Is it wrong to enjoy Kanye West's music based on his lyrics? Is it right to listen to a Christian worship leader's music regardless of his adulterous actions? Honest Kanye - bad. Deceptive Christian - good? I'm confused, so let's talk about it.
As hard as it is to believe, we didn’t always have the readership we do now. This post was the second one we ever published on Un-Learning, back when approximately 5 people tuned in. Check it out.
Preface #1: To avoid the possibility of appearing unloving and callous, I’m going to refrain from using the worship leader’s real name. We’ll call him, “Yodat Cray.” Some of you wouldn’t know this guy even if I gave you his name, but he’s one of the most prolific worship music leaders/worship songwriters of the last decade.
Preface #2: Inspiration for this post comes from statements that I’ve heard from many, in regards to it being a sin to financially support filthy lyricists, such as Kanye West. “There’s no way that a Christian should support artists like Kanye by downloading his music.”
In 2010, Yodat’s extra-marital affair was exposed. He had been involved in this affair for FOUR years; these four years were some of his most successful as a worship leader and songwriter. Churches are still singing these songs today; these songs that were written while Yodat was cheating on his wife and kids. We have nothin’ but love for Yodat. I’m glad for him that his affair was exposed, and I hope Jesus has restored (or will restore) what was lost in his life and ministry because of it.
As far as it being a sin when Christians financially support Kanye – or any artist known for explicit lyrics – by buying his music, this stance doesn’t feel right to me.
I realized today that my resistance is based on the fact that human beings aren’t Christians’ enemies (Ephesians 6:12). We needn’t be disgusted with Kanye. Offended by his lyrics? Sure, if you want to be, but repulsed by Kanye personally? I’m not sure if that’s valuable. I’m not sure if his lyrics are a legitimate basis for condemning “Christian Kanye downloaders” either. But, I really don’t want to go that route in this discussion. Another day. Another post, perhaps.
I want to focus on our comparison of Kanye to Yodat.
The only “thing” that distinguishes Yodat from Kanye is Jesus. Is Kanye’s music offensive and/or a stumbling block to you? Then don’t listen to him. Does Yodat’s music encourage you? That’s money, baby. As far as their actions and reputations are concerned, however, I honestly don’t know which one has done more harm.
One thing I do know: the Bible says not to even associate with someone who calls himself a brother while living a life of adultery (1 Corinthians 5:11). With that said, it would be crazy for Christians to stop buying Yodat’s music on the basis of his extra-marital affair. If that’s the case, people should also stop reading Psalms since most of them were written by King David who was a murderous adulterer. Forget reading Song of Songs, Proverbs, and Ecclesiastes too, because David Jr. had his share of girlies as well.
On the flip side, do you think it’s a sin for Christians to listen to Kanye? If so, I respect that position, and yet I’d disagree…as long as you don’t actually do the things he advocates in his songs…oh yeah, and while you’re at it, don’t do what Yodat actually did against his wife and kids.
Conclusion: Do I listen to Kanye West? Yes. Do I listen to the horrible things he says about women? Sometimes, but usually I delete those songs, turn down the volume, etc. Am I trying to make Kanye West fans? I definitely don’t care about that. I’d even like to make a quick parental pitch, being the father of three children: parents should be more involved in their kids’ CD changer…I mean, Pandora…I mean, their Spotify. For the youngins, Kanye should not be on the Spotify. Word on that? I’ll even go so far as to say that this world would be a better place if fewer people idolized Kanye West.
With that being said, the only good that will come out of folks not idolizing Kanye would be for them to instead idolize and put faith in Jesus Christ. Without Jesus as the central figure of one’s life, each person will gravitate to a different idol – which is altogether worthless. So, Kanye isn’t the issue, it’s whether or not someone worships Jesus.
So what’s the point of this post?
Am I trying to encourage Christians not to see people as the enemy? Yes.
Am I hoping to see Jesus be the savior and object of worship for more and more men and women? Yes.
Am I trying to encourage Christians to love more? Yes.
What does loving Kanye West look like to you? It may or may not include listening to his music. For me, it most certainly does. Not to mention, the man has some dope beats on his songs. Yo.