Monthly Archives: October 2009

How to look good naked

Verse 1
God gave me the sunshine,
Then showed me my lifeline
I was told it was all mine,
Then I got laid on a ley line
What a day, what a day,
And your Jesus really died for me
Then Jesus really tried for me

Verse 2
UK and entropy,
I feel like its ****in’ (beeped out) me
Wanna feed off the energy,
Love living like a deity
What a day, one day,
And your Jesus really died for me
I guess Jesus really tried for me

Bodies in the Bodhi tree,
Bodies making chemistry
Bodies on my family,
Bodies in the way of me
Bodies in the cemetery,
And that’s the way it’s gonna be

All we’ve ever wanted
Is to look good naked
Hope that someone can take it
God save me rejection
From my reflection,
I want perfection

Verse 3:
Praying for the rapture,
‘Cause it’s stranger getting stranger
And everything’s contagious
It’s the modern middle ages
All day every day
And if Jesus really died for me
Then Jesus really tried for me

Jesus didn’t die for you, what do you want?
(I want perfection)
Jesus didn’t die for you, what are you on?
Oh Lord
(Jesus really died for you) Ohh
(Jesus really died for you)
(Jesus really died for you) Ohh

Above are the lyrics to Robbie Williams’ new single, Bodies. I have to confess I was a keen Robbie Williams fan back in the day. Anyway I thought this was an interesting song – it seems to show a serious head-on collision between 21st century British celeb culture and Christianity.

Perhaps the most striking thing is that Robbie is singing ‘Jesus really died for me.’ But in the second verse it’s ‘if Jesus died for me’. The song ends with the question, ‘Jesus didn’t die for you, what do you want?’.

What’s going on? Is Robbie a born again Christian now or is he singing about a flirtation with Jesus that he ultimately rejects?

It’s difficult to say, but it’s clear that there’s some kind of struggle with Jesus. Initially things look good (V1 and 2), but in V3 the strangeness of Christianity becomes clear (the ‘rapture’ is the idea that some Christians hold that they’ll be ‘raptured’ up to heaven at some point, leaving what’s left of the world to everyone else). It’s true that in many ways being a conservative Christian is a bit like living in the modern middle ages. You think men should be leaders, capital punishment’s God-given, governments should be submitted to, not necessarily voted in, etc. That’s a shock to most modern people’s system.

There’s two ways of hearing the chorus. The first one is that Robbie is exemplifying the concerns of modern pop culture, which, believably, is all about wanting to ‘look good naked’. Robbie wants a perfect body, and he doesn’t have it, hence the struggle with Jesus, who offers his followers little in the way of physical perfection now (at least that’s the feedback I get when I ask the ladies!). Ultimately, Jesus can’t heal our narcissism.

The other way of seeing it – which I just thought of while writing the last para – is that Robbie’s referring to the effects of the Fall, which we happened to be looking at in our bible study group at church a couple of weeks ago. After Adam and Eve disobey God’s command not to eat from the tree of knowledge, they realise they are naked and hide when God comes:

So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths.

And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden.

(Genesis 3)

On this view, the human condition is all about wanting to good naked, but realising that you don’t – that you can’t stand naked and unashamed in front of God. Even as you look at yourself in the mirror you know you’re not up to much, and that it would take perfection to sort you out. But that’s what Jesus provides: a hope of being able to stand before our Creator, knowing that because of Jesus we are perfect in him.

Adam and Eve

And in Christ, there is even the hope of having perfect bodies:

But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.

(Philippians 3)

So maybe Robbie is telling us how Jesus deals with the central problem of pop culture. Rather than Jesus being defeated by our narcissism, as it fails it drives us to him.

I don’t know how honest this song is, and the ending is as ambiguous as the rest of it, with backing singers repeating ‘Jesus really died for you’. But I pray that Robbie, and his generation, would have the humility to recognise that we are not able to ‘look good naked’, and to trust in Christ, who will one day transform our lowly bodies to be like his glorious body.

That’s my effort at working out what he’s talking about – thoughts? I have no idea what the bridge is about…