You guys and gals got it all wrong. You have totally misunderstood Bono. Bono is a very religious person – specifically Christian.
Many, many U2 songs are sprinkled with or are about the relationship of man to God. In With or Without You, the singer of the song symbolically of course is Jesus.
What Jesus is saying is that he is so disappointed in your sins that he can’t live with you but loves you so much that he also cannot live without you. Christ will wait for you. So “on a bed of nails she makes me wait”. So, it’s a song of hope and sadness – two opposites – like with and without. The hope is that you make it “through the storm” with every last fiber of your being loving Jesus and suffering anything to get to him – although as human imperfect Jesus always wants more because he is perfect.
So it’s a struggle. You constantly fall and sin and “give away” that good things of yourself to immorality and evil. You just keep doing it even though it’s bad. But as humans, we have free will, so Jesus can’t “force” us to do good – his hands are tied.
He uses double entendres alot. In effect, Bono is a Christian evangelist in the rock and roll world. I love U2 and urge you to see his lyrics through that prism.
That’s far too facile for Paul Hewson.