There’s Danger in Christian Music Artists Misrepresenting Jesus
Christian parents have grappled with how to help their kids navigate popular culture for generations. By the time I was growing up in the 1980s, the emergence of a parallel music world that came to be called CCM, or, contemporary Christian music, made that job a bit easier.
As a young fan of heavy metal, for instance, I discovered faith-based alternatives to the metal bands of the day that offered a similar sound and a more redemptive message.
By the early 1990s, Christian music had begun to move away from being well-crafted soundalikes to forging a more aesthetically independent identity. I still remember hearing Jars of Clay’s “Flood” on the local modern rock channel and feeling exhilarated that Christian acts weren’t merely imitating the sounds of the day, but crafting something new, different and sonically excellent.
Grounded in Biblical Orthodoxy
One hallmark of the genre, though, was that CCM artists and the songs they created faithfully cohered to a biblically orthodox worldview. Sure, there were examples to the contrary here and there. But generally speaking, if we were talking about CCM, we could make some assumptions about what to expect theologically.
But just as once-trusted mainstream entertainment outlets have increasingly embraced social activism and politically progressive messaging — Disney, of course, comes to mind — so we’re now seeing a parallel phenomenon under the broad umbrella of CCM.
This week, former worship leader Matthew Blake briefly hit the top of iTunes’ Christian singles chart and album charts in his drag alter ego, Flamy Grant. The single features Derek Webb (formerly of the band Caedmon’s Call), who has in recent years become an outspoken ally of the LGBT movement. (Webb’s most recent solo work includes the song “Boys Will Be Girls.” In the song’s video, Flamy Grant gives Webb a drag makeover.)
Affirmation of Sexual Perversion Now Overtly Affecting “Christian” Music
The conversation — or, at times, something closer to a social media shouting match — revolves around LGBT-sympathetic artists who want to proclaim affirmation on one side and those defending a traditional understanding of biblical sexuality on the other.
As with so many other forms of entertainment these days, CCM is a realm that requires wisdom and discernment with regard to the messages and worldviews being communicated. Parents can’t simply assume that a CCM artist will conform to their own understanding of Scripture.
In his song “Boys Will Be Girls,” Webb sings, “I heard Jesus loved and spent his life with those who/Were abandoned by proud and fearful men/So if a church won’t celebrate and love you/They’re believing lies that can’t save you or them/Cause you’re so beautiful by any name.”
Those lyrics might superficially sound compassionate. But when we look closely at what Jesus called people to do when He invited them to follow Him, we see truly radical compassion paired with an equally radical call to repentance from our self-absorption.
The Gospel is Bigger Than Misguided Compassion
In Matthew 9:36, we read this description of Jesus: “When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.” Jesus came “to seek and save the lost” (Luke 19:10). He did, in fact, love those who “were abandoned by proud and fearful men,” as Webb sings.
But Jesus did not abandon them to their sin in the name of affirmation and love, nor did He celebrate it. Instead, He called those who would follow Him to relinquish their worldly ways (“Unless you repent, you will all likewise perish,” Luke 13:5), to renounce their sin (“Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more,” John 8:11) and to live a life of sacrificial service, taking up our cross just as He did for us: “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it” (Matthew 16:24-25).
That Gospel is so much bigger — and so much more abundant — than the false, seemingly compassionate gospel of sexual inclusivity.
After serving as an associate editor at NavPress’ Discipleship Journal and consulting editor for Current Thoughts and Trends, Adam R. Holz now oversees the editing and publishing of Plugged In’s reviews as the site’s director. He and his wife, Jennifer, have three children. In their free time, the Holzes enjoy playing games, a variety of musical instruments, swimming and … watching movies.