In Part One, we identified the key thematic elements of the popular song Turn Me On:
- The problem: feeling real low, (possibly due to) the fear of dying young
- The desired state: feeling alive
- The method: turning on, producing young
Let’s dig a little deeper. The song hopes that sex will address two problems: feeling real low, and fear of dying young. Thus, it serves as something akin to a drug to pep one up, and something to assuage fears of death. First, sex will make you feel good for a little while but then that too will fade, and as for the second problem – it probably won’t help your fear of death, given that either the fear or the death could strike when you least expect.
The surprising twist and the last thing I expected to hear in Turn Me On is in the bridge, which says ‘don’t let me die young, I just want you to father my young.’ This is either an expression of
- lazy writing (rhyming ‘young’ twice?, shock value), or
- another euphemism, or
- a desire to live on.
As I try to avoid assessing quality here, I will stay away from option one. If it’s the second option – why use these words when there are enough overtones?
The third option is that perhaps reproduction helps overcome one’s fear of death by allowing one to live on through one’s offspring. To think that producing a child will overcome fear of death for you might be asking too much, given how much love and attention a baby needs to thrive. Babies don’t exist to relieve our fears. Babies need to be cared for, and saved from this kind of entirely selfish thinking, both when they are young and as they grow.
Perhaps there is a fourth option – I’m taking this all too literally. Even so, there is enough belief in sex in this song without the need to even address the third option: the song assigns a power to sex to make one feel alive, but the ultimate value here is little more than that of a medicine to stop you from feeling low. If wanting someone to ‘father your young’ is more than a euphemism, there is a sense that children seemingly serve a purpose to alleviate one’s fear of death.
In contrast, Christianity, properly understood, espouses a high view of both sexual relationships and family: marriage (including sex) is given originally as a good gift from God to reflect His goodness and glory in friendship, forming a bond of intimacy and pleasure. From this loving relationship, children are born and welcomed into a family where they are raised, cared for and taught. God sees children as a blessing:
Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them! (Psalm 127:3-5)
The Psalmist also sees the handiwork of God in the mysterious processes which bring forth a child:
For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. (Psalm 139:13-16)
In many ways, Turn Me On simply reflects the dominant sexual ethic that our culture inherited from the 1960s, but this ethic actually diminishes human sexuality and human worth. We don’t need a turning-on. We need to turn around. The way to alleviate one’s fear of death is not through those subject to the same mortality as us, but through One who creates and ordains life, and brings dead people back to life, beginning now:
3 All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. 4 But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions —it is by grace you have been saved. (Ephesians 2:3-5)
God makes us alive in the only way that lasts.
Recommended resources: Marriage: Sex in the Service of God, Christopher Ash, Intervarsity Press