In 2003 one of my favorite punk rock bands, One-21, linked up with one of my favorite record labels, Facedown Records, and published an album entitled “Grenade.” One of the key tracks on the album was an anthem dedicated to the group’s Christian music scene, “We All Agree.” The lyrics were simple but bold (punk rock right?), and identified a serious challenge to their friends, churches, and leaders. “We all agree that the integrity of the scene has been compromised,” they chant. And, while you’ll have to discuss with those band members what it was that compromised their music scene, I really feel that this track, at least for me, rings a tone of truth for what is happening right now in the Christian/Gospel hip hop scene. Our scene has been compromised. We are all thinking it, we are all talking about it, and we need to shed light on it in hopes for healing.
Music is a powerful ministry. Think of one church that doesn’t open and close services with music. Ministers everywhere recognize this. Christian pastor and mystic Rick Joyner said it best, “Music is called â€˜the universal language’ because of its ability to cross almost every social and political barrier. Music is a spiritual language that can reach beyond the intellect to touch the heart. Those who know this â€˜universal language’ have a powerful weapon in the war for the hearts of men.”
When you’re on the bus going home, look out the window and watch all the kids plugged into iPods. You probably have music playing in the backdrop as you read this. Music was instrumental in raising me up as a young Christian and to this day Jah still uses music to speak to my heart, whether for encouragement, or for rebuke as in the song “We All Agree.” I have no doubt that if you are reading this letter, the ministry of music has had a huge impact on your life as well. But, because music is such a powerful ministry, the devil has a special incentive to destroy it. After all, Christian tradition teaches that music was Lucifer’s ministry before the angelic fall (Ezekiel 28). Why wouldn’t he want to reclaim it?
Over the last few years, I’ve watched a lot of our brothers and sisters be seemingly swallowed whole by the perils of sin and worldliness and I believe it has some to the point of compromising our whole music scene. I do not intend this letter to be a harsh rebuke to those who are struggling or even rebellious, and I am not writing this letter to name names, gossip, or start a firestorm. My goals are simple: I want to be open and honest about the real struggles and perils we all face (as to overcome by first shedding light; John 3), I want to encourage the family, and I want to present wisdom to all of our up and coming artists who will soon carry the torch that was fumbled by their predecessors.
There has been a lot of adultery, wife swapping, wife stealing, and fornication going on in our scene. I’m counting our major artists falling to this and I’m running out of fingers on both hands. This type of thing is not uncommon; let’s remember that scripture teaches us that the strongest man (Samson), the wisest man (Solomon), and the closest to God’s heart (David) all fell to their corrupted sexual nature. Even so, this type of sin disturbs me and shakes me to the core.
There is a lot of neglect of family going on, which I believe is a problem among many ministers, not just music ministers. This is probably a prelude to the adultery issue, but it needs to be addressed as well. In fact, it can be argued that this is a dangerous breech of faith according to scripture: “But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” (1 Timothy 5:8)
There is a lot of compromise going around on drug abuse, which also has connections to family neglect and adultery. Scripture is much more vague, or even ambiguous on these issues, but it’s not hard identify drug use as sin or at least unfruitful by what it produces. This was most recently exemplified by the death of a heavyweight celebrity, but I promised to not name names.
Our brothers and sisters are falling around us, making huge, shocking waves, compromising the integrity of our scene. We claim to be “Christian” and live as Jesus lived. We claim to follow Him, no matter what doctrinal background- this is what we say. We write songs about faith and truth, and then we turn around and make a mockery of ourselves, our scene, and our faith. What an embarrassment it is to see a brother live openly in filthy sin with a discography behind him proclaiming uprightness, justice, and the Gospel!
So, to our scene, I present these challenges. First, I’d say, let us remain humble. I speak firstly to myself, then to my family, then to my church, and finally to you, my scene. A good friend of mine once reminded me that we are all one step away from great sin and devastation at all times. I could at any time make one mistake that would cost me my whole family, church, or even life. I truly believe this and so I stay on guard. But more so, I remain humble when friends and family fall into such traps, because tomorrow it could be me. (Matthew 7, Romans 2) So, to put this challenge to practical application, when your people fall, immediately pray for them and love them. Do not attack them and add fuel to the holocaust already burning. I do not suggest condoning sin, but remember it is God’s kindness that brings people to repentance. (Romans 2) Brother Augustine once wrote, “In no way, then do we approve of the sins that we want to be corrected, nor do we want the wrongdoing to go unpunished because we find it pleasing. Rather, having compassion for the person and detesting the sin or crime, the more we are displeased by the sin the less we want the sinful person to perish without having been corrected. For it is easy and natural to hate evil persons because they are evil, but it is rare and holy to love those same persons because they are human beings.”
