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Friday, March 15, 2013

Sloppy & Wet (Worship, Part 4)

'Jesus holding earth' photo (c) 2005, Kim Scarborough - license:
Heaven Meets Earth, Like
Shaq Palming a Basketball
There's been some controversy surrounding one line of the song "How He Loves", which was written by John Mark McMillan and recorded by, I don't know, everyone on the planet, and also David Crowder Band. I've already mentioned it on this blog, in this entry from a year and a half ago. If you Google the phrase "Sloppy Wet Kiss", you will find that a lot of people have weighed in on it, and even John Mark has explained how the David Crowder Band "Unforeseen Kiss" version came to be. And although if you've been reading all week, you've already found out that I think sexual metaphors can be appropriate in worship music (God uses them Himself, all through the Bible), I'm not here to defend or condemn either version. I think it's a beautiful, expressive song, and if one way or another is how you worship best, then by all means, sing it that way.

But I do have an opinion. And in my opinion, as much as I love David Crowder's music, the line "Heaven meets Earth, like an unforeseen kiss" doesn't make any sense.

In the song, when Heaven and Earth meet in something with qualities similar to a kiss, is it an accident? Did they simply bump into each other? "Oh, I'm sorry, I didn't see you there. Sorry about kissing you like that. My bad." Of course not... the song is about how much God loves us, and there's no love in something that happens by accident. The words "Heaven" and "Earth" are used metaphorically for God and mankind, and I guess the idea is that the kiss was unforeseen by mankind, but nothing is unforeseen by God. Someone always thinks about a kiss before it happens; there's no such thing as an "unforeseen kiss."

Worse still, I don't think "unforeseen kiss" carries the same weight of emotion as "sloppy wet kiss". I think the original line wakes a person up, challenges them. Why not step back for a moment and consider how the love of God for mankind could be so passionate that it was like a REALLY smooshy, undignified kiss between two people who are lost in each other? Even the word "sloppy" grabs your attention because it's so  awkward to sing. Why shouldn't it be left in there? It's a shame to take something that could challenge people's idea of what God is like out of the song, and put in something that is not challenging at all, and that doesn't even really make that much sense.

I think your worship music should challenge you. It should draw you closer to God, and it should encourage you to think about God. As an exercise, even if your worship leader goes the "unforeseen" route, maybe for the next few days you could think about both versions of the lyric, what they mean, how each is appropriate or inappropriate. You might take a look at the passage from Psalms which I quoted in my earlier blog post in reference to the "sloppy wet" version. Maybe one or both versions of the lyric will become more meaningful to you as a result. You might also be interested to take a look at this video/post about how the song originally came to be written. It was a messy situation indeed.

Then, once you've looked at the line from all angles, when you sing whichever one you sing, sing it with all of your heart. Because He does love us. He really, really does.

Does God love you in a "sloppy wet" way, or in more of an "unforeseen" way? How do you feel about the original lyric, the David Crowder altered version, or even some other version you've heard and/or sung? Is "sloppy wet" too raw, too sexual, too human, too gross, or just right? Or am I just beating a horse that died a year ago when people moved on to some other song in their worship services? Sound off below in the comments!

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