Thinking Out Loud

June 23, 2015

When Christian Authors and Artists Lives Get Messy, Should Retailers Pull Their Product?

Filed under: Christianity — Tags: , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 5:58 am

no longer availableAs someone who has spent time leading worship in several different churches, I still get excited when I hear a new song. If the song really captures me — as one did recently — I’ll tell everyone I meet about it.

About a month ago I found such a song. It was a beautiful worship song that also contained teaching and exhortation — the best of all possible worlds worlds — and reminded me of some classic Andrae Crouch, or at least what he might write in 2015.

And then everything crashed. I was telling a group of people about the song and they proceeded to tell me a whole load of details about the artist, an affair, a marriage breakup and more. Hours later I went online only to discover everything they said was true, not that I should have doubted.

While I should have grieved over the artist’s sin (and my own), at that point my thoughts were entirely selfish. “Darn;” I thought; “I really liked that song.”

Two weeks later I decided to play the song on YouTube one more time. Still resonates. Then my wife and I had a discussion about whether or not the composition is in any way invalidated by the fact that the writer, like all of us, is flawed.

On Sunday night the discussion came up again in reference to an author. (See yesterday’s blog post.) Should Christian bookstores and online vendors simply pull his product off the shelves? If they do so, should this be permanent or just for a season? Is the truth contained in those books in any way invalidated by the author’s moral failure, or does the transgression disqualify it somehow?

Back in the day, Christian booksellers went through this when Amy Grant and Sandi Patti each were divorced. When Jennifer Knapp and Ray Boltz came out as gay. More recently, when Mark Driscoll admitted he plagiarized large sections of his books.

Of course, sometimes, the truth just isn’t there. The boy in The Boy Who Came Back From Heaven now admits he was never there in the first place. That’s a different type of situation. But last time I checked, those classic Amy and Sandi albums are back on the shelves, and this time around, some stores didn’t bother pulling Driscoll product at all.

I really like the song with which I began this discussion. I don’t wanna go all Charismatic on you and say it’s anointed, but it’s certainly special, at least to me. Does it not remain valid despite all the back-story? Didn’t God use a donkey once?


  1. I also posted this at another website, where it brought this comment:

    Hmmm… plenty of food for thought there. Makes me think of recent scandals here in the UK outside the church: Jimmy Saville and Rolf Harris, for instance. Does the evil they did mean that the good they did no longer counts? Should Rolf Harris’s pictures all be trashed? Do we have to throw everything out once sin is exposed?

    Back to the Bible: once upon a time, God did just that, we’re told, in the account of Noah’s flood. But then, apparently, God realised that maybe that wasn’t such a good idea and promised he’d never do it again. But then we come to Ezekiel 18.23-24:

    Have I any pleasure in the death of the wicked, says the Lord God, and not rather that they should turn from their ways and live? But when the righteous turn away from their righteousness and commit iniquity and do the same abominable things that the wicked do, shall they live? None of the righteous deeds that they have done shall be remembered; for the treachery of which they are guilty and the sin they have committed, they shall die.

    When push comes to shove, perhaps that’s our answer: none of the righteous deeds that they have done shall be remembered… unless, of course, they repent…

    … and perhaps we should change that ‘they’ to ‘we’ as a reminder to ourselves…

    ~Phil Groom, UK

    Comment by paulthinkingoutloud — June 23, 2015 @ 7:53 am

  2. I remember when the singer from Whiteheart, Scott Douglas was arrested and sentenced for Child crimes. Man. Imlovee the songs he sang but never could listen to them again….

    But then again the bible was penned by flawed men. And I still read that.

    Comment by davidrupert — June 23, 2015 @ 1:17 pm

  3. Most of what is published is celebrity junk anyway.I recommend to most of my friends is to put a published work to the time test. If it’s on clearance sale within a few months of being published its junk.If the book has been in continuous publication for 25..50 or 100 years its most likely worth your time.
    P.S I’ve been a believer for 33 years.. Learned this the hard way.

    Comment by Brian — June 23, 2015 @ 2:34 pm

  4. […] Paul Wilkinson found a great song, but… […]

    Pingback by The Creator And The Creation | Worship Links — June 23, 2015 @ 5:32 pm

  5. A different but related scenario….In the past two years, we have had to let two worship team members know that they could no longer play or sing on the platform or be in positions of leadership in our church because their lives were not reflecting Biblical standards. One musician, who also led youth, was a photographer who wandered into soft porn as he was building his portfolio and he refused loving correction. He left the church when he was no longer able to play drums. Another young woman with a beautiful voice decided to move in with her boyfriend and refused wise biblical counsel. She left the church when she could no longer sing on the worship service or teach in Sunday School. They were both gifted and no doubt made our worship team sound great, but their lifestyle put a wall of sin between them and God and they lost the blessing that could have flowed from them. I feel the same way about the scenarios presented in your article and the comments. I cannot look for advise or a deeper worship experience from someone who has allowed sin to affect their relationship with God. I would rather seek counsel from the illiterate but passionate inner city pastor whose heart is burning with desire for more and more of Christ’s power in his life!

    Comment by yokedwithhim — June 23, 2015 @ 11:25 pm

  6. a discussion my husband & have; a very close family member was a church planter, bible school starter in s.america, wrote 3books, at the end of his life he crashed & alot of stuff from his childhood came out. without going into detail he began doing the worst things possible behind closed doors. does this discredit his work…how can u discredit a changed life? or a church that was started. God uses all things for His good. man can always fail, and crash but it doesnt mean they take their work, done for His glory, with them. lives were changed because of this man, how can that be discredited? in the same way, songs & books, if they give glory to God, the glory is Gods, not the man who wrote it, so it shouldnt be discredited. Moses wrote some of the greatest writings but failed at the end & didnt reach the promised land, was his work discredited?

    Comment by AGraceFilledJourney — June 24, 2015 @ 3:22 am

  7. David sinned but we do not discount the Psalms that he wrote during his time of sin with Bathsheba, also there is another time he sinned by numbering the nation of Israel. People are not perfect but the Holy Spirit that inspires is perfect so you can listen to the song regardless of what that person did.

    Comment by tinashenyamukapa — June 24, 2015 @ 8:26 am

  8. From Andrew on Twitter:

    Well … most of the Psalms were penned by a well-known adulterer but we still read & sing them. a repentant heart is the key.

    Comment by paulthinkingoutloud — June 24, 2015 @ 9:41 am

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