We've seen some great songs over the years from well known Christian artists who have later changed, fallen into sin, rejected the faith or even been deceptive. Some artists that spring to mind are:

  • Vicky Beeching (now embracing a lesbian lifestyle)
  • Jennifer Knapp (same as above)
  • Ray Boltz (now embracing a homosexual lifestyle)
  • Kevin Prosch (admitted to a string of 'affairs')
  • Michael Guglielmucci (wrote the song 'Healer' while faking cancer)

We all know that the Bible's greatest songwriter, David, was by no means perfect. He was both a murderer and committed adultery yet penned many amazing Psalms.

Some questions that spring to mind:

  • Where should we draw the line when deciding to listen to or use songs to lead worship?
  • Should the history of the songwriter even come into the equation?
  • Or is it all about the lyrics and whether they are biblical?
  • What about if the songwriter is no longer a Christian?
  • Should we only use these songs in private so we don't come across as endorsing the songwriter's behavior?

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As it happens, we are doing "Your Voice" and "Deliverer" - both excellent songs by Vicky Beeching - tomorrow in church.  But then, my opinions might be a bit different to others here.



We don't have any this week, but we have at least one of hers each week.  So you're not the only weird one :-)

I was thinking about all this, though... from the other perspective, if I found out that [popular worship song writer] was involved in, say, an abortion clinic protest that turned ugly, I'd probably be skipping over a lot of "Jimmy Prolife" songs when looking for new material for the band, or even while making up weekly setlists.  Just based on a couple lines from Rich Mullins' "Awesome God" that seem... particularly judgmental... I'm probably less inclined to use a RM song than I might otherwise be, just because of a couple lines in one song... so it really does go both ways. 


Daniel Read said:

As it happens, we are doing "Your Voice" and "Deliverer" - both excellent songs by Vicky Beeching - tomorrow in church.  But then, my opinions might be a bit different to others here.



I think that one of the things that we may be overlooking is that the music of these artists have licensing fees. If we use their music in worship and someone goes out and purchases their songs, then we are, in a way, supporting their lifestyle choice of sin. And, if they don't suffer any losses (i.e. concert attendance, music royalties,etc.) then what is going to be an incentive for them to even WANT to repent. It may be construed to them that they can live any way that they want as long as they make good music. There are so MANY Christian artists that have stood the test of time that have such wonderful worshipful music that we can select from. We don't want to be guilty of selection worship music simply because it is what is,currently, getting a lot of "air-play". When we pray and ask the Lord for songs for His flock, we have to be more surrendered to those times when an old-fashioned hymn may come to mind. Or, GOD may inspire us to write something new. Amen?

Indeed.  I think I am more likely to be put off a songwriter by their lyrics.  I am probably put off by dishonesty on their part, or violence, or abuse of power.  But, on the other hand, if I think that (say) a particular artist has been unfairly victimised by conservative Christian circles, I am actually *more* inclined to play their songs...

Charles Wolff said:

We don't have any this week, but we have at least one of hers each week.  So you're not the only weird one :-)

I was thinking about all this, though... from the other perspective, if I found out that [popular worship song writer] was involved in, say, an abortion clinic protest that turned ugly, I'd probably be skipping over a lot of "Jimmy Prolife" songs when looking for new material for the band, or even while making up weekly setlists.  Just based on a couple lines from Rich Mullins' "Awesome God" that seem... particularly judgmental... I'm probably less inclined to use a RM song than I might otherwise be, just because of a couple lines in one song... so it really does go both ways. 


Daniel Read said:

As it happens, we are doing "Your Voice" and "Deliverer" - both excellent songs by Vicky Beeching - tomorrow in church.  But then, my opinions might be a bit different to others here.



Possibly another way to look at this would be to ask whether, being hit in the pocket, would make a song-writer who has already justified their life-style to themselves actually want to genuinely repent. To me, there's no connection between my finances and my relationship with God, and I would be very suspicious of anyone in a leadership position who effectively 'repented' of something in order to increase their earnings. But granted we're all different.

This makes me again wish for the days when people wrote songs and offered them to the community of Christ as an offering, rather than an income stream.



Beverly Jean Gonzalez said:

I think that one of the things that we may be overlooking is that the music of these artists have licensing fees. If we use their music in worship and someone goes out and purchases their songs, then we are, in a way, supporting their lifestyle choice of sin. And, if they don't suffer any losses (i.e. concert attendance, music royalties,etc.) then what is going to be an incentive for them to even WANT to repent. It may be construed to them that they can live any way that they want as long as they make good music.

Where's the 'Like' button when I need it Toni!

Point made, Toni. But, what comes to mind is how those in Covenant were always moved to godly sorrow and repented when the LORD dried up their resources. We are most, likely, to seek the Comforter when we are most uncomfortable.

We're so resource-rich, Beverly, that most of us need to slide a long way before discovering a bit of Godly sorrow if that's going to be the driver.

I'm not really trying to argue with you, and I really don't want it to come over like that. I'd read a little of the stuff around Vicky Beeching shortly after she came out, and the whole issue had been suppressed a long time because her recording contract had specifics in about lifestyle to maintain the market for her music. I'm sure that when she did go public, it was with an expectation that record/song sales would evaporate in the majority of the US evangelical market, though even in that sector there's a strong pro-gay movement that would have intentionally bought & used her material. There would - I imagine - be a far greater sense of being persecuted for her sexuality when/if income dried up than a sense of a call to repent.

ok

So at our rehearsal last night, one of our singers asked if we could do "Step By Step" by Rich Mullins.  So I'm working up a chord chart.  For the record, if somebody in our church asks for a song, I tend to try to make it work, even if I have reservations about the writer or even about the particular song.  We have another person in the band who tends to tire of certain songs long before I do... but I really do try to let the congregation (and the band members) tell me what we want.  I guess... to me, that matters more than whatever I might know personally about the writer of a particular song.

Now if they had asked for RM's "Awesome God," I would have to explain that we already have a song by that title (by VB!) in our repertoire and it would be too confusing to have another :-)  Besides which, that is the one song our pastor has told me he would squish if we were going to do it in worship (although he also had concerns when I said we were going to do "Walk on the Wild Side" for LGBT Sunday.

And, hey, just for fun some time, look up the story of "Come to the Water (For Those Tears I Died" writer Marsha Stevens.  I remember seeing "Children of the Day" at Knotts Berry Farm, early 70's...

Thanks for sharing Charles! Out of interest - why are you/your pastor not fans of "Awesome God" by Rich Mullins? (The VB 'Awesome God' is a great one btw!)

Because of the lines about "God wasn't kidding when he kicked 'em out of Eden" and (especially) the one about "the judgement and the wrath He poured out on Sodom."  Our church (like many of the east- and west-coast US Methodist Churches) leans toward the liberal on LGBT issues, and those two lines seem particularly judgmental.  Yeah, I know many here lean the other way, and even the official UMC stand is that we "agree to disagree."  But in general, this song tends to come across as very judgmental to some...

Phil Williams said:

Thanks for sharing Charles! Out of interest - why are you/your pastor not fans of "Awesome God" by Rich Mullins? (The VB 'Awesome God' is a great one btw!)

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