Jesus is Not Our Boyfriend

I have a love-hate relationship with Contemporary Christian Music (CCM). I love it because it desires to make music for Jesus. I hate it because it is often shallower than the kiddie pool. Unfortunately, its shallowness often overwhelms and leaves me longing for more.

I always hesitate to write about something I know little about. I am not a music expert or critic, and I cannot play guitar like every other American male age 18-29. I theologize and preach and shepherd, so I am treading deep water. Nevertheless, I generally like music, and it does not take a music professor to realize that Christian music needs nothing less than a modern reformation. Read a sample of the lyrics to the currently popular song “Hold Me” by Jamie Grace:

I’ve had a long day, I just wanna relax
Don’t have time for my friends, no time to chit chat
Problems at my job, wonderin’ what to do
I know I should be working but I’m thinking of you and

Just when I feel this crazy world is gonna bring me down
That’s when your smile comes around

Oh, I love the way you hold me, by my side you’ll always be
You take each and every day, make it special in some way
I love the way you hold me, in your arms I’ll always be
You take each and every day, make it special in some way

If you didn’t hear these lyrics on a Christian station, you’d probably guess the song is about the singer’s boyfriend. Never mind the teeny-bop melody. There’s not mention of human brokenness and the desperate need for a Redeemer. There’s not a hint of gospel. Instead, Jesus is a boyfriend who shows up smiling during a bad day at work.

The intention of the writer is good. The point is that Jesus is there for us. He takes care of us. If we have Jesus, we have enough. The problem is not the intention. But music (and all art, including writing) goes beyond intention, doesn’t it? Intention matters, but quality matters as well, and Christians should strive for the best quality because God did not spare quality when he created. This song is a microcosm of Christian music today. Don’t get me wrong: there are many good Christian songs, but far too often the songs I hear settle for corny Bieber-inspired lines that communicate nothing of the vast depth of God’s grace in the gospel.

Scores of words have been written about whether  “Christian” music is good or bad or why there is even a separate sub-culture of “Christian” things at-large. That’s not why I’m writing. I simply want Christians–musicians in particular–to embrace the long and splendid history of authentically transparent and objectively beautiful music in the church.

Written in 1759, the famous hymn “Come Ye Sinners” by Joseph Hart reminds us that Jesus is there for us; he takes care of us; and if we have Jesus, we have enough. Hart even uses the analogy of being held by Jesus, but he does it without making it seem like he is our cosmic, feathered-hair boyfriend. Hart writes:

Come, ye sinners, poor and needy,
Weak and wounded, sick and sore;
Jesus ready stands to save you,
Full of pity, love and power.

I will arise and go to Jesus,
He will embrace me in His arms;
In the arms of my dear Savior,
O, there are ten thousand charms.

Come, ye weary, heavy laden,
Lost and ruined by the fall;
If you tarry till you’re better,
You will never come at all.

Here we find gospel. Here we find a strong, yet compassionate Redeemer who beckons: “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Will Christian artists go back to songs like these before they attempt to go forward? Will they tap into the richness of music that belongs to our 2,000-year-old community of saints? Will they grasp for and wrestle with language in order to winsomely and articulately communicate the gospel of grace?

I hope they do. The gospel is at stake–even on Christian airwaves.

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93 comments

  1. Good entry, James. I’ve had many of the same thoughts about Christian music since I became a believer ~ 15 years ago. I too have a tough time with pop music, although there are probably a few exceptions. I typically favor music that is a bit off of Mainstream Ave. Check out Josh Garrels when you have 15 or 20 minutes to spare. He’s my absolute favorite, and he’s anything BUT what you hear when you turn on Christian radio. I first heard him about 2 years ago and I love nearly every song he’s ever made. He has a lot of songs on YouTube from live performances. A few of my favorites (although it’s hard for me to pick just a few): ‘Zion and Babylon’, ‘Rejoice and Lament’, ‘The Children’s Song’, and ‘Farther Along’. And, if you like what you hear, you can download his last album “Love & War & the Sea in Between” for FREE on Noisetrade.

  2. Thanks James.

    I’m a musician, worship leader, song and poetry writer, and a hack composer. So from that perspective; I enjoyed hearing your take on it. I take no offense as a song writer, and in fact – applaud the thoughts. In all things of this life – God alone knows the heart and the intentions of it.

    Having been in the middle of ‘worship arguments’ aplenty at various churches – there’s no time to waste landing there. And I’m glad you didn’t.

    Well done, carefully crafted words, music, and art matter. Case in point; God raised up in Israel craftsman to create beautiful and creative works for the tabernacle and eventually the temple. God filled them and enabled them, beyond the “talents and abilities” that were resident. because He cares what He’s enthroned in. Our worship and praises should be beautiful as well since he say’s He’s enthroned on them.

    Psalm 22:3 – Yet You are holy, O You who are enthroned upon the praises of Israel.

    blessings,

    ~dan

  3. Sam, I always hear about Sojourn’s projects on TGC. Unfortunately, buying albums rarely happens since money is tight. :) But one or two songs, I can do.

    Carly and I have long been Indelible Grace fans.

  4. James—thank you, thank you, thank you for saying what needs to be said. If you’re looking for depth of knowledge on the subject, there’s a great sermon by John MacArthur you can watch (http://www.gty.org/resources/Sermons/90-377) and an interview you can listen to (http://www.gty.org/resources/Sermons/GTY110). He’s been a great resource for me. My husband and I are church musicians, members of a church orchestra, and it’s been hard for many years to keep an orchestra together because of CCM. Thankfully, we are now part of a group that is not going anywhere any time soon, and it has been the biggest blessing in our spiritual lives!

    I’ve written two blogs on the same subject, and I’d love to hear your thoughts on them. Please let me know if you’re interested. This is a topic we should be discussing before the church looks and sounds so much like the world that those seeking Christ can’t hear Him!!!

  5. This is so interesting to me because the exact hymn that you mentioned was actually redone by a ‘CCM’ artist, Todd Agnew, a few years ago. I completely agree with you about the Hold Me song that you mentioned as having lyrics that could be confused with a pop song about a boyfriend, but as an avid listener to CCM, I believe that is the exception rather than the rule. There are so many great songs on Christian radio that call me closer to Christ and contain phrases of Scripture and phrases that cause me to come to a new realization of my faith – for instance, in a recently popular song, “Fall Apart” by Josh Wilson, one phrase says, “How can I come to the end of me, and somehow still have all I need?” This song and this phrase in particular carried me through a difficult time after my third child was born last summer, and reminded me to depend on God’s strength when mine was completely gone. Casting Crowns is an amazing example of a group that honors God with music that is worshipful and yet culturally relevant. Jamie Grace herself has at least two other songs out that have lyrics that speak more clearly of her love for Christ and desire to follow Him – they are called You Lead and Show Jesus, if you’d like to check those out. I am passionate about music because I believe that is one way God uses to speak to many of His people, and I hate to see an entire genre of Christian music be talked negatively of based on the lyrics of one song.

    1. Carrie, you are right that Agnew covered that song. And as I said in the blog, there are many good CCM songs–some great ones! But Agnew’s version–and other covered songs from the rich history of church music–won’t be played on CCM radio (with few exceptions; e.g. “Amazing Grace”).

