Ephesians 5:11-12 ~ 11-And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them. 12-For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret
Like my friends on Sesame Street taught me a long time ago...one of these things belong here and one of these things do not...
Well, if that were all there was to the story, that would be the end of it. However, the problem is that it seems that two individuals have come together to "praise the Lord" that have two diametrically opposing lifestyles and understandings of God and godly standards all together.
One one hand there is this:
"I wanna thank @Kandi for sharing her heart through song in a different genre and asking me to be apart of that process..."(Dr. Marvin Sapp)
Pastor Dr. Marvin(I guess a little gospel is better than no gospel) Sapp, pastor, gospel singer, formerly of the gospel group Commissioned, one that generally has a good reputation as it pertains to lifestyle and belief system. One could clearly call him a Christian by the fruit that he bears and his confession of faith and purity of lifestyle.
Then on the other hand there is this:
"I knew when I decided to do it that I would be criticized. That's to be expected,"..."I am honest about who I am. My great grandfather and my grandfather were Bishops in The Church of God Holiness. I believe in God but I have always struggled with the rules of the church, just like a lot of people." (Ms. Kandi Burress)
Kandi Burress, daughter of a bishop, entrepreneur, secular singer, secular record producer and secular song writer, formerly of the secular group Xscape, never been married, one child and currently lives with a man to whom she is not married ie: SHACKIN'-UP or what can be called "playin' house". One more thing, as you know, Kandi, also owns an internet company that sells, of all things, items geared to enhance one's sexual performance and or pleasure. These things are often called "sex toys".
Controversy & Criticism, Separating The Issues:
"I took the saying that we say" ("stay prayed up") "and made my testimony with it"
In an impromptu interview on Am 1690, WVON Chicago on Thursday Feb. 21st, Ms. Burress explained her surprise at the recent criticism, primarily from the church, over the fact that she endorses prayer, and claims a spiritual life while she continues in her sins. In the interview Kandi endorsed writing and singing her new gospel single "Prayed Up" as expanding her influence by using her "worldliness" to give her the ability to "reach" more people than those who are less "worldly" or that just sing gospel. In other words her "worldliness" becomes the power of her witness, not the holiness or the power of God.
For some reason, this subject is highly controversial. I say "for some reason", because I have a hard time understanding why Kandi and those that support her actions, can't seem to understand why those of us with a commitment to Christ, who left our sins at the door and foot of the cross, and continue to purge ourselves daily, have a problem with being told that a person who evidently have rejected what they were taught, have no commitment to Christ nor a godly lifestyle, can claim to be "prayed up". This is using the expression as a sort of encouragement to individuals to "keep your head up", while at the same time confessing and even demanding her "acceptability" with the church claiming acceptance with God. Then, to top it all off, the Pastor is grateful to be a part of her exploration into a different "genre", while she claims that what she is doing is performing an "outreach" for God by which God is using her to "reach" more people than "ordinary gospel singers". In other words, she is given credibility and an endorsement by those committed to the gospel, and her method is, at its heart, the claim that the "end justifies the means".
There have been quite a few statements made in defense of both of their actions. I'll deal with a few of them here.
Issue 1: "Some Leaders Are In Sin, So This Is No Worse..."
Though this statement acknowledges that this arrangement is somehow, not right and even sinful, on the real, we know that there are some who have undertaken to use the gospel to "reach" people while still openly living in sin? People are ready to say, "nobody is perfect". Admittedly, we can see that imperfection all around us. I know a person claiming to be a "minister" who has never placed 2 saved days together since they've been claiming to be saved. Many of us know that in reality some people never gain a commitment to Christ even in pastoral roles at churches or for other ministry work. This is a sad but true reality of the post modern church. Failures certainly abound and charlatans wax worse. However, that is not an excuse and or reason to say that God endorses or inspires the failures or that failures are acceptable with God. Those are two different things. the failure of others that have faith claims is not an endorsement for those who know the truth to sin and continue to engage in sin. Every man shall be judged according to their OWN actions and every TUB will sit on it's own bottom.
Issue 2: "Sellin' Sex Toys Is Legal And The Main Users Are Church Folk Anyway..."
The song certainly is not about sex toys, and that is a good thing. However, Kandi is engaged in a profession that, although legal, is highly questionable at the very least. Many have taken time to criticize the church as being "stiff", "rigid" and even "hypocritical", because church folk enjoy sex too. Some feel that to condemn Kandi is to condemn what we are already doing and what we enjoy even if secretly....Like the statement above, some even go so far as to say that the church is the primary buyer of these gadgets and sexual aids...Because of TV TRAGEDY'S like "The Sisterhood", I have even heard various radio hosts say that "first ladies of the church" and "church women" in particularly, are the primary purchasers of these sort of gadgets and sexual aids.
Aside from the fact that the the latter sentiments are no more than mere novel speculations, unsupported by any evidence (as I don't think that there is any official record of how many church folk, including first ladies buy sex toys as opposed to non first ladies and secular or unsaved folk) sentiments such as this seem to miss the point...the point being that all things that are LAWFUL are not expedient, (1 Cor. 10:23) there is a such thing as biblical morality and standards. In addition, many things that are lawful are yet SINS and should not be engaged or embraced by saved folk under any circumstance.
