One night last week I was driving home late with all five kids sleeping soundly in their car seats when Lady Antebellum’s song “Just a Kiss” came on the radio. I don’t know if it was the long day away from home or the fact that I was missing my husband after his long stretch of 12 hour workdays, but I found myself cranking up the volume and belting it out. By the end of the song there were tears running down my face, which was actually a bit fascinating as I’m not even really a fan of country music. Yeah, I guess it was THAT kind of a day. Hot, sweaty, cranky kid chaos. I didn’t even worry about waking up the babies as I did my best Hillary Scott impersonation (no babies were awakened by my musical outburst); I just needed some sort of emotional release in my exhaustion and Lady Antebellum was there for me.
As I wept through the song I found myself both laughing at my ridiculous emotional state and also remembering and reliving my own dating and courtship experiences with my husband of almost nine years. We married young and experienced a young whirlwind romance; complete with late summer nights, long walks through the woods, cliff-jumping and swimming in rivers, county fairs, and basically everything you could hope to see in a good country music video. We fell hard and fast for one another and at times struggled to keep our relationship pure. Ok, we really struggled at times. But we tried and kept getting back up and on track after each mishap. The song “Just a Kiss” was a bittersweet reminder of how complicating physical intimacy can be to a relationship that is just getting off the ground and struck me that late night with how refreshing the message it promotes is to couples just falling in love.
If you’ve never heard the song (where ARE you from!?) check out this lyrical video. http://youtu.be/3gtcwL3Zyo4 The official music video is nice too with the young couple trekking around Europe with their IPad, but since we’re talking about the lyrics here, I want to make sure you catch them all.
They start out with the infatuated emotions of new love that many of us are familiar with; “It’s hard to fight these feelings when it feels so hard to breathe”, “Caught up in this moment”, “So hard to hold back when I’m holding you in my arms”. I would say these are pretty typical music lyrics of today.
But then it all takes a turn from the old “Whose Bed Have Your Boots Been Under?” genre and the BEST message I’ve heard from the music industry in a LONG time emerges, “But we don’t need to rush this, let’s just take it slow”, “I don’t wanna push too far”, “ the one I’ve been waiting for my whole life”, “I know that if we give this a little time, it will only bring us closer to the love we wanna find”, and in the crowning glory of the song Ms. Scott makes a rousing proclamation, “Let’s do this right”. And here is where any tears that might have been held back in the early portions of my performance came pouring out!
They were talking about the fact that there IS a “right way” to approach another human being and that you can ruin a beautiful relationship by not taking the time to see the other as a special creation of God’s. They said something that really no one else in pop culture is saying: It is wrong to push things too fast and give in to the emotions of the moment. True mature love takes time and effort to cultivate and that acting impulsively and selfishly is less than love. And this struck a chord for me as I drove my beautiful children to our home late that night.
You see even though my husband and I had a pretty pure relationship according to societal standards (we didn’t “sleep” together until we were married) we still had a very immature understanding of what physical intimacy communicates to another person and what it says about ourselves. We, like most of the Catholic couples we’ve talked to, grew up with a legalistic interpretation of the Church’s teaching on sexual intimacy and thought that if we stayed on the right side of certain lines, we were doing ok. In other words we fell for the pop culture messages of our youth and adjusted Church teaching to fit them.
Now granted this was like TEN years ago and we didn’t have all the wonderful resources available to us that teens and young adults today have, so our culpability was probably somewhat lower than it should have been……right? Ok, that was totally a poor argument (I totally admit to that being weak), but there is a little truth to it in that Theology of the Body had just started to really take root in the American Catholic Church and people like Christopher West were just starting to talk about it in language we could understand. Now of course the Bride of Christ, our Church was always saying the same beautiful things about sex and marriage, but we just simply didn’t have the tools in our intellect to hear and understand the message. Now that someone has brought these theological truths back to our level, we can know and appreciate them as the Truth. And we can look at our own experience to verify that Mother Church does indeed know best about these matters. The baggage that we still carry from previous relationships and our previous treatment of one another’s bodies/souls has an effect on us yet today. These things don’t just magically clear up with wedding vows. They require forgiveness and understanding and effort to break the old habits and approaches to intimacy with one another that you may have been accustomed to.
We are so grateful that the Church has invested so much energy this past decade to spare the youth from misunderstanding their worth and teach them how sexual intimacy communicates this worth to others. But we also recognize that the Church speaks primarily to the churched, and so it is very refreshing to see secular society communicate a Truth over the airways at 11:45pm to a tired mom driving home, and the thousands of other people who may have been listening. Maybe, just maybe that same song was playing on the car radio of some young couple that thinks they might be falling in love. Maybe this couple is starting to feel the pressure from others, or personal desire, to move their relationship to next level sexually. Maybe as they pulled into the driveway and looked awkwardly at one another after a great date they heard “I know that if we give this a little time, it will only bring us closer to the love we wanna find”, And in my mind I can imagine their smiles as they hear “But we don’t need to rush this, let’s just take it slow”. And as they say their final goodbyes for the night you can almost see them waiting for the last lines of the song…….“Let’s do this right, with a kiss goodnight.”
For the message this songs communicates to society at large; to wait, to hold off on sexual intimacy to develop friendship and value the unique gifts of another, I am so grateful. I can only wish I had heard it ten years ago when we were driving around in a little two-door Saturn instead of our seven passenger van, but it’s never too late to appreciate a Truth being communicated. So kudos to Lady Antebellum for bringing Truth to us in a package that is easy for all of us to understand and pleasant to hear.