      To say that “Hold Me” is the “one song” wrong with CCM is simply ignoring the trends of Christian music. I remember a popular song from the late 90s that went something like this: “I want to touch you, I want to see your face, I want to know you more.” If I can sing it something Jesus and turn around and sing it to my wife, that’s a bad sign.

      1. Not sure that is the best example in the song “I want to Know you More” (or whatever it is titled.) While I agree with the basis of the article, wasn’t it Moses himself who continually asked God to show himself? (“I want to see your face”) In fact, God finally hid Moses in the cleft and let him see His afterglow. Also, didn’t Thomas desire to touch Jesus; to feel the scars in his hands and side? (“I want to touch you”) When it comes down to it, these and other situations throughout the Word were an attempt at “knowing Jesus/God more.” There are many verses, even full texts in the Word that could be taken out of the desired context and meaning and used in a different way, yet that doesn’t negate the heart, meaning, and truth of it. I am not however comparing the song “Hold Me” to the Living Word, simply trying to say that we spend so much time trying to analyze this and that, that we become uninterested in the heart and the truth behind the song.

        That being said, while I’m not a fan of the lyrics to the song, “Hold Me”, had the writer simply mentioned that it was Jesus she was referring to, I’d have no problem with it, though it might not be in my cd player right now!

        Again, all in all, I agree that we have dumbed down Jesus so that we can make Him our “boyfriend” as you put it (and I think that’s an accurate assessment), but I caution you not to label an entire organization or contemporary Christian music based upon the lyrics of a song here or there.

  6. I was talking with a friend this past weekend about Christian music. It’s hard for me to listen to Air 1 or KLove because it all sounds the same. The same music. The same melody. The same voices. I know they’re different but overall it sounds the same. Very pop-like but not something I’m going to put on my iPod to workout to (all the music is slow…even when it’s supposed to be fast the tracks are slow). I need songs that remind me of how much I do need our Savior but can’t they do that in a fast song? That maybe would be played on a popular music station so that others who otherwise wouldn’t listen to Christian music can come close to the gospel? That’s what I’d like.

  7. Amen… as a preacher who happens to also write music, I couldn’t agree more. Christian musicians should produce stuff with richer and deeper content… Incidentally, if Christians desire that kind of music, they should stop buying the other stuff. Like it or not, a good portion of the Cristian music world is market driven (with some very happy exceptions, btw).

  8. @Adam, I am not labeling CCM as a whole. I am simply calling for a reformation toward gospel-centered, Bible-saturated music that connects with history and the modern scene. There are MANY Christian artists who do this. There just aren’t that many that get played on the radio.

    For those who might be “favoring” CCM, I would suggest that you read the lyrics to 10 or 20 songs in the Christian “top 40″ and then read 10-20 songs in the Trinity Hymnal: http://www.opc.org/hymn.html. I expect that you will notice the depth and richness of the Hymnal over against the “average” CCM song.

    1. The problem with this proposition, and with much of the CCM vs. hymnal discussion in general, is that the hymnal is a collection of the best of a few hundred years of hymnody, while the top 40 is what is popular at the moment. Give CCM a few generations, like we’ve given hymns, and compare what holds up over time to the hymns that have held up over time. By the way, even though the hymnal has the luxury of choosing from a vastly larger pool of traditions and resources, some stinkers still manage to make the cut.

  9. As a Christian, I agree with the concerns you express here. As a musician, I agree with the concerns others have expressed here. I know that while my daughter and autistic son really like K-Love, and I’d rather they listen there than much of the other junk out there with little to redeem it lyrically or musically, we try to seed them with a range of musical styles and backgrounds.

    So we listen to classical music as well as older CCM musicians. It never ceases to amaze me what they will latch onto… some Margaret Becker albums, some older Steve Camp albums, and their interest in understanding liturgical church works written by everyone from Handel to Stravinsky… with many thought provoking conversations about them.

    1. Classical music, much of it anyway, was church music when it was written. The church used to be a bastion and financier of fine art. What happened!? I see a couple of reasons: a need to be “relevant” and the rise of top 40 CCM radio.
      They kind of go hand in hand. Years ago now, Christians had the idea to make church more comfortable for non church-goers. Great idea, but it led to the need to somehow make Christ relevant to the culture (thereby saying Christ isn’t relevant to the human condition?) and we had to have the Christian version of everything. In my opinion, CCM songwriters were strongly tempted to dumb down lyrics to appeal to a wider audience. Then, it became even cooler to be a Christian band who wasn’t a Christian band (i.e. signed to a secular label). This just turned up the pressure on CCM bands and radio stations to really water down a Christ-centered message to make it easier for bands to get into a secular label.
      The cycle continues today. The result is music that is neither interesting nor earth-moving. Jesus becomes analogous to our boyfriend and the concept of the true, broken human condition is moved into the shadows.

  10. I’m glad someone else is noticing and bothered by this!
    Just some thoughts: I think “Praise and Worship” music is also taking a big simplistic hit. I have nothing against it, and I like a lot of what’s out there, but the newer music is too simple/trite. I have to say, though, I wonder how much is unfortunately the influence of the industry: time demands, deadlines in writing/producing the music, the thought that it all must be immediately “sing-able” by everybody, etc.
    As I said, just to embellish upon what you said with what I’ve been noticing, too. I’m glad I’m not the only one! :D

  11. I like what you have said, and I think it is true, but I offer an additional perspective. The writer of the song is only 21. Who knows when she wrote it, or what she was going through. Thousands of middle and high school kids listen this music and take hope from its words. I think this message is perfect for them, especially for girls who look for boyfriends incessantly. I know when I was 14-20, I went through a lot of really emotional times and simple music like this kept me going. I still only 22 now, so I can hardly say I have found the right way, but God has brought me out of truly dark places. I remember so so clearly how much pain there can be, and still feel it sometimes. There were many many girls in my youth group on the edge of hurting themselves or already were, many thinking of ending their lives, and ALL they needed is one simple worship song, assuring them that GOD is there.

    “For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 1:6) Spiritual maturity is a slow process, I read a book about it recently by a pastor of 30+ years who is still learning about how to truly approach God. While I didn’t take my belief in God’s character or the gospel from this kind of music, just the mention of the Lord in a song about love reminded me to be strong, that God would always, always LOVE me. Maybe for some this won’t truly express the relationship with Christ, but maturity comes with experience. God reveals himself to us over time, over years, and works through the lives of the writers just as much as listeners.

    Songs are not always meant to teach, but sometimes to give hope or comfort. Even looking at the format of a typical service, the worship always leads to times of prayer, offering, and the message, and then leads the congregation back out, right? This is a simplified version of a worship set I know. While it is true that CCM doesn’t always get to the richness of gospel truth, I don’t think it has to. There will always be a shallow end to the pool, but think of how necessary that is for those who can’t swim. Sometimes life will just throw us in the deepest parts of the water, but sometimes we need to be led. TobyMac’s (he is featured in this song, and she is from his record label) music fights for the broken, his themes constantly inspire lost and searching people to hope for a better day and run to Christ. It points to the gospel, even if not spelling it out, and listeners go there to be filled. He finds artists like this girl and gives them the chance to share their heart with the world. This is a young woman’s poetry for a generation of broken girls who, otherwise, would have only secular female artists to look to. Women who sing about sex and clubs and dance parties, about disrespect to leaders and about needing only yourself to get by. Women who advocate anything but the Lord to ease pain.

