The Song of God: What Greek Mythology Can Teach Us About God’s Holiness

If you are familiar with Greek mythology and epics, you have probably heard of the siren. In Greek epics, sirens were dangerous creatures, who lured nearby sailors to their deaths with enchanting music and singing voices to shipwreck on the rocky coast of their island.

In the Greek epic The Odyssey, Odysseus orders his men to plug their ears with beeswax and tie him to the mast of the ship. He told his men not to untie him no matter how much he begged. However, Odysseus was afraid that the binds wouldn’t be strong enough to hold him back as they drew closer to the sirens’ island. He told his men that when they got close to the island to scream as loud as they possibly could.

Jason, in the Greek epic Argonautica, uses another method. Jason hired a lute player named Orpheus. When Orpheus heard the song of the sirens, he was told to take out his lute and play. Orpheus was incredibly talented. His song on the lute was more beautiful than the song of the sirens, and Jason safely passed.

Odysseus was afraid that the disciplines that bound him wouldn’t be enough. He needed the binds to hold him to his cause, but he was afraid that even the binds wouldn’t be enough. Therefore, he had his men scream to drown the sirens song. For Jason, it wasn’t that the sirens’ song wasn’t attractive. It was that Jason had heard a better song, and it drowned out the song of the sirens. He retained his freedom.

Looking at these two epics, I believe they are comparable to people in the church today. Some treat holiness as a bind. They make holiness centered on what they cannot handle or cannot do. When their “holiness” isn’t enough, they need the scream of people who cannot hear their cries to keep them on the “right” course. My question is: is that really holiness and the freedom found in Christ?

When looking at Jason, he hears two different songs. People in church today hear two different songs. The world plays an attractive song. It draws people in with it beauty, and it ultimately leads them to death. However, the song of God is more beautiful, and it allows people to walk in freedom. It allows people remain true to the cause of Christ without bondage. Their rejection of the world’s song isn’t because it’s not alluring. It’s because they have found a better song. Their perception of holiness is centered on God.

That’s the response of true Holiness. It’s not a bind that is needed to hold us to our cause that causes us to beg for freedom. It’s a song that gives us our freedom and allows us to reject the world. True holiness does not start with us. It starts with God.

Holiness at its core is to be set apart and different. Before entering the Promised Land, God tells the Israelites that they will not adopt the culture of the Canaanites. God goes on to remind Israel of what He did for them in Egypt and in the wilderness. God commands them to be different than the Canaanites, because He is a God that fulfills His promises. God’s command to “Be Holy for I am Holy” started with God being different than the Canaanite and Egyptian gods.

It’s because God’s song is more beautiful than the song of the world. His song allows us to walk in freedom and not bondage. When we truly hear His song, we are not dedicated because of certain disciplines. We are dedicated because of who God is, and He is a God that fulfills His promise.