MIXING THE SACRED AND SEXY
"You dont need the devil to teach you music. People said when I came to the Lord, "Now you can use all this talent and what you've learned over the years for the Lord". Listen, it took me six years to unlearn what I learned from the world!" - Carman in concert, January 25, 1987, Decatur, GA
One of the greatest elements lacking with the so-called contemporary Christian music is an incredible void of understanding of the Holiness of God and the responsibility of singers and musicians to communicate that.
The words of Ezekiel 44:23 cry out for recognition.
"And they shall teach my people the difference between the holy and profane, and cause them to discern between the unclean and the clean."
Instead of God being exalted or some facet of Christs glorious character and redemption being praised, we are often treated to a sensual, secular glorification of the flesh which looks, sounds, and appears as nothing more than an instrument of Hollywood.
Since 1975, a Christian Artists Music Seminar has been held during the summer at Estes Park, Colorado. NEWSWEEK magazine (August 19, 1985) took note of the 1985 gathering.
""...At the Estes park concert, Britians Sheila Walsh - who has her own BBC television show - artfully mixed the sacred and sexy. Emerging from clouds of machine made smoke on a darkened stage - at these concerts, there are no drafts of marijuana fumes - Walsh held her arms out to form a shadowy crucifix. But when the beat quickened, bright lights suddenly revealed a strutting Walsh in shiny white spandex pants, an oversize white shirt, white lace gloves, and glittered hair. Her message was arresting too: songs of troubled marriages and fear of nuclear war.""
Can you tell my why so-called Christian entertainers are even mixing what a secular magazine like NEWSWEEK calls the "sacred and sexy"? What does this kind of sensuality have to do with the Gospel of Jesus Christ?
What about the Christian virtues of righteousness, purity, and holiness? Are those biblical traits out of style in the 1980's?
I once heard A.N. TROTTER say, "The reason people do such things is that they do not understand the holiness of God."
yet this brand of sensuality runs the length and breadth of religious rock. It is a disgrace in the eyes of God.
AMY GRANT AND ROLLING STONE
Amy Grants controversial June 1985 interview in Rolling Stone magazine produced a flood of criticism from fans, ministers, and Christian bookstore owners to her management company and her record company.
Rolling Stone reporter Michael Goldberg wrote:
""Grants also pragmatic about her career. Regarding her album covers and publicity photos, which portray her as a sexy, attractive young woman, the Christian pop star says, "Im trying to look sexy to sell a record. But what is sexy? To me its never been taking my shirt off or sticking my tongue out. I feel that a Christian young woman in the eighties is very sexual.""
Word Records spokesman Scott Pelking said the record company had received numerous complaints about Ms Grants "harsh" language quoted in the interview, especially her comments about sex.
The Rolling Stone article also raised eyebrows over a reference to Amy Grant sunbathing in the nude, as well as comments, some sexually explicit, about a Prince concert she attended.
The Rolling Stone story gave the following quote:
"...When he [Prince] started humping the state, I got a little embarrassed," says the twenty-four-year-old Grant, sitting in the bright sunlight near the swimming pool at her Universal City hotel. "I quit looking." "When he thrust his crotch up into the florescent shower" she continues in her souther drawl, " I thought if someone wanst to do this at home, fine. If I want to do this at home, fine. I dont want to watch Prince doing it. I didnt get off watching him create the illusion of masturbating.""
The Word Records spokesman said the complaints about her language were being answered with, "Thats the way she is. Shes very frank."
Her manager, brother-in-law Dan Harrell was quoted as saying, "Amy is as committed as ever to minster to kids who dont know Jesus". Adding "If Gods judgement is going to fall on us for that, let it fall"
The article, Harrel clainmed is "inflammatory," but the most distressing part for Amy is to see a lack of love and understanding from Christians.
Isnt it ironic, if you ever question someone's published remarks or somehow challenge their point of view, you're always accused of "lacking love"
On the contrary, I think it IS an act of love to tell people there will be no mixing the sacred and sexy in heaven. It is wrong! It has no basis in Christianity. God is not its author.
The Apostle Paul declared in Galations 4:16:
"Am I therefore become your enemy, because I tell you the truth?"
Several days after the Rolling Stone article was printed, Amy Grants 1985 tour was underway and came to Baton Rouge. My son, Donnie, who had been acquainted previously with Amy's husband, Gary Chapman, went to the concert with Glen Berteau, youth pastor of Family Worship Center.
Knowing how the secular news media can twist and distort stories on Christians, Donnie was sympathetic about Amy Grants treatment at the hands of a magazine know for its articles on counterculture personalities and rock music stars.
Donnei knew his own father had been the victim of bad press. Thus, he decided to ask Gary Chapman about the story.
"What about the Rolling Stone article?" Donnie questioned, after he and Glen went backstage to meet Chapman. "I know how the news media can lie about you. Im sure it must have misquoted and misrepresented AMy."
