I wrote this when I was having a struggle between what I viewed Christianity to be and what I saw being practiced around me. Still not sure where I stand on this, but life’s a journey, right?
As a disclaimer, I am going to put this out there first. Many people are going to be upset with what I’m writing. They are going to think that I am not a Christian anymore (which is NOT the case), and will disagree with many of my views. These are MY truths, and maybe not yours, but this is my page so I can say what I want
I don’t even know where to start. It’s crazy how, when you’re a kid, even though we’re all influenced by our environments, we grow up with little quirks, ideas, personal philosophies and things that we collectively call “our personality.” Things we do, things we say, the things we like and dislike, the things we feel passionately about and the things we could give two craps about. The things that hurt us and the things that make us strong( strangely enough, though, sometimes those two things are one in the same….but I digress)
Well, I have always had a different kind of personality. Anyways, as a “Christian”, I have never been a “religious” person. I always considered myself a “Christ follower”. That’s what I do. I try to live like Christ did in the Earth and I try to bring others to Christ, so that they can become Christ-followers too. I do not, however, subscribe to limitations and rules that some religious people try to place on others and on God. For instance, I do not believe that women shouldn’t wear open toed shoes in church. I don’t believe that women should not wear pants in church. I do not believe that men should not have earrings. I don’t think there is anything wrong with makeup on a woman, or tattoos and/or piercings on anyone, in general. I also don’t think there is anything inherently wrong with listening to “secular” music….whatever that is….but I’ll get to that later. There are so many things that the “church” tells people they can or cannot do. Much of it isn’t even based on biblical principles. And the “rules” that are, are taken from incorrect interpretation of scripture.
I have always had a non-conformist attitude, but not for the sake of being non-conformist, not to be disobedient, and not to be rebellious either. If people really researched, they would realize that Jesus was a non-conformist! I have always found it hilarious how people choose which parts of the bible they want to use and then throw the rest by the wayside until it serves some ulterior motive they might have. Now, don’t get me wrong, I do NOT have a chip on my shoulder about church people. I just think it’s about time we start being real with ourselves, each other, and God. I don’t like when people attempt to place limits on anyone, but I especially hate when people try to limit God.
Some people say that we should not listen to “secular” music, and we should only listen to “gospel”, or “non-secular” music…whatever that is. Some people even go a step further and say that we shouldn’t listen to gospel hip hop, gospel rock or gospel pop. Now, if God created all things, that includes all genres of music: rock, hip hop, punk, country, etc. I believe God can minister through whatever medium he chooses, and that’s bible. That being said, we must look deeper into what we, as christians, are REALLY saying. For instance, there are some “secular” artists that are Christian and Christ-followers, but they write songs about more than just God. They simply write about life, which includes love, loss, happiness, sadness, sin, redemption AND God. Similarly, there are “gospel” or “non-secular” artists out there that are just nasty to their core. They may be “singing” the right things, but their spirit is dirty. You tell me which one is more edifying to listen to. The Bible says that you’ll know a tree by the fruit it produces. So let the fruits be the proof, not the style of music an artist chooses to use.
With that being said, I also don’t take issue with a “gospel” artist doing a song with a “secular “artist. If our job is to bring others to Christ, what better way to get the message out? This is another soul-saving medium to be used. And we can also minister to that “secular” artist as we work with them, assuming that they don’t know Christ already. But let me also bring balance to what I’m saying. I am NOT saying that Fred Hammond should be on the remix of 50 Cent’s “Magic Stick”, but I AM saying that if Fred asked 50 to be a a song with him, or vice-versa, I don’t have a problem with that. To me, it’s all about the message. What message are you trying to get across?
Accountability is key, but people can’t be held accountable to things they don’t know, and the fact of the matter is, a lot of church people are busy telling people they’re going TO hell for the things they’re doing, and no-one is talking about God’s love and how to AVOID hell. People are being told what they’re doing wrong as opposed to how they can be saved. People in the world are so used to this fire and brimstone, bible-thumping approach, we’ve run them away. We’ve alienated the very people we are supposed to be helping! They don’t want to set foot in anyone’s church. But that’s fine too, becaue the bible says “Go ye therefore and teach all nations”. Working with “secular” artists is a fantastic way to “Go ye therefore” if you ask me.
Another thing we need to quit doing is “pigeon-holing” our “gospel” artists. I remember when Amy Grant did a “secular” album and people nearly died. She wasn’t cursing, wasn’t “fornicating”, she just did a “secular” album. I also remember when singles from BeBe and CeCe Winans’ album “Heaven” crossed over to mainstream radio and people freaked out. I also remember the flack Kirk Franklin got in general when he tried to change the game. People have a whole lot to say about P.O.D. and don’t even get me started on what people say about Tonex. But then again, the church has been doing that since forever. I remember my parents talking about how Andrae Crouch got a whole lot from people when he came out. And we can go further back then that. When Thomas A. Dorsey came out, church people talked about him, too.
I just don’t understand why we as christians continue to verbally assassinate people who aren’t doing anything but trying to fufill the Great Commission using the gifts and talents the Lord has given them. Maybe they aren’t doing it the way YOU would do it, but that’s because they ARE NOT YOU! Just because you like pepsi and someone else likes coke and yet another likes RC, doesn’t make the others wrong, it does makes everyone different. And if we’re all supposed to be unique in God’s eyes, that makes perfect sense.
It’s all about target market and market segmentation. Any marketing executive…shoot, any marketing STUDENT can tell you that. Just because someone doesn’t witness like you do, that doesn’t make them wrong. The CEO and project manager (God) has just given them a different target market the He gave you. I mean, those who have a problem with the musical medium that an artist uses to minister, consider this: Is someone who witnesses to another in Cantonese wrong, just because you, as an English speaker, don’t understand it? Just because their ministry doesn’t sound like anything you’ve ever heard does that make them wrong? No, that person is just using the language that his/her subject can relate to. It’s the same concept with gospel rap, go-go(that’s a dc thing), house, crunk, punk, hip-hop, pop, and the like. Just becaue you don’t understand it, it doesn’t make it wrong. It’s just not for you. Same message, different packaging.