I admit it. My first listen to Defender jarred me. “You come back with the head of my enemy.”
Wait a minute, what? Can I sing about decapitation in church? The question isn’t if I can, but if I should. Let’s talk about it.
First off, I understand the Biblical context. I know it’s a metaphor for the true vanquishing of an enemy. God’s won the victory. I get it, but as the one responsible for the songs we sing, I have to be aware of the images the lyrics conjure. Who or what is our enemy? What if I consider my enemy to be that frustrating manager who makes my daily life miserable? Do I really need Stan’s head on a pike?
There is a place for lyrics that challenge us, but we need to be thoughtful about when and how we use them. Perhaps a personal story or a scene from the Bible would make the line more relatable. Maybe naming a common enemy like sickness or pride would be appropriate and help frame the lyric.
Personally, I know for a fact that the lyric would cause an issue in my church so my solution is simple. Skip verse one and begin with verse two. The song still makes sense and keeps my people meditating on God as Defender rather than the latest Game of Thrones episode. For those of you who take issue with altering an artists original intent I ask you this: does the song serve the congregation or does the congregation serve the song? I firmly believe the former.
Defender is a great song. We could have skipped it but we chose to teach it, and you can learn it here. Now it’s up to you to decide how it fits. Give it a listen and tell me what you think about it in the comments.