I recently returned from a trip to Nashville. It has been over three years since I last had been there on business and it was good to be back. While staying at the Aloft hotel in Brentwood, my buddy and I had the chance to meet a few of the guys in the mainstream band CAVO. The group was in town to finish up some extra tracks for their upcoming album and one night we were hanging out in the hotel atrium talking the “music biz” with lead vocalist Casey Walker and lead guitarist Chris Hobbs.
After I had revealed my 15 year involvement in CCM radio Casey mentioned that he had a question that was bothering him and he wondered if I might be able to help. He lowered his head and was silent for a few moments. I asked what was wrong and he stated that he was trying to think of a kind way to frame his question. I tried to ease his mind and I urged him on.”lay it out there…I can handle it.”
That seemed to help and so he launched into his question. ” We have toured with some Christian bands…” (I will leave their names out as they are very, very well-known.) ” …and I wondered what was up with some of them, because they drink and party harder than some of the rest of us!” And there it was. I hate to admit it, but deep down I had a sneaking suspicion about what his question would be. Especially since he had mentioned some of the “Christian” bands they had performed with. I let out a deep sigh, and before I spoke I shot a bullet prayer asking for the Spirit’s help in answering his question.
As I answered him, I tried to paint a clear picture of the difference between a band made up of professing Christians and a “Christian band.” “The first group tries to create art that is informed by their faith, but can still be enjoyed by people who are not necessarily believers.” I explained. ” The second group feels called to share their faith openly and their art is directed to the Church at large. It is ment to encourage and speak to other believers.” I know that may have been a pretty simplistic response, but I was trying to make sense of a debate that has raged since the days of Larry Norman and the Jesus Movement that birthed what we now know as CCM.
Casey seemed to understand what I was saying and so I continued on.” I can’t tell you that it’s ok for the bands you’re talking about to party the way they do, but what I can say is this. Christians aren’t better than anyone else, we just realize that we are broken, sinful people and that we need a saviour. We are all just trying to work out our belief. We’re all screwed up, we’re all a mess.” He nodded as if he understood and we talked a little about His wife’s religious background until some one cracked wise and we moved on to another line of conversation.
Obviously his question hit home with me and I have turned it over in my head numerous times since returning home. Did I make any sense? Was what I said helpful? I am still struggling with this conversation. “Self righteous Bill” wants to confront the bands that we talked about, but what could I say really? The consumption of alcohol is by no means a settled issue in the Church. Great teachers and wiser men than I disagree on this issue, each side backing up their positions with scripture. I also have my own opinion on this hot button topic. But how should we deal with it in terms of Christian bands in the mainstream?
Here is my dilemma, I understand if you don’t want to be a “Christian band” and I believe that the Christian faith gives you the freedom to make that choice. But just because you are not a “Christian band” doesn’t mean that you don’t have a responsibility to carry yourself in a different manner as a confessed believer. We will all be held accountable for our witness to the world, regardless of our particular band lable. Shouldn’t that give some pause to the partiers?
Some of you may argue that it’s your Christian liberty to drink, and you may have a case for that. But you have no justification for over indulgence. Excess of any kind, including the overlooked sin of gluttony, is unacceptable behavior for a true follower of Christ. I’m just asking folks to think about it. Consider the massive platform you have as a believer making music in the mainstream. Consider the responsibility you have to bear witness to the name of Jesus in word and deed. Now before you get defensive and start spouting verses about “meat sacrificed to idols” remember the caveat to that scripture passage…
“You say, “I am allowed to do anything”–but not everything is good for you. You say, “I am allowed to do anything”–but not everything is beneficial.” ( I Corinthians 10:23 )
…So before you “fight for yo right, to party…” ask yourself this question. “Is my freedom more important than the opportunity to lead someone to a personal and saving faith in Jesus Christ?” I’m just sayin’.
I know this conversation has been had over and over again, but it hasn’t been resolved. What can we do? I would love to hear your thoughts on this especially from some of you who have been, or are still part of “Christian Music.”