“Locked Out of Heaven” and the Glory of God

Posted: January 25, 2013 in News/Current Events
Tags: , , , , , ,

6 weeks. In the musical era that has given us Adele, Mumford and Sons, and Jason Mraz, Bruno Mars’ “Locked Out of Heaven” has somehow spent the past 6 weeks at the top of the Billboards’ Hot 100. It has been critically acclaimed by Rolling Stone, Billboard, and several other music critic outlets.  I have several feelings about this song, and I hope to address most of them in something longer than a paragraph and shorter than a novel.

I know that for many Christians, listening to “secular” music, and certainly admitting such actions in public, is very much taboo. However, I have a 30 minute commute both ways to work, and enjoy a variety in my music. While I think there is a lack of musical creativity in our generation as a whole, there are some great artists out right now, and some less than great artists who happen to be very entertaining. Bruno Mars, for me, typically falls into the second category. I’ll be honest with you, I love his music. I do. I’m a Bruno Mars fan. For my money, I don’t know if it gets any better than when he sings “The Lazy Song” (10 points if you get that movie allusion).  However, I am thoroughly disappointed in his latest “hit” “Locked out of Heaven.”  To me, apart from the blasphemous references, which I will address later, the song displays lazy songwriting and a lack of creative thought.

A quick word count shows that of this song’s 293 words, 67 of them are either “yeah” or “oh”.  Don’t worry about busting out your calculator, I did it for you: 23%; nearly ¼ of the entire song consists of one of these “filler” words. They add nothing of value but to take up additional space. Maybe this does not bother anyone else, but if I’m going to hear a song 3 times a day, I typically expect more. The chorus then essentially repeats two lines: “Your sex takes me to paradise” X2 and “You make me feel like I’ve been locked out of Heaven” X2.  According to Mars, (Wikipedia. I know that MLA format frowns upon using Wikipedia as a source, but fortunately I’m a college dropout and can do what I want.) the song came to him out of the blue one night in a studio session.  My guess is that it was written, forgotten about, and turned into a single apart from any additional work after that one night. Over half of the composition of this song has already been mentioned in this paragraph, and I have not even gotten to a single verse. And it is the verse lyrics that have led me to write about this song to begin with. This concludes my three paragraph introduction.

Despite Mars’ clear efforts to equate some of God’s most beautiful truths to the sexual pleasure of a particular woman, I think that this song (accidentally) points to a deeper spiritual truth that we are told about in Romans 1: “For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For His invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse… Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man…” This song is filled with comparisons between something beautiful that God has given with us for the intention of worshipping Him that Mars has instead decided to attribute to his lover. Indirectly, Mars, while blaspheming, is actually proving this passage in Romans to be accurate.

All men, in the depths of our hearts, know that God is the creator of all things. We know that the intricacies of a baby developing in the womb, or the perfect gravitational pull of the cosmos cannot be mere coincidence or the result of a random explosion and the joining of cells. Mars demonstrates this swap of glory when trying to describe his lover.  His feelings of her love are indescribable. He is trying to find just the right way to explain what it is that he feels, and in doing so, he can think of nothing else but things that he has undoubtedly heard or read about God himself. He uses the lines “Never had much faith in love or miracles… but swimming in your world is something spiritual. I’m born again every time you spend the night.” and “You bring me to my knees, you make me testify. You could make a sinner change his ways. Open up your gates cause I can’t wait to see the light…”  Obviously love and miracles are themes and demonstrations throughout all of Scripture. The concept of being born again and seeing the light are also references to New Testament truths (particularly in the book of John).  However, the picture that they are meant to portray is the beautiful picture of God, and His great love for His people. That even when they were consumed in their own ways and were enemies of Him, He did not spare His own Son, but sent Him to die so that their sins could be forgiven, and that through faith in Him they may be born again and the light of the gospel of Christ would shine through to the darkness of man’s heart.  Bruno Mars has missed this point.  While he thinks he is complimenting his lover, he has actually exchanged God’s beautiful glory for something much less beautiful.  Fortunately for us, God has given us a great gift for when we find someone that we “want to spend the rest of our days” with (another quote from this song): Marriage. The proper way to honor your lover in this situation, rather than exchanging God’s glory for theirs, is to display God’s covenant love for His people, and a man taking a woman as his bride, and laying his life down for her, as Christ laid his life down for His church.  This is indescribably greater than anything that Mars is attempting to display here.

While his idolatry is being sung by millions and praised by critics, the reality is that no person can live up the billing he is trying to fill here.  The greatest woman or man in the world cannot satisfy us spiritually. And Heaven is far greater than any sex this world has to offer.  If anything, sex is merely a small taste of the glory that God has in store for his people.  The joy and the pleasure of the Lord are everlasting.

Ultimately, Bruno Mars is right in his analogy. If we are trying to describe something to be incredible, and want everyone to know that we have indescribable love for something, there is no greater example than that of the way that God saves sinners and gives them new birth in Christ. However, in doing so, he has fulfilled Romans 1 in his efforts, and exchanged the glory of God for an image that resembles mortal man. And does so with poor song writing.

  1. Matt Atkins says:

    For full disclosure, as of this morning, “Locked Out of Heaven” has been relegated to #2 on the Billboard Hot 100.

  2. Dinho says:

    So… Matt… Yeah…. Uh… right… I’m gonna need that tps report. Kinda disappointed I thought you were gonna address Kanye when you started talking about college dropout.

  3. "Raven" says:


    I was intrigated about this song, because the rhythm is so fucking cool but i haven’t realized the ideas in the lines(my englihs isn’t that fair). Your

    analysis seems so consistents to the gospels , even though you are a protestant , so much the way you think about God and Christ is similar to what catholics believe. The only point of disagreement I read in this analysis here [i]”and that through faith in Him they may be born again and the light of the gospel of Christ would shine through to the darkness of man’s heart.” [/i]
    It’s implied Luther’s salvation by faith doctrine. For catholics it’s God’s grace , and not the faith alone, that gives man a human heart in place of his heart of stone.

  4. Charlene Davidson says:

    The music is great and he has a good voice. but the repetitive “yeahs” got old quick, as well as the “uh” that sounds like they are trying to perform an ancient Indian dance to bring on a rain storm. Mars had a choice of a million ways to describe being in love and resorted to using Biblical comparisons in blasphemous way. When this is played on the radio I could not make out the lyrics. After I read the lyrics I decided NOT to buy the song and listen to another station when it comes on. Pathetic that someone talented cannot do a better job than this. Maybe when the Light really opens up for Him he will apologize to God.

  5. Charmaine says:

    Yes exactly. I liked the beat of this song, but when I read the lyrics, I was actually really upset. The way he used the Bible in his lyrics was very upsetting. No more listening to this song for me! :/

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