Secular Music: 7 Secular Songs That Reference God

Secular Music

Most Christians I know listen to secular music as much as they listen to Christian music.

For me, I find that secular music has a higher creative ceiling than Christian music. What I mean by that is there is often more that you can do with the lyrics of the song when the song is not chained to the confines of the standard gospel format.

Through the ages have come some very talented artists who weren’t afraid to show their faith in God and made mention of him in their songs.

But not all secular songs about God are positive ones. Some of them question the belief in our Heavenly Father and wonder why a loving God would put us in a world with so much pain and suffering.

Whatever the reason behind the lyrics, they spark debate and ignite discussion of what message the artist is trying to get across to the audience.

Following are a few of those popular and not so popular songs that confront the theme of Christianity or religion in general.

 

I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For – U2

Lyrics – I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For

U2’s song is about one man striving to find personal fulfillment in the physical world and coming up short. All of the earthly desires including the act of being in love can never completely fulfill us as humans.

I have spoke with the tongue of angels
I have held the hand of a devil
It was warm in the night
I was cold as a stone.

But I still haven’t found
What I’m looking for.
But I still haven’t found
What I’m looking for.

The above lyrics suggest that the protagonist experienced both love and lust with his lover but left feeling cold and unfulfilled.

You broke the bonds
And you loosed the chains
Carried the cross of my shame
Oh my shame, you know I believe it.

But I still haven’t found
What I’m looking for.
But I still haven’t found
What I’m looking for.

He knows Jesus died for his sins. Yet he seems to question why his spiritual relationship can’t fill the void in his life.

The protagonist almost seems to say that neither a lover nor a relationship with a higher power has made him happy and content. Is he suggesting that for some of us, our time here is to constantly look for something and never find it?

 

Blasphemous Rumors – Depeche Mode

Lyrics – Blashphemous Rumors

Of all the secular music selections on this list, this is by far the most critical of the lot in that it challenges our belief in God himself.

Martin Gore who wrote the song asks the age-old question, “Why do bad things happen to good people?”

Girl of 18
Fell in love with everything
Found new life
In Jesus Christ
Hit by a car
Ended up
On a life support machine

Why would the Lord take away a beautiful young girl who has finally found a relationship with him while leaving non-believers left to roam the Earth?

 

Running Up That Hill – Kate Bush

Lyrics – Running Up That Hill

This secular song can be mistaken for a few different things. However, Kate Bush has said herself that the song is about making a deal with God so men and women could switch places for awhile to experience what the other does.

“I was trying to say that, really, a man and a woman, can’t understand each other because we are a man and a woman. And if we could actually swap each other’s roles, if we could actually be in each other’s place for a while, I think we’d both be very surprised! And I think it would lead to a greater understanding. And really the only way I could think it could be done was either… you know, I thought a deal with the devil, you know. And I thought, ‘well, no, why not a deal with God!’

You don’t want to hurt me,
But see how deep the bullet lies.
Unaware I’m tearing you asunder.
Ooh, there is thunder in our hearts.

The protagonist speaks of how both her and her lover hurt each other without even noticing it.

And if I only could,
I’d make a deal with God,
And I’d get him to swap our places,
Be running up that road,
Be running up that hill,
Be running up that building,
Say, if I only could, oh…

My own extended interpretation of the artist’s quote is that she’s talking about a broken relationship.

By having God allow her and her lover to switch places, they’d be able to see how one hurts the other. And maybe then, they’d be better able to understand each other and heal whatever’s wrong in the relationship.

 

Sound Of Silence – Simon and Garfunkel

Lyrics – Sound Of Silence

Paul Simon’s gem of a song has some very intriguing lyrics that tackle the subject of false gods and commercialism.

When my eyes were stabbed by the flash of a neon light
That split the night

The “flash of a neon light” might refer to advertising as companies use neon signs to display ads.

And the people bowed and prayed
To the neon god they made
And the sign flashed out its warning
In the words that it was forming

So what is this “neon god?”

Well, the neon god is obviously a false god because the people created it themselves. But what is it exactly?

The clue may be the next line which says, “the sign flashed out its warning.” Since the sign might represent advertising, the neon god could simply be money as that is the desired result of advertising.

The song in general refers to how our culture has become superficial and how our media has got us to worship and love something that only has meaning in the real world…while we should instead be worshipping God himself.

