The other day I was listening to my local classic rock station. The Billy Joel classic, Only The Good Die Young came on and of course I was singing along with it. You know it’s a catchy tune, and I don’t listen to the lyrics so it doesn’t affect me blah blah blah… OK, but this time I was listening and the lyrics did affect me. I was thinking what are the results of living the life that he was lambasting? And, what are the results of the lifestyle that Billy Joel was advocating in the song?
I must admit as a teen these lyrics seems so appealing, “Only the Good Die Young” so let’s go out and get a bit wild. But this is all a deception.
Billy Joel in his lyrics is talking to a Catholic girl “Virginia” that is practicing chastity and self-control. I thing we can generalize this discussion to anyone that chooses to practice these virtues. What are the advantages and life results that come from practicing these disciplines?
The list of advantages is long and quite encouraging.
1. Young kids that build healthy relationships with the opposite sex.
2. Young adults finish their education and prepare for adulthood before families are started which in turn helps to build stronger families and communities.
3. Young people with higher self images knowing that they can be strong and in control of there urges and life and not be controlled buy the waves that come in life.
4. Live a life of peace and security not worrying about the repercussions of dangerous actions.
5. Generally much happier marriages.
6. Generally much better sex life when you do marry.
The list of disadvantages and social ills is long and disturbing.
1. Guilt and shame for the actions. Yes I know there are those that would state the guilt and shame are misplaced, but I assure you the guilt and shame are there for a purpose. It is there to stop you from doing these acts and protect you. It is often those who try to just remove the guilt and shame that end up with very low self-images and depressed. This is especially true of girls. This is one reason why the rate of cutting and drug abuse is so high among our teens.
2. Sexually transmitted diseases.
3. Unwanted or unplanned pregnancies.
4. Abortion and all the repercussions that come with that.
5. Young unprepared parents then end up producing families in poverty. This often perpetuates a cycle of crime and violence.
6. The male wild dog mentality that encourages young men to have sex whenever and where they want with no strings attached, causing massive devastation to society.
So, how did the lifestyle that Billy Joel recommend work out for him? Well I don’t know about you, but I love the musical style and passion that Billy Joel has put into his music. He is obviously a gifted musician. He had everything going for him, money, fame, and married to the perfect wife. But then it all fell apart. He was cheating on his wife Christy Brinkley. Yes, I know we don’t know the full story but I think it is fair to say Billy Joel had some responsibility here. And, now were here more recently he as been in treatment for addictions (story here).
So this begs the question, Should we be living by Billy’s rules, or should we be living by God’s rules.
While it is true that sometimes the good die young, when they do, they often times die with peace and joy in their heart because they know their final destination. As Paul said in his letter to Timothy “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”, The destination is know.
I think there are times when people live lives that are not according to God’s rules and they come to a point in their lives where maybe they wish the would have died young because of the mess that they have made with their lives. Billy may be an example of such a life. The good news is, it is never too late to turn to Jesus and accept the free gift of salvation that he offers. It is in accepting that free gift that all our messes can become cleaned up.
So in reality, Only The Good Die in Peace, when our goodness comes from Jesus…