Exploring Convictions – Music in the Church

I have recently come across some very disturbing news concerning Kirk Talley (here as well). It seems that for some time now he has admitted to be a homosexual and more than that, he is ‘reaching out’ to others.

I like Southern Gospel, and have sung (in a style that I frame as ‘butchering’) such songs as ‘Step into the Water’ which was written by Kirk Talley. As a matter of fact, I like a good many of his songs, but I’ve come to find out that they were all written by a homosexual.

So where does that put us? Just how honest and sincere is the Southern Gospel industry? When you read a bit about Talley’s ‘journey’ you will discover that his sister has not spoken with him for many years. (since the mid to late 80’s I believe) So, if his sister knew, and his ex-wife, then how did the rest of his family not know? The rest of his family being the Talley’s, presently the Talley Trio. Or what about the Cathedrals? Or Gaither and his consortium?

My issue arises when we begin to sing these songs written by people who lead immoral lifestyles. Can I rightly sing ‘Step into the Water’ again knowing that a homosexual wrote it?

I think about the Book of Daniel when the King misused the gold and silver from the Temple of God. Simply, when he began to abuse those things that were devoted to God, he erred and was not given a change for repentance. Would not the pulpit or sanctuary that was devoted to God be considered the same thing?

Paul wrote in 2nd Corinthians,

Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty. (7.1)Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God. – 2Co 6.14-18, 7.1 KJVA

We are commanded to cleanse ourselves from the filthiness of this world. We cannot associate the things of God with the things of this world.

Further in Paul, we read, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord, (Col 3:16)” and “Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord (Eph 5:19).”

Most understand the word ‘psalms’ to refer to the Book of Psalms, which were sung by the Jews for centuries in their devotion to God.

‘Hymn’ (ὕμνος), from Strong’s, “Apparently from a simpler (obsolete) form of ὕδέω hudeō (to celebrate; probably akin to G103; compare G5567); a “hymn” or religious ode (one of the Psalms).” Whereas ‘spiritual song’, (πνευματικός) again from Strong’s, “Non-carnal, that is, (humanly) ethereal (as opposed to gross), or (daemoniacally) a spirit (concretely), or (divinely) supernatural, regenerate, religious: – spiritual. Compare G5591.”

The old Presbyterians follow something called the Regulative Principle (and here). This is similar to what the Churches of Christ state in their creed of ‘We speak where the Bible speaks and keep silent where the Bible is silent.” This removed musical instruments from worship in the CoC and modern hymnody from the Presbyterians. Why this is not applied to doctrine, I am unsure; however it has kept the old Presbyterians from bringing in songs by adulterers and homosexuals, and others who celebrate immorality, into their worship services.

Here are a few resources sent to me by Mr. Davis of Ad Gloriam Dei (which I greatly appreciate).

And he has suggested this book for those wishing to sing the Psalms.

At issue, again, is whether or not to continue to sing these songs written by avowed sinners. We know that Paul commanded us to sing to the Lord songs of praise that were religious (spiritual). Can any real bible believing Christian stand to say that a song written by a homosexual or other unrepentant sinner, should be sung in Church? Do we do away from giants like ‘Amazing Grace’ or ‘When I Survey the Wondrous Cross’ because modern the modern songs are written by unrepentant sinners?

We are commanded not to touch the unclean thing, and yet we willingly sing songs penned by the unclean?

What would Christ sing? Paul? Peter?

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0 Replies to “Exploring Convictions – Music in the Church”

  1. Imagine the time in your adolescence when you were discovering your sexual awareness. Now Imagine being told that your feelings of sexual attraction make you a worthless deviant because you feel them toward the same sex. So to survive you hide this secret and stifle the growth of your emerging identity and learn to hate yourself. This is psychological child abuse at its worst.
    Then imagine the miracle of courageously overcoming this self loathing imposed by your past abuse. This epiphany restores your sense that you are a person deserving of happiness, equal worthiness and love. A hard fought internal struggle won by myself and many other gay people.

    Some say being gay is a choice. They are half right. You can choose to be true to your nature and experience passion, romance and love, all essential parts of a balanced normal life. Or you can falsely pretend to be attracted to the opposite sex and live an empty passionless lie.

    I have a metaphorical mental image of a gay person with fundamentalist belief sliding down an ice precipice. To keep from falling into the bottomless abyss he has driven a spike through his hand into the ice wall. Suffering from the pain yet terrified to remove it. He doesn’t fall but neither can he climb out. .

    ……Another gay person hears the cry of of this fellow and climbs down to find the victim hanging from his impaled hand. The rescuer shows his palms to the victim. The palms have scars, stigmata of the same impalement from a time long past.

    The rescuer directs the fellow to look for the foothold so as to take some of the weight off his impaled hand. But when the victim looks down, all he sees is the abyss. In a desperate act he grabs another spike and drives it through both his ankles into the wall of ice.

