Macklemore’s Theology of “Same Love”

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Of course, by the time I got around to watching Macklemore’s Same Love video at the urging of my students, I was informed by others that they were already “over” Macklemore (especially because this thing called Thrift Shop …).  That generation gap just gets bigger every year.

As described in a Huffington Post article, the song was released by the Seattle-based rapper last year to support efforts toward legalizing same-sex marriage:

The stylish new clip depicts a gay man’s life from an embattled childhood through a joyous wedding day and then to the inevitable tragedy. “I might not be the same, but that’s not important/No freedom ‘til we’re equal, damn right I support it,” Macklemore rhymes in the track, which was which was produced by Ryan Lewis and also features Mary Lambert. “A certificate on paper isn’t going to solve it all, but it’s a damn good place to start.”

It is a touching song and video, telling a love story while situating it in the context of other struggles for justice in U.S. history.  What I find more interesting, of course, are the lyrics highlighting the problem that religion is and has been with much of the public debate and personal anguish around homosexuality and gay marriage:

The right-wing conservatives think its a decision

And you can be cured with some treatment and religion

Man-made, rewiring of a pre-disposition / Playing God

Ahh nah, here we go

America the brave / Still fears what we don’t know

And God loves all His children / And somehow forgotten

But we paraphrase a book written / 3,500 hundred years ago

I don’t know

The song not only criticizes a theology twisted by fear and frozen in a literal-minded past, it also points out that some of us are taught, by religion, differently:

Human rights for everybody / There is no difference

Live on! And be yourself!

When I was in church / They taught me something else

If you preach hate at the service / Those words aren’t anointed

And that Holy Water / That you soak in / Has been poisoned

When everyone else / Is more comfortable / Remaining voiceless

Rather than fighting for humans

The song concludes with a refrain using words from Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, a popular if not ever-present biblical text at church weddings:

Love is patient, love is kind

Love is patient (not cryin’ on Sundays)

Love is kind (not crying on Sundays)

Now.  If I could just get my husband to sing that and stop incessantly repeating the refrain from Thrift Shop … “only got twenty dollars in my pocket …”

Image via.


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About Caryn Riswold

Caryn D. Riswold is a feminist theologian in the Lutheran tradition. She is Professor of Religion and also teaches Gender and Women’s Studies at Illinois College in Jacksonville, Illinois, where she has worked for over a decade teaching undergraduates to think critically and creatively about religion. She earned her Ph.D. and Th.M. from the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, holds a master’s degree from the Claremont School of Theology, and received her B.A. from Augustana College in her childhood hometown of Sioux Falls, South Dakota.