    God is not our boyfriend, but he is LOVE, right? It is a relationship.

    As you mentioned, there are many artists who put a lot of Gospel in their music and a few do make it to the radio. My own church on the University of Florida campus struggles with choosing between scripture songs and more thematic ones, and often it is hard to use scripture songs because many people don’t know them for lack of use or radio play. Suffice it to say it can be frustrating, as everyone here has experienced, but overall we are witnesses and servants and God will use our willing hearts. If he has blessed this girl’s career and her music with exposure, isn’t that enough for us to support it?

    This is one song, and there are many many like it. But say someone hears it and then goes to find it on YouTube and then listens to another song by the same girl, one that has a more direct message. Maybe her entire album. One song is like the chapter of a novel, it doesn’t represent the whole story. I think that is a difference between much CCM and hymns. Many albums are meant to be heard as a whole, teach a message from the first track to the last. The radio samples artists work, it is supposed to be catchy.

    I absolutely love hymns. I grew up in a very traditional church and we spent every Sunday singing hymns accompanied by an organ, and that church still does it in one of the services. His eye is on the Sparrow, It is well with my Soul, Great is they Faithfullness, Be Thou my Vision, Before the Throne…these songs will forever be in my heart, and many churches, at least those that I have attended since starting college, incorporate hymns with other types of songs. But for every peson I meet who loves that kind of music, there is a handful of those who don’t.

    As I have mentioned I attend a very very large public university (50,000+), and am only 22, so admittedly I see only a portion of the world. I haven’t studied theology, I am actually studying photojournalism, but I have served on a worship team for almost 6 years now and coordinated services at my current church for two years. I write poems and songs about my experiences with God, and people get something from them. That is how He uses me to reach other women, and sometimes men, my age. Even more, I have seem simpler CCM music messages used in my own family, seen songs remind my mother that in times of deep trial God is there, waiting and approachable.

    This post grew more than I meant it to, and it is only the experience of one girl in one part of a big world. But in my sphere are there dwell thousands of lost people who don’t want to hear another hymn, who want nothing to do with God. It is heartbreaking, and though I don’t mean to imply that “Hold Me” will save them, it is hard to reach them. Some have said it is maybe harder than ever before.

    I don’t think you’re wrong, not by any stretch, and may I never stand in the way of any message asking for more of Christ, because our world needs it. And I certainly believe we tend to miss the mark on his HOLINESS and the reverence due it. “He is not a tame lion” (speaking of Aslan…) But I just wanted to say that this music probably left you wanting more because there IS something more. Consider that this song probably isn’t meant to help just you. “When I was a child….” right?

  12. Jenny, thanks for stopping by. I don’t want to comment on everything you wrote (you have a lot!), but I simply want to point out that I don’t think that music/teaching/etc. for young (immature) believers has to be shallow (which is what I am arguing a lot of Christian music (not all!) is). There is a difference between simple and shallow. Paul wrote a lot of hard, deep, theological things to his churches, some of whom were very immature (e.g. the Corinthians).

    1. This is perhaps the most profound thing I have read here. It puts me in mind of the famous Paul Barth interview with Time (I think I have my facts straight — correct me if I am wrong). The interviewer asked him to sum up his faith in one sentence. His answer? “Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so” Hard to get more simple than that — or more accessible to young people (as in VERY young people) — and not remotely simplistic or shallow. I am not saying that all Christian music need be that simple, but you can be simple without being simplistic or shallow or saccharine or silly. I work in a church setting where I do not do CCM at all — not even close — though we have a contemporary service, led by another person who works very hard at doing good stuff, so I am not directly exposed to this, good or bad. However, it seems to me that so much is either the “Jesus is my boyfriend” type, or a bunch of good sounding words repeated randomly ad nauseum without a thought to what they actually mean (the word “worthy” is one that particularly grates on me in this sort of usage — how many people out there singing it actually have any concept of what it means?) We need not settle for the EASIEST — how about the BEST? Part of our role as church musicians is to be educators — that implies leaving people with more than they started with, not just giving them more of the same that they already have.

    2. I know that this is 2 years later (I went searching for reviews of Jamie Grace now that her “Beautiful Day” has been playing incessantly on Christian radio), but oh well.
      Thank you so much for articulating the difference between simple and shallow. Stories are simple but rarely shallow, and this is why Jesus told them. I find it almost offensive that “immature” believers are believed to be so simple-minded as to need easy-to-stomach music and art. Has it crossed anyone’s mind that perhaps some people are drawn to the Gospel because there is something that seems intrinsically true about it? I know that I would never have become a believer were it not for people willing to be honest and vulnerable in the music they made or conversations we had (and music is something of a conversation, no?). People don’t need the cute version of the Gospel. Many of them have gone through hideous pain, abuse, depression… you name it. We need to support music and art that acknowledges that. It is only when we see darkness that we can also see hope.

      1. Thanks for commenting, Rachel! This is one of my most popular posts (for some reason, music is a very personal topic, even for those who did not write, record, or produce the song!). Thanks for your thoughts–I wholeheartedly agree!

  13. Challenge taken, here are the current top 10 with a sample of lyrics from all but one. I would say 2 out of the 10 are on the weak side, some are very powerful. But draw your own conclusions;

    1. Where I Belong – Building 429
    “All I know is I’m not home yet
    This is not where I belong
    Take this world and give me Jesus
    This is not where I belong”

    2. Overcome – Jeremy Camp
    Seated above, enthroned in the Father’s love
    Destined to die, poured out for all mankind
    God’s only Son, perfect and spotless one
    He never sinned but suffered as if He did

    3. Learning to be the Light – newworldson
    - certainly on the weakish side

    4. My Hope is In You – Aaron Shust
    I wait for You and my soul finds rest
    In my selfishness, You show me grace
    I worship You and my heart cries Glory, Hallelujah, Father You’re here!

    5. When the Stars Burn Down – Phillips, Craig, & Dean
    Star of the morning, Light of salvation, Majesty
    God of all mysteries, Lord of the universe
    Righteous King

    6. What a Savior – Laura Story
    Jesus You are stronger
    More than any other
    Hallelujah what a Savior
    Jesus You are higher
    My soul’s deepest desire
    Hallelujah You are Savior

    7. God’s Not Dead – Newsboys
    Let heaven roar, and fire fall
    Come shake the ground
    with the sound of revival
    My God’s not dead
    He’s surely alive
    He’s livin on the inside
    Roaring like a lion

    8. The Hurt & The Healer – MercyMe
    Jesus come and break my fear
    Awake my heart and take my tears
    Find Your glory even here
    When the hurt and the healer collide

    9. All This Time – Brit Nichole
    Every heartache and failure
    Every broken dream
    You’re the God who sees
    The God who rescued me
    This is my story

    10. Strong Enough To Save – Tenth Avenue North
    And he’ll break
    open the skies to save
    those who cry out his name
    the One the wind and waves obey
    is strong enough to save you

    1. Great songs! Thanks for listing them and the lyrics. Yes, I am a fan of CCM. I think it is more of just what type of music people prefer. I know that God is in the CCM songs because some of the ones that you just listed, I can’t even sing without tears streaming down my face. The words go straight to my soul. One of my favorites that is not mentioned is “I want to live like that” by Sidewalk Prophets. Cry every time I hear it. I have to lift my hands in praise!

