Nick Jonas sings about "high-fiving Jesus" on his latest track. But would Jesus high-five him back after listening to "Levels" and watching its video?
Unfortunately, the answer isn't very difficult to discern. And we can begin by simply saying this 23-year-old former frontman for the Jonas Brothers is a long, long way from his purity-ring days at this point.
Love in an Elevator
"Levels," as its title implies, is about kicking things up a notch. Borrowing a bit from Aerosmith, Jonas commands a paramour, "Get on my elevator, baby, we're going up." And anyone wondering what that metaphor might mean doesn't have to wait long at all to find out.
"Give that now or later," Jonas coos, "I can't get enough/So much to discover, please don't stop me now/Every time I touch you, you lift right off the ground." Then the chorus: "I know we can get higher/There's levels to your love/Yeah, there's levels to your love/ … And I keep on climbing up."
Now, if Nick Jonas were singing about taking things to the next emotional or relational level here, we might be able to interpret at least the chorus in a positive way. And if all you ever really notice about the song's lyrics are those repeated lines, you might not think this track is too bad.
But we need to be honest with ourselves here: Nick Jonas is not singing about a growing, emotionally satisfying and healthy romance that's progressing upward and onward toward marriage. No. This may not be the most explicit pop song to roll around with salacious subjects. But it's very clear what Nick Jonas is talking about: sex.
And speaking of rolling, additional addictive allusions fill the second verse as Jonas tells his girl, "You and that drug you're dealing/Should be against the law/All this heat keep rising, make you stop, drop and roll."
Dragging Jesus Down to His Level
Then, for some inexplicable reason, Jonas feels compelled to drag Jesus into this carnal fray. He brags, "Heaven can't reach us/Yeah, we're high-fiving Jesus."
Our postmodern society tends to treat sexuality as a consequence-free playground where we can indulge our appetites and no one ever has to get hurt. That's certainly what the video for "Levels" communicates, as Nick cavorts with five models in revealing leather lingerie, pantomiming intimate sexual movements with several of them.
Scripture, in contrast, teaches us that our sexual choices have deep significance because of the unbreakable bonds that such intimacy establishes with another human being, bonds that are explicitly intended to go hand in hand with a covenantal marriage vow to "forsake all others."
Ironically, a song like "Levels" does acknowledge the bonding potency of joining one's body to another. Nick Jonas instinctively knows sex can be a very good and rewarding thing. What's utterly absent here, however, is any acknowledgement of God's intended context for it. Instead of sex cementing a loving, lasting link between a man and a woman, it becomes its own self-centered, objectifying end. And make no mistake: There's a lot of objectification going on in the video.
In a recent interview with MTV, Jonas said, “This is the first single to a new album, which I’m incredibly excited to announce. I’ve been hard at work on the new music trying to push myself lyrically to say some deeper things. And I’ve gone through a lot in this past year and a half, and I want to talk about it and just push myself as an artist and continue to grow.”
I wish I could give Nick Jonas more credit for his desire to go deeper and keeping growing. Those are noble intentions … that are absolutely not reflected on "Levels," another pop song that descends to lowest-common-denominator levels in its misogynistic exploitation of women by yet another guy who thinks he can get away with it.