The first time I heard the song “No Longer Slaves” was when my husband was interviewing at a new church two years ago, and we went to visit one of their services. Although we didn’t end up at that church, we really enjoyed their worship – and I soon realized that “No Longer Slaves” was a popular song. Although I liked the song and sang along, something felt very off to me – though I couldn’t pinpoint it just yet.
I just want to preface this post by saying two things. First, I am not here to crap all over this worship song; I am just going to offer my perspective. Second, I haven’t written anything about my faith in a long time for a few reasons that I won’t get into in this post, but just so you know, this is a church-related post. Alright, so. Here we go.
If you haven’t heard No Longer Slaves, you can view the lyric video below. As you can see, it has almost 100 million views. It’s a very popular worship song.
The chorus of this song says “I’m no longer a slave to fear; I am a child of God” – and repeat that a few times, like all great worship songs.
Since that church visit two years ago, I’ve heard this song throughout worship, popping into my YouTube playlists, and in the background of Christian family gatherings. Every time it came on, I felt…weird.
One Sunday, I just felt like I couldn’t sing it. And I finally realized why this song made me feel the way it did. If I sang this song, I felt like I would be lying.
Now, you may think I am reading way too into this. But worship has always been one of the most important parts of my personal spiritual journey. The songs I choose to sing and focus on aren’t just catchy – they have meaning behind them that I agree with.
But this song – how could I sing “I’m no longer a slave to fear” – when that’s exactly what I was?
My anxiety has made me a slave to fear. That’s actually quite an accurate way of putting it to be honest.
My mental health disorders, which I have essentially had since birth, have stopped me from fully experiencing and enjoying life. They restricted my diet, they made me miss countless opportunities, extracurriculars in school, activities with friends.
My anxiety affected my relationships, killed friendships, forced me to quit jobs, made me miss university, impacted which classes I took, and at one point in my childhood, almost killed me.
So, yes. Although I have a much better handle on my anxiety now as an adult, through maaaany years of therapy, learning coping mechanisms, and practicing calming techniques – I am still a slave to fear in many ways.
The reason this song makes me so uncomfortable is because it felt like the two things they spoke about during the chorus were exclusive.
I am no longer a slave to fear; I am a child of God.
As if being a child of God automatically takes away all of your fears and your worries and your very real, very medical mental health disorders. As if you can’t be a child of God if you are still a slave to fear.
It gave me a lot of flashbacks to all the times I have been told to “just pray about it” or the billions of times Matthew 6:26-27 was rehearsed to me as if that would cure my ‘fear’ (“Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?”)
I understand the point of this song. I am not trying to be nitpicky. I get it – trust in God, rely on Him, your fear doesn’t define you, don’t let your fear take over, etc.
But for many of us, our fear has taken over – not because we just love worrying and hate trusting God, but because we are sick. I am a child of God, but I am also a slave to fear. Fear does define me in many ways because it is such a huge part of my life.
I am not saying we should stop singing this song, or even that it has no value. But I do worry a bit that it is giving people the same message I was given as a child for so many years – the message that equated anxiety with sin.
The message that told you if you weren’t at peace, there was something wrong with your spiritual life.
The message that told you that you weren’t really a child of God if you were still fearful.
I don’t hate this song, but I don’t feel like I, personally, can sing it either. I think we should be careful about what we sing on Sunday mornings, because the message we are giving may go deeper (and cut deeper) than we think.