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Christian Rock Has Demonized LGBTQ Folks for Years. Now It Wishes Them to Live on – VICE



All through its 50 years as a style, fresh Christian song (CCM) has regularly functioned as a propaganda wing of the Christian appropriate. Whether or not it's the conflict on medicine, Christian nationalism, colonial missions journeys, or prayer in faculties, the trade has successfully used standard aesthetics to promote a conservative Christian message, regularly whilst demonizing outsiders.  
That is very true of the LGBTQ neighborhood, certainly one of CCM’s maximum common objectives. Whether or not a delicate jab, as in Scott Wesley Brown making a song about “fools who march for the precise to justify their sin,” or extra openly in terms of white rapper Carman caution of “the gay in San Francisco trapped in vile bondage,” distinguished artists throughout the style have regularly peppered their lyrics with reactionary homophobia. For a couple of generations, this song used to be pumped into the ears of queer and directly youngsters alike via song gala’s, church-camps, adolescence teams, and undertaking journeys—regularly paired with an identical messages about abortion, ladies’s rights, and anti-socialist fearmongering.     
However previously twenty years, the once-clear traces between CCM and secular song had been disrupted, and a few queer Christian songwriters have begun difficult lots of the style’s long-held cultural norms. That is very true as a wave of distinguished LGBTQ musicians have pop out publicly to an target market that when avoided them. CCM luminary Ray Botlz, whose “Thank You” scored numerous evangelical funerals, introduced in 2008 that his 30 years of making an attempt to “pray the homosexual away” hadn’t labored and that he could be dwelling his closing years with a person. British worship vocalist Vicky Beeching, who The Father or mother referred to as “probably the most influential Christian of her technology,” introduced she used to be homosexual in 2014, adopted through Trey Pearson, frontman of the 90s Christian pop punk band On a regular basis Sunday, in 2016.  
Even though some queer artists have discovered luck advertising their paintings to Christian listeners, they have got regularly needed to depart the inflexible confines of CCM to do it. Preacher's Child, recorded through the queer, non-binary musician Semler (whose actual title is Grace Semler Baldridge), briefly landed at #1 on iTunes’ Christian albums chart following its February 2021 liberate, blasting its well past the mega-church soundtracks. Semler’s song explores subjects that may had been unthinkable many years in the past, criticizing “repute hungry pastors” and calling out undertaking journeys as “scams” at the EP observe “Bethlehem.”
Preacher’s Child, which flourished regardless of the improve of the normal CCM pipeline, is a sign of an trade at a crossroads. If queer artists are discovering that they only don’t want the Christian song gatekeepers to are living their reality and categorical their artwork, does CCM trade with the days or double down on hate? 
Baldridge, for one, believes the luck of Preacher’s Child presentations that “Christian song wishes a large dose of honesty.” “It must maintain the truth that religion—like folks—is messy and complex,” they advised VICE. “I feel the heyday of CCM is over. The times of constructing a Christian selection to secular song the best way they did within the 90s got here to an finish with streaming. CCM goes via a metamorphosis and seek for identification.”  
Photograph of Michael Passons through Jeremy Ryan
Hillsong, the L.A.-based, celebrity-obsessed, quintessential cool-kids megachurch whose anthemic, emotionally rousing worship song is carried out each and every Sunday morning, has recurrently come to symbolize virtually everything of the CCM style as of late: conservative rhetoric wrapped in hipster clothes. Based in 1983, the church has used the attract of get right of entry to to well-known congregants like Justin Bieber, Nick Jonas, and Selena Gomez to attraction to younger worshippers extra socially liberal than Christian song’s conventional demographics. A 2019 find out about from the Public Faith Analysis Institute (PRRI) discovered that 51 p.c of white evangelicals below 50 improve LGBT rights, in comparison to handiest 34 p.c in their folks and grandparents. 
That divide has led Hillsong, whose ideals are founded in an offshoot of Pentecostal Christianity, to make statements that seem welcoming to the LGBTQ neighborhood however handiest on the maximum floor degree. In a 2015 weblog submit entitled “Do I Love Homosexual Folks?” Hillsong founder Brian Houston stated the church’s convictions imply it does “no longer verify a homosexual way of life” or “knowingly have actively homosexual folks in positions of management, both paid or unpaid.”
“I feel the heyday of CCM is over. The times of constructing a Christian selection to secular song the best way they did within the 90s got here to an finish with streaming. CCM goes via a metamorphosis and seek for identification,” Semler stated.
