The question has been prompted in part by my avid consumption of The Daily Mail, the paper which divides the world into ‘good ordinary people like us’ and ‘nasty criminal donkey-eating coke fiends like them’. (As an aside, wouldn’t you love to deserve the moniker of ‘love rat’? I’m not even sure what it means, but I think I want one).
No, the other stimulus for this important debate was an auditory blast from the past – a song you may know, entitled, ‘All I wanna do (Is make love to you)’.
Don’t tell me you’re too young to remember this. It caused a total media storm when it was released back in the 90s and went straight to no 1. In the track, Ann Wilson sings of her one-night stand with a man she uses to become pregnant. When she reunites later with the one-time lover, she explains that her child is the result of their tryst and she did it only because the man she really loves is not able to give her children. Most radio stations refused to play it and it was seen as a symbol of everything that was degenerate and immoral.
Now, there’s one good reason for banning this song, but it’s for crimes against lyrics, not society. I quote..
So we found this hotel,
It was a place I knew well
We made magic that night.
Oh, he did everything right
He brought the woman out of me,
So many times, easily
And in the morning when he woke all
I left him was a note
I told him
I am the flower you are the seed
We walked in the garden
We planted a tree
Don’t try to find me,
Please don’t you dare
Just live in my memory,
You’ll always be there
Oh, oooh, we made love
Love like strangers
All night long
We made love
I rest my case.
If we compare this track to pretty much any modern song, the lyrics, whilst painful, seem tame by comparison. Then again, perhaps it’s relative. Tunes like ‘There Stands the Glass’ by Webb Pierce were banned in the 50s for lyrics that could be seen to promote drinking.
In the newspapers too, it seems like the world is just getting worse. Every day brings fresh news of another violent crime, paedophilia, abuse, neglect, addiction. Were these things not a problem in our grandparent’s time? Or is it simply that the issues have changed? When I was growing up, I remember being terrified by the threat of AIDS, a new disease that threatened to wipe out whole swathes of the population. But years ago, consumption or syphilis held the same threat, whilst in Bible times it would have been leprosy. Today – who knows. And tomorrow, something else.
It’s funny that Christianity is often seen as a crutch for the weak or those who don’t get out much. I was talking to a vicar friend about this the other day and she made the point that, whilst many people consider her to be sheltered and naïve, in reality her job has opened her eyes to all sorts of tragedy and horror that most will never experience. Similarly, my husband chatted with a guy who dismissed Jesus on the grounds that he didn’t travel beyond Nazareth. As he argued, ‘Thing about Jesus right – nice bloke, but he didn’t really get out enough. Now me – I’ve been to Canada’.
The Bible is also criticised for being a simplistic story book full of children’s fairy tales. I’m reading about the story of the Israelites right now, and let me tell you, that ain’t so. Every kind of crime against God and humanity is represented in those pages – from bestiality to incest. Sin is not a modern invention and it’s precisely because Scripture recognises this that the offer of grace and forgiveness from Jesus means so much. So whatever I’ve done or however grim modern life may look, there is hope and redemption, just as there was for my spiritual forefathers.
Maybe it’s not that people are worse – just the bad stuff gets better PR.