    The rescuer reaches his hand out to the victim. The victim grabs another spike and attempts to drive it into the rescuer’s hand into the ice wall. His intent driven by desperation to prevent his rescuer from removing his spikes and to “save” the rescuer. “These spikes are gifts of God” tells the victim to the rescuer, “it is engraved with a passage from Romans.”

    The rescuer takes the spike and examines it. The he pulls one of his own from his pocket and compares the two. “This spike is engraved with the same message as the one I carry, But the translation is not a passage from Romans. It says “Forged by Roman slaves by order of Prefect Pilate” And hands it back to the victim.

    The Victim looks at the abyss once more and swings his remaining free hand and drives the last spike into the ice wall. Then with all his might he impales remaining his hand over the spike.

    ……….because his fear would not let him see the foothold

    Consider for a moment the possiblility that God is directing you through a composer of gospel music to see that gay folk are part of his design. To see that He makes someone gay because there is another of his gay children who needs him. And when they find each other He smiles as they know the joy of love, like a parent watching his child opening a gift on Christmas morning.

    Peace, Love and Affirmation,

    Scott Snedeker

  2. Scott,

    Homosexuality is clearly called a sin in the Bible. Perhaps it is not such a clear choice as others would have us belief – for those suffering from years of sexual abuse – but it is indeed something that is not natural.

    I do not believe that God would use a fornicator, or an adulterer or even an alcoholic to direct me into accepting these people as ‘part of his design’. A sin is a sin, no matter the person. Granted, you might not see homosexuality as a sin. Perhaps you would rather see injustices committed based on skin colour or class as a sin. The bible is just as clear on injustice as it is on homosexuality. Both are sins.

    I have dealt with many in the homosexual community over these past few years and have seen for myself the destruction caused by both their hiddenness and their homosexuality. The fact still remains though that they are sinners and sinners who choose sin over God do not deserve our sympathy. We can love them who are homosexuals, but to use them are to use things produced by them in the House of God is clearly against Scripture.

    I appreciate your views and your analogy, but in the end, I have to stack everything against what the Bible says.

  3. Thank you for allowing me to share on your forum. I appreciate the hospitality extended.

    This is a very timely topic in a time of great debate. It requires the kind of respect that you have shown me to maintain respect for ourselves. I, of course, recognize this privilege and would like to return that respect.

    I agree that in Biblical verse (Leviticus in particular), intimacy between men seems (with literal clarity) to be a sin.

    It also seems (with equal literal clarity) to be a sin for a woman to be a victim of sexual assault with a city (Deuteronomy) and that she be stoned as her punishment.

    I think very few people today would consider gospel music composed by this victim to be against scripture.

    So the question is, which seemingly clearly stated verses are chosen and by whom?

    Obviously the answer cannot be easy or strictly literal without clearly going against God’s will and design if the aforemention verse from Deuteronomy is carried out literally.

    This is where I suspect that your dilemna and unease about Kirk Talley’s Music may come from. Sometimes spiritual illumination transcends
    literal text by design and by necessity, as it does in the verse mentioned in Deuteronomy.

    Like in dreams where we see things invisible to the eye and in waking we are puzzled once more…… and troubled, what is revealed in may be a door out of the blindness that obscures our sight in our wakefullness. Like a tether that reaches obscurely where all other hope of a connection has failed. It seems Untenable and tanatalizing yet it draws to it a yearning to know.

    My hope remains as a delicate flame holding the spirit alive in the comfort of the realization: We are not abandoned to empty darkness if we keep focussed on what we still can’t see clearly but the presence of which is undeniably sensed.

    I suspect God is asking you to transcend literal text in another way, and, as is often my observation of His way, through a beautiful creation. You have sung it and undoubtable felt His love in the music. Who better for Him to choose than someone like yourself?

    I think He is asking you to have Faith that He will draw you to love His gay children. That we are not his second class humans who are given a capacity to love the same gender and then watch our hearts break because we are prohibited from sharing His Gift with one another.

    I think He is showing another way to love.

    Love, Peace, and Afiirmation

    Scott Snedeker

  4. Hello Polycarp,

    First of all, I want you to know that I am a moderator at Soulforce, and I posted a link to your site at our forums. It is in a private section of the forums, but you are indeed welcome to join the discussion. You simply need to sign up with a username, and select the options that allow you to view and participate in the “Foyer.”

    I’ve been thinking about your entry here for most of the day. I’ll say right up front that I disagree with you, but I’m sure you’re not surprised. I’m a gay christian and I work not only as a teacher, but also as a music director in a Disciples of Christ church. As much as I’d like to argue the “homosexuality as sin” issue with you, I suspect that this is pointless. We know we both disagree with each other.