"It was a big laugh," Chapman said smiling, "but Amy needed a little controversy to help her career"
Needless to say, Donnie was shocked by Chapmans comments. Yet in some ten minutes of conversation, he never once denied any remark made in the Rolling Stone interview, nor did he ever suggest she was misquoted. It seemed like a big joke more than anything else, according to Donnie.
Of course, Chapman has a habit of shocking people. When he and Amy Grant appeared on the ABC-TV program, "Good Morning America" he was asked by hostess Joan Lunden, "What is married life with Amy really like?"
According to CHRISTIAN CONTEMPORARY MAGAZINE, "the comical Chapman confessed, 'its a living hell.'"
Donnie characterized the concert as a two-hour, high energy, loud rock and roll show with kids dancing in the aisles. Never once was any affirmation about the Lord Jesus ever made. No testimony was ever given; no admonishment to praise the Lord offered.
"The closest the condert got anything to spiritual," Donnie said later, "was Amy took about ten minutes and talked about how she's doing new things and needs our prayers."
But he also recalled during one of her heavy-rocking, strutting songs, her guitar player "stalked" her across the stage as she sang. The song closed with them back-to-back, bodies touching in movement. A lot of church kids were in attendance at the concert - some of which walked out confused at the sensual presentation they had just witnessed.
The shows opening act was singer Philip Bailey, formerly with the pop/jazz group "Earth, Wind, and Fire." Bailey who professes to be born again, has recorded both Christian and secular albums recently.
About a month before the Baton Rouge concert, Bailey had the nations number one song, "Easy Lover," written for him and co-sung with rock star Phil Collins. The song has been accused of promoting promiscuity. It was sung at the Baton Rouge concert promoted as a Christian event and supported by a number of churches.
NO STRANGER TO FRANK COMMENTS
Amy Grant is no stranger to making frank comments or receiving criticism for her sensual, sometimges confusling appearance. For instance, at the Grammy Awards in 1985, she wore a hand-painted, leopard spot dinner jacket and was barefooted.
However, the book, THE HEART OF ROCK AND ROLL, included a story about her frank comments at a Christian music festival:
""It was summer of 1980 and thousands of people, mostly teenagers, were sitting in the Florida sun listening to Amy Grant. The crowd at the Christian music festival was dressed for a day of music and sun -with most people wearing some version of shorts and summer tops. Somehow the combination of heat, halter tops, and spiritual intimacy aroused the young people, setting a mood that could best be described as "sexually charged." Then the 19 year old Miss Grant could feel the mood on stage and instead of ignoring it, dismissing it, or sticking to her "act", she confronted the problem head on: "Im not married and Im dying to have sex too", she said. "Sometimes I think if the line starts here let me be the first. But were making a commitment here.""
Christians arent the only ones who seem concerned about images - and words - that the young singer has expressed.
Richard Harrington of the Washington Post said that Grant "is projecting a confusing sexy image for an avowedly spiritual singer," while the NEW YORK TIMES' John Rockwell wrote about Grants "deliberately alluring, even sexy publicity photos, hand on thigh and jeans rolled up to mid-calf."
"...when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened" (Rom. 1:21).
Its a shame when the secular world recognizes what we, as Christians, are doing is wrong. Its obvious to them. Why isnt it obvious to us?
Why does the world somehow recognize that a church standard has been broken?
For centuries the church has set the standard for decency and morality. The world recognizes that standard because the church established it. Now the secular reporters watch that standard being broken by those who claim to be Christian - and even the world knows its against the accepted norm.
James Chute in the MILWAUKEE JOURNAL made similar observations in his August 17, 1986 Critics Comment:
""Lyrics aside, Grant uses all the commercial weapons available, including sex, to promote her music.Maybe her come-hither look on the album cover really suggests that she wants to have you over to talk about Jesus, but who is to know until you put the record on the turntable and actually listen to the lyrics?
Even Grants pastor, Don Finto of the Belmont Church in Nashville admits, "Sometimes Amy is not always wise in the way she says things..."
But Amy Grant isnt the only contemporary Christian singer who draws attention from teh sexual image she projects; she's just the most visible.
USA TODAY, in a story headlined "Spreading a Rock and Roll Gospel," noted the following comments aobut a young singer from California:
""An energetic Leslie Phillip wildly on stage, shaking her long blond hair, silver chains, and occasionally revealing her tummy.""
Ironcially, Ms. Phillips said in a Contemporary Christian Magazine interview, January 1986, "...sexuality's a part of us all, but Im not trying in any way to flaunt that in concert."
Thats odd because reviewers keep writing about her in this manner "...a good performer and she was a sexy girl on stage"
A St, Petersburg newspaper critic described her concer performance saying: "She sings like Pat Benetar, dances like Sheila E., and gives the gospel like Amy Grant." Pat Benetar and Sheila E. are both well-known women singers whos brand of music is rock and roll. Sheila E has been an opening act for Prince.