  14. Joe, I’m so glad you had the time to take the challenge! And I’m very encouraged by what you found!

    I want to clarify that I am in no way ‘anti-hymns’! I think they are a rich part of our church history, and they can be very beneficial to our spiritual lives – just this morning I sat at the piano with my 2 oldest children, singing and playing hymns – I think they are very important to be taught to our children. That being said, I have had personal experience in the local churches I have attended with hymns being toted as the ‘only’ way to worship. Although they are beautiful and theologically deep, because of the old-fashioned words that are sometimes used, new Christians or un-churched visitors may not be able to appreciate or enjoy them at first. I don’t believe this means we throw them out entirely, but the church we attend does a wonderful job of balancing the cherished hymns with some more contemporary worship songs each week.

    I think the reason I felt compelled to comment on this post is that I (and many people I am close to) have been encouraged and helped to grow in our spiritual walks through contemporary Christian music. After reading your post and especially the first few comments above, I felt the need to defend the genre of music that daily encourages me to draw closer to Christ through songs like the ones Joe posted lyrics to. I understand the point of your post was not to debate whether CCM is right or wrong, but especially after reading several of the comments, it felt like you and your readers were unfairly dismissing an entire genre of music that I believe glorifies God, as our beloved hymns also do.

  15. The Gospel is at stake. Very well said.

    This is my first time reading this particular blog; one of my Facebook friends posted a link, so I was not sent here by anything related to WordPress. Small world.

  16. You cannot / should not judge Christian Contemporary Music on how you feel about one song. Many, many older hymns of the church are still precious, and speak to us today. But thank the Lord we have come a long way from the “dirge” and depressing songs of the past! What a wonderful thing that we’ve been able to often blend the old with the new, creating new sounds, yet still very clearly spreading the Gospel! I believe the writer of this article is closed-minded, and should leave music critiques to musicians.

  17. I agree with you (author) wholeheartedly. Lately, I find it interesting that I am embracing an entirely new genre (to my ears at least) for the depth of the lyrics. It’s like a three minute sermon from some of these guys. (Trip Lee, Lecrae, 116, etc…) Also, the music from DC*B and the artists at Passion 2012 (and I assume former gatherings) is highly convicting/ gospel-filled.

    I just wish my car had a cd player. :)

    Thanks for the words.

    1. You are all to correct about the in-your-face preaching that saturates much of the Christian Urban music scene. A three minute sermon is a great way to describe it, but there again, I haven’t heard any of these guys on my local Christian music stations except for the weekend speciality shows late at night.

  18. This article represents a popular sentiment held by traditional musicians. Unfortunately, the author fails to recognize the fact that we live in a postmodern world where much of the arts and aspects of our own culture are intentionally ambiguous so as to allow the individual to create a meaningful experience from it. Such postmodern approaches are typically more successful in engaging others’ hearts and minds as “traditional” approaches hand the experience to the listener and expects them to consume it in the same fashion that the composer/performer experienced it. A “traditional” approach presumes the listener has had the same life events, education and understanding, and emotional/spiritual journey. Here’s the irony though: I suspect that the experiences etc. of the composers and artists of contemporary music are shared by those that enjoy it; in a sense, contemporary music employs the same presumptions that traditional music holds. Contemporary music just happens to be more popular and effective simply because it has a wider mass appeal.

    I love traditional music; I prefer it 10X to contemporary music. But I’m afraid many of my associates in academia have failed to understand what the role of traditional music is in a postmodern society.

    1. Chris, thanks for stopping by. I never said that Christian music should only be “traditional.” I’m merely (yes, merely) making the case that CCM must tap into the roots of gospel-centered lyrics that so much Christian music has possessed for 2,000 years.

      It doesn’t matter if it’s to the tune of pop, jazz, grunge, classical, swing, or blue-grass. The point is that if the *lyrics* do not point people to the riches of Christ in gospel, then a song fails no matter the intention of the writer.

      This can be done in a simple way (i.e. without being too formal, pious, or “academic”). But simple does not mean “shallow.”

      1. Oh shut up. This article is ridiculous! The truth is if half the girls in this country Love GOD first with ALL their hearts, there would be a whole lot less heartbreaks, teen pregnancies and sexually transmitted disease, and not to talk of ungodly soul tying. If u put God first HE will lead you to the one you’re meant to be with for life, if that is His will for your life, and that starts with making Jesus number 1, yes taking Him as LOVER of your mind, body and soul and allowing His spirit to live in you because His plans are of GOOD and not of EVIL. This is exactly what Jamie Grace expresses in her song and I praise the Lord for her gifting. Yeah I’d rather have my daughter infatuated and Head over heels in love with JESUS than some boy any day!

  19. Full disclosure, I am an old fogey! (Nearing 50 y/o.) Most of you who have commented seem to be rather young. (The older you get the younger young people seem!) Anyway, I have a perspective to share with a little wisdom learned along the way. There are some hard things that can come into your life. You cannot hang onto an emotion – “feeling” that Jesus is holding onto you, “feeling” happy or peaceful, “feeling” loved – when a tragedy hits. Now, I am not saying that there are not truths in those feelings I just mentioned. God commands us to be joyful. That doesn’t mean be giddy for no reason. He commands us to rejoice because of what we know about Him and what He has done for us. When your son just died and you are struggling to figure out what is going on and does God really love me and want good for me – you CANNOT rely on feelings. (Unfortunately, I know this from personal experience.) You aren’t going to be feeling those things at all. In fact, you feel abandoned by God. Which is not true, by the way. Which just goes to show you can’t trust your feelings.

    I think that is why our theology (knowing and understanding God) – and we learn theology from music too – needs to be based on truth, not on emotion. Emotions can’t get us through the tough times, and everyone will have those tough times. So, listen to your music and enjoy whatever you like. But, remember that you need to build your faith on the truth of God’s word and not on a warm fuzzy feeling you get from a song.

    Please don’t read that I am chastising anyone here for what they have said. I did not read every comment and I am not being critical. I just felt burdened to give this perspective. Everything we put in our hearts and minds affects the way we think and act. Be mindful of that.

    Colossians 3:1-4 If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

    Read Psalm 119 which talks about why God’s word is so important to our lives.

    That is why I love songs that use God’s words. Songs that are based on scripture are such a blessing to help us remember the truths that we know. We must constantly preach to ourselves what we know to be true about God from his holy Word.

  20. I completely agree that to dumb down the Gospel is to miss the entire point of what Jesus has done. We need to be constantly mindful of the sacrifice he made and the incredible gift we have received.
    At the same time, Jesus is looking for a personal relationship with us. He doesn’t just want to be around us while we’re praising and worshipping him. He wants to be with and in us ALL the time. He wants to be part of our lives every moment of every day. I don’t know about you, but I often indulge in the guilty pleasure of a “teeny bopper” song. Sure, “Hold Me” doesn’t capture the depth of God’s grace and mercy, but at the same time I’d like to think that Jesus would enjoy singing along with me all the same. There are moments when we need to comprehend the majesty of Christ with a truly majestic song. And then there are times, just like in any other relationship, when things can be light, fun, and simple. Jesus is there in those times too. Praising Him doesn’t have to be a contemplative or serious task. It can be fun and joyful and silly!

