I recently heard a song on the radio called “Take Me to Church” by Hozier. If you haven’t heard it, i really encourage you to listen to it with just the lyric video first: here.
The song is essentially the artist saying that the only true form of worship he knows is sex, and the only church he attends is the bedroom. While I immediately caught on to the sarcastic tone in which the artist sang the words “take me to church”, there were two lines that really really stuck out to me:
“If the Heavens ever did speak, she is the last true mouthpiece.”
“My church offers no absolution, she tells me worship in bedroom. The only heaven i’ll be sent to is when i’m alone with you.”
These lines have captured something so true about sexuality, yet so so false. How is true? Saint Pope John Paul II, in his Theology of the Body, unveils how our bodies, especially in our sexuality, make visible the invisible love of God. Our sexuality has been designed to mirror the exchange of love of the Trinity through the one flesh union of husband and wife. He says, “Marriage is a visible sign of the eternal divine mystery” (TOB 90:4). Sex, in the total giving of oneself in marriage, “speaks” the language of love of the Trinity. The first line I quoted above certainly captures this idea that in sex our bodily actions can speak words of the Divine.
The second line I quoted above talks about sex being an act of worship and a sort of heaven. JPII applies what is said in Romans 12:1 (See also CCC 2031) to the one-flesh union of husband and wife: “The martial bed can be viewed as an altar upon which spouses offer their bodies in living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God. This is their spiritual act of worship.” When sex is the total-giving of self to a spouse it becomes a reflection of the love of God and therefore worships Him as its creator. The sexual union of husband and wife is the greatest insight into heaven we have here on this earth. In heaven, God and man will be irrevocably united together and the closest thing we have to understanding this union is the total self-gift of sex. “Man becomes an image of God not so much in the moment of solitude as in the moment of communion” (TOB 9:3).
So clearly, this artist does understand something of the true nature of sex. But where has he gone astray? He has come to the conclusion that sex is the only god/religion/worship we have here on this earth. He has traded the reality for the sign, he has lost sight of the great divine mystery and settled for its mere reflection instead. As divine and beautiful as our human bodies and our sexuality is, it is only a sign, it is not the reality. When we treat our sexuality as the end-all-be-all we make it an idol, when it is designed to be only an icon. This is truly a means to self-destruction and unhappiness. This is why our society has consistently sought fulfillment in sex and consistently come up empty handed and heart broken. The longing for communion that is written in the human heart is ultimately oriented towards God and God alone. Sex, in the context of marriage, allows us a foretaste of the union that will be in heaven. But when we rid sex of its divinely reflective nature and engage in it merely to try to satisfy the ache we will forever be disappointed and wounded.
After I first heard the song and ran through all of this reflection in my head I decided to watch the official music video and was left speechless. The video features a homosexual couple, and some very serious “gay bashing”. I have two things to say about this.
Firstly, after reflecting on just the lyrics to the song and understanding how the artist has lost sight of how sex is meant to mirror the love and relationship of the Trinity, it became very easy to see how he not only views sex as the only form of worship and religion available to him but also supports sex in the context of a homosexual relationship. I am not going to write an entire blog post right now on my thoughts on homosexuality, however, I will say, with every sensitivity and respect, that I believe sex is meant to be a total and complete gift of self and that God designed this total self-giving to be between a man and a woman. When we understand sex as a reflection of the relationship of the Trinity then we see how absolutely necessary a total self-gift is, but when we view sex as the reality instead of the reflection then we can do away with this gift. I believe that God has created us all to love and be loved, and that those who are homosexual should look to Him to discover how God has called them live this authentically in their lives.
Secondly, though this is my belief, I am absolutely one hundred percent against the treatment the couple received in this video and the treatment actual persons receive in our world today. This is never acceptable, never. Homosexual persons are persons, created in the image of God and destined for eternal love. They are not defined by their sexual orientation, nor are straight persons, nor am I, nor are you. All of sexuality is oriented towards the infinite Father. We are defined by the love of our Father and our call to reciprocate that love. I challenge us all, Christians and non-Christians, to treat each other with respect and love. JPII once said, “To meet another person is to encounter God.” How different our world could be if we all lived this out in our daily lives.