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Pinegar 1 Kaitlyn Pinegar Samantha Kirby English 102 12 March 2018 “Take Me to Church”: A Conflict of Religion and Sexuality It is not a secret that most religions find sex to be a taboo topic and Catholicism is no exception. Sexual encounters outside of a marriage are considered sinful and expressing one’s sexuality confidently would not be viewed as a good thing in the ey
   Pinegar 1 Kaitlyn Pinegar Samantha Kirby English 102 12 March 2018 “Take Me to Church”: A Conflict of Religion and Sexuality  It is not a secret that most religions find sex to be a taboo topic and Catholicism is no exception. Sexual encounters outside of a marriage are considered sinful and expressing one’s sexuality confidently would not be viewed as a good thing in the eyes of the Catholic church. Hozier blends these two topics together in his five-times-platinum single “Take Me to Church” . “Take Me to Church” sparked an outcry among conservative listeners everywhere, not only  because the lyrics can be interpreted as being critical of Catholicism, but also because the music video is centered around a homosexual couple. This controversy brings to light one important question: is this song insensitive to those who have faith in a higher power, or does the song’s lyrics and music video appeal to audiences who may feel underrepresented? To make things even more complicated, “Take Me to Church” has just added more f  uel to this fire of sexuality and religion, as this war has been around for all of history. Catholicism has been known for butting heads with sexuality and finding ways to disrespect it , especially in terms of men disrespecting women’s pleasure (Lawler 166). This history dates hundreds of years back and shows no time of stopping. However, the Catholic church does not blatantly believe that sex in general is sinful: they actually believe that sex and sexuality are gifts from God, as long as they are used appropriately. So, what deems a sexual encounter appropriate? According to the Catholic Church, those who are having sex outside of marriage are “living in sin” (Brand 297). This could include sex before marriage, sex with   Pinegar 2 someone other than your husband or wife, and even sex with someone if you are divorced. The lyrics in “Take Me to Church” don’t  just disagree, but instead romanticize the idea. Hozier sings, “There is no sweeter innocence   than our gentle sin,” meaning he believes that there is something undeniably innocent about sex (Hozier). While it may seem like Hozier is going head-to-head with the history of Catholicism, others argue that Hozier created this song to appeal to audiences of all kinds without discrimination. Christians everywhere were outraged when “Take Me to Church” first broke radio. Many felt like Hozier was attacking their religion and preaching an offensive message to all, especially with lyrics like, “Take me to church, I’ll worship like a dog at the shrine of your lies” (Hozier). These lyrics imply that the church sits on a throne of lies and that those who worship God are loyal like dogs  —  and not in a good way. Hozier heated the controversy up even more so when he included a homosexual couple in the music video, something Christian blogger Candi Finch took great offense to. She complained that not only is Hozier leading listeners astray by listening to his “deadly serm on ,”  but also that a Christian calling “homosex uality a sin is actually showing love” ( Biblicalwoman). Finch wasn’t the only Christian offended about Hozier’s message. Pastor Rick McDaniel, a pastor in Virginia, took to popular website Christanpost to write an open letter of frustration to Hozier himself. McDaniel was appalled by Hozier’s boldness and attempted to educate him on the Church’s beliefs. Christians world- wide took offense to Hozier’ s lyrics and felt like it was unfair of him to generalize Christian beliefs in a critical way and attempt to bring down the church’s reputation. McDaniel brought up a good question in his letter on Christianpost : “Do people really share your sentiments or do they just like your voic e and the song’s arrangement?”     Pinegar 3 In fact, there are people who do share Hozier’s se ntiments. Ryan Butcher, author of gay London- run magazine The Gay Times, claimed that the LGBT community view “Take Me to Church” as a gay anthem and find that they can relate to what Hozier describes in his song (Butcher 81). LGBT individuals are often judged by their sexuality, even though they have no choice over what sexuality they are born with. After hearing Hozier sing, “I was born sick, but I love it”, many individuals in the LGBT community found it easy to adopt this song as their anthem (Hozier). The music video also revolves around a homosexual couple and while there are several scenes of them passionately kissing and touching each other, there is also a storyline of the couple being targeted by a hate group, specifically because of their sexuality. This makes the identification process for LGBT individuals even more personal  —  this is a real and difficult situation that many homosexual people live through, no matter how small or big their personal situations may be in comparison to this one. Although it is becoming more and more common to see homosexuality represented in media and popular culture, “Take Me to Church” was significant in that it got over 204 million views on YouTube and brought to light what was happening in the Russia LGBT violence. The decision alone to include a homosexual couple in this music video was a purposeful move on Hozier’s part, especially because the lyrics in the song are explicitly about a heterosexual couple. “I should’ve worshipped her sooner” is just one line of many in the song that use she/her pronouns to describe Hozier’s  lover and their intimacy (Hozier). However, this is not the first time Hozier has switched the gender roles in his music videos  —in his song “Cherry Wine”, the music video portrays a woman being abu sed by her male partner, yet the lyrics (“She throws with the arm of her brother”  is one example) describe a man being abused by his female  partner (Hozier). This juxtaposition shows deliberate planning on Hozier’s part to appeal to all   Pinegar 4 audiences, which many may argue is the reason he included a homosexual couple in the “Take Me to Church” music video in the first place.   There is yet more that could be said about the symbolism in the “Take Me to Church” video. In a modern world where we have the access to color photography and film, it is very obvious when one chooses to go the black-and-white route instead, and Hozier chose to do just that with this particular video. It is especially interesting that he would choose to exclude all color from a video that is specifically about a homosexual couple, since the LGBT flag is a rainbow. Hozier could have chosen to use black-and-white to ultimately focus on the lyrics that he sings  —  with a lack of color and repetitive images of fire and a chained box, a viewer might actually listen to the lyrics more than they have in the past and digest Hozier’s lyrical criticisms of the catholic church. However, with a rapidly moving storyline, Hozier also could have chosen to use black-and-white to draw attention to statement that the video makes about humanity. The couple is becoming more and more distressed, the hate group is moving in on them, and finally, at the end, the hate group destroys the only symbol of the couples’ love. While it may  have been a purposeful move on Hozie r’s part to draw attention to his criticisms of the church , this music video could also be a testament about humanity and the hate crimes that were occurring in Russia in 2014 when this video was released. “Take Me to Church” was the flint that sparked the  lighter of a pre-existing controversy  between religion and sexuality with both sides refusing to try to understand the other. This gospel imitation of a song can be viewed as unholy and offensive but can also be seen as an anthem of equality and identification for several. Many Catholics and Christians feel like Hozier is sending out an offensive message that gives their churches the wrong reputation, even if for some it contains beliefs they can personally relate strongly to. There’s no way to tell who is right
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