  21. Excellent article. We are to approach Almighty God with respect and reverence. To reduce God’s love for us to something that could double as a song on any top-40 radio show is insulting and wrong.

  22. For the record I have, throughout my life, reacted negatively toward the kind of prose being slain in this post. Coming from a fairly stodgy brand of evangelicalism I always turned up my nose at the more charismatic brands of Christianity that seemed to lend themselves to these types of feelings. In my adulthood however I’ve undertaken my own study of comparative religion and come to find a tolerance and understanding of some sentiments I formerly decried as vapid.

    Read the memoirs of Christianity’s great saints, sages or scores of modern catholic nuns and you’ll find the reoccurring theme of outward celibacy coupled with inward eroticism. To thousands of Christian mystics thought history erotic IS the nature of the Christ relationship. In that context, I find lyrics like those quoted to be far less problematic than I once knew them to be. In fact, it was humbling in a way to discover that so many I had judged to be of lesser intellect appeared to have a deeper, more meaningful relationship with Christ that I did.

  23. There’s crap in every generation of “Christian music”, most of it shallow. A lot of the old hymns were also very “feel good” as well. Whether its David’s Psalms or Rich Mullins “Hold Me, Jesus”, we should always listen with a discerning ear. Good word!

  24. Just a thought. True, Jesus is not our boyfriend, but is not the church referred to as the BRIDE of Christ? Wasn’t Hosea all about God wanting His people back, using a very vivid illustration of the relationship between a godly man and a prostitute? Isn’t the relationship between Ruth and Boaz significant as a picture of Christ as our redeemer? Just want to point out that more than once in scripture we see the (physical) relationship between a man and woman as a significant picture of the (spiritual) relationship between God and humanity.

    1. Marriage is a live-action drama (i.e. a picture) of the gospel of Jesus Christ, yes.

      But there is a great difference in the biblical analogy of covenant-love and the fluffy, lovey-dovey tone that some (not all, as I have been saying from the beginning!) Christian music has.

    2. This is exactly the thought that came to my mind. The church is the bride of Christ and he is our beloved. Although the song is more of a testimony about her relationship with God than a worship song (praising God for who he is), it isn’t inappropriate, or even shallow. She is sharing about knowing God in an intimate way.

      As far as the song “Come ye sinners”, personally, I actually don’t like the song. If I was a non-believer, it wouldn’t sound inviting to me to be called weak, needy, pitiful, ect… We are those things without God, but unless you are in the right place to receive that word, it is off putting. The song switches from “you” to “I”, creating a “us” verses “them” thinking. We are all sinners, we can all come to the arms of Jesus.

  25. I agree with the author on this. Although the topic is touchy to Christians of all ages/walk of life we should remember that our actions and faith is not something the world will agree with. If music is written with the intent of being played on the Christian station and the secular station, then there is a problem. A song so Christian would not be wanted by secular stations because Christianity offends those living in sin. We need to remember that we are to reach the world with the Gospel of Jesus Christ, but not at the cost of being accepted (friends) with the world. We are crucified in Christ, nevertheless we live, yet not us, but Christ in us (Galations 2). The world does not want Jesus because of it’s sin nature. Any secular music station that accepts a “Christian” song is not accepting the song because of it’s theology, but rather because of how it sounds and how it can “make people feel good”. If these cross-genre songs are then accepted by secular stations – is it really a Christian song?

  26. Joseph – when you read Hosea, or the story of Ruth & Boaz, or how we are the Bride of Christ – does that make you want to kiss Jesus? To make out with him? Does it stir up sexual feelings? I bet the answer is “no”. So is it really a wise idea to use these stories as justification for putting cross-genre “Christian” music on secular radio stations?

    I know this is bold writing – but we cannot use pieces of scripture to justify our actions – rather we must use the whole scripture.

    in Christ’s Love

    1. CJ, thanks for your honesty, but I believe you went a little too far. I don’t recall anything from the song mentioned, that talks about “making out” with Jesus. I guess the point that I’m trying to make would be that if the scripture uses analogies like that, why is it not ok for CCM artists to do the same?

      I guess using “pieces of scripture to justify our actions” wouldn’t be anything like pulling one song off the radio and hanging an entire category of music on it. Maybe the earlier poster who listed the current top 10 songs and a portion of their lyrics was trying to get a more accurate picture. I guess my beef with this whole conversation is this; would I rather my 14 year old daughter listen to “Hold Me” by Jamie Grace, or “Last Friday Night” by Katie Perry. I think the answer is obvious (if not, take a look at the lyrics). This one song is meant to be a “hook”. A good, clean, song that can draw an analogy to a relationship with Jesus and the fact that HE actually DOES care that we had a bad day at work (how much more important are we than sparrows? Matt 10:31). There are some great DEEP theological songs in CCM and there are some shallow “hooky” ones that get stuck in a middle-schooler’s head. I don’t know of any worship leaders singing “Hold Me” on Sunday morning (if there are, I have some questions for them).

      I wonder if those who are cheering “Yo Ho!” to this post would be able to say that everything they listen to on the radio, watch on TV, read on Facebook, is nothing but deep theological content. Let us not confuse Preference with Conviction.

      This could spin off another conversation of the role of Entertainment in the believer’s life. Is it ok for a Christian to be Entertained? If so, can Entertainment be God glorifying without being deep, or direct quotes from scripture?

      My view would be that music should sit where it belongs. If it is entertainment, then listen to it in your car or while you walk the dog. If it is worship/liturgical, use it in your services or personal time with God to express your worship to Him.

      1. Right this is a pure song people keep tying to make it seem sexually or dirty she doesn’t mention making out with God or any of that. It’s so sad how grown ups loose their innocent and can’t see the Loving nature of this song!

  27. Hey Tim,

    I want to play Devil’s Advocate for just a moment here. I want to expose some more angles on the issue of shallow, God-is-my-best-boyfriend-ever lyrics.

    For girls who have bad relationships with their dads and think of God as someone who doesn’t love them or judges them or mistreats them, seeing Jesus as a Lover is the safest idea they can have of God. A boyfriend relationship may be the closest thing to knowing what a safe relationship looks like.

    I think that since you are a guy (not to sound sexist here), that you can’t fully relate to this romantic metaphor. For girls who are choosing to be committed to God instead of settling on dating and/or marrying non-christian guys, sometimes thinking of Jesus as their first Lover is the one thing that keeps them going.

    Now granted, these type of lyrics are not going to be a classic and will almost go away as soon as they come up, but even if they are temporary the reason there is so many of them is because they are touching on something deeper than their shallow lyrics–there must be some emotional need or vacuum for such lyrics or else there would not be so many of them.

    I think there is an important place for tradition in the church (after all, there are numerous saints who have gone before us and have known God in ways perhaps deeper than we presently know Him). However, I also think there is a place for working with the current norms of our CCM worship in order to better advance the kingdom of God.

    I think the main question is why are these lyrics so shallow? Is our faith shallow or our ideas of God limited to who we want him to be? We have to ask ourselves at the end of the day, not whether we are following the traditions of the church but whether we really are communicating Christ to those around us in love as well as in truth.

    Thank you for your time.

    P.S. I am high-order PCA and do agree with what you wrote for the most part, I just wanted to add a little understanding to an issue that is often misunderstood.

      1. Calling God ones husband is utter bunk and very disrespectful !!!!!! God never said a man shall leave his father and mother and cleave unto me. / thee . It’s folly and disrespectful , stupid and very much a lie

  28. I have read most of the comments here, and I have to say that I agree with a lot of what you all are saying. I just wanted to add this. Praise is giving thanks to God for what He has done for you, it is telling Him exactly what He means to you. Worship is supposed to be simpler than praise. Worship is simply telling God who He is. How much you love Him, how great He is! I don’t know if ya’ll will agree with this, but God doesn’t need big words and long sentences to understand our heart. If we simply speak what is on our heart we can be worshiping when all you might be saying is “Jesus” Or “Glorious one” or anything of that sort. He isn’t asking us to be wordy, just to be ourselves for Him, to offer up who we are and everything that we are for Him. All He is asking for is Surrender. Surrender of who we are, so that we can have a new identity in Him. I am also a worship leader, and songwriter, He has been showing me so much more about praise and worship. Thanks for reading this! :)

  29. hey James, so sorry, I addressed the last message as hey Tim because when I clicked the sections on your blog it mentioned something about Tim designing graphics, and somehow thought you were the same person. my apologies James, but my post is addressed to you.

  30. Thank you, thank you, thank you for expressing what I could not in a polite, godly way. Your article was vastly appreciated!!!

  31. I am 67 years old. I write love songs to Jesus because “my maker is my husband”. He is the healer of my broken heart, and the lover of my soul…just like the old song says, “Jesus Lover of My Soul”. Most of my love songs probably wouldn’t be for use in corporate worship and admonishing one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs, but they could be helpful to any woman who has been battered and rejected. I don’t see Jesus as my “boyfriend’, but I do see him as a lover/husband, because that is what he is to one who is “as a widow” and needs the comfort and love of God that has been deprived her by her spouse.

    I believe the hymns are very important and should not be so easily left behind because they teach theology and scripture, and yes, much of the contemporary music is kiddie pool stuff. How will the kiddos get out of the shallow end if they are never encouraged toward the deeper water? When my little sons learned they could swim, they tired very quickly of the kiddie pool. When I knew they could handle the deeper water, I took them to the next step. It wasn’t long until they left the majority and were diving off the diving board into the deep.

    I was thinking how American students have been dumbed down educationally, so am not surprised that the music of the church follows suit for the younger set. A good Spirit filled worship leader could instruct in the meaning of the songs with deeper message, and use them as a teaching tool in the church. Of course, the worship leader needs to have the experience to understand the old hymns, too. I grew up singing those wonderful hymns, but never really did understand their words until I was born again at age 40. They were stored in the depths of my soul to rise up like an artesian well, brought to my remembrance by the Holy Spirit, and now I have experienced them and KNOW what they mean! How sad that most young people in the church today will probably never them. They are landmarks. Don’t move the landmarks!

    1. YEEEESSSSS SHIRLEY TELL ‘EM GIRL! Exactly! I agree with you Jesus has got to be ur 1st husband. Christ is the bridegroom and the church is His bride. I see u have truly made Him your PERSONAL Lord and Savior like I have. Tell ur testimony girl! !

      1. Jesus is no ones first husband. ! Biggest polygamist then and is he is a husbsnd to single men now it’s gay marriage smh

        Love between God and man is not romantic ! Anyone who makes it romanticic is an utter fool and full of bunk let alone bearing false witness against jesus . I will not tolerate any Christian who Voluntarily makes up stuff on purpose !!

      2. You and Shirley have apparently confused agape with eros…reconsider the meaning of these two terms that describe two different types of love. The church being the bride of Christ is an analogy, not a literal relationship.

    2. Hymns to God should be about God not how you feel as it’s about him not us . They should never be romantic and heck yes those foolish songs exist ! It’s very disrepectful ! Jesus came to save Mankind not be a fill in husband . Yes I will call you out on this as it’s very much a lie and if you take it out of context aren’t you intentionally doing so
      God your husband isn’t literal as many claim it is. So many foolish christians it’s embarrasing ! But if you have an earthly husband are you Cheating on jesus ? Cut the nonsense

  32. Thanks James for your thoughts! As a new assistant pastor I am starting to see the broader picture of real-life ministry up closer and more personal. My main issue with CCM is their philosophy of welcoming in the world to a “worship” service and then surprising them later on with the fact that they are indeed a Christian band. I agree that our music and hymns must be “reformed” and rethought as to their overall content, message, and quality. I need God’s grace to be both graciously teachable as well as resolutely transparent in the arena of music and doctrinal worship.

  33. James / Joseph – my comment was not intended to attack (and i apologize if it cane across as such) but rather reinforce the fact that cross-genre music with lyrics mentioned originally and called “Christian” is simply not Christian. And even though God does mention the love relationship with his children – it is not in the sense of “hold me close, let me hear your heartbeat, and the warmth of your touch”. It is rest in the shadows of His wings, strength when you are weak, and hope when you are down. The word of God is not a mystery and can be understood when a child of God seeks the truth. God doesn’t need help reaching the lost – He wants sold out believers living a consecrated life in service to Him alone. I guess I’ve reached a point where I am tired of “beating around the bush”. A dog is a dog. A duck is a duck. If it walks like a duck, talks like a duck, looks like a duck – well then rest assured – its not a goose. It’s time Christians started calling things like it is – not what they hope or wish it to be.

    Thanks for a stirring conversation!

  34. I believe one reason that contemporary Christian music sticks to such shallow lyrics is because ALL of us — Christian or not — have been overwhelmed with the philosophy that sin doesn’t really exist. Of course we SAY it does, but there is a prevailing idea that acts formerly termed ‘sin’ are now seen as ‘learning experiences’. Instead of ‘right and wrong’, current worldview might call things ‘best or worst’. If songwriters and musicians themselves don’t even grasp the depths from which we/they need to be rescued, they probably won’t include such ideas in their music. I believe there is a need for scrutiny, rather than blind and eager acceptance, when it comes to art and music in the church.

    Thank you for your honest, articulate post!

  35. When I was in high school and college, I was very much interested in the Christian music scene, to the point of interviewing the editor-in-chief of CCM Magazine and spending some time at that office, dreaming of someday becoming the editor-in-chief there. Back then, I had the time and resources to keep up with the non-mainstream Christian music. There was some quality music/lyrics that would make it into mainstream CCM, but most of the good stuff did not. I’ve never liked at least half of what plays on typical Christian radio stations. Back then, I just didn’t bother with them because I kept up with the other scene. At this point, I’m not able to keep up with the “underground” scene, but I also can’t stand most of what’s on Christian radio, so I’ve pretty much just dropped out of the music scene. I did happen to be flipping through radio stations the other day, and heard the exact song you quoted. My husband and I were stunned at how empty and shallow it was.

  36. Sometimes it takes simple music that sounds like mainstream secular music to draw in someone who may be searching for the truth. Or maybe not searching at all then they’re drawn in and find God there. Some music is meant to be happy and simple. Seems God told us to have a childlike faith, not an over-intellectualized one. There’s a time for deep music, and room for simplicity. Deep spiritual lyrics will scare off a unbeliever or new believer, but more vague reference will draw them in. and why can’t christian music be love songs? Don’t christian couples need love songs too? I can’t believe how shallow and closed minded these comments are to these artists filling the needs of unbelievers, believers, and doing what God has given them the ability to do! How vain to assume that any of you should judge that they are wrong in their ability to serve their God in the way they felt He led them! Shame on you all!!

