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Flamy Grant, CCM & the Gospel

Christian parents have grappled with how to help their kids navigate popular culture for generations. By the time I was growing up in the 1980s, the emergence of a parallel music world that came to be called CCM, or, contemporary Christian music, made that job a bit easier.

As a young fan of heavy metal, for instance, I discovered faith-based alternatives to the metal bands of the day that offered a similar sound and a more redemptive message. If you were a fan of Ratt, for instance, there was White Cross. AC/DC? How about some X-Sinner. Bon Jovi? White Heart offered something similar. And, of course, you had bigger artists like Amy Grant, DC Talk and Stryper enjoying honest-to-goodness crossover success.

By the early 1990s, Christian music had begun to move away from being well-crafted soundalikes to forging an independent, more aesthetically independent identity. I still remember hearing Jars of Clay’s “Flood” on the local modern rock channel and feeling exhilarated that Christian acts weren’t merely imitating the sounds of the day, but crafting something new, different and sonically excellent. As the last millennium wound down and new one began, more and more artists of faith—some of whom weren’t particularly interested in the CCM label—continued to gain traction in various genres, from Switchfoot and Skillet, to (more recently) Lecrae and Lauren Daigle.

One hallmark of the genre, though, was that CCM artists and the songs they created faithfully cohered to a biblically orthodox worldview. Sure, there were examples to the contrary here and there. But generally speaking, if we were talking about CCM, we could make some assumptions about what to expect theologically.

But just as once-trusted mainstream entertainment outlets have increasingly embraced social activism and politically progressive messaging—Disney, of course, comes to mind—so we’re now seeing a parallel phenomenon under the broad umbrella of CCM.

This week, former worship leader Matthew Blake briefly hit the top of iTunes’ singles chart and album charts in his drag alter ego, Flamy Grant. The single features Derek Webb (formerly of the band Caedmon’s Call), who has in recent years become an outspoken ally of the LGBT movement. (Webb’s most recent solo work includes the song “Boys Will Be Girls.” In the song’s video, Flamy Grant gives Webb a drag makeover.)

Flamy Grant isn’t the first LGBT singer to top the Christian charts. (That happened in September 2021 with Semler’s album The Preacher’s Kid.) But, just as we’ve seen in the mainstream, the number of artists embracing both faith and a pro-LGBT worldview is growing, including Jon Foreman of Switchfoot, Dan Haseltine of Jars of Clay and Tiffany Arbuckle of Plumb, among others.

The conversation—or, at times, something closer to a social media shouting match—revolves around LGBT-sympathetic artists who want to proclaim affirmation on one side and those defending a traditional understanding of biblical sexuality on the other.

Webb has said, “If you claim to be someone’s ally, but aren’t getting hit by the stones thrown at them, you’re not standing close enough.” Blake, on Flamy Grant’s Instagram page, is more profanely blunt: “A community of people who wholeheartedly and full-throatedly reject the notion that Christian faith has to look like the fearful, petty, weak evangelicalism that demonizes so many people and dominates too much of life in the US. … F— that. You belong here, if here’s where you want to be. I love you.”

I quote these two voices to give you a sense of what they’re arguing, where they’re coming from and how they’re convinced that embracing Jesus and embracing an LGBT identity and behavior are compatible.

We’re certainly familiar with LGBT affirmation in mainstream entertainment. But, increasingly, this example shows us how a similar conversation is emerging somewhere we might once have considered a safe harbor in the cultural storm: the world of contemporary Christian music.

That harbor, it turns out, is churning and roiling with the waves and currents of this controversy. As with so many other forms of entertainment these days, CCM is a realm that requires wisdom and discernment with regard to the messages and worldviews being communicated. Parents can’t simply assume that a CCM artist will conform to their own understanding of Scripture.

In his song “Boys Will Be Girls,” Webb sings, “I heard Jesus loved and spent his life with those who/Were abandoned by proud and fearful men/So if a church won’t celebrate and love you/They’re believing lies that can’t save you or them/Cause you’re so beautiful by any name.” 

Those lyrics might, superficially, sound compassionate. But when we look closely at what Jesus called people to do when He invited them to follow Him, we see truly radical compassion paired with an equally radical call to repentance from our self-absorption.

