I had thought to write a blog entry analyzing the song lyrics of a new song by former ‘N Sync member Justin Timberlake, called “Not A Bad Thing,” but an examination of its lyrics showed the casual use of a swear word to signify a casual no-strings-attached relationship involving fornication. Since it was therefore inappropriate to examine the lyrics of the song in depth, because there is a tension (if not a contradiction) between the song’s equation of love with casual fornication and the outright statement that it would not be a bad thing to fall in love with a casual fornicator. It is this contradiction that makes the song an immoral one, aside from its use of language. After all, aside from a repeated use of a swear word, the song itself would very easily fit on an easy listening or adult contemporary station.
This is not as unusual as it may appear. All too often songs are considered to be easy listening based on the production and instrumentation and music of a song, and not on what the song is actually about. A few examples should suffice. In about 1980 a song came out called “Steal Away” that managed to be an immoral song for at least two reasons. For one, ironically enough, the song was a ripoff of a recent hit by the Doobie Brothers  (“What A Fool Believes”), and for another, the song was about fornication. On moral grounds alone, the song was not a good one, but because it was not too loud or jarring, it was easy to miss that immorality in message because of the innocuous style the song has. This is a common problem. Another example of the same kind, among many examples that could be chosen, is the song “2 Become 1” by the Spice Girls, their first hit on Adult Contemporary radio, a song that became a hit because of its orchestral cello-driven music, but whose lyrics rather straightforwardly discuss the plans of the singers to enjoy their first sexual experiences with that particular partner.
It is not only fornication (or adultery ), or related sins, but other matters that are much smoother when dealt with in Adult Contemporary songs. For example, one of the songs I loved as a child was the song “Even A Fool Can See” by Peter Cetera. The song itself is inoffensive adult-oriented radio, but it happens to be a song about a man who can’t return home because his estranged wife doesn’t want to be around him, and he is trying to convince everyone that he is alright even though he was totally blindsided by her desire to separate from him. In retrospect, that was probably not the most encouraging or suitable song for a budding romantic with a bad family history like myself. I have seldom needed more gloominess to reflect upon when it came to music, after all.
Despite my concern with the messages of songs, which does not always appear to be a concern of radio station program directors or music audiences in general, there is at least one area where I can have at least partial agreement with Justin Timberlake, even if I would mean different things by the same words. Like the singer, I don’t think it’s a bad thing for someone to fall in love with me. What I mean by that is less in terms of physical intimacy than in terms of gentle affection and kindness and tenderness, but the general gist is not so different. While it is hard to believe, aside from reasonable suspicion about loyalty , that someone would think it a bad thing to fall in love with a handsome and wealthy and charismatic entertainer, those of us who are less handsome and less charismatic, and certainly less well-off, share those same concerns and longings. We are all human beings, after all, however we express those longings. Let us make sure to do so in a godly and legitimate fashion, not merely relying on an inoffensive style to disguise our intents and wishes in order to deceive. Love is too precious to be wasted on those who are only playing games, after all.
 See, for example: