You may have noticed that Hillsong Young and Free has removed their intense music video “Peace“, which intends to give an artistic depiction of anxiety, from YouTube.
In a statement explaining the decision in March, the worship band expressed concerns that some of the imagery may be triggering for those experiencing anxiety, as part of the decision to remove the video. They also alluded to “controversy” overshadowing the intended message of the piece.
The controversy alluded to in the statement seems to refer to many who suggest the video contains “satanic” imagery. Several YouTube users uploaded hour-long in-depth analyses of the video, saying that it misappropriates apocalyptic biblical imagery to present an “anti-Christ” message.
Many of such interpretations either did not care to watch Hillsong’s own explanations of the message of the video, or decided that Hillsong’s expressed intentions were not necessary for a faithful interpretation.
“When it came to making this video, we deliberately chose to represent the struggle of anxiety, along with the refuge that is found in God’s peace, in a symbolic way, allowing each young person who watched it to respond to it personally,” the statement reads.
“From our perspective, it would be a total tragedy if those who need the message of God’s peace, instead get caught up in anxiety due to over-analyzing the symbols in the music video.”
Tragedy indeed. Their reasons for taking down the video are obviously layered. If it was causing harm to the very people they were seeking to help then it’s a solid move to take the video down.
But among the layers of backlash is also a collection of responses of those who outright refused to take the video on its own terms. It’s a problem many Christian artists have faced and continue to face. Many audiences aren’t comfortable with artistic expression that uses elements that aren’t overtly clear, and make use of compelling imagery, language and metaphor. There are literally people who believe The Lion, the Witch and Wardrobe goes too far.
Christian artists are artists. They use music, imagery and other forms of creative expression to communicate not just ideas–but feelings–in eye-opening ways. What Hillsong Y&F did in the video was just that. Hopefully, some in the church, will eventually give their creators and artists the ability to fully use the gifts God has given them, instead of forcing them to apologize for it.
is managing editor at RELEVANT Media Group. He holds a B.A. in Practical Theology and an M.A. in Theology with an emphasis in Biblical Languages. He's passionate about music, faith, racial justice, and social change. You can find him on Twitter @andrehenry, and more of his writing at http://andrerhenry.com