- (PHOTO: Jars of Clay)
Dan Haseltine, frontman for Christian rock band Jars of Clay, explained that he was not dismissing Scripture after conservatives accused him of supporting same-sex marriage in a Twitter conversation. He admitted he chose his words "poorly" but said he wanted to open up dialogue on a topic that he just began to ponder.
"In the heat of discussion, I communicated poorly and thus unintentionally wrote that I did not care about what scripture said," Haseltine wrote Friday on his blog. "Thus, the tsunami hit. It was picked up by bloggers and written into editorials before I could blink. And rightly so, people were shocked and offended by my statement dismissing the value of scripture. I got it. And possibly, I got what that combination of statements warranted for response. I should've chosen my words more wisely.
"I care about what scripture says. It matters."
Haseltine explained that he began thinking about gay marriage after he was invited to sit in a panel discussion on moral behavior and the church earlier this month as part of a music festival in Australia. The discussion turned to gay marriage, which he said he had "not given much attention to" previously.
"I knew it was a focal topic for many people in the church, and that it was a major issue in the growing partisanship of American politics, I just had not had the opportunity to think about it much," he wrote.
After a few days of pondering the issue and asking questions he didn't have the answer to, particularly after watching the film "12 Years a Slave," he went to Twitter.
"I don't particularly care about Scriptures stance on what is 'wrong.' I care more about how it says we should treat people," and "Just curious what 'condoning a persons homosexuality' does. Does it change you? Does it hurt someone? What is behind the conviction?" were some of the posts he wrote.
The posts attracted a lot of controversy on social media, and conservatives such as author and syndicated radio talk show host Michael Brown wrote in a Christian Post op-ed that "the only reason we're talking about redefining marriage today is because we are well down that slope already."
"My brother, as an influential Christian leader, you have a tremendous responsibility before the Lord to those who follow you, especially to impressionable, young believers, and you have not acted wisely by opening up a volatile discussion like this on Twitter," Brown said, addressing the vocalist.
"Were there no godly leaders you could counsel with privately? Was it good stewardship of your popularity and influence to announce your views on Twitter and then expect a substantive dialogue delimited by 140 character tweets? Are subjects like the meaning of marriage and the authority of God's Word in the life of a Christian now decided by who can come up with the catchier sound bite?"
Haseltine apologized for creating a "negative stir" and said it also affected the rest of his band. "[T]hough they were my questions and it was a dialogue provoked by me, it bled into the Jars of Clay world, and my other band mates felt people's dismay, frustration and the projection of my views and ideas back on to them. It is not theirs to shoulder," he wrote.
The music artist said he realized that "the issue I had chosen to discuss was far too personal, nuanced, and deeply connected to faith and our human condition to honor the amount of wrestling that others have done on this topic."
He also realized Twitter was a "poor venue" for such a debate.
Explaining some of the questions he was pondering before he tweeted, he wrote, "Having grown up in the Christian church, I have observed and perpetrated many acts that originated out of fear. In my career as an artist, musician, and storyteller, I have attempted to illuminate fear-based behavior in the church.
"I have attempted to provide questions that could lead to a more love based approach. This has meant taking a careful and often critical view of contemporary church behavior and culture. At times this has led me to unproductive and unfair assessments of the church culture. Other times, it has helped me navigate around unhealthy environments and practices that could have caused me to hurt people."
He wrote that he wanted to figure out if he had a "blind spot" and if he was buying into a form of oppression.
"Or does the legalization of gay marriage actually undermine traditional marriage and the biblical view of how we are called to live our lives?" he asked.
"So… yes, the implications and applications of answers to these hard questions are staggeringly important. And my engagement of the issue of just under 3 days left me very under equipped to answer my own questions."
He explained his thinking behind some of his tweets, including the "right and wrong" comment: "In my latest conversation on Twitter, I knew that the immediate response to questions about the gay community would be about whether gay sex was wrong or right. I do think this is a part of the issue, but I wanted to talk about other areas, and having just been on a panel discussing the ways the church's focus on moral behavior undermines its ability to love, I didn't want to get stuck on the 'moral right or wrong' part and stall any ability to talk about other aspects of the issue."
Jars of Clay acknowledged the controversy on their Facebook page, calling it a "heated week," but said that they would keep the comments section open on the page.
"Our passion has been and is- to help set a table that invites ALL to come, engage, respond- and deleting comments would inhibit that. However, we ask you to be civil, and respect the human dignity in each other regardless of whether you agree with them or not," the band wrote.
The Christian band, founded in 1993, has released 11 studio albums and has won both Grammy Awards and GMA Dove Awards.