This rhetoric is a watered-down model of the homophobia peddled for many years through the Christian appropriate, in addition to its maximum distinguished mouthpieces. Within the Nineteen Eighties, CCM regularly functioned as an unofficial advertising marketing campaign for the Ethical Majority, a Christian political motion whose chief, Jerry Falwell, as soon as referred to AIDS as “a deadly judgment of God at the sin of homosexuality.” DC Communicate would move directly to be extensively considered probably the most influential Christian rock band of all time after assembly at Falwell’s personal Liberty College in 1987. In 1992’s “Socially Applicable,” DC Communicate perceived to parrot lots of the similar speaking issues in a music that perceived to remark at the AIDS disaster at its peak: “Occasions are changin’, with morals in decay / Human rights have made the wrongs OK.” 
As CCM grew right into a industrial powerhouse within the past due 90s and early 2000s, a lot of its artists have been discovering the style artistically claustrophobic and started to spill over into the secular global. Jars of Clay, Switchfoot, and MxPx have been starting to seem on MTV, preceded through Amy Grant’s “Child, Child” a decade previous. 5 Iron Frenzy have been writing songs that subtly addressed local American genocide and police brutality (which maximum censors on the time neglected). However queerness used to be nonetheless extremely taboo—and for no person extra so than queer artists themselves.
Whilst some directly Christian rockers may experiment with an androgynous and even outwardly effeminate glance—corresponding to DC Communicate’s lead singer, Kevin Max—many queer artists had been compelled to provide themselves as conventionally heterosexual as imaginable. Rising up in Mississippi, Michael Passons had a life-time of enjoy within the closet, which wasn’t prone to trade when he moved to Nashville and helped discovered the vastly standard vocal team Avalon. Because the feel-good soundtrack for each and every evangelical housewife in The united states, Avalon used to be below extra scrutiny than Christian art-rockers like Pleasure Electrical or business rockers like Klank to be standard-bearers for all of the nuclear households that attended their concert events.  
“One of the simplest ways to steer clear of scrutiny is to have a marriage ring on,” Passons advised VICE. “I wasn’t dressed in one, and I used to be virtually 30 and wasn’t relationship, so I used to be below the microscope. There have been rumors about me that weren’t true, however some that have been.” 
Whilst he wouldn’t pop out for just about two decades, Passons used to be kicked out of Avalon for being homosexual in 2003. His band individuals compelled him to visit conversion treatment if he sought after to stick within the band, and he attended a couple of classes prior to in the end dropping by the wayside. After, Passon stated he may now not in finding paintings within the Christian song trade. “We had bought thousands and thousands of data, Grammy nominations, a five-year report maintain EMI—an actual pinch-me second—after which I misplaced my option to make an source of revenue, needed to promote my area, and used to be sound asleep on couches,” he stated.
Jennifer Knapp discovered herself navigating this cultural vortex within the past due 90s and early 2000s when she bought 1,000,000 albums and CCM anointed her the Christian selection to Michelle Department and Vanessa Carlton, even if she by no means would have described herself that means. Knapp, who grew up in southeast Kansas, wasn’t raised in a spiritual family and stated it used to be a “tradition surprise” to unexpectedly in finding herself entrenched within the evangelical global. Whilst she stated that it used to be to start with thrilling to discover her religion via her song, she encountered quite a few “purity tradition” tropes acquainted to ladies who grew up evangelical, which conflicted together with her identification as a feminist. 
“I might arrive at a display in a tank most sensible and be informed I needed to trade prior to happening degree,” she advised VICE. “Folks have been asking me to be a spokesperson for sexual purity, as a result of I used to be considered as one of the vital function fashions for younger women. I might inform them that I didn’t accept as true with a large number of this, in my opinion and theologically, and that price me alternatives.”
Recording song within the CCM trade compelled her to position her sexuality on grasp for a decade, and Knapp in any case got here out as a lesbian in 2010. Nevertheless it’s necessary to Knapp to notice that she wasn’t closeted all the way through her years at the leading edge of CCM and that she didn’t depart as a result of she used to be homosexual. She stated that she disagreed with a spread of ideologies of that global and located she couldn’t write the songs she sought after to throughout the style’s company propaganda gadget. She were given her masters in theological research, married a lady, and returned to song in 2010 with a brand new album and a publicly homosexual identification. 
“One of the simplest ways to steer clear of scrutiny is to have a marriage ring on. I wasn’t dressed in one, and I used to be virtually 30 and wasn’t relationship, so I used to be below the microscope,” Passons stated.