In Matthew 9:36, we read this description of Jesus: “When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.” Jesus came “to seek and save the lost” (Luke 19:10). He did, in fact, love those who “were abandoned by proud and fearful men,” as Webb sings.

But Jesus did not abandon them to their sin in the name of affirmation and love, nor did He celebrate it. Instead, He called those who would follow Him to relinquish their worldly ways (“Unless you repent, you will all likewise perish,” Luke 13:5), to renounce their sin (“Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more,” John 8:11) and to live a life of sacrificial service, taking up our cross just as He did for us: “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it” (Matthew 16:24-25).

Jesus invites us to receive His forgiveness, His grace, His love, His acceptance and affirmation. Fully. Completely. Utterly. But we must never forget that the awesome gift He offers was paid for with His blood. He died to cleanse and free us from a life enslaved to our self-focused appetites, our determination to find pleasure and satisfaction and meaning on our own terms.

I believe—deeply—that Jesus has compassion on those who’ve struggled with a heavy burden of shame, isolation, fear and weariness. But the antidote to those struggles isn’t celebrating and affirming whatever we might think is right. Instead, the Gospel is an invitation to walk with Him, to let Jesus transform every aspect of our lives: what we eat, what we buy, what we value, how we treat others. And, yes, how we think, feel and behave sexually.

That Gospel is so much bigger—and so much more abundant—than the false, seemingly compassionate gospel of sexual inclusivity.

I close with Eugene Peterson’s paraphrase of Jesus’ own invitation to relationship with Him: “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly” (Matthew 11:28-30, The Message).

Adam R. Holz

After serving as an associate editor at NavPress’ Discipleship Journal and consulting editor for Current Thoughts and Trends, Adam now oversees the editing and publishing of Plugged In’s reviews as the site’s director. He and his wife, Jennifer, have three children. In their free time, the Holzes enjoy playing games, a variety of musical instruments, swimming and … watching movies.

54 Responses

      1. -This made me giggle (it’s a reference to Google’s parent company, for people who don’t get it).

  1. -Same here. It drives my crazy how Bible believing Christians get villainized for not celebrating what the alphabet mafia do in the bedroom.

    1. -And for trying to make it illegal to do so
      .or ban books that acknowledge LGBT people

  2. -Awesome article. Plan to print it out and probably use some of it in future writings. Yes I will give full credit to where the comments came from.

  3. -The enemy has found a stronghold in our culture and it is spreading like a virus. Even the church has become infected. Until more believers find the courage to stand up and speak love IN TRUTH as Jesus commands – nothing will change. I believe this is the most dangerous thing facing the next generation – it’s far too important for us to be shamed or lulled into conformity. Look at how many have been led astray, living a lie, deceived and unknowingly a tool in the enemy’s hand. Stand for truth church! That’s your purpose.

  4. -Thank you, what a great article! Of course we want to show God’s love to the lost, but it is not love to encourage them to keep traveling down all the wrong paths!

  5. -“The conversation—or, at times, something closer to a social media shouting match—revolves around LGBT-sympathetic artists who want to proclaim affirmation on one side and those defending a traditional understanding of biblical sexuality on the other.”

    Which tends to lead into the discussion of Side A (“LGBT is fine when Scripture is taken in full context”) vs Side B (“LGBT is not fine in light of Scripture but I am LGBT and will thus be celibate [I pray for these people a lot because that has to be a painful set of sacrifices I’ve seen very few churches “carry each another’s burdens” with, just as I wouldn’t want to have to lay down my own desires without a very good reason] “).

    For my part, I haven’t seen evidence that any one side here (A, B, or “discard all of it”) has a definitive conclusion to defend here, because so much of it, as with the debate over women pastors, comes down to obscure word meanings in ancient languages and cultural contexts, not down to pragmatic facts and data over who or what is or isn’t being harmful. It’s not so easy to appeal to a source definitively having authority to say “X is wrong” when it’s not always crystal-clear that the source in question even says what it’s thought to be saying, let alone that it has the authority or defense in order to do so. And if we have to go to that much obscure effort to even argue that something is an issue in the first place, that tells me that, regardless of which side is “right,” we have much more pressing priorities around us when people are suffering in ways that don’t require an advanced theological degree in order to decipher.

