Ed Sheeran's song "Shape of You" doesn't highlight everything that's wrong with America. But it comes pretty close.
That's not just a statistic. It shows that this song, and Mr. Sheeran himself, are cultural forces in their own right. Popular music draws themes and messages from the culture it's created in, but it is more than just an amalgamation of a culture. Music has the power to create culture, to shape (no pun intended) the direction of a nation.
"I'm in love with your body....
I'm in love with the shape of you"
May I please excuse myself, so that I can go and vomit?
I will be the first to admit that Ed Sheeran is an incredibly talented singer, and some of his clean music in past albums (Thinking Out Loud, I See Fire, etc.). But the message of this song is absolutely horrid, for three reasons.
The message conveyed in this song is shallower than the water level in the Atacama desert. Don't value a girl because of the person she is, but because she looks a certain way. The happenstance of beauty is more important than character.
Mr. Sheeran has taken the destructive position of treating people like objects, as no more than means to an end.
Contrast that with the position of the Bible. Proverbs 31:10 says "A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies."
Guys find it difficult enough already to treat people like sisters in Christ, when we live surrounded by a culture that disturbingly resembles Sodom.
Value people for their hearts, not their appearances.
The message sent to girls is perhaps even more destructive. Mr. Sheeran's song first sets shockingly low standards for guys. Why would anyone want to settle for a guy who doesn't care about you as a person, but only as an object?
The second message is more subtle. If people are only valuable as objects, than the logical conclusion is to neglect the heart, and focus solely on the body. Objectification, if carried out to its logical conclusion, strips away everything from a person that makes them truly valuable. People who choose to accept being regarded as valuable only as an object are in grave danger of losing much of their own personhood, by forfeiture.
Finally, all people, girls included, have an innate desire for attention. Like any other urge, this can be pursued through good means, like godly friendship, or through destructive means. Treating yourself like an object might get you attention. But it's not the type that honors God, or will ultimately help yourself. It's harmful to all.
The Bible takes a vastly different stance.
Genesis 1:27 says that "So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them."
Those are powerful words. God is spirit, and of course he doesn't have arms or legs like we do. But like Him, we have a capacity to love, create, think, and choose. CS Lewis, in his book The Weight of Glory, explains that "There are no ordinary people. You have never met a mere mortal." This song treats human beings, endowed with the image of God, with less respect than is given to a mangy dog. At least a dog, even if kicked by a cruel master, is personified.
God intends for marriage to be permanent. Matthew 19:4-6 explains this. “Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” God intends for marriage to be a beautiful covenant. Ephesians 5:22-23 says "Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her..." "Shape of You" says that people should be loved as a man loves a sofa; not valued because of their hearts, but because of their bodies alone. Our culture is choosing to trade the perfect plan of God for the fulfillment of temporary appetites. It barters jewels for mud, and then goes away laughing, with a catchy song stuck in its head. That catchy song is "Shape of You."
I have friends who listen to music like this, and it disturbs me to see the message that they're absorbing. People aren't playthings. They are beings made in the image of God. We should treat them as such, in the thoughts in our minds, the images we choose to see, and the music that we let enter our ears.