I challenge you to be humble in spirit in your music too. Pride comes before the fall, and the most disturbing dive from grace comes from those who have haughtily spit from behind their lyrical pulpit themes about being the only group truly handling the ministry of Christian hip hop or rebuking others for not writing “holy” music only to be shamed by their own lack of holiness in the most important ministry they will ever see, the ministry of family. So, enough of the “holier than thou” tracks. Let’s build up and encourage; we are all one body.
The second challenge is to have wisdom and pass wisdom down to the next generation about common temptations and tests. As Paul explains to the church in Corinth, “No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.” We have common factors. Any artist moving into the industry needs to know that the “Christian music industry” is as corrupt as any other music industry, full of traps, hypocrites, and moneychangers. Don’t let the next kid get blindsided by the corrupt, suckered into a bad contract, or seduced by the allure of fame. We have to protect our own.
Let’s hold each other accountable. When I was young and single, there was no shortage of women around I could choose to sin with any night of the week. Now that I am married there are STILL no shortage of women around I could choose to sin with any night of the week. So, we must encourage each other like the wise father in Proverbs 2 who advised his son to avoid the harlot. You can never get rid of sinners willing to sin, so the only solution is to rely on God and build up our own integrity. God will always leave a way to escape, and with wisdom and integrity, we can do so. Young brothers who go on tour need to know this, because their temptations will be more acute on the road. Don’t stay overnight in a place unaccountable. Don’t be in a room with a woman alone and door closed. These things are only common sense if they are made commonly known by instruction from the wise.
One of the more valuable lessons I learned on this issue was from the book “Every Young Man’s Battle.” It spoke about keeping your eyes in check around females (real or on media) to ensure the enemy doesn’t even get a foothold. This is in accordance with Jesus’ own teachings, “The eye is the lamp of your body; when your eye is clear, your whole body also is full of light; but when it is bad, your body also is full of darkness.” (Luke 11:34) We need to practice this with all of our brothers, so that we do not fall into those common sins of lust. So, let us be diligent in building integrity, accountability, and wisdom among the brothers and sisters in our ministry.
The third challenge I present to you is this. Follow Jesus earnestly. Dust off your Bible. Play the worship CD. If it’s super bad (or good), pray before you even get out of bed. Fast with your fellowship. If you are feeling weak, confess it to your brother, wife, or pastor. Your family is your first ministry; drop everything to minister to them. If you plan to go on tour, pray before you leave. Make sure you are sturdy and steadfast for the challenges. And finally, if you have sinned, humble yourself and repent. For these are the things Jesus has taught us to do.
Our scene has become polluted. I can’t even refer friends to certain albums for fear that my friends will see what the artist has become and stumble themselves. This is a blemish on our fellowship, but it can metamorphose into a great testimony if we allow God to do his mighty work and rebuild what has been devastated. I encourage you to share this letter on your blogs, facebook, and youtube. Talk about it with your youth group, family, and DJ. Let there be follow up posts giving wisdom and instruction for the next generation. Let families reunite. Let our scene thrive again in spirit and in truth.
Blessings from the Locust Tribe,
Bro, this is exactly how I have been feeling. I’m glad I’m not alone in feeling this way. Thanks for speaking the truth Wut.
I agree 100% with my man Wut on this, its time we rebuild and not settle for less anymore. Jesus is our example across the boards, if Christ had a Hip hop ministry on the earth today and He was on tour rocking shows, how would He handle it? Is not He the One we follow? I see him dropping story lines and relevant parables and mad punchlines that bring people to salvation,He would not hammer the crowd down with this holier then thou aura but be as wise as a serpent and every lyric would be geared to exposing mans desperate need for a Savior. People would be getting healed in the crowd and revival would be breaking out. So much of the time as mc’s, we are too worried about selling our cd at the show or making sure we show and prove who we are skill wise. Its time we check our hearts and get back to the true love of why we rock the mic for Christ and thats because we have a message that saves.
Oh yeah “Up and coming christian mc’s”… Don’t let your “dream” become your families worse nightmare!!
