The “Girl or God” series on The Persistence of Song is a semi-regular feature, where I post ambiguous lyrics and we guess if the song addresses God or a romantic interest.

Jason Gray’s “More Like Falling in Love” is an interesting commentary on what we’ve been doing with the “Girl or God” series.  (I’ll go ahead and tip my hand: the song is about God.)

Here’s the refrain:

It ought to be
More like falling in love
Than something to believe in
More like losing my heart
Than giving my allegiance
Caught up, called out
Come take a look at me now
It’s like I’m falling, oh
It’s like I’m falling in love

There are very good things about “More Like Falling in Love.”  Gray’s song makes it clear that rule-keeping cannot deliver us from our sinful condition.  He sings, “all religion every made of me was a just a sinner with a stone tied to my feet.”

In other respects, the song is estranged from biblical orthodoxy.  It exalts the concept of “falling in love” over belief and over “giving allegiance.”

I want to be careful to avoid logomachy, or what the apostle Paul calls “quarreling over words” (1 Tim. 6:4).  Rather, we need to engage with “More Like Falling in Love” at the conceptual level.

Certainly, Christian redemption involves the affections.  Our hearts are so changed in conversion that we have irrevocably fallen in love (so to speak) with God and the things of God.

But it is unhealthy to exalt the role of the affections over-and-against allegiance and belief.  Faith in Christ is at the center of the biblical declaration of the gospel, and, as such, is a vital component of conversion to Christ.

Moreover, the allegiance metaphor is a strong consideration in Paul’s writings.  God has freed us from the tyranny of sin, that we might become slaves to God (Rom 6).  Through conversion we are now heavenly citizens (Phil 3) and have been transferred to the kingdom of God’s son (Col 1).

I believe that a change in affections and the will precedes our exercise of faith and our change of allegiance.  The Holy Spirit draws us to Christ by changing our hearts and granting us the desire to believe.

Nonetheless, it is unhelpful to exalt the concept of “falling in love” at the expense of belief and allegiance, especially in Western culture.

Consider what “falling in love” communicates to the unbelieving.  “Falling in love” is something out of our control; in matters of love, we “follow our heart” (the cliché of all clichés on ABC’s Bachelor/Bachelorette series).  How receptive will the culture be to the command “repent and believe in the gospel,” when we preface the command with the nebulous notion of “falling in love”?

Just as common of a notion in the West is “falling out of love.”  We live in the era of no-fault divorces.  People just “grow apart”—which really means they intentionally neglect fostering and nurturing their love for each other—and now need to “follow their heart” elsewhere.

“Falling in love” is not how Christians should understand conversion nor communicate the concept to the world.  Humanity has a profound need for something to believe in and someone to bow before, which is a lot less like falling in love.