Great Debaters

How many times have you been in a debate with a friend or a family member? Have you ever had a debate with complete stranger? Were you part of an organized debate team? I like the art of concentrated conversation known as debate.

I debate with my best friend. We do this often. We like to challenge each others’ ideals to make ourselves better. Most times we agree on the overall message the question(s) bare and oppose each other to stretch our minds toward ideas different from our own. The most recent topic was on the validity of the Christ-centeredness of the lyrics of any artist that isn’t speaking openly about the love of God and using their platform for His glorification. For clarification, question posed was: do you believe it’s wrong for a secular artist to use their art or claim their artwork is for the glorification of God?

Of course we had this discussion while watching the Mr. and Mrs. Carter “On the Run” tour. As Beyoncé and Jay-Z went through a catalog of verses and flows, we walked down the list of reasons why God could or could not be the center of their artistic inspiration. We also talked about why their careers could or couldn’t be called a ministry respectively.

To be an artist is to draw a map of your mind for the rest of world. It will not consist of straight lines or perfect circles or brilliant colors. Art is freedom. Inspiration is the catalyst and the goal. Art is supposed to change lives. Art is faith expressed, exercised, and shared. We shouldn’t deny anyone the power of their expression faith.

I took the argument that anyone can use the secular music vehicle to worship Christ and even bring others to Christ. As inconspicuous as it would be, the possibility of it is not far fetched. My bestie took the opposite stance. Adamantly. Her view point was that the art is not Christ centered, Christ focused, or Christ based if He is not openly exalted in it.

The love of Christ covers a multitude of sin. I don’t believe that it’s a detriment to use a crucifix on stage if you’re a pop artist not using the name of Christ in any of it’s forms. Nor is it spiritual infidelity to disguise such things in your lyrics or in the stage setting. The children of God are not fools or any less cunning than nonbelievers, unfortunately we do make excuses why someone of the faith shouldn’t be as bold as peoples who aren’t. Christians like to keep Christ and the church in a precocious little box. Bestie and I agree and disagree with certain points here.

There are Gospel artist and Christian groups that try to break social political norms in the church with their art. Kirk Franklin, Trip-Lee, Chrisette Michele, Hillsong United and MaryMary are a few artists that follow the unwritten guidelines of Christian artistry, yet they push the envelope with their delivery.

There aren’t a significant amount of people that would say Beyoncé’s music is worship music or that Jay-Z’s fame is a platform for his Christian ministry. That doesn’t mean it isn’t true on any level. There’s fact and there’s opinion. However, no one would honestly believe that to be true, unless one of them came to the public with an announcement stating this is the case. Even then, the statement would be challenged because of the work they and the image it portrays. Same thing with Britney spears, Gwen Stephani and countless other celebrities.

It’s sort of like God can’t be involved if the fame gets to a certain point. I don’t see this as a fact, nevertheless it’s a mindset that exist. Frankly, it’s sad to see. No one should be limited in their career or passion because of their belief. I think this should especially be true in a faith based on the redemptive power of love, and the desire to save others at the possible cost of one’s own life.

On the air of the opposed I see that there aren’t many examples of artists in a secular arena showing themselves to be ministers in disguise, saving souls one piece at a times. There are however examples of the contrary. These names I cannot list. It is hard to say what is a stumbling block for the flock and what is honestly a mistake made in human error. We all sin and fall short of the glory of the Father. Dark deeds have been executed by artists in the church, and the limelight has been shined on them.

Compassionate as the Christian people are, we can be a criminalizing bunch of hypocrites. It’s atrocious the amount of praise we can give to someone for their accomplishments and good works, then lose sight of those very things because they have a past or a present struggle with sin. How selfish of us. Essentially, Christians tell each other, other people, and themselves, “All sin is bad, except the ones I commit,” and “No one is exempt from the wrath of God, so he’s going to forgive me and punish you.” This is really not the case.

I feel bad typing these statements for the sake of word count. It is the way I see it. I don’t want to practice that behavior. I know that I’m not perfect, so I won’t condemn anyone else. I’m guilty of judgmental thinking, and I would go as far as to say it is a survival instinct. If a piece of the bread is spoiled all the bread is spoiled. Thinking negatively about any particular group without the mention or hinting of a solution is counter productive and flat out insulting.

Open discussions about topics that aren’t comfortable is an important part of communication; to grow intimately with our friends and family, cooperatively with coworkers and roommates, intellectually with classmates and strangers, or spiritually with our congregation or peers. We need to talk.

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