In his latest song to hit the charts, Bruno Mars sings a love song to sex in Locked out of Heaven. Bruno starts out by admitting he has not in the past had much confidence in love or miracles which has prevented him from putting his heart out:

Never had much faith in love or miracles
Never wanna put my heart on the line

But the sex he is getting now has changed that, and changed him:

But swimming in your water is something spiritual
I’m born again every time you spend the night

and takes him somewhere:

Cause your sex takes me to paradise
Yeah your sex takes me to paradise
And it shows, yeah, yeah, yeah
Cause you make me feel like, I’ve been locked out of heaven
For too long, for too long

Sex is entirely about pleasure here. It’s all about what sex does for him and what he gets out of it. (There’s no thought for what she may think of it, by the way). What is more surprising is that this experience leads to some kind of repentance:

You bring me to my knees, You make me testify
You can make a sinner change his ways

What is being turned away from is unclear, but it is clear what is being turned towards:

Open up your gates cause I can’t wait to see the light
And right there is where I wanna stay

And stay and stay and stay:

Can’t I just stay here
Spend the rest of my days here
Oh oh oh oh, yeah, yeah, yeah
Can’t I just stay here
Spend the rest of my days here

Presumably forever, if it were possible.

In the past, I’ve shown how heaps of songs use salvation language, often in relation to relationships and sexuality, and by far Locked Out of Heaven wins. Bruno weaves spiritual language into every verse and every chorus.

And in a sense I agree there is something spiritual going on when a man and woman have sex. Sex engages the whole person: the mind, the emotion, the will, and the body. More than pleasure though, it bonds two people together; others have described it as an intermingling of souls. Speaking on the brief Kardashian wedding, Tim Keller from Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York, describes the main purpose of sex as being the renewal or celebration of the marriage covenant.

But somehow this sex is about making Bruno new again, invoking the Christian phrase ‘born again’. Of course when Jesus used the phrase ‘born again’ he was not talking about the power of sex but rather our need to be made new, to become a new person and enter the kingdom of God. (See John 3) Somehow I don’t think that is what is in mind in this song.

According to Bruno, sex is the ultimate human experience and Bruno wants to have sex for the rest of his days. I don’t know where Bruno is on the map of spirituality but under atheism, these are probably reasonable statements. When you die there is nothing else so why not just live your life; why not get what you can get while you can get it? Under this worldview, sex replaces God as the saviour and pleasure replaces heaven as the destination.

If Bruno’s heaven in some way imitates the Biblical image of heaven then there is an incorrect assumption that the Biblical heaven is entirely about feeling good. Yes, there will be no more pain, no more sorrow, no more tears, all will be restored, and humans will no longer be constrained by tiredness or the curse of sin. But what makes heaven heavenly, ultimately, is the presence of God; living in the presence of the One who makes, sustains and redeems. And far from being an ethereal less-physical place the book of Revelation envisages the final destination of humanity in a fusing of heaven and earth:

1 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I hear a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

Bruno, the good news for you is that while you may have been locked out of the heaven of hedonism, you are not locked out of heaven; you are not locked out of relationship with the living and eternal God. His grace is extended to you mercifully through the death and resurrection of Jesus for the forgiveness of sins. Only this will yield the lasting joy you seek; joy which extends long after the rest of your days are done.

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