I grew up with this hymn. I love this hymn. I love the essence of words:
I Have Decided To Follow Jesus; No Turning Back.
Though None Go With Me, Still I Will Follow; No Turning Back.
The World Behind Me, No Turning Back.
So I found the “why was this written” disturbing when I went googling last night: “Called to renounce his faith by the village chief, the convert declared, “I have decided to follow Jesus.” His two children were killed and in response to threats to his wife, he continued, “Though none go with me, still I will follow.” His wife was killed, and he was executed while singing, “The cross before me, the world behind me.” This display of faith is reported to have led to the conversion of the chief and others in the village.”
That disturbs me on so many levels.
Oh Paul, dear Paul, poor Paul. I feel your pain and sense your anger. All those words “in the bible” and all that singing together of these hymns. All this “I have no idea what this all means – but we all do it – so it is of God – and we will all continue to do it – even unto death.” And then you read this.
It’s not that I think “good things not bad” will happen to any who have you inside. It’s because you are inside – that is why I feel your pain and sense your sadness as well – that we have come to think and be taught that “saying the words” and “dying for you” is a good thing – even when those we love die as a “necessary thing”. I don’t have the answers, but I sense your pain with “something” here.
Would I love you less if you disowned me to save a life of one you loved? Would I cast you out if you gave another the choice of life? Would I demand of you any sacrifice in order to continue loving you as I do?
So why do I see “us” making this senseless dying stuff a good thing – that this chief and tribe “converted” so the death was a gift – it was “glorifying you”?
Fuck knows, Paul! And yes, this whole post will be trashed by many who see you putting “that foul word” in my mouth. I put that foul word “fuck” in my mouth, not you Paul.
Thank you – but why?
Because this whole but he “saved the tribe” is crap. They are the dishonest words of those who still think I crave obedience, duty, and sacrifice. Who think I punish, cast out, and put down. Those are “the words” being put in my mouth. That is the poison others are told that I speak. And it is not – read these words, Paul … “
South Asian Connection: “there are four versions to the origin of this song”
V1: (as above)
V2: No death and killing
V4: ditto again
No death and no killing (three times over). That is why “fuck knows” (for a third time). That is why the words of senseless death put in my mouth do not “glorify” me, do not “lift me up”, and are not “inspirational”. That is why my pain. That is why my sadness. I cannot love you less no matter what you say or do. Only you can do that – only you can love yourself less for what YOU say and what YOU do. So “don’t believe everything you read” IS good advice. And nothing – and I mean NOTHING – is sacrosanct from that wisdom – not even “me”. Now play this great song of love and not death, Paul – and let’s snuggle …