This past week has been one of the craziest weeks in CCM (that’s Contemporary Christian Music–a GINORMOUS industry in the universe of evangelicalism) in a long time.
It all started when Gungor, a Dove Award (not to be confused with the Dove Bar or Dove Soap, this is CCM’s version of the Grammys) winning group comprised of Michael and Lisa Gungor, a married couple, came out as not being completely on board with a literal reading of the early chapters of Genesis. In a blog post on their website entitled “What Do We Believe?”, they related how hard it is to go on believing certain things when your life experience runs contrary to what you profess to believe. In the midst of this came the following big money quote:
I have no more ability to believe, for example, that the first people on earth were a couple named Adam and Eve that lived 6,000 years ago. I have no ability to believe that there was a flood that covered all the highest mountains of the world only 4,000 years ago and that all of the animal species that exist today are here because they were carried on an ark and then somehow walked or flew all around the world from a mountain in the middle east after the water dried up. I have no more ability to believe these things than I do to believe in Santa Clause or to not believe in gravity. But I have a choice on what to do with these unbeliefs. I could either throw out those stories as lies, or I could try to find some value in them as stories. But this is what happens…
If you try to find some value in them as stories, there will be some people that say that you aren’t a Christian anymore because you don’t believe the Bible is true or “authoritative”. Even if you try to argue that you think there is a truth to the stories, just not in an historical sense; that doesn’t matter. To some people, you denying the “truth” of a 6,000 year old earth with naked people in a garden eating an apple being responsible for the death of dinosaurs is the same thing as you nailing Jesus to the cross. You become part of ‘them’. The deniers of God’s Word.
Some churches have cancelled concerts because of this. And some bloggers of note, such as Jeff Koch of World Magazine, have banished Gungor from the realm of Christian orthodoxy. Some priceless quotes from Koch: “…their latest work reveals a band transcending not just musical genres but religious ones—wandering away from a biblically defined Christianity to a land twixt and tween.” “Gungor is clearly still animated and inspired by the person of Jesus. But it was Jesus who upheld the authority of Scripture and whose recipe for divine connection was fairly simple: “Our Father, who is in Heaven, hallowed be your name …” “
This reminds me of back in summer 2003 when another Christian alternative-ish band, Evanescence, was dominating the pop charts. In the midst of this, they very publicly dissociated themselves from the world of CCM, and immediately had all of evangelicalism questioning everything up to their very salvation.
But all of this was eclipsed in just a few short days by an even more sensational story: Vicky Beeching came out as a lesbian.
That exploding sound you hear in the background is perfectly normal around here whenever a big-time CCM artist comes out.
Beeching, who hails from Kent, England, is an internationally prominent worship singer/songwriter. She is the author of several songs that your church has probably sung frequently over the past several years, including “Glory to God Forever”, which has placed pretty high among CCLI’s top 100 songs. Beeching left the world of CCM worship a few years back, moved back to London, and is now a religious news commentator with the BBC and other media outlets.
In an interview with UK newspaper The Independent that went live last Wednesday, Beeching came out publicly as a lesbian. Along the way, she related her struggles growing up with same-sex urges in the hothouse environment of a conservative Christianity that is fixated upon homosexuality as sin. The story takes a somewhat tragic turn in that a few years ago she battled a severe autoimmune disease that was triggered by stress. She points to the burden of living with the secret of her sexuality as the stress that brought this on.
Beeching “still considers herself an evangelical,” writes veteran British religion reporter Ruth Gledhill after interviewing the singer, “although she no longer attends charismatic evangelical services and now prefers the more traditional services of London’s main cathedrals.”
“I am not angry with the Church, even though it has been very difficult,” she told Gledhill. “The Church is still my family. Family do not always agree or see eye to eye. But family stick together, and I am committed to being part of the Church, working for change.”
Get used to it, people: A certain percentage of the population is gay. We can argue all day long about whether this is by nature or whether they choose to be this way, but at the end of the day it is what it is and we need to just deal with it. Some of these people are in our churches. And some of these people are prominent Christian musicians. Remember all the angst, hand-wringing, teeth-gnashing, and stone-casting a few years back when Jennifer Knapp came out? That needs to stop. It’s a reality we don’t want to accept, but at the end of the day it is what it is and we need to just deal with it.
Evangelicalism’s response to homosexuality has been less than stellar, to say the least. I wrote about this a couple of months back when the World Vision fiasco was going down. Though homosexuality is strongly condemned in Scripture, the attention it gets from evangelicals is out of all possible proportion to the attention it gets in Scripture.
It is far too easy, when feeling the rage that we are prone to feel at Gungor’s alleged abandonment of Biblical authority or Vicky Beeching’s coming out, to imagine that we are outraged at the same things that God is outraged at. If we go down that road then in all probability we are deluding ourselves, because in reality we are probably not even close.