In a previous article, I disparaged a classic song by Garth Brooks for promoting a worldview contrary to the Christian worldview. In this article I will highlight a song from his catalog that promotes the Christian worldview.
One of the primary presuppositions that a song written from a Bible-based, Christian perspective should assume is this: there is an ethical link between cause and effect in our lives, and that ethical relationship is defined by God’s law.
The Bible is clear on this issue. Our behavior has consequences in this life and in eternity.
Here’s a simple example: if you seek independence from God in this life by rejecting the Gospel, then God will grant your request into eternity when he sends you 1) first to hell after you die and 2) then dumps you into the Lake of Fire for all of eternity after Jesus’ Second Coming.
Our behavior also has consequences in our day-to-day living: blessings and curses. Consider the following verses of Scripture which testify to this reality:
Be careful to obey all these words that I command you, that it may go well with you and with your children after you forever, when you do what is good and right in the sight of the LORD your God. (Deut. 12:28 ESV)
Blessed are those whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the LORD! (Psalm 119:1 ESV)
But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things [daily provisions] will be added to you. (Matthew 6:33 ESV)
Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. (Gal. 6:7 ESV)
for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. (1 Tim. 4:8 ESV)
So, as we see, God calls us to be obedient to his commandments. Paul taught that doing so (“godliness”) has value in this present life.
FOCUSING ON THE NEGATIVE
That being said, this particular song I’ve selected is called “The Night Will Only Know.” Unlike a song such as “Three Wooden Crosses” that immediately calls attention to itself as a song about the Christian worldview, this song simply assumes the Christian worldview in its philosophy of right-and-wrong.
“The Night Will Only Know” is about a man and a woman who, though both are married, desire to have an affair with one another. On this particular night they decide to follow through. It opens with the following lyrics:
That night will live forever Their first time to lie together They were finally where desire dared them to go Both belonging to another But longing to be lovers Promising each other that the night will only know
They understand that their desires are wrong. They make a promise to each other to keep their tawdry liaison a secret. But despite knowing in the hearts that what they are doing is wrong, they give into their temptations anyway.
Their expressed need for secrecy testifies that “they show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them.” (Rom 2:15)
The song continues:
Parked on some old backstreet They laid down in the backseat And fell into the fire down below But they would pay for their deceving For a deadly web was weaving Why they picked that spot that evening Lord, the night will only know
So, they gave into temptation and consumated their passionate lusts. However, the narrator is clear: they would pay for their vile deed.
This highlights cause-and-effect: bad deeds are punished. What’s their bad deed? Violating their marriage covenant. The song upholds the sanctity of marriage. Not only that, but it uses a little symbolism to drive the point home: the lusts of illicit passion are hot and steamy, but so is hell, which we often think of as also “down below.”
It affirms that consequences are not random: bad behavior leads to punishment. The narrator heavily suggests that, contrary to them simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time, that whatever it is that they are about to be subjected to is directly connected to their behavior: a deadly web was weaving.
Well within the innuendos Just outside the steamy windows The night was shattered by a woman's scream Motionless and frightened The grip of fate had tightened And with trembling hands they wiped away the steam
Their night of fiery passion is abruptly interrupted. Their demeanor changes: from rapturous indulgence in lustful pleasure to fright. They become paralyzed: what’s going on? Perhaps their first thought was that the lady who screamed had stumbled upon their transgression and was screaming at the horror of it.
But that wasn’t it. They really didn’t want to “wipe away the steam” because they didn’t want to know what was going on. But they did anyway.
This is what they saw:
They saw a woman pleading Stumbling, begging, and retreating 'Til she became the victim of a foe And they watched her fall in silence To save their own alliance But the reason for the violence Just the night will only know
The scream they heard came from a woman who was being assailed at the hands of her abuser. Perhaps a boyfriend, or a husband, or perhaps she was simply being mugged by a thief. We won’t ever know for sure.
They became trapped between a rock and a hard place. To save her meant to expose their own sin. They made the decision to abandon her. Of course, the newspapers pick the story up:
And every paper ran the story She was stripped of all her glory And they told exactly how the woman died Abandoned and forsaken Too many pills were taken And they ruled the woman's death a suicide
The implication here is that the woman wasn’t killed by her assailant, but rather she died afterwards from overdosing on drugs. She overdosed on drugs because of her extreme despair and loneliness. No one was around to come to her rescue.
Except, someone was around, and they could have come to her rescue. Is it the woman’s own responsibility for overdosing on drugs? Yes. But it still remains that perhaps she might not have if the licentious couple had interrupted on her behalf instead of laying low out of their own selfishness.
The song concludes with the following:
Bound by their behavior They could have been her savior Now guilt becomes an endless debt they owe But another crime was committed And it's never been admitted Have the guilty been acquitted Lord, the night will only know
Faced with the decision to “do unto others,” they buckled. But, as the lyrics suggest, their treacherous affair, by which both violated their marriage covenants, was never uncovered. Presumably, their spouses never found out about their cheating.
But have they been acquitted? Have they been declared “Not guilty”? In one sense it may seem that way; they were never brought before an earthly judge who tried the case. They were spared the horrors of divorce trials that would have forced them to pay 50% of their wealth and capital in restitution to their victims: their spouses.
It sounds like they got everything they wanted, right? They’re off the hook. David exhorts us to not be “envious of the arrogant” when we “see the prosperity of the wicked.” (Psalm 73:3)
THE FINAL JUDGE
Well, though it seems as if they’ve gotten off the hook, and that “they are not in trouble as others are, they are not stricken like the rest of mankind,” we can rest-assured that God will “set them in slippery places” and “make them fall to ruin.” (Ps. 73:5, 18) They will be destroyed in a moment and swept away utterly by terrors (v.19).
So, though they’ve escaped the judgment of earthly judges, have they been declared “Not guilty” by the cosmic judge of Heaven and Earth?
The state of their consciences says otherwise. They feel burdened, they feel guiltly. How much guilt? “Endless.”
As children of Adam, we are confronted with an endless mountain of debt because of our guilt. We cannot repay it. Only Christ can pay it for us, on our behalf, and turn away God’s wrath from us.
The couple in this song is obviously feeling convicted by their actions. They feel guilty. Though they have escaped being thrown to the mercy of divorce court, the cosmic judge has cursed them with a curse of terrible guilt for their disobedience: violation of his law against adultery (for starters).
CONSEQUENCES ON EARTH ARE REMINDERS OF HEAVENLY TRUTHS
He has reminded them in time and on earth of the spiritual status of their stance in God’s eyes as unrepentant sinners. They are children of wrath, sons and daughters of Adam. He has reminded them that, though they may think they have escaped the consequences of their actions by avoiding earthly punishment, they can never escape God’s final judgment and his righteous justice.
He has also reminded them that their own judgment is unrighteous and evil. By their inaction, they declared this woman guilty and sentenced her to death, in a sense. This was a bad ruling. Their guilt reminds them of this.
Local, state, and federal courts may sometimes let things slip, but God’s court doesn’t let anything slip.
But he has also, in a sense, blessed them with this curse. He has brought conviction upon their hearts. How will they respond to this guilt? Will they seek absolution through fleshly means or by spiritual means? Will they turn to the only person who can free them, Jesus Christ?
Or will they suppress this guilt and harden their hearts to the Gospel message of salvation?
The song is silent on this issue. But the lesson has been imparted: they reaped what they sowed. And so will we.