Love is Holy

This started as an article about how Alicia Keys’ new song “Holy War” struck a chord with me and it turned in to something a bit more about what love means to me. I hope you enjoy, and I always appreciate the feedback.

Alicia Keys has been one of my favorite artist for a while. My wife and I first danced as a married couple to “Not Even the King” and I have bonded with close friends over her music on multiple occasions. The last song of her newest album HERE called “Holy War” spoke to my soul from the first time I listened to it, on repeat during a long drive home while my wife and dog were asleep next to me. The song echoes a philosophy by which I try to live my life and is integral to the way I view the world.

Love is Holy

Even though the song is called “Holy War,” it is really about love being holy. Love and holy are two of the most loaded and misunderstood words in the English language, so let me explain what the statement “Love is Holy” means to me:

  • In this context, love is a verb, not a noun. Love is an action, a choice that we make with every person and every interaction. Regardless of how someone has treated you or how you are feeling, we always have the choice to love someone else.
  • We can love in many ways. Loving can be as easy as giving someone your attention for a moment or as difficult as holding back violence. Forgiveness is the most difficult form of love (more on this later).
  • Holy — Try to ignore the religious meaning for a moment. Holy is something that is morally excellent, something we admire or put on a pedestal for holding a supreme value, something worthy of special thought, effort, praise and respect.

So if love IS holy, then we will not only admire, acknowledge and appreciate it, but it becomes the end goal that guides are actions, decisions and (hopefully, one day) our society. I believe that this is the message underlying “Holy War” by Alicia Keys.

Forgiveness is Love²

It’s usually pretty easy to love someone when he or she is loving you (e.g. praising, serving, protecting you or giving you a massage). It is even easier when you are “in love” and your mutual obsession with someone seems to make things click. Loving someone in this situation is still beautiful and admirable, but it’s about as easy as it gets, so don’t pat yourself on the back for too long.

How do you act when you are presented with the opportunity for forgiveness? This is where you see how much you truly value love. Because I guarantee you that someone will cheat, harm, disgrace or disappoint you at some point in your life and you ALWAYS have a choice in how you react. Revenge is sweet. Protection from a repeat offense is usually wise. But acting on that desire for revenge and harboring resentment is neither healthy nor productive. If you truly believe that love is holy, then you forgive, regardless of whether that person “deserves” it. You forgive because love IS holy, because you believe in love. This is why Alicia says, “forgiveness is the only real revenge.”

What If Sex Was Holy

This is another line of the song that got me thinking. I feel very fortunate to have grown up with two morally-driven, Christian parents. And my Dad was never one to say that I was going to hell if I had sex before marriage, but he always said that sex was worthy of respect. He truly believed that sex was one of the most beautiful expressions of love and was nothing short of a gift from God. Sex is not something that you should ever take lightly, and it should definitely never be abused or defiled.

Sex is already the end goal for a lot of people (including me sometimes) guiding our actions, decisions and society, but we don’t admire and appreciate it enough for its beauty, its holiness. I think this is what Alicia means when she says, “What if sex was holy?” I think the way we treat sex would be a lot different.

She also refers to sex traditionally being viewed as obscene. From a historical perspective, I can understand why. Effective contraception didn’t exist, unwanted pregnancies often resulted, and in my opinion, a child growing up without two involved parents is one of the biggest tragedies in this world. But most major religions limit the frequency of sex for married couples as well. I DON’T get that. This view is dated and needs to change.

In the end, viewing sex as obscene leads us to create some pretty strange restrictions on it, leaves it for the realm of crime and ultimately leads to its abuse. I prefer Alicia’s “wonderful dream” where sex is holy.

Bringing it Home

I hope this article does not come off as prescriptive or demeaning. Love is an ideal and a value that I struggle with daily. I wrote this because I believe that love is worth that struggle. I believe that our choice to love is something that makes us uniquely human and separates us from all other forms of life. I believe that love is our reason for being.

PS. I dedicate this article to my Mom, who is celebrating her [very special] birthday today, December 6th. She is the epitome of love in everything that she does, and she is one of the people in this world for whom I am most grateful.

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