STYLE AND APPEARANCE
STYLE AND APPEARANCE
The whole issue of Christian singers and musicians - either male or female - exuding sexuality in either their public remarks, recordings, or performances is antithetical to the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. To be frank, it is blasphemous.
It further raises the question: Is the world leading us or are we leading the world? In fact, why are Christians even borrowing the ways of the world?
I ponder that question exctensively when I consider the appearance of a heavy metal, religious rock group like Stryper. Heres how TIME magazine described them:
""If you had to guess their name, you might think of the Devil's Disciples or the Beelzebubs. Or perhaps the Killer Bees, which is what the four young men on stage look like in their tight leather-and-spandex costumes crisscrossed with garish black and yellow stripes. Piles of makeup, spikey hair, and enough dangling chains to tie up half the elephants in Africa complete the picture of teh up-to-date heavy metal rock group. Even the music, the sound of a swarm of angry insects electronically amplified several thousand times, fits the image""
Time observed that these performers are "indistinguishable - except for their lyrics - from their secular counterparts."
Yet in looking at these performers songs, NEWSWEEK magazine, in an article titled, "The New Christian Minstrels," said:
""When these performers sing about love, the lyrics are usually romanitc and sometimes ambiguous. In Gratns pop song called "Open Arms", for example, she croons "Your love has taken hold and I cant fight it" keeping it unclear whether or not the lover is Jesus.""
Frankly, I dont know what subject some of these performers are singing about. Its cerrtainly not the Gospel. Most of the lyrics are nonsensical.
NEWSWEEKS story on "The New Christian Minstrels" also contained a description of singer Tim Miners stage performance:
""His hair is gelled up in a new-wave pompadour. A tiny silver cross dangles from one earlobe. In his gray leather jeans, tight white "muscle shirt", and oversize cotton jacket, singer Tim Miner looks every inch the rebellious rocker""
Thats precisely one of the issues in this controversy - born-again, oftimes Spirit-baptized young people who want to look like the rebels of this world.
The Newsweek article further observes:
""He grabs the microphone with one hand and lifts a clenched fist. "Fight on!" he shouts to an audience of 3,000 evangelical Christians beyond the colored floodlights. "Shake it in the devils face and say 'fight on!'"""
I am absolutely convinced that many of religious rockers really dont know what they are saying. Any time the so-called sacred and sexy have been mixed, that performer has been deceived by Satan. Its that simple.
But even worse. You shake your fist in the devils face all you want, but unless you've go Jesus reigning in your life, you'll likely come back with no hand if you're dealing with the real enemy.
Spiritual warfare isnt waged against the devil by shouting cutesy little slogans and shaking your fist. Its done through prayer, fasting, and acting upon Gods Word alone. But thats the biblical approach and few of the religious rockers seem interested in that means.
A CATHOLIC MAGAZINE ON ROCK
In a Catholic magazine, LIGUORIAN, I found the following sympathetic aricle, "Tuning in to Christian Rock." The article stated in part:
""The truth is, the rock sound itself makes many people feel alive and in tune with the exciting drama God is designing here on planet earth. Whatever produces that feeling is a gift, whether its a delicious pizza, a thrilling water slide, a growling and screaming amplifier... If the rock sound makes you feel alive, and if you're tuned in to faith, you'll connect that feeling with God - though probably not right away. Thats okay. God doesnt expect us to think of Him directly every moment we are enjoying one of his gifts. Christian rock - there is such a thing. I dont mean standard "church music" played just a little faster with more of a beat. I mean ROCK - all types, from soft to heavy, metal, new wave, and punk... Christian rock finds a home in many places. You can listen to it just as you listen to other rock - with a nice difference...Christian rock also makes good background sound for open time at the parish youth room...God gave the rock sound to you - along with every other good thing...""
Believe me, God did not give the rock sound to anybody. As David Wilkerson has so aptly stated: "Rock music was born in the womb of darkness and rebellion".
"Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen" (Rom. 1:25).
The introduction to the book, THE HEART OF ROCK AND ROLL, notes that "...They feel God has told them that rock must roll - back into the womb of hell where it was allegedly born."
Theres not one question in my mind where rock was born, nor what it has done to the lives of young people who have embraced its beat and its life-style. It has ultimately destroyed them.
THE WORLDS INFLUENCE
It is clear - beyond belief - that the worlds corrupting influence has taken over the field of contemporary Christian music. The devils music - with the accompanying beat and punk rock styles - is now being performed throughout the country. At times, the performances are even in main street churches with the nodding approval of gullible pastors.
Many of the performers are carbon copies of the world - dressed in black leather and nail-studded belts and bracelets, chains, metal collars, punk hair-dos, and painted faces.
"Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God" (2 Cor 7:1).
Yet all of these performers claim to be ambassadors for Jesus. Tragically, few are.