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Love the song, don’t love like the song


I’ll have to admit, ‘When a Man loves a Woman’ is one of the best shower songs ever.

Even as I’m writing, Percy Sledge’s final heartfelt cry of forlorn love rings in my head – and so it’s a little bit sad to note that Percy Sledge recently died aged 73. But as I took some time to check out the lyrics to this iconic soul ballad, I came to recognise the destructive nature of love gone wrong.

In the typical sequence of Romance storylines, this love song is at the ‘Girl dumps boy’ point. (Typical sequence: Boy meets Girl, Girl rejects Boy, Boy gets Girl, Boy mistreats Girl, Girl dumps Boy, Boy goes crazy and then choose a sad or happy ending, depending on the director and audience). It hits out at the anguish and loneliness of being dumped, in moody, brooding slow motion.

And so, the troubadour recounts:

Love’s obsession – ‘When a man loves a woman, can’t keep his mind on nothing else‘,

The blinding fog of love – ‘If she is bad, he can’t see it, she can do no wrong‘, cos ‘Lovin’ eyes can never see.’

Love’s desperation – ‘He’ll spend his very last dime, Tryin’ to hold on to what he needs

Fellas, if that’s you, you need to snap out of it. When the girl of your desire has become an objectified love, an all-consuming passion, a blinding fog – a desperate hit to make you feel good about yourself and your world, because love is all you need – you’re shuddering in withdrawal from a toxic drug called infatuation masquerading as a crazy little thing called love. Only, it isn’t love.

It’s making someone into your object of worship and adoration, and they weren’t made to stand that kind of pressure. And when someone – anyone – feels that kind of pressure, of ardent worship, they either run away or take advantage. Sad story, either way.

So here it is – love the song, don’t love like the song.

The only One who deserves ardent worship to the point of self-sacrificial love is God. And we love, because He loved us first. He loved us in that while we were enemies he sent His Son to die a sacrificial death for a dying world.

We had a poem read out on our wedding day, called ‘Love her more and Love her less.’ by Pastor John Piper. We had it read to remind us that God is the One who loves us first and enables us to love each other better, more sacrificially, more selflessly. I’m sure he wouldn’t mind me sharing it with you..


Kirby Wong is an elder at SWCCC, a full-time radiologist and a postgraduate student at Reformed Theological Seminary. 

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