A number of the adjustments in Knapp’s symbol in freeing her comeback report, Letting Pass, is how the album used to be bought. Even though her earlier hits “Undo Me” and “Romans” have been favorites of radio programmers—attaining #1 at the Christian rock charts in 1997 and 1998, respectively—Knapp selected to not liberate any singles from Letting Pass. The album used to be nonetheless a modest luck, attaining #3 on Billboard’s Americana/Folks charts.
The verdict to not marketplace the report for Christian radio mirrored a mindful selection through Knapp to forge her personal trail break free the trade that when tried to outline and constrain her. “Too regularly CCM is made through Christians, for Christians, to make extra Christians,” she stated. “That undermines the enjoy of considering religion and spirituality via artwork, and that’s what I sought after to do then and do now. CCM has most commonly given up on artistry. It’s simply reward and worship song now.”
Even though queer artists are growing song on their very own phrases, they haven’t but discovered a house within the conventional channels of CCM—which come with megachurches, right-wing political rallies, and nationwide Christian radio stations like Ok-LOVE, a kingmaker of the style. In a while after popping out, Trey Pearson used to be ousted from the Christian rock pageant Joshua Fest. Michael Passons got here out in 2020, and whilst he’s nonetheless making song, he has but to benefit from the luck that he did all the way through the apex of Avalon’s heyday. Passons sang backup vocals on a 2020 quilt of Avalon’s “Orphans of God” launched through homosexual nation singer Ty Herndon and Broadway staple Kristin Chenoweth. 
In an effort to stay making song throughout the extraordinarily inflexible confines of CCM right kind, many LGBTQ musicians are compelled to cover who they’re. Marsha Stevens-Pino, a distinguished determine in what historical past has dubbed the Jesus Motion of Nineteen Seventies California, would move directly to shape Born Once more Lesbian Tune (BALM) and find a wealth of queer-affirming Christians that dug her song, however issues weren’t all the time really easy. After she got here out as a lesbian following her divorce from bandmate Russ Stevens in 1979, the wildfire of gossip misplaced Kids of the Day their reserving agent, and the band cut up up quickly after.
Stevens-Pino stated that many distinguished manufacturers and songwriters stay closeted to steer clear of the similar scrutiny she and others have confronted. The truth in their sexuality is an “open secret,” she stated, even if they “don’t need you to discuss it.”
“The primary Sunday of each and every month is gospel song night time on the homosexual bars in Nashville, and I see multi–Dove Award winners there each and every time,” she stated, regarding the evangelical identical of the Grammys. “The night time prior to the Dove Awards there’s one thing referred to as a Crimson Birthday celebration for all of the homosexual nominees, and its a really perfect homosexual, drag queens–and-fountains-of-champagne-type birthday party.” 
“Folks have been asking me to be a spokesperson for sexual purity, as a result of I used to be considered as one of the vital function fashions for younger women. I might inform them that I didn’t accept as true with a large number of this, in my opinion and theologically, and that price me alternatives,” Knapp stated.
It’s unclear the place the sexual combat traces of CCM shall be drawn one day. Amy Grant and Kevin Max each won heavy grievance amongst evangelicals for his or her divorces within the 90s, handiest for a similar communities to improve thrice-married Donald Trump for president in 2016. And with out the isolation that the 90s song trade equipped—the place evangelical folks handiest purchased their teenagers the Christian model in their favourite rock band—it’s tough to believe the trade present in two decades. 
However that’s a pipe dream in some ways. As long as there’s a Christian appropriate wanting a well-liked tradition set with the exception of “Hollywood liberals,” and as long as that motion makes use of social problems like trans folks in bogs and queer Disney characters to additional its political schedule, there shall be a necessity for a song trade that displays the “conventional” American identification, alternatively sidelined it could be in a given cultural second. Even though that also raises a query that CCM is suffering to reply to: How tough may such an trade stay if younger individuals are increasingly more leaping send? 
Jennifer Knapp thinks it could be good for the Christian song trade to open its doorways to queer musicians if hopes to attraction to millenial and Gen Z listeners, however she isn’t retaining her breath. “There are evangelical queer musicians in the ones worship bands, dwelling double lives, however that marketplace gained’t signal an out particular person till they’re a monetary festival,” she stated. “They’ve the precise to have their very own form of high quality regulate for Christianity, however at that time, it’s no longer a style that’s supporting the variety that Christianity has to supply.”
Observe Josiah Hesse on Twitter.

