Why do Christian artists like Kirk Franklin, Lecrae, Mary Mary, Tasha Cobbs, etc., cross over into secular music arenas and/or collaborate with secular artists? This is a question that has been asked and has been debated for as long as I can remember. My response these days usually falls along the lines of “Really? Are they really crossing over into secular music?” Or is it really a thing of them producing the type of Christian music/gospel that some people want to listen to, that resonates with them and can, in the most clichéd of terms, maybe draw in listeners who would likely never be exposed to the Word of God in any way?
I grew up listening to and loving Bebe & CeCe, the Winans, Commissioned, Take 6, etc., music that basically my mom listened to. Then, Kirk Franklin happened and sure enough and while debates between church elders and younger youth pastors happened about his music, I preferred listening to his style of Christian music (except for when I was in straight Praise and Worship mode) because it was more teenaged kid/ young adult than CeCe was (I still love me some CeCe). Despite the similarities in styling, wardrobe, sounds, and flashing lights of secular artists, it was never lost on me even as a young person that the message Kirk and others like him were delivering was like that of Commissioned and them, it was just different.
There are artists out there like Usher, Beyoncé, Justin Timberlake, Kelly Rowland, Chance the Rapper, Miley Cyrus, and this list goes on who identify as Christians, who were raised as Christians, though their music could make you believe otherwise and who have never sung Christian music. They’re not questioned about the veracity of their faith by most people, for that matter; many Christians support their music. Yet sadly, these people have a greater scope of influence on younger people than even the most popular of Christian artists like Mary Mary. If I had children, I would much rather them listen to Lecrae and artists similar to him, than that of Chance the Rapper, who is celebrated by many in the industry as a Christian rapper, but who’s music is laced with profanity and contains questionable content.
On the other hand, there are artists like Stacie Orrico who was emphatically known as a Christian artist, but seemingly got little play on Christian radio, even though she was a mainstay for a couple of years on Top 40 stations and definitely made the rounds on MTVs TRL, yet I never heard any real angst about her. She was kid-tested and parent-approved. Stacie dressed more stylishly like her peers (Christina, Britney, and Jessica) and had great music production and glossy videos, but she kept her message focused on her relationship with God and extremely positive. Despite being a Grammy nominated artist (she lost to Michael W. Smith), she walked away from the industry largely in late 2007 due to the pressures of the industry and being unwilling to compromise her identity, as well as the Gospel. Unlike some of her peers, including Jessica Simpson and Katy Perry, who just ran away from their faith in terms of the music and imagery they were putting out, though Simpson still publicly identified herself as a Christian.
And when we say secular are we confusing the term with popular or mainstream? There are many artists out there that have similar sounds and styles like that of the more popular Christian artists, artists like J Moss, Tye Tribbett, Trinity 3:57, Forever Jones, Deitrick Haddon, and many more who never get brought into this conversation about their music being secular. But, if you listen to their albums, their music sounds the same as the more popular, well known artists in which they share a genre. Why is that? It seems to me that this conversation is only really brought up when artists start getting famous, making money, and are embraced outside of the genre. Ultimately, you can ask these artists why their music looks and sounds so much like that of current popular and secular artists; secular artists in whom some of them have worked with and secular artists who also dabble in Christian music/gospel at their convenience. I would be willing to put money on them stating something trite and cliché… we’ve heard all of their why’s before, but it comes down to money –the music industry. Christian-based or not, for many, it is still a business and for some, truly the ability to influence beyond just the church walls. This is why they do what they do and the way in which they do it.
So, what is the answer for followers of Christ, both artists and those that follow their music? Is there a line that should not be crossed? Is God calling us to be separate from the world, even through music? We must always look to the Word of God for these answers. We can provide very good arguments as to why it is okay to mingle amongst the worldly, or to “collaborate” with those that outright deny Jesus as the Son of God, but as John Bevere states in his newest book release, not everything that looks good is God (Good or God? Why Good Without God Isn’t Enough, Messenger International, 2015). Many give the argument that yes; the music is able to reach those that normally would not hear the Word of God. But at what cost? Many who have “crossed over” into mainstream music have fallen prey to its demons; those that started out Believers in Jesus Christ and who worshipped in the Church as young children. Many of which have completely turned away from the Lord, outwardly denouncing their Christian faith and now engaging in demonic displays of worship. Justin Bieber, Katy Perry and Miley Cyrus all grew up in the Church, some of whose parents are ministers of the Gospel. The fame and fortune drew them into a web that is not easy to get out of… for many, they were completely blinded by demonic covenants. Recently, we’ve witnessed Justin Bieber return to the faith, cancelling the remaining of his world tour to reconnect with his faith in Jesus Christ. His testimony, as well as that of Perry and Cyrus, gives us a glimpse into the world of the music industry. There is no secular AND Gospel music industry… it is one and the same. If you desire to reach a certain status in this industry, you will have to compromise your beliefs, your values, and yes, your faith. The Word of God says, “What will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” Mark 8:36-37 According to Bieber, this scripture is the truest of them all. We must take these warnings from those that have lived it. It is God that does the drawing, not man. As we let our light shine before men, not compromising our faith for fortune, the world will see Him in us, and ultimately glorify God. We must not think ourselves wiser than the Creator. Wisdom is crying out, and we must heed its call, lest we fall to the temptations so many others have succumbed.
