I have to admit that I have always been a fan of Amy Grant. She released her first album in 1977 and my mom had it on tape. So as a child, I grew up listening to her music all the time. My first concert to attend was her Heart in Motion tour. I had all of her tapes and even a book of the piano sheet music from one of her albums. When, as an adult, I began singing in church, I always loved singing her hymn arrangements. In fact, her medley of Fields of Plenty and Be Still My Soul were such comfort to me during my mom’s battle with leukemia that I had it played at her funeral. I can’t listen to that song now without crying.
This is why this latest article about Amy Grant has deeply saddened my heart. Pride Source published an article last week that proclaimed Amy is taking her support for the LGBTQ+ community “one step further.” In her latest interview, she states, “Gay. Straight. It does not matter.” The LGBTQ+ community is understandably excited to have the support of such a long-standing Christian musician and icon.
But honestly, with that statement alone, it is difficult to know how to respond. In some respects, I would agree with her statement. Gay or straight, it does not matter – because we all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Gay or straight, it does not matter – because we are all in need of forgiveness through the atoning work of Jesus on the cross. Gay or straight, it does not matter – because God has called us to a holier standard of sexuality than the world defines. Gay or straight, it does not matter – because Jesus has said we must all deny ourselves and take up our cross to follow Him.
But that is not what she meant by her statement.
So let’s look at some of her other statements. Amy said, “Who loves us more than the one who made us? None of us are a surprise to God. Nothing about who we are or what we’ve done.” Well, from those statements I could agree as well. God knows every one of us better than we really know ourselves, or rather better than what we are willing to admit about ourselves. And He does love us more than anyone here on earth ever could. He loves every person so much that He was willing to step outside of His glory in heaven to come down and live this life on earth with the express purpose of dying for each person – so that we could be in fellowship with Him. That level of love and devotion in so vast it is unfathomable to us.
But that is not what she meant by her statement.
She continued, “That’s why, to me, it’s so important to set a welcome table. Because I was invited to a table where someone said, ‘Don’t be afraid, you’re loved.’” And with this statement I completely agree. We are all invited to the foot of the cross. We are all sinners in need of a savior. None of us is more or less sinning than anyone else. No matter how many sins or how “big” a sin we may commit, our sins separate us from the presence of God. Yet God Himself sets out a table to welcome us into fellowship with Him – if we are willing to accept His gift of grace and mercy. So no matter how many sins or how “big” a sin we may commit, we must confess and repent before a holy, perfect God and rest in the work He did on our behalf at the cross.
But that is not what she meant by her statement.
But then Amy says this, “It doesn’t matter how we behave. It doesn’t matter how we’re wired. We’re all our best selves when we believe to our core, ‘I’m loved.’ And then our creativity flourishes…When we’re loved, we’re brave enough to say yes to every good impulse that comes to us.’” And now I can’t agree. In fact, I couldn’t disagree more with this sentiment.
Before we get into why I disagree, go back and read her statement without the idea that she is talking about the LGBTQ+ community. Let’s imagine she’s addressing an Alcoholics Anonymous group. Would you agree? That it “doesn’t matter how we behave”? Imagine she is addressing a group of serial killers or sex addicts or shoplifters or gossipers?
Do we want to tell people it doesn’t matter how we behave? And that’s not even within the confines of Christian theology, but just in society in general. Does it really not matter how we behave? Do we want all of the groups I mentioned above saying “yes to every good impulse that comes” to them? I think not. We cannot at the same time be outraged about how people act and then say it doesn’t matter how we behave.
Therefore, it does matter how we behave – in both a simply earthly sense and even more so in an eternal spiritual sense. If we desire our neighbors and fellow men to behave according to the laws of the land, then we are admitting that it matters a great deal how people behave. How much more does God then desire for His people to abide by His laws?
Here’s the thing. We come to God as we are, warts and all. That is what Jesus meant by saying His “yoke is easy and His burned is light.” We can’t do things to earn God’s love. That is the truly freeing thing about the Gospel that no other religion can provide. You cannot earn God’s love by doing works. That is why He did the redemptive work for us.
However, once you have submitted to God, He desires something better for you. He calls you to a higher level of behavior. God doesn’t just love you with your sin and leave you in your sin. He draws us out of our sin. Salvation isn’t just saving us from condemnation in hell, but freeing us from the bonds of sin while on this earth.
In the Old Testament, God gave the Israelites the Ten Commandments with the reasoning behind it. God said in Leviticus 20:7, “Consecrate yourselves, therefore, and be holy, for I am the Lord your God. Keep my statutes and do them; I am the Lord who sanctifies you.” The Hebrew word for “sanctify” is qadash. It means to be clean, to consecrate, to purify, and to keep holy.
From this root Hebrew word, we get one of the names for God: Jehova-Mekoddishkem, “the Lord who sanctifies.” It is first used in Exodus 31:13 when God is instituting the Sabbath. He commands the people to keep the Sabbath because it is holy, that it is “a sign between Me and you throughout your generations, that you may know that I, the Lord, sanctify you.” If one of the names of God is “the Lord who sanctifies,” then He is clearly interested in the sanctification of our behavior.
But we tend to say that in the New Testament we can throw off those Old Testament laws and live under grace, as if God no longer cares how we behave. Nothing could be farther from the truth. If God asks us to love our neighbors, no matter their creed, color, or college sports team, tells us to love our enemies, and commands us to pray for those who persecute us, then He is definitely interested in our behavior.
In fact, Peter institutes the same statement from Leviticus in his first epistle. He writes in 1 Peter 1:16:
“As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one’s deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile, knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.”
Notice how much Peter describes how we are to behave. He says we are to be holy in all our conduct. Why? Because we were ransomed, which means set free, not with the typical things used to worship false gods in false religions, things like silver, gold, and wood. We were purchased by something much more valuable, the blood of Christ. It is for Him that we are to be holy. We are to no longer be driven by the passions we had in our “former ignorance,” meaning the lusts you had before you became a believer.
Paul explains this in Ephesians 4:22 that you are “to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.” The life we had before Jesus is not to be like the life we have once we are in Jesus.
What would characterize our old selves, former manner of life, and passions of our former ignorance? Paul gives us a good idea in 1 Corinthians 6:9-11: “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”
Paul lists a lot of behaviors that are abhorrent to God: sexual immorality, adultery, drunkenness, idolatry, as well as homosexuality. Those behaviors characterize our lives before God. God washes us clean from those and so that after we are walking with God, we are to now turn away from those behaviors. Though we all may struggle with any of those, we cannot go around claiming those are no longer abhorrent to God. When we do that, we are calling what is evil good. Throughout Scripture we are told those things are offensive to God. Therefore, we cannot applaud someone embracing and dwelling in those activities.
While the LGBTQ+ community is ecstatic to have Grant’s support, she has done them a great disservice. To unbelieving homosexuals, she has normalized their choices, failing to warn them of God’s judgment on sin – all our sin, one of which is homosexuality. She is taking what is abhorrent to God and saying it is good.
To homosexuals claiming to be believers, she has become a hindrance to their sanctification. Instead of encouraging them to set themselves apart as holy to the glory of God, she has led them to believe that God applauds our sin. God is not pleased when we sin, and He is even more offended when we sin and claim our sin can be done in His name. And for those reasons, Amy Grant’s statements break my heart.