A Christian Response to the Grammys
Updated: May 30
At a time when Christians have responded publicly to the Grammys in a variety of ways, I feel the need to remind anyone reading this post that I am proposing a Christian response to the Grammys, not the Christian response to the Grammys.
Unless you’ve been fasting from social media, television, radio, and public conversations for the past week, you have probably heard about Sam Smith and Kim Petras’s performance at the Grammys, in which they sang “Unholy” against the backdrop of satanic imagery. Understandably, this performance caused a bit of an uproar.
Christians complained to the FCC, they posted endlessly on Twitter—I’m sure pastors this week are preparing to use the controversial performance as an opportunity to deride the “Satan-worshiping Hollywood liberals” and “America’s rapid descent into moral bankruptcy” in their sermons tomorrow.
While the outrage is understandable, I want to propose an alternative response:
Calm the Public Uproar
I’m not suggesting we celebrate the performance. In fact, righteous indignation is a perfectly acceptable response to the flagrant celebration of unholiness. Take offense at the performance because it offends a holy God. But consider carefully how you respond publicly.
I don’t know what we hope to accomplish when we decry the performance and hurl vile labels at the performers. Why are we surprised when a group of non-Christian singers and dancers proclaim lyrics and wear costumes that fail to bring glory to God? Why would it come as a shock when unbelievers don’t act like believers? If we make it our mission to shut down such performances, then the best we can hope to achieve is that non-Christians begin to act more like Christians.
And what kind of consolation is that? Unholy lyrics and devilish imagery are no more offensive to God than trying to earn God’s favor through self-righteous religiosity. Freedom from condemnation in God’s eyes does not come from avoiding certain costumes and singing certain songs; it comes from faith in Christ. Jesus said those who believe in him are not condemned, but those who reject him are already condemned—meaning they are condemned for their sinfulness, and they failed to believe in the only one who could save them (John 3:18). So as Christians, what do we accomplish if we manage to force non-Christians to conform to our standard of morality?
Sinners living a little less sinfully is not pleasing to God. Rebels who have refused his authority over their lives acquiescing to a few of his demands does not solve the problem. If anything, we should convert our outrage at this performance into broken hearts for the lostness of those around us and a passion to share with them the forgiveness and freedom found in Jesus. That our culture finds such performances praiseworthy displays how far we have to go in our work of evangelism.
And I want to gently suggest that the public uproar is not helping. We aren’t converting anybody through our angry tweets and FCC complaints, and we are likely engendering further animosity in non-Christians for our attempts to force them into compliance with our standards of morality. Therefore, let’s calm the public uproar and communicate the radical grace and love of Jesus for the lost world.
Evaluate Media through Scripture
I also want to note the astute observation made by some Christians that Hollywood is “discipling” you and your children through the things you watch and listen to. Every show we watch, every movie we see, every song we listen to, all communicate messages about us, about others, and about reality—which means we need to be careful as we consume media.
However, I think it is misguided to say the act of watching a show, seeing a movie, or listening to a song that is not expressly Christian inherently disciples you in the wrong direction. My little sister and I both used to watch a show called The Good Place—a sitcom taking place in a fictional afterlife. The show explores concepts of ethics, morality, and eternity, and through such explorations it clearly communicates unbiblical philosophical ideas. But my sister and I continued to watch it because we thought it was funny and entertaining.
If we uncritically watched the show, then it could have influenced us in an unbiblical philosophical direction—it could have “discipled” us negatively. But we didn’t uncritically watch the show. We approached it as a fictional comedy and filtered any messages through the lens of Scripture.
We are not supposed to be boats tossed by the wind, pulled in one direction or another by every piece of media consumed. We aren’t moving in the right direction so long as we watch two episodes of The Chosen for every one episode of Lucifer. We are to be anchored in the Word of God, filtering everything we see and hear through the truth found in Scripture.
If you don’t wish to encounter any unbiblical ideas, become a monk. Remove yourself completely from the world. But as long as you’re going to stay in the world, you have the freedom in Christ to consume media, even if it not expressly Christian. Some media is completely irredeemable—I wouldn’t put a song celebrating unholiness at the top of my playlist or watch an NC-17-rated movie on a regular basis. But the rest of the media, which has some balance of good and bad in it, we can consume while evaluating the messages it communicates through the lens of Scripture.
All I am suggesting in this post is a measured response. Calm the uproar at non-Christians acting like non-Christians and respond with a greater passion for evangelism. Don’t retreat to the world of Christian media, playing The Chosen, God’s Not Dead, and Facing the Giants on repeat so you aren’t negatively impacted by the messages on TV. Instead, read the Word and evaluate what you’re seeing and hearing through Scripture. We aren’t to live of the world, but still have to live in it.