As a hip hop artist, there are qualities about Macklemore’s song “Same Love” that I appreciate. I think about my own musical journey, and the advice I got from other people to produce music at the highest quality I could, and that people would listen to my counter cultural (Catholic) music if it’s done well and from the heart.
I believe this song is well made, creative, and from his heart. My appreciation for the song stops there.
Music can have a very powerful effect in people’s lives, and the words of a song really matter. Music is a universal language that cuts to the heart in a way that nothing else can.
Macklemore makes some bold claims in “Same Love.” And because it fits snugly within the pop culture views currently trending (making the Catholic Church look outdated and hateful while those that support gay marriage are more loving and accepting) and is very catchy and well done, it has struck a chord with millions of people.
However, just because something is emotionally stirring that doesn’t mean that it’s truthful. The song is built on a foundation of emotion instead of the rock of truth.
He wrote and dedicated the song in honor of his uncle, who has same-sex attraction. The reason it strikes a chord with so many people is because a lot of us are personally affected by the issue. When you care about someone who has same-sex attraction, it can move you to empathy and even action, but feeling that something is right doesn’t make it so. A popular vote doesn’t determine truth either. Truth is found in Jesus Christ, who is “the Truth” (John 14:6).
This song claims a lot of things as true, mostly based off of personal belief and emotional appeal. Let’s address a few of them…
I Can’t Change
The catchy refrain is referencing orientation, but the Church isn’t as concerned with orientation as much as she is with action, because actions are what separate us from the love of God. Being a person with a homosexual inclination is not a sin. Immoral sexual acts (including contraception, premarital sex, and homosexual acts) are a sin.
While orientations may not be able to change, we are always able to turn from our sinfulness to seek forgiveness and find hope, redemption, and new life in Christ.
That being said, yes, we all can change our sinful acts (because we all struggle with sin). Change and redemption is biblical.
The God revealed through Scriptures and history is a God who changes hearts and lives, calling His people away from sin and death and toward His love and life!
“So whoever is in Christ is a new creation: the old things have passed away; behold new things have come” (2 Corinthians 5:17).
Time after time God called terrible sinners to become saints: Mary Magdalene, St. Paul, St. Augustine, and countless others. Even more importantly God calls us today out of a life of mediocrity and into a life of purpose and direction. All of us are called to see the hope of redemption through our sinfulness.
We have the ability to change because we have the ability to choose virtue over sin.
We aren’t animals who obey every natural urge their bodies crave. Human beings have reason, a will.
A “predisposition” isn’t a good enough reason to live a certain way. A person could be born with a predisposition for throwing a baseball a certain way, with a throwing motion that seems comfortable and natural to them. Then as they progress in their career, a pitching coach may tell them that they need to change the mechanics of their throw in order to perform to the best of their abilities. Also because their natural throwing motion would lead them to harm and injury.
Each of us have ‘natural’ predispositions that are harmful – its called original sin. Our tendency to turn away from the truth and life of God harms us and our relationship with him. However, as mentioned above, we aren’t victims of our circumstances. People have the ability to train, work hard and through their will, change. For us as Catholics, this means finding forgiveness in the Sacrament of Confession and through prayer, seeking God’s will for our life.
It is always a constant mission to continue to turn from sin to light, no matter what our circumstances are.
Confusion about love
There is a lot of trouble with the working definition of the word “love” in our culture today. You hear people crying out for the right to marry who you love, asserting that love alone is the basis of marriage.
But what is love? Is it someone who “keeps you warm,” as mentioned in the song?
Let’s be clear: It would be ridiculous to say that a person who has a homosexual inclination is incapable of loving another, even in a self sacrificial manner. The Church simply affirms that sexual love is something that can only fulfill its purpose between a man and a woman within the context of marriage. True love can only be found in God, who is love. Christ showed us what love looks like and taught us how to model that love in marriage (Ephesians 5:25-27).
The Church “preaches hate”
Ben Haggerty (Macklemore) has said that he grew up in the Catholic Church, and has a bad taste in his mouth about some things he saw and heard. I want to take a moment to apologize to Ben (or anybody for that matter) who has had a bad experience with the Church.
The song condemns hate and discrimination towards people with same sex attraction. The Church teaches and believes precisely that same thing (CCC 2358). This love and charity is what you should have experienced. Contrary to popular opinion, the Church does not preach hate and Pope Francis just reiterated this as well on his way home from World Youth Day.
Pray for those who are discriminated against and who have same-sex attraction. We all have crosses to carry in life and need prayer for the long journey. Pray also for those who have the wrong impression of what the Church is and believes.
“There are not more than 100 people in the world who truly hate the Catholic Church, but there are millions who hate what they wrongly believe to be the Catholic Church, which is, of course, quite a different thing…As a matter of fact, if we Catholics believed all of the untruths and lies which were said against the Church, we probably would hate the Church a thousand times more than they do.” – Venerable Bishop Fulton Sheen
So next time you are listening to the radio, take a closer look to see the message that is coming across in the song. Is it founded in truth? Or is it an emotional appeal? Be sure to not be spoon-fed opinions by the media, even in ‘harmless’ song lyrics.
Always continue to seek the truth found in Christ, and feast your soul on that food.
For a more complete explanation of the Church’s teaching on homosexuality, check out this podcast: God’s Divine Design.