When we see Tasha Cobbs collaborating with Nicki Minaj, we ask ourselves, "Why? How did God use that to reach a lost and dying world? Did it bring Nicki away from this demonic industry? Did it separate her fans from her music, or did it cause Cobbs' fans to now cross over to listen to Minaj's?" We cannot mix the holy with the profane. We don't judge the world, but we surely don't join them, allowing the enemy to pervert the Worship of our Lord. Are we being transformed, or merely being entertained? Are we allowing deliverance to take place, or is deception ruling the stage? Just recently, Snoop Dogg, the popular rap artist of the 1990's & 2000's, also created his first "gospel" album entitled Bible of Love with collaborations from Tye Tribbet, the Clark Sisters, Kim Burrell, Charlie Wilson, Faith Evans, Rance Allen and the former artist known as Tonéx, now called B Slade. The former Gospel singer Tonéx left the organized church for a while after he came out as an openly gay man. In his own words, in an interview with Path Magazine's Kris Patrick, the singer stated, "that being gay wasn’t a sin calling it a “disposition that a lot of people are actually genetically given.” The Word commands us to love all people, but it does not command us to agree with sin, or to compromise our faith and water it down to suit our sinful lifestyles. Either we believe the Word we say we are saved by, or we don't. We are now in the midst of the greatest season of deception the earth has ever witnessed. It is obvious to the Spirit-filled Believer what is taking place, but so many have compromised the Spirit with the flesh, and have traded that which is holy with the profane. They have mixed in their unholy lifestyles with a "form" of godliness, yet denying the power thereof.
"This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: FROM SUCH TURN AWAY." (2 Timothy 3:1-5, emphasis)
Snoop Dogg himself has continued, even after the release of his new album, to promote a lifestyle counterproductive to that of most followers of Jesus Christ. He, like many others that walk both sides of the fence, encourage a mindset that we can have "both" lifestyles and still hold our position in Christ. We can have it ALL! This is the greatest lie and deception of our enemy. Yes, the enemy of Calvin (Snoop Dogg) and each and every one of us. We cannot simply place a pause on our Christian life and trade our "holy" garments for "unholy" ones, and then step back into our sinful lifestyle. Not one of us is perfect, and never will be, but we must not be deceived into thinking we can walk in and out of these "realms" and be called the children of God. Our enemy is the master manipulator... the greatest deceiver... the father of ALL lies! There MUST be a separation! There MUST be a distinction! We are in the days where people call good evil and evil good.
"Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!" (Isaiah 5:20, emphasis)
This industry has one purpose, and that is money. The Word of God clearly says we cannot serve God AND Mammon. It says: “No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.” Luke 16:13 Mammon is the spirit of fame, fortune, notoriety, greed, and many other selfish gains. So, we must look at the scope and severity of the temptations of this business not only from a Biblical perspective, but also from those that have come out of it. Music, godly music, is worship to the Father. It was created to bring glory to the Father. As we authentically worship the Father in Spirit and in Truth, people are drawn into His presence. We don’t have to collaborate with the world to draw them. The Word of God says it is HE that draws men unto Him. We must trust His Word and walk in its wisdom, not only to guard and protect ourselves, but also that we may not hinder the Spirit of God from moving in and through us to a lost and dying world. May we not be named among those that have led people astray or caused them to compromise, because of the spirit of mammon. We must all reconsider what the will of God is for our lives and for the assignments He has predestined for us to complete. If it, in any way, goes against the Word of God, then it is not of Him. It is that simple. I have, myself, ignorantly walked into the "Christian music industry" with some of our dear friends who are singers/clients only to make an about face and walk right back out of it! The outright perversion I have witnessed in these "Christian" circles is sickening, to say the least. We cannot think we can "mix" with the world and not become tainted by its temptations & pleasures. If you play with fire, you will get burned. If you dance with the devil, you will owe him.
We here at Hunter Entertainment Network purpose to Offer God’s Heart to a Dying World through the inspired gifts of writing, music, and media. We have, sadly, had to cut ties with authors and artists that have fallen prey to this spirit. We have ministered the truth of God’s Word to them in hopes that their eyes would be opened, yet some have not chosen to receive His wisdom. In these last days, we must be willing to draw a line in the sand and without hesitation, separate ourselves from anything and anyone that will cause us to compromise our faith in Jesus Christ. We continue to love them and pray for them, but we will not partner with that which compromises the living Word of God. We have witnessed powerfully anointed authors and psalmists that have completely fallen away from faith in Jesus Christ. It is devastating to see these precious souls fall into deception. The Father is not looking more at what we say yes to; He awaits the moment we choose to say NO, in obedience to His Word and His Spirit. The actions of our brother Justin Bieber this past year has given us great hope. He has obeyed the voice of the Lord and defied the opinions of man. We intercede earnestly for his endurance and commitment to his faith. As such, we also fervently intercede for all of our brothers and sisters that have fallen into the traps of this industry. May Holy Spirit lead you, guide you, direct you, and instruct you in His way and His will.
“Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen.Jude 24-25