entire lives but avoid that lifestyle in obedience to Christ, and their churches don’t try to make them date people of the opposite sex. As I said above, it’s less about trying to change people’s sexual preferences and more about delivering people from sin through Jesus on the personal level, and on the political level, it is about protecting what marriage is in order to have a healthier society. Frankly, Lambert’s personal preferences aren’t the deciding factor in any of this.
If I was gay, I would think hip-hop hates me
Have you read the YouTube comments lately?
“Man, that’s gay” gets dropped on the daily
We become so numb to what we’re saying
A culture founded from oppression
Yet we don’t have acceptance for ’em
Call each other faggots behind the keys of a message board
A word rooted in hate, yet our genre still ignores it
I will agree wholeheartedly with this part, actually, and I’ve often pointed out the bizarre hypocrisy of the media attacking pastors or others who merely state they are for traditional marriages but then ignoring rappers who gleefully use homosexual slurs. What’s especially interesting is that when I have pointed this out, some more liberal-minded people have gotten annoyed with me (says a lot about how consistent they are). Good for Macklemore for pointing this out.
Gay is synonymous with the lesser
It’s the same hate that’s caused wars from religion
Gender to skin color, the complexion of your pigment
The same fight that led people to walk outs and sit ins
It’s human rights for everybody, there is no difference!
This is the same bad argument alluded to above, that homosexuals are completely born the way they are and it’s the same thing as race. Again, there is NO scientific evidence from our genes that shows this, and even if it was the case, one would have to show that it is something that simply overrides the will and choice, which is a difficult philosophical argument to make. In addition, there is simply no way it’s the same as race because we know for sure that when two Korean people have a kid, that kid will be Korean, while if we put together a lesbian’s egg and a homosexual male’s sperm and got a surrogate mother, the resulting child is not guaranteed to be gay. It’s important for the narrative of our times to make it this way so that they can make it a human rights issue, but there just has been no real argument or evidence for it.
Live on and be yourself
When I was at church they taught me something else
If you preach hate at the service those words aren’t anointed
That holy water that you soak in has been poisoned
Evidently, Macklemore automatically takes disagreement with the homosexual lifestyle as “hate,” which is hardly warranted and shows a great deal of close-mindedness on his part. Because he takes it that way, he clearly thinks that calling homosexuality a sin is “not anointed,” and again we have this bizarre tendency of his to “play God” and tell us what’s true without regard for Scripture. What exactly gives Macklemore the authority to make such pronouncements? A sermon is “anointed” if it is biblical and it’s not anointed if it’s not biblical; it has nothing to do with Macklemore’s or anyone else’s feelings or personal preferences. If Macklemore’s church didn’t teach him this, it didn’t do its job in teaching its people.
When everyone else is more comfortable remaining voiceless
Rather than fighting for humans that have had their rights stolen
I might not be the same, but that’s not important
No freedom till we’re equal, damn right I support it
“Equal” meaning what, exactly? Clearly we are not equal in many ways: socioeconomics, athleticism, intelligence, etc. Are not free because of that? Or does he mean equal in that we can each do whatever we want? Clearly that’s not the case either, nor is it clear that it should be the case because some people want to do destructive things. This freedom = equality notion is poorly thought out and poorly presented.
Furthermore, what rights have been stolen? Homosexuals are actually free to marry a member of the opposite gender if they so choose in any state in the Union. What they want is a new “right.” For Macklemore to make sense, he’d have to define marriage for us (basically, “play God”), make a compelling case for it, and then show that denying marriage is an egregious offense to liberty. He doesn’t do any of that. In addition, one may wonder who exactly gives the “rights” he champions. God? How does he know that, and why does he ignore certain parts of Scripture while using general scriptural ideas of love? Men? What men, and why should we listen to them?
(I don’t know)
I don’t know either.
We press play, don’t press pause
Progress, march on
With the veil over our eyes
We turn our back on the cause
Till the day that my uncles can be united by law
When kids are walking ’round the hallway plagued by pain in their heart
A world so hateful some would rather die than be who they are
And a certificate on paper isn’t gonna solve it all
But it’s a damn good place to start
No law is gonna change us
We have to change us
The progressive idea is flawed because it has the assumption that we’re constantly moving towards something better, but that is not always the case. The most destructive world wars were in the modern 20th century and they brutally shook the optimistic notions of progress at the time.
Everyone will agree with Macklemore that it is of course sad that some kids, for a variety of reasons, take their own lives. As I point out here, though, that does not necessarily make things outside themselves at fault. If people take disagreement and rebuke as “hate,” that may mean that they cannot take the disagreement in an emotionally mature manner and may not be the fault of the person disagreeing with them.
Also, Macklemore is right that no law will change people, but then curiously, he says “We have to change us.” Okay; let’s take this deterministic mindset of “born this way” to its logical end. Many people (especially many materialists) believe that we are determined by our genes and our environment and that free will is an illusion. Why can’t some homophobe out there then sing to Macklemore, “I can’t change, even if I tried, even if I wanted to…”? I’d be curious to hear him respond to that.
That aside, I agree society needs to change, but Macklemore’s idea of direction isn’t where it needs to go.
Whatever God you believe in
We come from the same one
Strip away the fear
Underneath it’s all the same love
About time that we raised up
I agree, we all come from the same God. And you know what? That God made things a certain way and has a certain character. Murderers and rapists are created by God too, but that does not mean that what they do is pleasing to him. Macklemore’s whole thought here is really strange; not only is it ignorant when it comes to the very real differences religious beliefs about God can make, it seems to just be, “Hey, we’re all created by God so therefore homosexual relations are okay.” What sort of a point is this? Why can’t that God define sexual practices? What if God himself thinks that it is NOT the same?
Love is patient
Love is kind
Love is patient
Love is kind
(not crying on Sundays)
(repeated several times)
Here we get to a very clear Scriptural allusion, this one to 1 Corinthians 13. This passage is not primarily about romance and most certainly has nothing to do with this issue; it’s about showing godly, self-sacrificial love within the Christian community. Paul also states there that “love does not delight in evil but rejoices in the truth” (v. 6), and if we also take 1 Corinthians 6 at face value, then all sexual sin, including homosexual relations, are offenses to God, and it is NOT loving to rejoice in it. Again, Macklemore tries to handpick concepts or verses in Scripture to support what he wants (and out of context) while ignoring parts of Scripture he doesn’t like.
What we see here is a song that has the shakiest of foundations. Macklemore makes all sorts of assumptions on religious people, on church, on God, on genetics, etc., and packages it into a song that preaches his view of morality with absolutely no justification. He alludes to Scripture but clearly doesn’t understand it, and instead of admitting that, he belts out that so-called “hate” is simply not anointed so he can just ignore it. It’s definitely a type of thinking that is indicative of our times, as most people these days dislike the idea of an objective morality (unless it’s based on what they want) and dislike having their ideas challenged, whether it is about sexual preferences or something else. However, that doesn’t make it good thinking, and we as Christians need to be far more informed and aware.
Macklemore tries to invoke God as an ally, but if he really knew God and knew the Bible, he would know that this “same love” is not the same to God at all. True, godly love is not ignoring sin. Godly love confronts sin, exposes it, but then points sinners to the grace of Christ. And I’d rather get my concept of love from God’s Word than some random rapper who can’t construct a consistent song.