Caught Between Loneliness and Commitment

Charlton Howard, known professionally as The Kid Laroi, is an unlikely pop sensation. Taking his professional moniker “Laroi” from his Australian Aboriginal heritage, he emerged suddenly in 2020 as an international phenomenon. Although The Kid Laroi started pursuing music seriously at age thirteen, it was not until three years later that he became well-known. Now, at just seventeen, The Kid Laroi boasts collaborations with some of the biggest stars in the music industry and a bright future for his musical career. His latest hit single, “Without You,” is as surprising as The Kid Laroi himself—its view of love landing somewhere between a secular worldview and a Christian worldview.

 

Listen to a few of the top songs today, and you’ll notice that many of them are mostly (or completely) about sex, implicity or explicitly. The Kid Laroi’s “Without You,” however, is surprisingly sparse on any references to sex and instead focuses on The Kid Laroi’s hopes for a committed and lasting relationship.

It is Still not Good to be Alone
As with much hip hop inspired pop, The Kid Laroi’s music is not wholesome. His attitude is defiant and his language is foul, but what he sings about on “Without You” is love and commitment rather than sex and momentary pleasure. Dejected and hurt after a relationship ends, The Kid Laroi relates how difficult he imagines life will be on his own:

You cut out a piece of me, and now I bleed internally
Left here without you (no, no, no), without you (ooh, ooh)
And it hurts for me to think about what life could possibly be like
Without you (no, no, no), without you (no, no)

Left on his own, The Kid Laroi does not bemoan the loss of immediate pleasure or fulfillment from his relationship, but bewails the fact that he will not be able to make a lifelong commitment to the girl he is singing about:

So here I go, oh
Can’t make a wife out of a ho, oh
I’ll never find the words to say I’m sorry
But I’m scared to be alone (oh)

In his fear of being alone, The Kid Laroi echoes the Biblical teaching that it is not good for man to be alone (Genesis 2:18). Despite the strong cultural current of individualism, it is still not good for man to be alone. It is uncommon, in a culture that values pleasure and doing what “feels right to you” over-commitment and virtue, to hear songs addressing commitment to another person in marriage. It’s not surprising that The Kid Laroi doesn’t sing about sex, considering how young he is, but it is surprising that he sings about finding a wife.

Either Commitment or Happiness
By no means does The Kid Laroi bring a Christian perspective on relationships to his music; rather, he is caught between two worldviews: a secular worldview (in which doing what you want when you want reigns), and a residual cultural-Christian worldview (in which commitment, particularly lifelong commitment, to another person in marriage is vitally important). No clear message about commitment and relationships comes through in the song “Without You.”

The Biblical message is clear: marriage is meant to be a lifelong commitment (Matthew 19:5). The dominant message of our culture is just as clear: we should do what makes us feel good. Because relationships are considered mostly for our happiness and convenience, marriage itself isn’t even necessary, and ending a marriage is not wrong, just inconvenient. The biblical view of marriage and the dominant cultural view of marriage are strongly opposed to one another, but people are nevertheless influenced by both views at once, creating a jumbled, confused notion of what marriage is and what it is for. This seems to be the case with The Kid Laroi in “Without You”—he is hoping for a wife and is afraid of living life alone, but also lives and breathes the cultural idea that sees marriage as a personal convenience.

The jumble of ideas about marriage and relationships reflected in The Kid Laroi’s “Without You” is what people end up with when they accept ideas without asking where those ideas come from or noticing that their ideas are mutually exclusive. The belief that people should always be free to pursue the good life in the way they choose is incompatible with the idea of commitment in marriage. Andrew Peterson, in his song “Dancing in the Minefields” explains from a deeply Christian perspective how commitment is the way in which we find the best life.

In Matthew 16:25, Jesus says, “For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.” Peterson takes the paradoxical idea that one must lose their life to find it and applies this to the institution of marriage. “Dancing in the Minefields” is about how marriage, despite the sacrifices and challenges of the commitment, is worth more than the “freedom” of avoiding commitment and pursuing happiness in whatever way we choose. Peterson sings,

‘Cause the only way to find your life
Is to lay your own life down
And I believe it’s an easy price
For the life that we have found.

When Christ calls us to follow him, he calls us to lay down our lives. Because marriage is instituted by God, it should be no surprise that the call to marriage is also a call to lay down our lives. Yet, just as Christ’s invitation to follow him is an invitation to live, his invitation to marriage is not an invitation into a restrictive life but an invitation into a better, more beautiful life. “Without You” reflects the desire for commitment and freedom, but is a confused and frustrated cry for something that seems not to exist. However, in Christ we can find commitment and true freedom, both in marriage and in all of life.

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