For instance STRIPPING is legal is it not? However, we ask, is stripping an activity that believers should be engaged or involved in simply because it is a legal activity? How about this...Prostitution is legal in Las Vegas isn't it? However, should believers that live in Las Vegas be engaged in prostitution simply because the activity is legal? I think NOT!
Things like this set morality and biblical morality in particularly on it's ear, especially for a modern generation not given to absolute truth and values. This question arises out of a society that is inundated with a "your truth" vs. a "my truth" paradigm and as a result of those determined to impose subjective and relative values and guidelines upon society instead of objective values, morals and substantive truths. As such this is and becomes a moral value tragedy if left alone and an opportunity for the church to arise and teach biblical moral values and why in Christ, there is a difference and truth.
Issue 3: "Church Folk Lack Love And Are Simply Being Judgmental..."
If we that are saved are going to "judge angels" (1 Cor. 6:3) we should be able to judge the truth of these matters according to the word of God. Judgments according to subjective and personal standards, are condemned by scripture. However, judgments made, according to the standards of the word of God, are REQUIRED in all things. Else all actions and all truths are equal. They need not be judged or discerned. However, we know that all actions are not equal. Neither do all actions have the same consequence, benefit nor reward.
Church folk SHOULD be judgmental aka: DISCERNING, when it comes to truth claims and the perception of truth, right and wrong. The truth claim that one can be "prayed up" while dedicated to their sins should be examined biblically since the bible (or at least the claim goes) endorses what the song represents and the actions of the individuals who have delivered the song. So the church has every right to judge what has been presented to it according to the standard of the word of God.
In addition to that, quite frankly, we should always begin with the fact that the world and its ideals, which are not always inspired by right, truth, or biblical righteousness, often have an intent to deceive and subvert individuals from the truth. These are called the "doctrines" or teachings of men. We are to be strong against these things whether they come from the church or secular society:
Ephesians 4:14 ~ That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;
1 John 4:1 ~ Beloved, believe not every spirit, but test the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.
Romans 12:2 ~ And be not conformed to this world: but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
As stated, although this is "just" a song, the truth claim is that one can live ungodly, deliberately sin and still be considered "prayed up"...The problem is that all that is needed is a popular gospel artist to solidify and endorse the message, and there we go...On the other hand, the fact of the matter is, how can we continue to think like, live like and be a part of the world and have any influence in changing it from a spiritual and godly standpoint?
Setting The Record Straight
No one minimizes Ms. Burress's business acumen. Evidently and obviously she is a smart marketer, creating an instant audience by going straight to the top of the "gospel music" world to introduce herself by stirring great controversy including maximizing her public and TV reality star personality. That is indeed genius. However, with that said, church folk need to understand that prayer (TRUE PRAYER) and really being "PRAYED UP" doesn't lead one into sin or deeper into ungodliness. In fact, quite the opposite is true of the believer:
2 Chron. 7:14 ~ If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.
It is certainly true that both Kandi and Marvin, like every one else, have a First Amendment right to worship as they deem fit, to and to speak or sing their minds. However, with that freedom comes the ability of everyone listening, including the church, and those who hold and value biblical morality to judge those actions in light of scripture, and see what is really being delivered to believers and non-believers alike.
Lev. 10: 10-11~ 10-And that ye may put difference between holy and unholy, and between unclean and clean; 11-And that ye may teach the children of Israel all the statutes which the LORD hath spoken unto them by the hand of Moses.
Ezek. 44:23-24 ~ . 23-And they shall teach my people the difference between the holy and profane, and cause them to discern between the unclean and the clean. 24-And in controversy they shall stand in judgment; and they shall judge it according to my judgments: and they shall keep my laws and my statutes in all mine assemblies; and they shall hallow my sabbaths
We have come a long way and we have fallen a long way as well. We certainly don't condemn or resign Kandi or Marvin to hell. I don't believe that is a biblical sentiment. However, we certainly do examine their actions and the statement made by their actions pertaining to this matter and find it wanting or lacking when their actions are held up to standards of biblical morality and truth. In addition, how many people will be negatively affected spiritually by this association? We are sure there are some that will claim that this song made them feel better. However, do numbers matter more than actions or scriptures that warn against being "unequally yoked together with unbelievers"? Is there a scriptural mandate or permission to be yoked with the ungodly to deliver a God inspired message? Then what kind of "message" is actually delivered with actions such as these? What is really being said, in addition to the words. Actions do speak louder than words don't they?
Things such as this confuse the weak and confound the wise. We ask Marvin, what was he thinking? Is there no accountability to at least align one's self with those who are on one accord? On the other hand as I have written previously, is this what gospel music has become? ...Simply a sound, or a marketing opportunity made to open a new market and sell more units, covered up with a word called "ministry". When we have top artists such as Pastor Kim Burrell wanting to sing with Prince, and others such as Mary Mary who embrace vulgar lyric laced rap artists such as David Banner, then we see that the confusion is one that seems to perpetuate itself over and over again.
So we are left standing on the outside, receiving the criticism of the world and those weak in the church, but the TRUTH is plain, LIGHT has NO FELLOWSHIP with DARKNESS. Call that light imperfect if you want to, but no matter how dim the light shines, there are still enough lumens to drive away darkness. That is the way it should be in a biblical paradigm. Shouldn't it?
Matthew 5:16 ~ Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.