XTC: Dear God
C.S. Lewis was once quoted as saying that in his youth he was “very angry with God for not existing”. It’s a common, though paradoxical, statement. If God did exist, then surely he would see all the suffering and pain in the world and do something about it. The fact that he hasn’t stepped in and got rid of all the bad stuff in the world is surely evidence that there is no God. Isn’t it?
In 1986, the band XTC had a surprise hit with their song Dear God. How much of a surprise? It was released as a B side on another single. (Side note: Do people even remember B sides? Do I need to explain what a B side is? I feel so old.) There was controversy and outrage over this song. How dare they release a song that was so heavily atheistic in nature? “If there’s one thing I don’t believe in, it’s you. Dear God.”
Check out the video for the song:
For the singer of the song, God is someone who is made up, a product of fiction. “Did you make mankind after we made you?” Yet this fictional God is responsible for how the people of this world misuse his name and commit evil acts in the name of God. This is not a reasoned, rational argument. No, it is a passionate, heart felt cry.
As the song builds, as the music and the vocals grow more intense, it becomes clear that the singer is in pain. And not because he has accidentally hit himself with one of those hammers. He is feeling a deep, emotional pain. He feels like God has let him down. “You’re always letting us humans down.” He lives in a world that doesn’t make sense. Where lives fall apart. Where children are starving. The visual of the family in the tree suggests that there has been a family break down involved. If God is up there, if he is listening, why doesn’t he do something?
I believe that God exists. I do not believe that he is ignorant of our suffering. When Israel cried out to him when they were in slavery in Egypt, he heard them and he rescued them. When David cried out to God to rescue him from plight in Psalm 40, God heard him and lifted him out of the pit. When God sees the suffering and pain and hurt in this world, he hears us. And on top of that he has acted. 2000 years ago.
Jesus Christ entered the world to save us from sin. Sin is the cause of all the suffering in this world. When he died and rose again, he defeated sin. When he returns, he will permanently remove sin from this world. This is what we have to look forward to. A world where there will be “no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” (Revelation 21:4) Suffering will be a thing of the past. God has promised us this.
The singer of XTC is not alone in feeling abandoned and alone, seemingly cast aside by a God that they can’t bring themselves to believe in. If this is you, know that God loves you. He wants to bring you back into relationship with him. He wants to make it all better. He wants you to know that his son Jesus has done all the hard work for you. All you need to do is put your trust in his death and resurrection and follow him.
This song is on The Master List, a list of songs about Jesus, God and the Bible. I’m always looking for new additions to the list.