The Unchained Melody

In 1955 two musicians were commissioned to compose a theme song for a prison movie by the title of Unchained. Throughout the years countless remakes of the song have emerged, perhaps the most popular recorded in 1965 by the Righteous Brothers. The song is a lament of a man separated from the love of his life. The message is simple: while the criminal is chained, his melody is not.

In many ways humanity sings a sort of universal melody of longing for love and unconditional acceptance. However, the lyrics appear to be filled with more pain than fulfillment. Mick Jagger sang, “I can’t get no satisfaction.” Jon Bon Jovi declared, “You give love a bad name.” And because of you, Kelly Clarkson will never stray too far from the sidewalk. It seems as if human love cannot completely accomplish our profound need for belonging.

While Tom Cruise has popularized the line “You complete me,” in real life he has experienced multiple divorces. We understand heartbreak as much, if not more, than our deep desire for love. Some respond by living only for themeselves only to find that self-love can be empty as well. Where can we turn?

Seventeenth-century French scientist and philosopher Blaise Pascal believed that this unquenchable yearning should point us to God:

“What else does this craving, and this helplessness, proclaim but that there was once in man a true happiness, of which all that now remains is the empty print and trace? This he tries in vain to fill with everything around him, seeking in things that are not there the help he cannot find in those that are, though none can help, since this infinite abyss can be filled only with an infinite and unchangeable object; in other words by God himself.”

While thousands have sung along to the tune “Unchained Melody” throughout the years, this lament for love seems to be chained indeed. It appears to be unreachable. Like the prisoner separated from his heart’s desire, we too are estranged from the one we were created for. However, in the midst of this disappointing human experience, if we listen closely, we will hear the eternal and unchained melody of the Creator God who has provided a way for the only relationship that can satisfy our soul’s desire. He alone can complete us.

In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins…. We love, because He first loved us. (1 John 4:10, 19)