If you’ve spent any time at all on the internet recently, you have probably run into an article zooming around the web boasting of Natalie Grant’s boldness to stand up for Christ by walking out of the Grammys. Her actions have gained widespread promotion, by Christians, as a statement of disapproval to the lack of tastefulness in the performances held during the award ceremony. I’ll be honest, my first response was, “this is awesome.” How great it is to have a pop-star display their faith publicly and not want to participate in these celebrations. It’s a great thing that she has convictions where many do not in Hollywood. However, I am not sure that we should be so quick to celebrate. After further reflection, here are my reasons why.
Here’s what we need to know – the U.S. is not a Christian country. Natalie went to an explicitly secular event. She didn’t go to a religious service. She didn’t attend a function where people claimed to be the religious elite. She went to a celebration filled with people who flaunt sex and idol worship for a living, and they get paid millions for doing it, by US. Ironically, many of the people sharing Natalie’s stand have songs on their iPod by artists that they condemn when they condone Grant’s move. But that’s beside the point. Natalie willingly attended this secular event knowing good and well the content of many of the artists’ songs and lifestyle choices. Consider the implications of this for a moment.
She was among people who openly profess that they have no concern for God. Romans 1 says that this is by their personal suppression of the truth about God. They are sick. They are sin-filled and sin-ruled. They need a doctor. They need a serum, an antidote. This is all public knowledge. This ought to be no surprise to us as believers. We know these people do not hold to the Christian worldview just as we “were once slaves of sin” (Rom 6:17). They don’t hide it from the world and they don’t hide it from us.
Now consider a story. In the sick waiting room of a popular medical practice, a doctor walks in with the antidote. This doctor is not what heals the sick himself, but he is an ambassador for the cure that his patients need, and he willingly and knowingly walked into this waiting room known for having sick people in it. Imagine the response from these sick patients when the doctor walks in, analyzes their situation, has the remedy, and leaves because he cannot stand the visible symptoms of the patients’ illnesses. And imagine that later on, the doctor’s friends find out about this incident and begin boasting about it amongst one another. “Thank God he didn’t touch one of them. How disgusting! How smooth, bold, and cutting it was of him to disapprove of them and celebrate his health in front of them,” they sneer. This is not compassion. This is not love, especially when you consider that this doctor had the very same illness his patients are suffering from! (The emphasis of this illustration is meant to be on the response of the friends. I realize no analogy is perfect.)
This is similar to what happened with Natalie. She walked in knowing good and well what kind of culture we are in. Somehow, taken aback by what she saw, she walked out.
Now I’m not against walking out if you personally can’t handle the content. In fact, I’m not against Natalie Grant’s decision to walk out and I don’t want to question her motives. But I am against Christians celebrating this as some sort of public victory. This isn’t victory. Celebrating this is celebrating the snubbing of our noses at a society who needs the message of the redemption we have! What I mean by snubbing of our noses is the public support of Grant’s decision to leave as if to take some jab at the secular world so they’ll know we disagree with them. I’ve seen so many Christians do this as if they’re surprised that non-Christians behave the way that they do. Of course they’re going to behave as if they’re sick. They ARE sick! And we have the cure and we are the representatives of that cure (2 Corinthians 5:20)! This world does not need Christians who boast of their health over those caught in sin! They need the message of reconciliation that we have. They need the mercy and forgiveness that we ourselves require. That is exactly what I needed when I was still caught in sin, chasing my lusts and living for the pleasures of this world!
This sort of celebratory behavior that condemns the acts of the secular world by expressing disapproval of their behavior at THEIR events is foolish. By expressing disapproval, I mean the public support of Grant’s decision shown by Christians everywhere as if the culture doesn’t know well enough that Christians disagree with them. They didn’t ask for Christian input. We’re taking part in their culture. We shouldn’t be surprised when we see exactly that…their culture. It is no spiritual victory to be foolish enough to take part in their culture (by buying music, watching shows, etc.) and then condemn it by celebrating Grant’s decision to leave the Grammys and then using that as a platform for the condemnation of what took place. Christians lose the battle when they make the decision to go into the culture and aren’t prepared to minister in it. If you don’t have the compassion and mercy to forgive and weep over the sick, then you have two responsibilities:
- Get your heart right. That’s exactly why God still has you here; to be a minister and messenger to a world caught in sin. Don’t be surprised when sinners act like sinners!
- Realize how sick and vile you are before God. Sure, what they do at the Grammys isn’t Christ honoring (and they KNOW that), but our self-righteousness towards their actions is just as wicked and unChristlike! It forgets the fact that you deserve eternal death. It forgets that you deserve eternal rebuke. It forgets that you yourself needed the most perfect and righteous being in existence to die JUST to pay for your mistakes.
We don’t need to celebrate Natalie Grant. We need to celebrate Jesus who has compassion on those caught in adultery (John 4); people like me, you, Natalie, and Beyonce. That compassion drove him to love those people, not snub his nose at them. And it’s his love and forgiveness that transforms us; and them. All this to say, if you want to celebrate a Christian who walks into a secular environment and acts surprised at what they see, the shame is really on you. We know this culture’s sick and we should start acting like it. They know we don’t approve of them and this just gives them one more reason to call us out for being hypocrites.