aesthetics Alice von Hildebrand

Dear Hozier, Let's Talk About Sex

6:00:00 AMAnnie Foster

Dear Hozier,

You interest me and I like you. But we don't agree on some things. Some very important things. So I'd like to discuss our difference in opinion. Why? Because I respect the fact that we're both enamored and beguiled by something as mysterious as it is wonderful, something worth talking about: Sex.  

The latest controversial hit that the neighbor to your left has on repeat while the neighbor to your right is currently writing a vicious blog post against, is the dark gospel song, "Take Me To Church." While I certainly will not praise the song in this post, I will not condemn it either.  

Before going into depth concerning Hozier's controversial lyrics, something should be said of Music, music with a capital M. Music is powerful. It is the most powerful and magical language known to man. Its power can be used by the virtuous man and the corrupt man alike. Plato states that music is a moral law: "It gives soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and charm and gaiety to life and to everything." In The Republic, Plato claims that music is the first step in education in the good society and the first step in the corruption in the bad one.

Music is an aspect of Aesthetics, a branch of Philosophy which will always have the ability to infatuate and enchant our minds, hearts, and souls. C. S. Lewis' demon in The Screwtape Letters laments that although Our Father Below can corrupt the words and messages of music (especially in the 21st century), music will always belong to the Enemy (God).  

Why?  

Because real music is intrinsically good, ordered and beautiful. Even a corrupt and disordered man can compose a piece of intricately woven notes and chords, creating a beautiful rhythmic melody which uplifts the soul. 

In the film Amadeus, Mozart addresses the king saying, "Forgive me, Majesty. I am a vulgar man! But I assure you, my music is not." However, musicians during the time of Beethoven and Mozart differ greatly from the musicians of the twenty-first century. Lyrics to songs have become a reflection of the corrupted character of the composer and his society. Yet, sometimes underneath the crude words there still remains a catchy, ordered, and beautiful tune. The power of music can never be harnessed completely by evildoers for in its most resplendent form it will always elevate the human person, putting him in touch with himself and at the same time bringing him closer to the "music of the spheres."

Why does music bring us closer to these "ethereal spheres"?

Because like all forms of Beauty, music evokes a sense of longing. I hear an enchanting melody and long to become totally immersed in it, to hear more and never grow tired of listening. To again refer to Mr. Lewis, "The books or the music in which we thought the beauty was located will betray us if we trust to them; it was not in them, it only came through them, and what came through them was longing."  

Essentially, it is not the music which will fulfill our desires for harmony and beauty because music is only "the scent of a flower we have not found, the echo of a tune we have not heard, news from a country we have never yet visited." This is the sole reason why I will not berate Hozier's music. The message of his lyrics is another story, and something which I believe can be warmly and affably discussed. 

Since the release of his song, "Take Me to Church," Hozier has been asked on a number of occasions, "What is the meaning behind your song?" Hozier often responds that, yes, the song is about sexual intimacy and the free expression of your sexual orientation.  Hozier claims his song is not an indictment against religions or institutions. He uses so many religious metaphors in his song because, in his opinion, certain religions and institutions "undermine some of the more natural parts of being a person." He believes that by replacing the worship of a deity with the worship of sexual pleasure and human sexuality, "you are worshiping something tangible, something worth worshiping. Someone whose love you can actually feel is worth loving."  

According to Dietrich von Hildebrand, Hozier's understanding and appreciation for the sexual sphere is lacking. It lacks depth and has fumbled into the fashionable ideology that a person's sexual desires are equal to their self-fulfillment and, therefore, should be enjoyed without restraint. He believes that any rules restraining this natural aspect of humanity are outdated and puritanical and ultimately undermine humanity.

It is unfortunate that so many go throughout life ignorant of the truth about sexuality. To be governed by or to worship our passionate desires and impulses is dangerous. This is why reason and wisdom, natural aspects of our humanity, should direct our sexual desires. The sexual sphere is a mystery and is directly connected to the greatest of all virtues, the meaning of our existence on this planet: Love.


To love and be loved is not a trivial subject, and neither is the expression of it. This is why it is dangerous to view the sexual sphere as a mere means to attain pleasure. To separate sexual intimacy from the mystical union of two complementary persons is to strip sex of its depth. Here I mentioned the 'complementarity' of persons, a word which mainly suggests the complementarity of bodies: male and female. 

Love making not only requires sexual desire, but a complete physical self-donation so as to attain unity with our beloved: unity of mind, body and spirit. This unity is different from the collectiveness urged for by hippies in the 70s. This unity begets life. It is procreative.  

In the marriage act, two desire to become one, and through spousal love - sex - this desire is expressed most perfectly. Contained in spousal love is the intentio unionis, the longing to participate in the life of the beloved, a special type of communion. This real communion "is possible only when we look into one another in a reciprocal gaze characteristic of love. Only in love do we present our countenance fully to the other and truly disclose ourselves to him." (1)

Authentic love does not let itself become obsessed with mere pleasure and ecstasy, although both are good as secondary goals. A lover worthy of the name is sensitive and more reverent. He is aware of the mysterious dimension of depth which his beloved possess. He gazes upon his lover with the awareness that "I am not worthy of her," although his whole soul hopes that his love may be requited." (2)  


Hozier, I admire your need to worship something worth worshiping. Yet I can only imagine that the longing begotten by both music and sex was instilled in you by someone who IS love and wishes to fill our lovelorn hearts, a fulfillment that begins here and culminates in eternity. If you do not believe His love is tangible, you need only turn to His creation as proof of his concrete love for you. All in all, in light of our disagreements, I would be more than happy to take you to church ... 

I just hope you don't mind 6:30 AM Mass.  


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Displaying Annie Foster

I am an aspiring writer who recently acquired a passion for philosophy.  It is my dream that someday my writings will affect humanity in a way which brings them closer to truth. However, I would be equally as content as a stay at home mom who creates fantastical bedtime stories for my children.     




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Dietrich von Hildebrand, The Encyclical Humanae Vitae: A Sign of Contradiction, 15-16. 

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3 comments

  1. Once again, excellent and beautifully written post.

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  2. FANTASTIC!!! Voiced exactly my thoughts.

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  3. What a self-righteous piece of crap--this article! You act like you know the man and his entire view of sexuality based on this one song. There have been interviews (not about this song) where he was asked about his dating and/or sex life. He expressly stated that he is not one to hook up and that just because you have the opportunity to have sex doesn't mean it is the right thing to do. Does he believe homosexual sex is just as natural and real as straight sex? Yes. Does he think history has treated woman and men differently when it comes to expressing their sexuality? Yes. But stop trying to make him appear as some perverted hedonist just because you are too full of yourself to outright say you have a problem with him supporting the love/sex between individuals of the same sex.

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