Our church doesn’t have a building, so I spend a lot of time working in coffee shops. The month of June transforms my surroundings with rainbows of all kinds (rainbow flags, stickers, mugs, shirts, hair, even froth).
Surrounded by such colorful scenery, I can’t seem to get Talking Heads’s 1985 song “Road to Nowhere” out of my head. It’s a prophetic song that speaks powerfully, albeit unwittingly, to Pride Month. The song, though upbeat and anthemic in tone, is lyrically dire. “We are,” David Byrne sings, “on the road to nowhere.”
End of the Road
Our culture has moved past a yearly nod to the LGBT+ movement to something more akin to a religious holiday. Don’t believe me? Consider what happens to those who abstain from the celebration.
Pride Month doesn’t just recognize new ideas concerning sex; it is a call for total devotion to self. Carl Trueman’s The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self (and the more condensed Strange New World) is an indispensable guide to the undercurrents driving our cultural moment. Changes regarding human sexuality, Trueman shows, are tied to a deeper transformation of the self—a transformation centuries in the making. Put simply, the modern person is an untethered self who looks inward (not outward) for both meaning and direction.
Which brings us back to Talking Heads. In the song, David Byrne sings,
There’s a city in my mind; come along and take that ride / It’s very far away but it’s growing day by day. And it’s all right; baby, it’s all right / We’re on a road to nowhere.
Byrne invites us deep into his interior life, the “city in his mind,” which is distant yet evolving daily. But even Byrne admits it’s a road to nowhere.
The song reflects the spirit of the age. The world calls us, with evangelistic gusto, to focus on the unique “cities” tucked deep within each of us. The song also packs a prophetic punch. Despite the rousing tune, its reality is stark: the detached, autonomous self is on track to nowhere.
Pride Month, and the ideology undergirding it, is ultimately fruitless. Our desires simply cannot serve as trustworthy guides or bear the weight of our worship. Though we’re told the road to the good life arises from within, we lack the internal resources to navigate our lives.
Pride Month, and the ideology undergirding it, is ultimately fruitless.
Imagine a sailor, new to the ship and crew, confused as to where the ship is heading. It’s nighttime, and the ship’s movements don’t square with his training to use the North Star as a fixed reference point. So the confused sailor asks, “Captain, where are we going?”
The captain replies, “We do things a little differently here. See the lantern on the ship’s bow? That’s our guiding light. That’s how we’re making our way across the sea.”
No wonder the ship’s movements don’t make sense. Guiding a ship by a reference point on the ship means the ship is adrift, voyaging to nowhere.
Human life is like a ship. To get where we’re meant to go, we must have a reference point outside of both ourselves and our world. We need a North Star. After all, humanity is trapped in a labyrinth of the world, the flesh, and the Devil (Eph. 2:1–3). We’re trapped because we’ve taken our eyes off God, our Creator, and looked within the “ship” of creation to find our way (Rom. 1:18–25). Our minds have become futile.
Guiding a ship by a reference point on the ship means the ship is adrift, voyaging to nowhere.
But there is hope. There is God. He sets us free from slavery to self and sin. He is the ultimate reference, the only reliable guide for living a life of meaning and joy. Jesus Christ entered into the depths of human depravity in order to bring us out of it. His orientation was outward, fixated on heaven’s will (John 5:19). And this life—lived in reference to the ultimate North Star, his heavenly Father—led Jesus to the cross, where he made a way for us out of nowhere and to somewhere: to a holy city, the new Jerusalem. His finished work means we can have our sins forgiven and be placed on the narrow road leading to eternal life.
Don’t Ignore the Signs
Pride Month summons us to look within; Jesus presents a better way. Instead of settling for the city of our mind, God has prepared a city of his own design for those who follow him (Heb. 11:10).
Yes, challenging Pride Month and the sacred self may mean we’re misunderstood or demonized. But if the Bible, and Talking Heads, is right—if relying on self is a road to nowhere—then acting as a billboard imploring our neighbors to turn around is the most loving thing we can do.