After a several month sabbatical, I have been giving Christian radio another shot. This time I’ve found Air1, which is “alternative” K-Love, basically. It has better songs and no Jon and Sherry, which is very important. So anyway, while I like approximately 65% of the music they play, some of the songs they play the most just make me cringe or want to throw myself into traffic. Since when did emo take over Christian music?! Here are some lyrics to the top song on Air1:

You come to me with your scars on your wrist
You tell me this will be the last night feeling like this
I just came to say goodbye
I didn’t want you to see me cry,
I’m fine
But I know it’s a lie

This is the last night you’ll spend alone
Look me in the eyes so I know you know
I’m everywhere you want me to be
The last night you’ll spend alone I’ll wrap you in my arms and I won’t let go
I’m everything you need me to be

–Skillet, “The Last Night”

What on earth?! What are we teaching people here? Granted, Air1 is not an exclusively Christian station, they play more of the broad feel good songs, but this is twisted! Uh, can we say codependency issues?! Ugh, MOREOVER the lyrics in purple are sung by a girl. What is this saying to young girls, who compose this band’s target demographic?! Here, use negative drama to make a boy love you and stay by you forever. The damsel in distress freaking cuts herself in the song! Uuuuuuuuuugh. Beyond that, it makes no reference to salvation beyond a friend (and I think the implication here is boyfriend, although I will grant that is not necessarily the case). Principle remains! Christ is going to save us! Friends, community, lovers are all wonderful and important, but aren’t where our ultimate value comes from.

So yes, you can see this song has become my soapbox. Then tonight I hear this little diddy:

Tell me where it’s hurting
Are you burning?
Running just to catch your breath
And going nowhere
It’s getting old when you feel like you got nothing left
Well it ain’t over ’til it’s over
I told you since the day we met
So let me be the voice through all the noise
Whatever I gotta be
I’ll be for you

Whatever you need from me
To see you through
Everyone of us has stumbled
Everybody’s humbled
We hit the ground and our lives crumble

Whatever I gotta be
I’ll be for you
I’m for you
If you never knew
I’m for you
You know it’s true

— Toby Mac, “I’m For You”

Okay, basically the same story here, without the self mutilation. I’m sure there’s some vaguely implied reference to Paul’s “all things to all people” line, but really, what is the message of this song? “I’ll save you. Hang on to me, I’ll be the one to bring you through it.” And I’m not trying to read into this where there is nothing, but in the great tradition of Christian music being little more than replacing “baby”s and “lover”s with “God”s and “Lord”s, I think it sounds it has some romantic implication.

Last but not least, a song I am actually quite tempted to like upon a superficial hearing. Let’s look.

She loves her mama’s lemonade
And hates the sound that goodbyes make
She prays one day she’ll find someone to need her

She swears that there’s no difference
Between the lies and compliments
It’s all the same if everybody leaves her

And every magazine tells her she’s not good enough
The pictures that she sees make her cry

She would change everything, everything, just ask her
Caught in the in-between a beautiful disaster
She just needs someone to take her home

She’s given boys what they want
And tries to act nonchalant
Afraid they’ll see that she’s lost her direction

She never stays the same for long
Assuming that she’ll get it wrong
Perfect only in her imperfection

She’s not a drama queen
She doesn’t want to feel this way
Only 17 but tired

She’s just the way she is but no one’s told her that’s okay

She would change everything, for happy ever after
Caught in the in-between a beautiful disaster
She just needs someone to take her home

–John McLaughlin, “Beautiful Disaster”

Now that I actually see the words in writing, I am scowling. Every line is about how this girl is self hating and needs someone “to need her” and “take her home.” And she’s only stinking 17!!! And hello, the title!? Beautiful disaster? Oh dear.

So these are three of the most played songs on Christian radio right now. What message is this sending? To young women, especially? If you want a boy to love you, or if you want attention of any kind, you need to be be depressant, think little of yourself, and place all your hope and joy on the shoulders of your (boy)friend.

Sorry, this has been a soapbox post. It just reminds me how much we have to fight even Christian pop culture (not to mention doctrine) to remind women young and old of their inherent value and from where it comes.