    But I would like to talk about how one maintains a sense of the purity of people who contribute to the worship service. It seems to me that this would be a full time job, making sure that the only music performed in a service was penned by people who have maintained an immaculately sinless life. You mention some of the older hymns of faith, but do we know for sure that their composers, their authors were sinless, or at least sinners saved by grace and had lived a life that was honoring to God? Is there any way that we could know that for sure?

    And why stop with our sources for worship music? what about our resources for calls to worship, invocations, responsive readings? What about the authors of Sunday School materials? shouldn’t we know, beyond all shadow of doubt that these authors continue to lead sinless lives, to the best of their ability before we consider using their educational materials in the instruction of our children?

    What if the carpenters and plumbers, the electricians and bricklayers who built our places of worship are unrepentant sinners? should we leave our sanctuaries behind and worship only in nature?

    And what about God’s role in all of this? Whom has God called to do his will? Moses was called, but wait, he sinned, so he didn’t get into the Promised Land. So, God called a sinner to do his will. David was called. but wait, David lusted and committed adultery with Bathsheba, and had Uriah killed so he could take her as his wife. hmmm, God calls another sinner. Rahab, the prostitute, called by God to do his will and help the spies that Joshua sent into the city of Jericho. She wasn’t even called to repentance before she helped the Israelites. Peter, Judas, Mary Madgalene, Matthew, Thomas, John the Baptist, you can find something “wrong” about all these people, yet God summoned them to Himself.

    God has a long history of calling the “wrong” kind of people to do his work. Why not let God bless you the way the He sees fit? If God uses someone that isn’t everything WE think they should be, who are we to question God?

    btw, you might need to toss out your King James Bible, He was a well known homosexual.

  5. Keltic, thank you for your gentle response (except for the last part). Although King James ‘authorized’ it he had every little to do with it and as a matter of fact, the proper name is the Authorized Version.

    I did not saw that we exclude sinners from service or from worshiping God, but the unrepentant sinners. Would I excuse an male adulterer song since he had intercourse with a female? Absolutely not. Would I excuse a known drunk from leading music or having another part in service? No. So why would I allow one unrepentant sinner and not another? Sin is sin.

    God does call ‘wrong people’ but He transforms them and does not leave them in the same state that He found them. Moses had to be separated. David has to repent, suffer, and pay the consequences. Rahab was not involved in the service in the Tabernacle.

    Yes, we can find wrong with just about anyone, even myself – daily, but then again, I qualified ‘sinner’ with unrepentant. If homosexual was to turn to God, then let God wash the sin away.

    What about using those things created by purposely unclean people (unclean by choice)? I prefer my own translation to the AV. (By the way, the jury is still out on how much Thomas Weldon had to play in naming King James as a homosexual). Sure I will also use various other translations, as long as they are honest.

    Song? Well, I am suffering through some convictions right now, as you can tell.

    The building itself? I believe that the men and women of the church a generation before me actually built it. Then they put His name on it and sanctified it.

    Keltic, very much enjoy these discussions because unlike some on your side and mine, I believe that we can keep it civil.

  6. My sister accepted Christ while the Talleys were singing “He Is Here”. Kirk Talley wrote that song…Does that mean she is not saved? Does that mean she should question her salvation? Surely someone is not suggesting that God can’t use Kirk Talley?????????

  7. Tell you what Rick, let’s talk about ‘accepting Christ’ and salvation and then we can get back to the Kirk Talley issue.

    I believe that ignorance of an issue can be dismissed, but to he whom knows to do good, and does it not, then it is a sin.

    A song does not lead one to Christ.

  8. polycarp;

    I imagine you have no problem reading the book of Psalms ( written by an adulterer) or the penetuch (written by Moses a murderer) or maybe Romans ( also written by a man who Killed Christians) My friend God can and will deliver someone with a same sex attraction just as he will forgive someone taken in adultry ( remember her) remember the words? Neither do I condem thee go and sin no more. God has a track record of forgiving people with sexual sins, even Rahab the harlot has her place listed in the geneology of Christ. Be careful when you are judging others. It is important to be vigiliant and watchful but when someone says they have repented and turned from a sin we should honor decision. Most people with a same sex attraction detest it, it isnt something they desire, many are married and struggle not knowing what to do or how to get help. Thank Goodness where the church has been silent we are finally waking up and helping with a horrible sin. It is our responsibility as spiritual people to restore such a one in the spirit of meeknes…considering yourself lest you also be tempted. So the question is sir, How spiritual are you?

  9. Stephen,

    I never said that God cannot forgive sins and that those people who are forgiven should be always counted as a sinner. I tried to make the point that the distinction is the unrepentant sinners, such as homosexuals who seek to impose their filthy lifestyles upon the Church and indeed society.

    Perhaps you should read all of the posts in this series. Although Psalms, and the other books that you mentioned where written by such people, those people were forgiven by God before the composition of said books.

    Being ‘spiritual’ has nothing to do with it, really. Being biblical does.

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