    1. I have to agree to some extent with your reasoning. It does seem as our system of education tanks and that even churched people know less and less doctrine that it makes sense that we are essentially consuming “christian lite” in music. Music, after all, isn’t a gift by the Holy Spirit. It’s not. Look it up. Yes, in the Bible. The gift emanating from music is the teaching aspect.

      But to get back to my agreement with your post, we are babes consuming skim milk and are spiritually lean. We are used to the skim milk and we LIKE it. We do not feed on meat as the NT says. The texture is strange, it is foreign and tough to us. That is what most doctrinal music sounds like to our ears: strange and tough.

      I agree to the extent that this music is listened to and liked by many. Beyond that, we part ways.

    2. I have to disagree. I would never have become a believer were it not for people who were willing to be honest with me. Honesty and love draws people in. Not simplicity and cheeriness. Simplicity and happiness, ironically, can actually drive away the more troubled types. Try skipping through low-income housing filled with narcotics addicts and singing about how bad your workday was yet how much you love feeling like God is holding you. They’ll assume you’re tripping just as bad as they are.

  37. She DOES say”Lord, i love the way you hold me” by the way! Listen to a song before you tear down what a young girl has sung to her Father!

    1. I appreciate your thoughts here, but I do not completely agree with you. You are correct in saying that some people need simple lyrics. Which btw is exactly what I said. :) But, I have heard many songs on Christian radio stations that are very shallow… they don’t have simple words, they are simply shallow. They don’t say anything of real importance. :)

      1. Just because we are christians doesn’t mean EVERY song we listen to has to be all deep and meaningful. A song like this is meant to make you feel happy and bouncy, just what young people are looking for in a song. Christian music needs to cover many bases and one of those is “safe” alternatives to secular pop music that our children can listen to without being exposed to innappropriate lyrics. Christian radio is not meant to be church. It is a way to enjoy music on every level without the junk of the secular world. Saying EVERY song has to be deep and meaningful is like saying there should be no christian fiction novels written. People need entertinment that is wholesome and that includes music that is just enjoyable without being innappropriate. Why does EVERYTHING said have to hold such magnitude? And just because something may not be of any importance to you does not mean it did not make someone else’s day a whole lot brighter. Maybe it just made them smile, maybe it made them dance for the first time in a long while, maybe they stopped scanning the dial and listened to christian music for the first time, maybe a teenager decided to listen to that simple song instead of listening to Britney Spears or the like. Again, I reiterate..christian radio is not church. It’s radio entertainment , meant to be an alternative to secular music, along with witnessing, uplifting, and helping people get through their day. Saying a song is shallow to you does not mean everyone sees it as shallow. Maybe it was not meant to say anything of real importance to you, but maybe it does to someone else, or maybe it just made them happy. Who are you to judge what is shallow anyway? Seems to me your opinion of christian music is what is shallow…

  38. bb,

    Thanks for stopping by and your comment. People have been “judging” art for thousands of years. My opinions of a work of art (in this case “Hold Me”) or the trends of a certain stream of art (in this case CCM) are not shallow. Art is to be critically analyzed on an objective basis. So much of Western Christianity has been relegated to subjective experience. Therefore, Christian art is “hands off.” If there is any kind of critical analysis of Christian art, it is assumed to be “shallow judging.” That is simply not what is happening here. Christianity and art (and therefore Christian art) is not merely subjective.

  39. The entire reason bands create songs like this is because that style and type of music is what is popular. Popular sells. And just like every other aspect of contemporary church…it’s all about two things: getting attention and $$$.

  40. Here I think art imitates life. Music in the church is being culturally (and economically) driven rather than spiritually. There are exceptions. You do have to look long and hard, but they can’t be discounted. Overall though, I am beginning to hate the prepackaged, fast-food digitalization of music and teaching that has enveloped the church with DVD seminars, pop-culture worship music, et cetera. Doesn’t an individual congregation have in its “body” the tools required to teach and preach and present both spoken and sung word sufficient without the purchase of digital teaching and worship music? Don’t even get me started with anyone with a guitar being qualified or sanctified to sing on stage. Should anyone who has the gift of gab preach? Music in the church has become music first. Worship sometimes seems as random as a blind squirrel finding a nut.

    1. Sorry that this reply is 2 years later… haha. But I find that very compelling. Art is definitely a good indicator of a culture or subculture’s sympathies, I think. As in, when songs like “Hold Me” turn our guts into mush rather than “Be Thou my Vision” (or even “Fix You” by Coldplay for a secular example), that is indicative of us wanting a boyfriend rather than a guiding light. You ought to read Quiet by Susan Cain; her book is about introverts in a culture that is unbalanced in leaning towards extraversion, gab, and loudness, and gets a bit into how this cultural rejection of “antisocial” (thoughtful?) types permeates churches.

  41. Ok I’m not a fan of jamie grace never had never will but I do like her music, when I first heard “hold me” I honestly thought the song was about a guy and I don’t anything blibical about that song and we should becareful how we write songs to God that it doesn’t sound inappropiate, but then God knows Jamie’s heart and her intentions its not our place to judge her and her music:)

  42. Audrey, when someone makes “art” they are implicitly inviting critique by others. It is one thing to judge someone’s intentions (I even give the singer the benefit of the doubt in my post!). It is altogether another thing to offer an informed and biblical critique. Especially of musical lyrics (or poetry), since the Bible is full of both.

  43. Excellent conversation and post to generate it. I wrote about this issue in my book, “It’s All About HYMN” (Winner of the 2011 Global eBook Award for Christian Non-Fiction), and I think what’s happening with CCM lyrically has a connection with what Jeanne Twenge and Keith Campbell wrote in their great book, “The Narcissim Epidemic” and how such a cultural shift is reflected in the culture’s music–including CCM in a large number of selections. Just compare the number of “I/me/my/mine” songs or those with zero Christian worldviews in their lyrics (“Draw Close to Me” by Kutless) in the current CCM Top 20. It’s difficult for Christian pop music favorites to linger more than a few years let alone a generation because the nature of pop music is to reflect “the now” and The Now is always changing…

  44. I have read some of the many comments posted and I really think you guys are taking this the wrong way. Christian music reaches people in different ways. The song Hold me by Jamie Grace is a cute CHRISTIAN song! It may not reach you but you never know who and how many lives the song is touching! Everybody does not like the same preacher or practice the same religion but it does not make a person a lesser Christian. Some people cry when they hear the word of God some just sit there mute but you never know what is going on in a person’s heart. I love the song and I am a Christian! We need to focus on the bigger picture here and that we are trying to win souls for the Lord!

    1. M.Lloyd:
      How do you know the Jamie Grace song is a Christian song? Certainly not from the lyrics, that much is clear. There is simply no theological content in the lyrics so I don’t know how you can call it a “Christian” song. I don’t think we should confuse the work of the Holy Spirit with sappy-sounding love songs as many fans do of Christian pop music used in worship. Reread your post…how does someone not “practice the same religion” and yet “not make a person a lesser Christian”? Does that apply to Mormons? Jehovah’s Witnesses? Muslims? I don’t understand what you are saying here.

