By Stephen Tan

‘Take Me To Church’

Andrew Hozier-Byrne
Irish musician Andrew Hozier-Byrne

There is no doubt that Take Me to Church by Hozier is a powerful song.

The tune stuck in my head for many weeks – so much so that I sang it to my dog a couple of times.

Initially, I thought the song was comparing his sexual relationship with a woman to a spiritual one. If you have seen the video you will know that is only half the story.

The Cut says "The video depicts two men's gentle intimacy, followed by brutal gay-bashing at the hands of masked vigilantes. The song serves as a message about human rights, a commentary about Hozier's upbringing in a 'cultural landscape that is blatantly homophobic,' and a strong statement about the institutional homophobia in Putin's Russia".

There are so many things that one could say about this topic so I am going to say just three.

1. Homosexual sex is a sin, but so is bullying and abusing people

The Bible teaches unequivocally that homosexual sex is a sin. Yet I think it is important to distinguish between homosexual attraction and homosexual sex. Romans 1 focuses on homosexual "relations" and "acts"; and Jesus said that lust of the heart is the same as adultery. If a man tells me that he is attracted to another man and he cannot change that, I believe him. You cannot choose your feelings of attraction. You can only choose whether to act on them or allow them to play out in lustful thoughts.

In this debate the common understanding is that there are two sides, (1) those who are pro-homosexual and (2) those who are homophobic. The problem is I am neither. As a Bible believing Christian I can understand if pro-homosexuals assume I am homophobic. There are many examples of churches who have persecuted homosexuals and this is not restricted to Catholics (Remember Westboro Baptist Church in the US?).

There is a misconception that homosexuality is the ultimate sin in God's books. But the truth of the matter is bullying, hatred and abuse towards homosexuals or anyone else is equally an affront to God. Even though I do not consider myself homosexual or homophobic I too have committed sexual sin. My heterosexual lust is not less sinful than homosexual lust! The holiness of God is the great leveller. Compared to God, all of us are sinful and none of us have the right to get on a high horse and condemn one person's sin as worse than ours.

“Living for lust is not satisfying”2. Sex as god?

Hozier rejects the Christian God and instead worships sex as his god. There is one small problem with sex as god. It does not work.

Does Hozier himself know and experience this all-consuming sex with his lover? I am pretty sure he has not. It is a fantasy. King Solomon had 700 wives and 300 concubines and he could not find this kind of sex either!

If I am reading him correctly, Hozier makes the point that our sexual desires are at the core of what it means to be human ("Only then I am human"). But Jesus says the core of our humanity is not sexual love but another kind of love.

"Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?" And Jesus said to him, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbour as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets" (Matthew 22:36-40).

Love God. Love people as yourself. That is what it means to be human. Living with sexual desire or lust as our driving motivation in life will leave us deeply unsatisfied. True meaning and fulfilment is found in love for God and your fellow man.

3. Jesus, a Friend of Gays and Lesbians

Does Jesus love gays? Perhaps this question would be easier to answer if there were homosexual characters in the gospels. There are not. But what we do have in the gospels are the tax collectors. In First Century Judaism they were considered the worst of sinners by the religious elite. Kind of like how Westboro Baptist considers homosexuals the worst of sinners. But instead of hating these tax collectors we find that Jesus spends time with them. This was a shock to the religious elite and led them to reject Jesus.

The Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, 'Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!' Luke chapter 7 verse 34.

A key example can be found in the account of Jesus and a chief tax collector, Zacchaeus, in Luke chapter 19 verses 1 to 10.

Jesus was a friend of tax collectors without condoning their sin. The tax collector Zacchaeus who defrauded people paid them back fourfold! In the same way, I think we can conclude that if Jesus walked the earth today He would befriend gays and lesbians. Is Jesus pro-homosexual? No, He is not. But does He love gays? Yes, He does.

So how did Jesus demonstrate His love for gays? He gave His life for them.

Hozier's video finishes with the brutal beating and presumed death of one of the homosexual men.

Romans chapter 5 verse 8 says, "But God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us".

Jesus demonstrates His love for homosexuals that while they were still sinners, Jesus took upon Himself a beating and death that was a lot more brutal than the one depicted by Hozier. Jesus did this to satisfy the wrath of God and pay the penalty for their sin so that any homosexual person who would repent of sin and believe in Him will not perish eternally but have everlasting life.

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