Drawing the Line on Profanity in Christian Music

As Americans we are entitled to our right to free speech. However, the content of lyrics in today’s music and television continues to push the envelope.

The early days of television would not show a married couple sharing the same bed. Now on the Internet, there are seemingly few, if any, boundaries. As Christ-followers, we must maintain boundaries which separate us from a secular society.

Recently, Christian recording artist Derek Webb released the following e-mail to his fans.

“Friends – I haven’t sent many personal e-mails to this e-mail list but we’re in a situation that has gotten a little out of control and it’s time to fill you in. As some of you may know, I’ve been working for months on my new record, ‘Stockholm Syndrome,’ which I’ve recently finished and turned in to the record label. They’ve been very supportive over the years, but this time we didn’t get the response we expected. It seems I’ve finally found the line beyond which my label can support me, and apparently I’ve crossed it.

“I consider this my most important record and am adamant about all of you hearing it. We had originally hoped to have ‘Stockholm Syndrome’ out this month (next week even), but at this point we’re not sure when the record will come out and in what form. The majority of the controversy is surrounding one song, which I consider to be among the most important songs on the record. So we’ve decided it’s an appropriate time to break the rules…”

The rumor is that Derek used the s-word as part of his lyrics.

If the story is a publicity hoax, I think it shows poor judgment on the part of Derek and his label INO Records. If this is a legitimate dispute, I applaud INO for holding their ground.

Jars of Clay once used the word “whores” on the song “Oh My God.” Proverbs 8:13 states, “To fear the Lord is to hate evil; I hate pride and arrogance, evil behavior and perverse speech.”

Shock is easy, just ask Britney Spears. Her new hit will at first make you ask, ‘Did she really just say that on the radio?’ Once you view the poorly structured lyrics, you realized she only said it indirectly, which by FCC rules makes it OK.

What about the Aerosmith approach? Steven Tyler has brilliantly used innocent insinuations to create crude images.

Words have power, every word. Derek has been releasing albums for 15 years. I would hope he would know better.
Christian music is to inspire and praise God. I do not understand how a heart-and-soul Christ-follower could support vulgarity done in the name of Jesus. However, let me remind my readers, the reason for the dispute is only rumor.

If the allegations are true, would you support a Christian artist who feels the need to use vulgarity to express themselves in song?



  1. jarsofclayfan said:

    You are aware that the word “whore” appears in the Bible, right? Context can shape the meaning of a word. If nothing else, I’m glad that Derek Webb’s new album has spurred a discussion like this. In the real world, things aren’t as black and white as some purport.

    May 26, 2009
  2. jarsofclayfan said:

    That would be the “w” word you referenced earlier. Looks like your auto-censor could use a lesson in context as well…

    May 26, 2009
  3. said:

    OK, I have fixed our censor list to allow this word (although with a little apprehension 🙂 ). Once you find a contextual censorship tool, let me know. I’d like to invest in it. Thanks for your comment, jarsofclayfan.

    May 26, 2009

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