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The Friend Who Sticks Closer than a Brother




The Friend Who Sticks Closer than a Brother

Embracing True Friendship: The Friend Who Sticks Closer Than a Brother

Friendship is a valuable asset that enriches our lives by providing companionship, support, and a shoulder to cry on. But have you ever had a buddy who goes above and beyond—someone who remains closer than a brother? In a world where relationships can be fickle, a friend who sticks by us through thick and thin is a rare and priceless gift.

More Than Just Blood Ties

Consider the tie between siblings, which is based on blood and shared history. Consider a buddy who is more than just a family member. “One who has untrustworthy friends soon comes to ruin,” says Proverbs 18:24 (NIV), “but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.”

This verse describes a friendship that goes beyond basic conditions. It’s a bond founded on trust, loyalty, and real concern for one another.

Continuous Support

Consider a buddy who is present not only during happy times but also during difficult times. This type of friend is unconcerned about changing circumstances or personal gain. They provide their presence, encouragement, and steadfast support.

Jesus expresses the core of such friendship in John 15:13 (NIV): “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. This selfless affection serves as the foundation for a lasting connection.

Journeys Together

Consider a friend you’ve shared many stages of life with—the highs, the lows, and everything in between. This shared experience forges a link that extends beyond surface-level exchanges. The value of companionship is brilliantly captured in Ecclesiastes 4:9–10 (NIV): “Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor. If either of them falls down, one can help the other up.”

A friend who sticks closer than a brother is someone who goes beside us through life’s ups and downs, lending a solid hand and an ear to listen.

A Mirror of God’s Love

As a symbol of God’s love for us, consider the buddy who sticks closer than a brother. God Himself offers an unbroken, unchanging, and everlasting companionship. “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord,” says the Bible in Romans 8:38–39.

God’s love is the ultimate paradigm of true friendship—a love that is not conditional but remains faithful regardless of what happens.

Conclusion: Value true friendship.

A friend who sticks closer to you than a sibling is a treasure to be treasured. This type of friendship is founded on love, trust, and mutual care rather than convenience or shared interests. May we seek to be that sort of friend to others in our lives, just as God offers us His unfailing love.

In a world where relationships can be fleeting, let us create friendships that will endure. Let us be the sort of friends who are present in both joy and sadness, who offer unconditional support, and who mirror God’s unfailing love. We are reminded of the beauty of true friendship, which clings closer than a brother, as we welcome and cherish these unique and valuable ties.

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The Just God




The Just God

The Just God: The Divine Balance of Justice and Mercy

The concept of justice is intertwined with the fabric of human society. We seek justice, responsibility, and reparation for wrongs done. But have you ever pondered a God who is not only just but also perfectly just? The Just God is a lighthouse of truth and righteousness, providing a profound awareness of justice and kindness that transcends human comprehension.

Justice in Pursuit

Consider a world where wrongdoers go unpunished and the disadvantaged have no recourse. The pursuit of justice is a natural human goal that reflects a feeling of rightness and order. And if we as humans value justice, how much more should the Creator of the universe, who is completely just?

According to Deuteronomy 32:4 (NIV), “He is the rock; his works are perfect, and all his ways are just. He is a loyal God who does no wrong, who is straight and just. This verse reveals God’s character, which is characterized by unwavering justice.

Justice and Mercy in Balance

Consider yourself in front of a judge who holds you accountable for every action and decision you make. Imagine that same judge showing mercy and giving you a second opportunity despite the evidence against you. The just God is kind as well as just.

This delicate balance is captured in Psalm 103:10–11 (NIV): “He does not treat us as our sins deserve, nor does He repay us according to our iniquities. For his love for people who fear him is as high as the skies are above the earth. God’s justice is balanced by his unending love and kindness.

The Redemption of Justice

Consider a debt that you will never be able to repay—a debt of mistakes and wrongs that weigh heavy on your soul. In His perfect justice, the just God provides a solution. God provides a mechanism for justice to be served and redemption to be offered through the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus Christ.

