Admitting the problem is the first step towards recovery. So let's admit it: if we swop the lyrics of a Taylor Swift ballad with some of today's contemporary Christian worship songs, no one would know the difference.
Others have noted the "Jesus-is-your-boyfriend" style worship songs clogging the airwaves of contemporary Christian radio and Sunday morning worship sets lack depth and reverence to the Almighty. They're right. But there's an even bigger problem when contemporary Christian songs downplay, even scold Christian's public witness for the sake of couch-potato Christianity.
Last week a fellow pro-life, pro-family activist turned on his local "family-friendly" contemporary Christian radio station while driving his kids to camp. As his kids were belting the words to a new hit, my friend was shocked by the lyrics.
The song was Family Force 5's "Let It Be Love," number #14 on Billboard's Hot Christian Songs list. Of course this means it is one of 20 songs that local contemporary Christian radio programs play over and over ad nauseam. The song's lyrics go:
I've never seen a soul set free
Through an argument
I've never seen a hurt get healed
In a protest…
It's not about the stand we take
But the grace we give
For my friend, the first line "I've never seen a soul set free through an argument" couldn't be further from reality with the conservative Christian movement. In addition remembering that the Apostle Peter urged Believers, "[A]lways being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect." (1 Peter 3:15)
My friend witnessed a life changed from a same-sex lifestyle to a redeemed follower of Christ thanks to a bold, counter-cultural argument presented at a Parents and Family of Ex-Gays and Gays (PFOX) event. A young gay man made the decision to offer over his life to Christ after listening to Robert Knight, Senior Fellow for the American Civil Rights Union, described God's love for humanity and purpose for sexuality and marriage.
Most devastating is the lyric's second line, which reads, "I've never seen a hurt get healed in a protest." I'm not sure what kind of protests these band members have attended, but they must not have been pro-life oriented.
A beautiful example of lives transformed at a protest is told by Wendy Wright, former President of Concerned Women for America and Vice President for Government Relations and Communications. Wendy spent many days peacefully protesting outside of abortion clinics. She and her fellow protestors not only offered hurt women prayer and side-walk counseling, but worked to save the lives of their unborn babies.
Wendy was blessed to come face to face with a young woman whose mother protected her from abortion because of Wendy's abortion protest. "After speaking to Generation Joshua home school students, telling stories of rescuing babies from abortion," explained Wendy. "A young woman asked, "Have you ever met one of those babies that you rescued?"
Shaking her head no, Wendy explained that while she hadn't she would love the opportunity. "I was rescued from abortion and adopted because of you," the young woman told Wendy.
Lives are changed, in part, through vessels willing to "contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to God's holy people" (Jude 3) Sadly you wouldn't know that based on the premise of this "Christian worship" song.
To be fair, Family Force 5 is correct that grace is a necessary component to lead others to salvation in Christ. But it alone it is not enough. Grace without substance is pity and nothing more. Behind our compassion must be a willingness to share the totality of Christ's character and His command to turn from sin.
Contemporary Christian music has a tremendous ministry opportunity that expands beyond the borders of the local church. Christians cannot present half-truths for the sake easy listening and broader audiences. As followers of Christ, we can do better. Or at least turn off the radio.