According to CNN, an estimated 28 million viewers chose to tune in to the Grammy's earlier this week. In addition to the distribution of awards, audiences witnessed a very suggestive duet by Beyoncé and Jay Z as they sung "Drunk in Love," Katie Perry's spell casting performance of "Dark Horse," and a mass wedding ceremony of 34 couples – both gay and straight – among other provocative performances.
After reading the news of Natalie Grant's departure from the Grammy's on social media, I decided to scroll through her Twitter feed and see for myself exactly what was causing so much controversy. Wondering about her decision to leave, as I began to scan through the rushing stream of questions, false accusations, misquotes, and rebuttals, I finally emerged upon her original statement for leaving: "We left the Grammy's early. I've many thoughts, most of which are probably better left inside my head." As a Christian artist, she then mentioned the honor she feels to sing about Jesus – quite harmless, right?
So I decided to retrace my steps, carefully reading the progress of the debate unfold within the Twitter community. To my delight, Natalie received many comments of encouragement. However, some comments called into question Natalie's motives for leaving. One particular tweet that caught my attention gently chided Natalie by saying, "Chances are someone in your family is gay. I pray you won't have hate in your heart when he or she falls in love." Natalie then responded, "I have many gay friends and there is absolutely no hate in my heart. Nor did I EVER say that."
Natalie's stand and the torrent of comments in response to her decision to leave the Grammy's not only serves to illustrate how misunderstood Christians are within our culture but also how Christians themselves fail to understand how they are perceived by our culture. Most Christians base their convictions upon the plain reading of Scripture. The standard of Scripture contains a number of very specific behaviors which Christians are not to participate in nor condone (Romans 1:32). As a result, Christians have a responsibility to act upon the teachings of the Apostles, and in this case, something about the atmosphere of the Grammy's made Natalie feel uncomfortable so she left. What is the harm in that?
According to the current standards of our culture, it is okay for some entertainers at the Grammy's to participate in lewd acts in front of a very broad viewing audience, but should one decide to exercise the same freedom by standing and leaving the entertainment, she should be prepared to face a barrage of discrimination. There is a double standard when it comes to one's freedom of expression. It is a mistake to think that simply because somebody passionately disagrees with the actions of another that necessarily means that they condemn the individual.
Not only are Christians misunderstood, they also fail to understand that according to the standards of our current culture, to claim to be friends with someone without completely accepting their lifestyle is considered hypocrisy. For this reason, well-meaning Christians are unknowingly and innocently labeled by our culture as hypocrites. According to the standard of Scripture, there are a number of specifically mentioned behaviors that are detrimental to the well-being of an individual (1 Corinthians 5:9-11; 6:9-11). I have friends who were alcoholics. Out of concern for their well-being and because of our friendship, I have at times felt led to confront their behavior because of my love for them, not in spite of my love.
I have also had friends who have cheated on their spouses. Marital infidelity, according to the standard of Scripture is an undesirable behavior. Even though a number of Christians have participated in extramarital affairs, biblical standards are not influenced by statistical increases or even consensus; therefore, the standard for marriage remains. Again, out of a desire for the well-being of a friend, there have been times when I have felt led to encourage him or her to be honest with their spouse and if possible repair the relationship.
This is certainly not hypocritical. A hypocrite is one who claims to be someone he or she is not. A Christian is a person who embraces, practices, and teaches what the Apostles taught and is, therefore, obligated to live according to the standard of Scripture.
In fact, a Christian is most true to herself when her actions are guided according to the dictate of Scripture. Jesus Christ, our example, even modeled that he was willing to accept a person for where he or she was in life, but he was unwilling to leave them that way – read Christ's dialogue with the Samaritan woman at the well in John chapter 4 or any other conversations he had with people. Even though her actions were misunderstood, I believe Natalie was simply acting according to her convictions based upon the teachings of the One for whom she sings – motivated not by hate, but by the deepest kind of love.