God will not bless your efforts musically if you cant hold your family down correctly, your wife is not the mic, lol. I have learned this the hard way and I thank God I am still married and look forward to seeing what God is going to do through my music now because I have my priorities straight. Godspeed.
its cause we dont have a strong ministry platform that deals with community issues and unity in the body. urban d is the most prominent foundation and with that why isnt the soul mag gospel hip hop magazine blowing up ? anyway i feel that gospel hip hop needs ministry platform and we as a collective need to have a venue like rock the bells but be all aspects of hip hop and to have strong substance within the event with prayer workshops battles etc ‘
It needed to be said.
Thanks to Wut for his vulnerability and willingness to put his heart out there. I definitely receive this and appreciate the honesty put forth. Peace!
A good read. Humility is so key. There is no one man army in this life… we need each other. God, family, community. If we have been given a ministry then that is a service for Christ and for mankind to be used as he sees fit. Just some thoughts I got from this…
Thanks for sharing these thoughts. Prayers with you.
Great article bro! Ive found that the tactic you described on staying out of any comprimising situation has really worked well. My wife and I feel strongly about this and it has definitely kept us both out of trouble.
Also being honest with each other if any conversations with outsiders seems even slightly comprimising has been key. We don’t judge each other. We understand that each other is human. And it protects us for sure.
And I agree that the approach needs to be one of humility, love and truth. With our brothers and sisters and partners. The problem can’t be fixed if it remains hidden. And God has already solved the problem of sin. All we have to do is commit to honesty and keep coming back to Him and to our spiritual and physical family.
Thanks for bringing this out bro!
Thank you Wut. As an fan of the scene this needed to be said. I do follow this genre as much as you and others do, but I see it a bit.
When I see an artist I follow and then hear how a divorce occurred my heart breaks, I wonder who was around them. It is often hard to listen to certain songs from them as they mention their previous spouse…
I just deleted a few lines, but bottom line is that as with any ministry, especially a public one, they need support. As Noiz and Reveal said, there is no one man army and God and family must come first. The art will be more genuine and reach farther is the home front is backing them.
This is a good reminder for all of us, God and then family and then Church …
Thank you everyone for your words of wisdom. I appreciate it.
yes this is true ! but the biggest problem is that we do not have a strong ministry platform and there needs to be one to where we can build as a collective and begin to mature and impact the things that are wrong.
mad love to sphere of hip hop syntax and most of all who has put in the most ministry outreach work urban d with the old cru vention now crossover. crossover church to me is the only real big and impacting ministry foundation and a lot of people still dont know about it and what THE LORD has done there. but the soul mag is a huge progress we have an actual magazine pray that it gets into mainstream distro and people become awakend by what raw christian hip hop is all about. mad love to shadown of the locust jupiter 7 reveal and so many other. come to vegas its jumping off here http://www.guerillacross.com
Ministry starts with being honest and true to God, then ministering to your family, church/fellowship, neighborhood/community, and then if you are blessed with the opportunities nation and world. Satan and the fallen world we live in are going to give stumbling blocks, pitfalls, and traps until the day we die. If all ministers/artist were being honest, we dream of having that ministry that blows up like 116, Crossover/Flava Alliance, Cross Movement not that long ago, and the list goes on. Big ministries make big targets and eventually they all get hit one way or another. I guess I’m saying all that to say this, brothers and sisters fall when we forget to stay under the Almighty’s protection. I’m sure most if not all of the top name Christian artists that have fallen to adultery in the past few years had prayer teams and accountability partners backing them up at one point or another, but eventually lost sight of the need. Forgot to be praying themselves, and most importantly forgot that true ministry isn’t on stage with a mic. Brother Wut’s words were divinely inspired on this piece. Real ministry is helping your wife change the next diaper when she has been taking care of your baby all day. Helping your daughters with homework and then taking them out on a Father and Daughter date so they know how special they are and how a young man should be treating them one day. Befriending that kid down the street, or next door, whose father chose not to be a daddy. Loving on someone who feels unlovable and unimportant. Helping someone who really believes they deserve it. Purposely still treating someone like a person who refuses to treat others as such. When its all said and done just stepping off the stage, away from in front of the lights and the cameras once in a while, and being the ministers God has called all of His elect to be. Be real! Be real… with real people… who in a real Savior…
Grace & Peace,
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