Sloppy Wet Kiss

First of all, listen to this.

This is the original version of this song, written and played/sung by John Mark McMillan.

This song was first really popularized by Kim Walker of Jesus Culture who does a great version you can watch here. Worshipping with Kim at Jesus Culture 2006 in Orange County was the first time I encountered this song and I immediately fell in love with it, and with no line more than the incredible provocative “Heaven meets Earth like a sloppy wet kiss.”

What does that image bring to mind? For me it expresses something big and messy and extravagant… not neat and tidy and polished and traditional. This is GOD, meeting his people in a huge way. This is the beautiful disaster that happens when heaven collides with earth. You can’t predict it, and you can’t contain it. God is really, really bad at following directions. It’s like trying to pour a cloud into a jar. It will overflow and swirl and resist every effort to make it behave.

For other people, it brings to mind teenagers making out in the back of a car.

When David Crowder Band recorded a cover of the song, they changed that line to “Heaven meets earth like an UNFORSEEN kiss.” This made the song palatable to be played in any setting, in places where people were uncomfortable with the kiss idea.

I’ll be frank: I hate the change. It looses a huge part of the song’s impact, in my opinion, and it seems ridiculous to go out of our way to avoid that one line. Making a point of shunning it does not at all appeal to me.

“Unforseen”? Really? What, were they just hard up for three syllable words that day? Had they never read the Song of Solomon? Or are we really that surprised when heaven comes down, as if we’d completely forgotten that it was there? I want to live in hopeful anticipation of encountering God, not act shocked every time I bump into him. Flyleaf recorded a cover using the words “passionate kiss” instead. God bless Flyleaf. At least they maintained some of the extravagance.

I get a little excited about this, in case you couldn’t tell… maybe a bit too excited. The more I think about it, the more I realize that there are more important things at stake here.

Unity.

If someone can sing “unforseen kiss” and encounter the extravagant love of God as they do so, who am I to quibble? I don’t want my hang-up on those three little words to become a stumbling block to someone else. I can willingly limit my freedom there for the sake of unity in the Body.

As it turns out, David Crowder asked John Mark McMillan’s permission before changing the line, which John Mark eventually granted. He still believes in the reason he wrote the song the way he did, but he respects David Crowder’s understanding of his audience. This is what he says:

All this to say, I don’t have a problem with David changing the line because he knows the people he is serving, and that line would have isolated the song from those people.

What I do have a problem with though, is that the condition of greater Christianity would be as such that he would even have to change it.  I think the fact that a line like “Sloppy wet kiss” could be controversial is ridiculous.

I’ve basically come to the same conclusion. I love the line for very specific biblical as well as experiential reasons, but if others feel more comfortable singing a different version, that’s really none of my business. I’d much rather us sing together than get into division over it. I kind of hate that people make it such a bone of contention, myself included… it really can only hurt the Church in the long run.

Try these on for size: grace. humility. unity. As St. Augustine said, “In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; in all things, charity.”

After all, this whole argument started out by being about Love. Maybe my extravagant display of love will be to worship God in spirit and truth alongside my brothers and sisters even if I (gasp) don’t like the lyric.

Maybe then, the sloppy wet kiss of heaven meeting Earth can actually come to pass.

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