 

Praying For Time – George Michael

Lyrics – Praying For Time

In The New York Times September 16, 1990, George Michael is quoted regarding this song: “No event inspired the song. It’s my way of trying to figure out why it’s so hard for people to be good to each other. I believe the problem is conditional as opposed to being something inherent in mankind. The media has affected everybody’s consciousness much more than most people will admit. Because of the media, the way the world is perceived is as a place where resources and time are running out. We’re taught that you have to grab what you can before it’s gone. It’s almost as if there isn’t time for compassion.”

This song which came out in 1990 sounds even more relevant today than it did 26 years ago.

In much of the song, George Michael touches on the plight of humanity and where we are today as a society as the divide between rich and poor grows wider.

The rich declare themselves poor
And most of us are not sure
If we have too much
But we’ll take our chances
Because God’s stopped keeping score

We cling to our material possessions in hopes that God won’t mind and will instead sympathize with our unfortunate situation.

But what does the artist mean by, “God’s stopped keeping score?” Is he merely saying that the collective majority have become such a huge disappointment to our Heavenly Father, that we will all need to be forgiven for our sins?

I guess somewhere along the way
He must have let us all out to play
Turned his back and all God’s children
Crept out the back door

“All God’s children” could also be a metaphor for Adam and Eve.

These are the days of the empty hand
Oh you hold on to what you can
And charity is a coat you wear twice a year

Charity has become nothing but “virtue signaling” to show others how caring you are…when it’s really just an act.

This is the year of the guilty man
Your television takes a stand
And you find that what was over there is over here

The television taking a stand is our media now telling us right from wrong, and what we may have once believed to be right isn’t right anymore.

Did you cover your eyes when they told you
That he can’t come back
Because he has no children to come back for

It obviously shouldn’t be taken in the literal sense, but this stanza is possibly saying that as God’s children we have realized how much we’ve disappointed him and that he can’t possibly want to come back for us now.

 

One – U2

Lyrics – One

The most interesting and religious stanza in this song…

Have you come here for forgiveness
Have you come to raise the dead
Have you come here to play Jesus
To the lepers in your head.

The “raise the dead” part of the lyrics refers to the “dead relationship” between the protagonist and his lover.

In the last part of the verse, he uses the reference of Jesus healing the sick as a metaphor for their unhealthy relationship.

It’s lyrics like these that remind me how good U2 used to be when they were a younger band that cared more about their music than about being famous.

 

American Pie – Don McLean

Lyrics – American Pie

The story behind the song is that it’s based on the death of Buddy Holly. As a boy, Don McLean wanted to be like Buddy and entertain people with his music.

When he learned of Buddy’s death, it affected him deeply. This is apparent in the lyrics:

I can’t remember if I cried
When I read about his widowed bride
Something touched me deep inside
The day the music died.

The characters in the song are actually people in real life. The King is Elvis, the Jester is Bob Dylan, and there are others too…but I’ll let you readers figure out who they might be.

There are also many biblical references in this song so let’s talk about some of them.

Oh and as I watched him on the stage
My hands were clenched in fists of rage
No angel born in Hell
Could break that Satan’s spell

Who is the angel born in hell?

And as the flames climbed high into the night
To light the sacrificial rite
I saw Satan laughing with delight
The day the music died

Is Satan laughing because he considers this music that he’s done away with, the music of God? Many would argue that only church music is God’s music and that music like this is secular music. However, if he gave some of us talents and artistic gifts to use for the greater good, then if that music were taken away from the world, would it still not be God’s music?

And the three men I admire most
The Father, Son, and the Holy Ghost
They caught the last train for the coast
The day the music died

Are the Trinity here symbolic of Buddy Holly, Richie Valens, and The Big Bopper who died in the plane crash?

This is a very long song with a large lyrics sheet. However, it’s maybe the most interesting one in this list to dissect as it tells a complete story that mixes both biblical references and pop culture at that time.

Secular Music Can Offer More Than You Think

These are some of my favorite secular songs which reference God in one way or another but there’s a lot more out there. As you can see from some of the songs above, they can be a lot of fun to break down and try to ascertain what the artist was trying to get across to the audience.

Some Christians will always shy away from secular music because it doesn’t directly praise God, but I think that’s a shame they take this viewpoint. These songs can still promote Christian values or ignite a curiosity in a person to discover the Lord with just a simple reference to the Bible.

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Jason
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The first time I heard that Kate Bush song, I thought it was about sex. Like she was considering making a deal with God to let her sin. I know that makes no sense as a Christian but that’s what the lyrics seem to refer to when you first hear them.

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