      See my Contumacious Church Musician blog (donnleviejr.wordpress.com) and see my posts on the doctrine of Scripture as it applies to the arts.

      God bless,
      Donn LeVie Jr.
      http://www.donnleviejr.com

      1. Again I stand by my comment stayed earlier! The bible clearly states if we judge others we stand to be judged! Like I said before we ate different religions but we believe in Jesus Christ. God bless you i resoect the fact that you don’t like the song! But as I said before you don’t know how’ many souls she may be winning for Chrisr! God bless!

  45. Hi! Jamie Grace here :) Wanted to let ya know, I’ve been single since I was born, I’ve never had a boyfriend and wouldn’t count Jesus as one. That’s kind of creepy lol. He’s my Savior and in the book of Isaiah I am told how He upholds me. It was just hard to right “I love the way you uphold me” lol! As I went through my life living quite of it in the hospital do to illnesses I found comfort in the arms my Savior. I was a 14 year old girl who was physically incapable of holding her own head up because her neck muscles would give out but my goodness being HELD by my Jesus meant more than anything so please, understand that isn’t about going on a date with the maker of the World but realizing His strength is deeper than any other. I pray everyone can experience what it feels like to be held in the arms on the greatest Father of all! :)

    Lastly, I know you may dislike CCM but we’re not apart of an exclusive club writing eachother’s songs and having sleepovers every night lol! I don’t even know everyone in the “industry” so if you don’t like my songs don’t take it out on everyone else, vice verse. It would be equivalent to saying I despise the blogging industry for it’s vulgarity which would be to despise and over look your WordPress which seems to provide wholesome posts. :)

    -Jamie Grace

  46. I appreciate the constructive attitude that has been displayed in the portions of this comment section that I have read. I don’t feel extremely passionate either way. I think that CCM should have in-depth gospel truth, and I appreciate many hymns. I have a question posed toward the author of this post.

    Let’s think about many of the illustrations of the Bible. I mean, Song of Solomon, seems to be an entire book purposed to display a symbolic representation of God’s love toward’s His people. The Goel kinsman redeemer (Boaz) in Ruth is a picture of God’s redemptive power. In Ephesians 5:25, God commands husbands to love their wives as Christ loved the Church. When Christ went up to heaven he said, “I go to prepare a place for you.” (A reference to the Jewish espousal period) We also know that the church is called the Bride of Christ.

    My point, in short is this. If there is figurative language and symbolic pictures all through the Bible why would we be surprised if that same type of language appears in our songs to Him?

    Yes, I believe that Jesus, God, Lord, Father, Heavenly Father, etc. should be mentioned in a song, I don’t think there is much to complain of if portions of a song could be said to a girlfriend/boyfriend.

    If you think differently, I would be open to discussion.

  47. I appreciate very much Jamie Grace commenting here and explaining the lyrical intent of the song quoted in the post. However, the fact that Ms. Grace had to explain the lyrical intent plays directly into the argument of the “Jesus is my boyfriend” musical and literary genre. Few hymn writers, if any, ever had to defend or explain the intent behind the lyrics to such timeless treasures as “All Creatures of Our God and King,” “Old Rugged Cross,” “Christ the Lord Has Risen Today,” and many others. The fact that clarifications, explanations, and defenses are necessary reinforces the argument that such music is often nearly devoid of theological content and sometimes overflows with “squishy” love themes.

    Rather than resort to personal preferences for music in worship, there would be far less separation between musical camps if we embraced the doctrine of Scripture, and let all our experience/knowledge pass through the truth of Scripture as a filter, rather than passing Scripture through the filter of our incomplete, subjective experience/knowledge.

    God bless…

  48. I will flip it – I’m not Jesus’s girlfriend or wife ! Not only is this concept absurd it’s just not true ! Jesus isn’t a bf to anyone !!! There is no dating and people who say this is what many call ” spiritually immature ” I call em liars . I don’t care why they do it it’s just not the truth .

    So if people are ” married to Jesus ” did they send out wedding invitations where the groom is listed as Jesus of Nazareth smh

    To me this is foolish !
    Single women are single
    What about single guys ? Is Jesus a gf or worse a bf too smh

    Enough ! Jesus is our savior not our significant other

  49. God has ministered to me specifically through contemporary christian music and stations like KLOVE radio on a daily basis. The absolute perfect song has played that I can feel in my heart God telling me he played that song just for me. I have prayed and the biblical lyrics have poured out in ways similar to how words have almost popped off the page when I read scripture. The lyrics mentioned in this article are upbeat and just what I need to remind me God is there. I think we as Christians need to ban together more to get the secular junk off the radio/tv. Instead of wasting time measuring or “judging” other Christians. Our efforts should be spent supporting each other and working together to reach a lost world.

    1. Heck no will I support foolish christians being foolish ! Jesus is no ones literal husband and writing romantic songs to Him is folly and very disrespectful !

  50. The song “hold me” is intended for young girls not for mature Christians. I feel like this song is a good song for young girls who are searching for love. We need songs to reach all kinds of Christians. I have three young girls and 10 nieces. These songs reach these young hearts more than you realize.

  51. The issue, as far as I can see it, is not only that some CCM leaves a lot to be desired in the ways that James has described in his post, but that, for those who sing these songs in a church setting, many of these songs are simply not edifying. If every church member who sings during a worship service had a thorough understanding of essential doctrine, theology, hermeneutics, etc, then it would be far easier to forgive a song for sacrificing substance for style. The reality, and the heart of the matter, is this: the vast majority of congregants in the typical Western church do not have deep, thorough understandings of Christian doctrine – at least, not to the point where a less-than-ideal Christian song has little or no impact on the congregant’s faith. There are generally two major parts of a typical church service – the singing and the sermon. For the sermon portion, the congregant sits and listens for half an hour, maybe engaged and thoughtful about what is being preached, and maybe not. For the singing portion of the service, the congregant is far more engaged than during the sermon portion. The congregant stands and often moves around, sings, thinks about what is being sung and quite often responds physically and emotionally – a process that is, necessarily to the human experience, far more engaging that simply sitting and listening to a sermon. To think that the process of joining one’s voice to a chorus of other voices is not an enormous opportunity for the person to grow his or her faith is to miss the point. Singing, due to the engagement of the whole being in the process, is probably at least as important, if not more important, than anything that is being said by the preacher during the sermon. When the congregation stands up to sing, the church music director has an enormous opportunity to “preach” to everyone in the church – both new Christians, old Christians, and non-Christians alike. To people going through all sorts of life-stages, life-phases, trials, tribulations, and joys. To sing songs that are shallow, devoid of substance, devoid of doctrine, devoid of the things that are essential to Christianity – to sing songs that declare love for a saviour without declaring why He is worthy of that love – to sing songs that do nothing to grow the song-singer’s faith by engaging the person’s mind, and not just a person’s heart – is to waste an opportunity and do a disservice to the people of God. It is to feed the sheep food devoid of nutrition. This produces a people who are that much less committed, and therefore, that much less effective in their mission – something that the Western church cannot afford to do today. The reality is that those who write songs should bear this in mind – and if someone does write a song for mass Christian consumption, that person has a duty to ensure he or she is fluent in christian doctrine, to ensure that the lyrics are full of nutrition. The worship leader likewise has the same responsibility – to ensure that their opportunity to “preach” to the congregation is exploited, not wasted.

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