Contrary to popular belief, the smash hit of 2017, Despacito, has nothing to do with burritos, mosquitoes or potatoes, but everything to do with … yes, SEX. Some of the lyrics even translate to “I want to undress you in kisses slowly” and “Let me trespass your danger zones / Until I make you scream.” Yikes!
But well, at least it’s in Spanish … if we didn’t know what we were singing along to, it probably doesn’t matter … right?
Like it or not, pop songs have become incredibly sexualised. If you were to throw a stone in a metaphorical room full of current hits, you’re almost guaranteed to strike one that talks about sex. So, how big a problem is it for us to sing along to these songs? To answer that question, here are three dangerous lies pop songs have told us about sex.
LIE 1: SEX IS “JUST PHYSICAL”
If you listen to love songs these days, you might come away thinking that sex is simply about physical pleasure to fulfil your sexual needs. Very few songs mention anything about trust, emotional intimacy and commitment. Let’s have some samples:
“Oooh I love that dress/ But you won’t need it anymore…/ Let’s just kiss til’ we’re naked baby.” – Versace on the Floor by Bruno Mars
“I can’t keep my hands to myself/ I mean, I could, but why would I want to?” – Hands To Myself by Selena Gomez
“Only bought this dress so you could take it off” — Dress by Taylor Swift
The way sex is portrayed in these songs is such a contrast to the Bible’s description of sex. In the Old Testament, the Hebrew word used to describe sexual intimacy between husband and wife is yada. The first time it is used is in Genesis 4:1a: “Now Adam knew Eve his wife” (ESV). However, yada refers to more than just sex. It can mean to “know deeply or intimately”. Interestingly, yada is often found not in reference to sex, but to describe closeness with God (e.g. Psalm 139, where it is used five times with this meaning!).
While pop songs may spread the message that sex is just about physical satisfaction, this can’t be further from the truth. In the right context of marriage, to know your partner through sex is a truly intimate act, connecting with that person emotionally, physically, spiritually, and more. Let me (Shi Yun) just say this from a newlywed woman’s point of view. It’s definitely not just about pleasure. It takes commitment and a lot of sacrificial giving! The sex portrayed in pop songs is often selfish and cheap, and sadly that sells us short of the beauty of sex God created for marriage.
TO KNOW YOUR PARTNER THROUGH SEX IS A TRULY INTIMATE ACT
LIE 2: SEX “SHOWS THAT YOU LOVE HIM”
A really popular song when I (Isabel) was a teen was More Than Words by Extreme. It was considered a sweet, romantic ballad that people often used at weddings. Yet a closer look at the lyrics revealed something scary!
“Saying I love you/ Is not the words I want to hear from you/…How easy would it be to show me how you feel/ More than words is all you have to do to make it real/ Then you wouldn’t have to say that you love me/ Cause I’d already know.”
What the song implies is that words are not enough — sex is necessary to prove that love is real. That song was written in 1990, and things have only gotten more explicit.
In James Arthur’s Naked (yep, that’s actually the title), he sings,
“If you ever want me back, then your walls need breakin’ down
I’m trying’ to make it clear getting half of you just ain’t enough …
I’m standing here naked.”
Personally, I (Shi Yun) can’t help but get so angry listening to these lyrics, because they pressure girls into proving their love with their bodies. It also breaks my heart thinking about girls who could potentially believe that sex is the only way to prove their love. Let’s set the record straight: sexual intercourse on its own does not prove love. If it were, then no Disney love story can remain PG-rated.
Girls, we say this to you in all seriousness, with a heavy heart: If any guy tells you that sex is necessary to show that you love him, hard as it is, it’s time to ditch him. A guy who does not respect you and God is not worth investing more time into. You’re truly worth more than that.
LIE 3: SEX IS “PARADISE”
In our world today, sex is often painted to be this amazing thing. It’s apparently soooo good that almost every good thing is compared to sex as THE standard of how good it feels! When I (Isabel) was still in school, I remember the boys in my class using sex as a synonym for something that feels so good, it can only be compared to sex. They’d say things like, “Oh man, this is so good it’s better than sex,” or “Her voice is so smooth, I’m having an ‘eargasm’!”
If sex is all that good, surely we must be missing out by not having it, right? What are we Christians waiting for?!
But… believing that sex is the best thing that could ever happen to you and making it the standard of what’s “good” and most pleasurable is so short sighted! The most interesting imagery about this from a song is when Bruno Mars sings, “Cause your sex takes me to paradise / Yeah, your sex takes me to paradise.” Sex to him is so good that, in his eyes, it’s literally heaven, but really, how far has it fallen short of where we will truly experience full goodness and eternal satisfaction, the real Paradise that awaits us, where there will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, where we live eternally with Jesus, and no curse is upon us anymore (Rev21:4–7;22:3–7)!
Sex may feel good, but surely it can’t be all we desire or crave. We have been offered salvation by a holy God! So you know what? He is literally the One who will take us to paradise.
IF SEX IS ALL THAT GOOD, SURELY WE MUST BE MISSING OUT BY NOT HAVING IT, RIGHT? WHAT ARE WE CHRISTIANS WAITING FOR?!
It’s easy to groove along to pop songs but never think about how they influence your thoughts. I (Shi Yun) used to be that way, but the moment that changed my mind was when I found myself singing along to Meghan Trainor’s Title: “Baby don’t call me your friend / If I hear that word again / You might never get a chance to see me naked in your bed.”
I caught myself in the moment and thought, “But I’d NEVER say that in any context, and NO man is going to see me naked in his bed unless he’s my husband. So why am I singing this??” It dawned on me that the words I listened to and inevitably spoke out loud really contradicted my beliefs. In singing along, I was subtly being influenced to have a casual view of sex — a view that I didn’t believe in!
We challenge you to take time to examine some of the song lyrics you listen to. Maybe you need to stop listening and singing along to them. Perhaps you’ve believed some of the lies we’ve mentioned above. Whatever it is, allow the Bible to shape your beliefs about sex and sexuality, and put aside these dangerously sexy songs.