We all remember Carrie Underwood from the fourth season of American Idol. She stole the hearts of viewers back in 2005, and she’s still generating emotional tidal waves with her pop-country songs 13 years later.
Underwood’s latest, “Love Wins,” comes to us courtesy of her forthcoming sixth studio album, Cry Pretty. Its positive perspective encourages listeners to shift their attention from all the bad news about our culture’s conflicts, violence and vitriol back to the only thing that matters in the end: love.
Underwood begins with stories we all hear far too frequently. She sings about the tragedy of violence (“A stray bullet and a momma cries/Her baby won’t be coming home tonight”) and the seemingly constant unrest dividing our nation (“Politics and prejudice/How the h— it’d ever come to this?”). She then observes that in 2018, it seems “everybody’s gotta pick a side/It don’t matter if you’re wrong or right, no.”
But Underwood is determined to “hold onto hope” because she believes that no matter what the world may look like, “You and me are sisters and brothers.” She then reminds us that we are “made to be here for each other.” And she recognizes the strength of unity when she sings, “We’ll never fall if we walk hand in hand,” unity that she believes can “put a world that seems broken together again.”
Underwood realizes that many have lost hope, but she challenges us to “keep believing there will come a day/When the tears and the sadness, the pain and the hate/The struggle, this madness, will all fade away.”
The song’s bridge then offers a concrete portrait of what such love looks like in action: “Love is power, love is a smile/Love reaches out, love is the remedy/Love is the answer, love’s an open door.” Underwood also adds, “love is the only thing worth fighting for.” After all, “in the end love wins.”
“Love Wins,” of course, is hardly a new phrase. It’s been adopted by LGBTQ activists as a slogan, a hashtag and a brand, becoming a term that represents solidarity for this community. So when Underwood’s song debuted at the end of August, it’s hardly surprising that the LGBTQ community claimed this anthem as its own.
“Love Wins,” however, doesn’t explicitly address the issue of homosexuality (although some could interpret the use of hot-button words such as “hate” and “prejudice” as subtle nods in that direction). Instead, Underwood seems to be aiming at something bigger: encouraging unity among everyone in our fiercely divided times.
In a country radio interview (reported by Rolling Stone), Underwood said as much: “I do think that we as humans are inherently good, and we need to remember that. Because we’re different, that doesn’t make somebody else bad, it just makes us different. We wanted that song to be hopeful and to maybe make somebody stop and think about that.”
Underwood’s impulse to unite people in our fractured and divided time is an admirable one. Many people these days are chomping at the bit to attack one another’s opinions, beliefs and worldviews, instead of listening to one another. Songs like this one rightly challenge us to remember our common human bond, as well as the importance of treating each other with dignity and respect. And that’s a much-needed reminder for all of us.
That said, genuine Christian love is something much deeper than a strong feeling. It requires more than just superficial acceptance or affirmation of those who are different. In fact, truly loving others as we ought to requires laying down our lives for them (John 15:13) and loving them as we’d love ourselves (Matthew 22:40).
Finally, the love that we’re called to as followers of Christ encompasses both grace and truth (John 1:17). And one critical aspect of truth is that we’re not, as Underwood says, “inherently good.” In reality, we’re broken by sin and in need of a Savior to redeem us. Only in Jesus do we find genuine hope. And only in Jesus do we learn what it truly means to love others in a way that can transform them and the world.
After serving as an associate editor at NavPress’ Discipleship Journal and consulting editor for Current Thoughts and Trends, Adam now oversees the editing and publishing of Plugged In’s reviews as the site’s director. He and his wife, Jennifer, have three children. In their free time, the Holzes enjoy playing games, a variety of musical instruments, swimming and … watching movies.
Kristin Smith joined the Plugged In team in 2017. Formerly a Spanish and English teacher, Kristin loves reading literature and eating authentic Mexican tacos. She and her husband, Eddy, loving raising their little guy, Judah. Kristin also has a deep affection for coffee, music, her dog (Cali) and cat (Aslan).