Much like the death of an old, sickly relative, some tragedies occur in slow motion and the culmination of the tragedy, while not surprising, is no less grievous. And this is what happened when Relient K brought on genderqueer “Christian” artist Semler to open for their upcoming tour, putting yet another nail into contemporary Christian music’s (CCM) coffin.
Semler, whose full name is Grace Semler Baldridge, is a woman who claims to be non-binary, genderqueer, and a Christian. She’s the first openly 2SLGBTQIA+&$ artist to chart no. 1 on iTunes in the Christian category with her EP, Preacher’s Kid, which includes lyrical gems such as,
“And I cut my hair because I’m worth it
And these days I bеlieve in Bigfoot more than God”
“The first song I learned spoke of Bethlehem
So is that prophecy or is that brainwashing?
Cause no one ever pitched the Greek gods
And I don’t know why not
I think that Athena’d understand me”
“I’m saying ‘F*** a saviour’
And if she can’t take it then she’s small
I’m gonna ask a lot of questions
Because I’m giving this my all
You know the people preach now
Well they’d be putting us through s***
And if you don’t sanction that then why are you rewarding it?”
The transmission went out
Ah, yes. F*** a Savior indeed. Who needs him? And let’s conflate Sunday school with brainwashing. We should never teach our kids what we believe to be the truth. Side note: Would it be brainwashing for Semler to teach her future kids to be LGBT affirming?
But as noted, this isn’t surprising. In the last several years we’ve seen members of Jars of Clay, dcTalk, Audio Adrenaline, and Switchfoot, as well as the likes of Amy Grant and Lauren Daigle become “affirming.” We’ve even seen Jennifer Knapp and Ray Boltz come out as unrepentantly homosexual.
So the K Car had a flat tire and got towed to the shop, only to discover that the transmission was blown too, but this is what happens when basic maintenance hasn’t been done since, say, 1989.
But this hasn’t happened in a vacuum and isn’t solely due to theological liberalism, which Machen accurately called a totally different religion 100 years ago. No, it’s due to ostensibly Bible-believing pastors who 1) Refuse to actually teach what the Bible says and 2) Can’t keep it in their pants.
Swapping grass roots for AstroTurf
The failure of the church growth/seeker sensitive/attractional model is obvious. They spent so much time trying to get non-Christians in the door that they forgot to teach, well, Christianity. The promise of the movement was to get shallow for a while to get some people saved, and then, years down the road, get them deeper into doctrine.
That never came. Instead, we got quotes like this from Steven Furtick.
“If you know Jesus, I am sorry to break it to you, this church is not for you. ‘Yeah, but I just gave my life to Christ last week at Elevation.’ Last week was the last week that Elevation Church existed for you. You’re in the army now; we do one thing. We preach Jesus so people far from God can know Jesus… If that doesn’t get you excited and you need the doctrines of grace as defined by John Calvin to excite you, you (sic) in the wrong church. Let me get a phone book. There are 720 churches in Charlotte; I’m sure we can find one where you can stuff your face until you’re so obese spiritually that you can’t even move.”
Thus, the gathering of the saints to worship God on the Lord’s Day was shifted from worship – which it had been for 2000 years and doing just fine, thank you – to evangelism. It shifted from catechesis and reciting the Apostles’ Creed to three poorly covered Coldplay songs and a TedTalk on three steps to improve your marriage with a Sinner’s Prayer at the end. Of course, it’s not called a sinner’s prayer, because we don’t talk about sin anymore. Nah, come to Jesus for help with your mistakes and whoopsies and to help him cure your addiction. Jesus will be your spiritual Nicorette, but don’t expect any pastoral followup or accountability. We gotta keep people in the building so they can be evangelized just in case that first prayer and raised hand and signed card didn’t take.
And if you were wondering, that quote from Furtick violates at least John 21:15-17, Luke 10:38-42, Matthew 28:18-20, John 8:31-32, Acts 2:42, Titus 1:7-10, Titus 2:1-10, 2 Timothy 4:1-4, and 1 Corinthians 1:18-25.
The pastors’ pants party
So, as Relient K caves to the spirit of the age, we shouldn’t be surprised when that news breaks the same week as Tavner Smith, pastor of Venue Church in Chattanooga, Tenn., announced a four-week sabbatical, after which he’ll be right back in the pulpit. That wouldn’t be a big deal, but he’s in the middle of a divorce and has been videoed kissing one of his worship leaders, leading to eight of Venue Church’s staff resigning when Smith refused to step down.
And Smith isn’t alone in this category. Venue is part of the Association of Related Churches (ARC), a church planting network that has myriad ongoing lawsuits and at least five other publicly scandalized churches within the last year. Though vaguely orthodox, their website has more about their founding and mission than it does about any kind of statement of faith; it’s not even immediately clear to the uninitiated whether they’re trinitarian, or believe in justification by faith alone, or hold to the hypostatic union, or even believe in the general resurrection on the last day. They’re even so transparent that they’ve removed their constitution and bylaws from their website.
Of course, this isn’t a problem exclusive to ARC. Former PCA golden boy Tullian Tchividjian was sacked from a pastoral position in 2015 for engaging in an extramarital affair, and then he caught on in a non-pastoral position at another PCA church the very next year, only to have that job burn down, fall over, and then sink into the swamp when it was revealed that he had a different affair before the one that got him sacked. No word on if those who had previously sacked him have also been sacked, but he did end up planting another church, and those responsible for that decision should be sacked.
And then you have the ongoing allegations of sexual abuse in the SBC. That’s an ongoing, sensitive topic on all sides of the issue, but its presence is enough to warrant inclusion in our list of alphabetical collapse between the SBC, PCA, ARC, Relient K, CCM, and LGBT.
The spirit of the age is overt sexual license. And if our pastors aren’t going to be held accountable for not keeping it in their pants, you can rest assured that those who follow them will follow suit and also not keep it in their own pants. Why even wear pants at this point?
Yes, he said that
This all fittingly coincides with the death of Anglican archbishop Desmond Tutu, most renowned for his opposition to Apartheid in South Africa. But he was also a diehard liberal theologian, going as far as to say, “I would not worship a God who is homophobic. I would refuse to go to a homophobic heaven. No, I would say, ‘Sorry, I would much rather go to the other place.’” Let’s ignore every biblical command about that behavior or that God setup sex and its parameters, and let’s ignore that Jesus affirmed that.
Instead, we should ask the important questions. Did God really say that he created them male and female, and that a man should leave his father and mother and cling to his wife (Matt. 19:4-5)? Did God really prohibit homosexuality (Lev. 18:22)? Did God really attach moral qualifications and a good reputation to the office of pastor/elder (Titus 1:6-9)? Did God really put the kibosh on women as pastors (1 Tim. 2:12-15)? Did God really say that we contribute nothing to our salvation (Gal. 2:16)? Did God really command accountability within local church membership (Matt. 18:15-20)?
And if those questions don’t feel kind of slithery at the moment, you may want to have a gander at Genesis 3, get through your cage stage when you realize that the bulk of American Christianity had been watered down for 30-plus years, and join those of us who truly want to see God crush the head of the serpent under our feet (Rom. 16:20).