In Defense of "Compromising" Christian Musicians
The music of Johann Sebastian Bach is beautiful and inspiring, melodic and moving. A believer, Bach often wrote on his compositions, "To the honor of God."
Yet, despite his being a Christian, he mentions nowhere in any of his famous Brandenberg Concertos the name of Jesus. One could walk away from hearing a full concerto not knowing any more about God’s plan of salvation than before it began. Was Bach dishonoring God or compromising his beliefs by neglecting to mention God while at the same time delineating the four spiritual laws? Of course not.
How about this everyday example: When a Christian plumber fixes someone’s kitchen sink is he disavowing Jesus if he doesn’t etch a fish into the pipes? Is he denying his Lord if he leaves without giving an "opportunity" to follow Christ? Or is he expected to fix the plumbing and do it to the best of his ability?
Does a Christian carpenter blow an opportunity to witness if she doesn’t woodburn John 3:16 into a desk she is working on? Or is she just expected to make the finest desk she can, with the best materials as if she was doing it for the Lord?
Christians who can plumb or carve are, like musicians, artists in their own right. Yet they are not subject to the same scrutiny in their work by the church as Christian music artists are.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard statements like the following:
"Jars of Clay are losing their faith! They only mention Jesus’ name once on their last album! They must be compromising!"
"Amy Grant has sold out! There is nothing remotely approaching a praise song on her latest CD! But there is a song about a girl singing a love song to her boyfriend! What’s up with that?"
It is no wonder that some artists who are Christians disavow not their faith, but a Christian subculture which shackles them with unreasonable demands - demands Christians don’t even place on their own work.
What exactly is ungodly about creating music truthfully and honestly? What is compromising about a love song to a boyfriend or girlfriend or spouse? What is unspiritual about pouring out your heart by confessing doubts and fears? I think a read through Song of Solomon, the Psalms, or Job will show that all these themes have biblical precedent.
Are these artists necessarily compromising if they don’t mention God by name? No. Have they purposely left out direct references to God to sell more CDs? That we can't answer. That is an issue between God and the person or group involved. I don’t believe we are even allowed to speculate about the state of the musician's heart especially if we don’t know them
The down side of all this heavy judgment is that, tragically, by being pressured to appease a hypercritical Body perhaps some musicians are forcing themselves to dishonestly write songs which are more "spiritual." If so, we should be ashamed.
How about this: Let’s allow the Christian artist in whatever discipline to honor God in his or her work by being honest, truthful, sensitive, creative, and loving. Let’s allow Christian musicians to write about any subject as long as it presents the Truth, in love. Let’s allow the Holy Spirit to do the conviction and leave the condemnation completely out of it.
And let’s pray that the Christian artists do not cave into the forbidden pleasures the music industry is fully immersed in (yes, even the Christian music industry). Let’s pray that they really do not compromise in order to sell more CD’s or to become more popular. Let’s pray we act towards them as true brothers and sisters should, lifting them when they fall, supporting them as they stand.
Let’s pray that they, like Bach, write and compose to the honor of God.