“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” says Romans 3:23–24 (NIV), “and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. This is an example of justice being met via the redemptive act of Christ’s sacrifice.

A Call to Justice

Consider a society in which justice is not simply a notion but a way of life. In our interactions with others, the just God calls us to exemplify justice. Micah 6:8 (NIV) states unequivocally, “He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. What does the Lord expect of you? Act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with your God.”

Living justly entails treating people with fairness, compassion, and respect, as the character of the just God requires.

Finishing: Adoring the Just God

The Just God asks us to comprehend the breadth of His justice—a justice that supports truth, requires accountability, and strikes a balance between mercy and justice. God’s justice and mercy merge in the person of Jesus Christ, offering us redemption and restoration.

May we turn to the just God as our ultimate standard as we traverse a world that frequently grapples with issues of fairness. May we seek His wisdom and counsel in order to live justly and treat others with love and justice. We find not only a paradigm of perfect justice but also an invitation to experience the transformative power of His kindness when we embrace the Just God.

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The Pleasure of Serving Others: A Pathway to Achievement




The Joy of Serving Others: A Pathway to Fulfillment

The Pleasure of Serving Others: A Highway to Contentment

Have you ever ever felt the nice and cozy glow that effects from lending a serving to hand to a stranger, the enjoyment that lasts for days after the act of kindness? That emotion offers a way of the pride of serving to others. The straightforward act of serving to can give us a sense of function and pleasure in contrast to the rest in a society that incessantly pushes us to place our consideration on ourselves.

The Want to Serve

Believe a society the place everybody labored to fortify the lives of people of their instant neighborhood. The need to lend a serving to hand, proportion a load, and supply comfort is on the core of carrier. The instance used to be established through Jesus Himself when he stated, “For even the Son of Guy didn’t come to be served, however to serve, and to provide his lifestyles as a ransom for plenty of.” (NIV, Mark 10:45)

Serving others is extra than just a nice deed; it is a way to emulate the compassion and love that Christ proven for us.

Discovering Pleasure in Selfless Giving

Believe spending time with the aged or going to a neighborhood refuge to hear their stories and cause them to really feel essential. Those tiny acts of kindness won’t appear to be a lot, however they be capable to make any person’s day higher, create relationships, and toughen a sense of group.

A better feeling of pleasure emerges after we set aside our personal issues and be aware of the wishes of others. The Bible admonishes us, “Every of you can use no matter present you’ve gotten won to serve others, as trustworthy stewards of God’s grace in its more than a few paperwork.” (NIV) 1 Peter 4:10 We specific the particular talents God has given us through serving others, and it’s in those deeds of carrier that we discover authentic pleasure.

Have an effect on Unmeasurable

Take into consideration the impact if all of us realized to experience serving to others. If we take a bit spoil from our tense schedules to lend a hand a neighbor, supply a sympathetic ear, or donate cash to a reason we reinforce. Small acts of kindness have the facility to unfold, sparking a sequence response of generosity and optimistic exchange.

In step with the NIV translation of Matthew 25:40, Jesus stated, “Actually I inform you, no matter you probably did for this sort of least of those brothers and sisters of mine, you probably did for me.” No longer simplest can we fortify the lives of other folks we serve, however we additionally perform Jesus’ command to like and deal with the ones round us.

Development Relationships and Connections

Believe the sensation of camaraderie that comes from cooperating with others to reach a shared purpose. Folks come in combination via carrier, growing ties and friendships that differently won’t have took place. It serves as a reminder that we’re all part of a broader group, and that group would possibly take pleasure in the acts we do.

Serving others permits us to peer the arena from many angles and to realize the demanding situations and victories of other folks round us. Our lives are enriched and {our relationships} are deepened through this sensitivity.

Conclusion: Discovering Contentment Via Carrier

Every people has a skill that is able to be opened: the pleasure of serving to others. It serves as a reminder that our lives are meant to be about extra than just our personal pursuits; they’re an opportunity to fortify the lives of others.

Let’s thus embody the pride of serving to others, if it is by means of deeds of kindness, volunteering, or simply being conscious about their wishes. The easy act of serving would possibly supply mild and hope in a global that every so often turns out overwhelming. As we emulate Christ and prolong ourselves in love, we no longer simplest exchange the lives of others but additionally revel in a deep feeling of success and enjoyment that overflows into our personal hearts.

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