    “somewhere we might once have considered a safe harbor”

    I’m really concerned about this use of phrase when LGBT people – I don’t consider myself particularly ‘affirming,’ but there are much worse things in the world, and the dangers the community is experiencing are far more severe than the ones many churches accuse them of inflicting – all too often have to worry about potentially losing their lives in a hate crime, as has happened many, many times before, all over the world; whereas when articles like this speak of “safe harbor” and a “cultural storm” (the presence of a “storm” tells me that a lot of people are tired of seeing LGBT people being targeted and killed for no good reason), we’re being asked merely to worry about being able to express XYZ beliefs without criticism or pushback. We’re not being kicked out of our homes for saying gay people can’t marry; we’re not being forced into conversion-therapy camps; we’re not being targeted in hate crimes. Let’s reserve “safe harbor” for people who are actively being injured and “mafia” for actual mafias. LGBT supporters, whether ultimately theologically right or wrong, aren’t a criminal syndicate.

    “I believe—deeply—that Jesus has compassion on those who’ve struggled with a heavy burden of shame, isolation, fear and weariness”

    This sounds very good in its own context, but the bulk of the isolation and fear I’ve seen among LGBT people doesn’t come from their actually being LGBT – it comes from their being ostracized from their communities and sometimes even being kicked out of their homes (which sometimes feeds those homeless people into human trafficking, by the way – cf. The Polaris Project).

    So regarding that conversation at the top and what it “revolves around,” I’m choosing not to embrace either side — I’m not really affirming, and I especially think a lot of pro-transgender arguments don’t really stand up to scrutiny, but I’ve seen far too many cases of LGBT ideology being blamed for things that it has nothing to do with (such as people stereotyping LGBT people as “child abusers” when there’s no proof of that and there is plenty of abuse outside LGBT circles, or the old slippery-slope arguments that were common back when same-sex marriage wasn’t the law of the land), and until churches unify against hate crimes, I don’t expect LGBT people or their allies to believe that the church has their best and safest interests at heart, whether here or in the hereafter, any more than any other competing ideology has their interests at heart.

    1. -How would you suggest we unify against hate crimes? This sounds like I’m picking a fight, but I mean this question seriously. I believe the LGBT lifestyle is condemned the Bible, both in specific references and in the full context of God’s plan for man. I also firmly believe violence against these people, especially from people claiming the moral high ground, is appalling. I just don’t know what I can do about it.

      1. -Just let love be your overriding principle. Not politics, tradition, social trends, theology, personal opinions, etc. Those have their place, but when you find them in conflict with God’s command to love, choose love.

      2. -Thank you for lucidly asking. I don’t have all the answers. I do think that we need to call it out when we see it and not be silent about it.

        Speaking of Derek Webb, I hope Sandra McCracken’s still doing okay.

    2. -The Lord Jesus is the standard, and He states He did not come to abolish The Law ( given to Moses & Israel) but to fulfill it. The gospels and Paul’s letters didn’t have to say much about ‘gender ideology’ (though Romans 1 explains where this stuff comes from) because the issue was settled in the Law. Before we (the created) try to justify and tie ourselves into a pretzel to embody OUR OWN definition of “compassion”, we must measure it against what the Creator orders. The LORD is not mealy-mouthed regarding ONLY two sexes and He requires humanity to identify self and others based on the prima facia realities. He then declares the end of those who contradict. Satan’s tactics haven’t changed, “Did God really say…?”; and all who employ similar supposed reasoning to justify any position contrary to God’s declaration are not being compassionate, but instead doing the exact opposite: exchanging truth and healing for a sick lie. All humanity is damaged by its rebellion. The rebellion always boils down to a belief that ‘I am my own god’ and therefore I’ll define life, truth, and all else by my own rules. ‘I am a girl though my DNA and reproduction system is boy’ is only one iteration of “I will make myself like the Most High” (Isa 14:14).

      Instead of trying to warp the LORD’s instruction around rebellion, disciples must declare, “it’s all rebellion, but the LORD has provided salvation from the penalty of our rebellion. Recognize our thoughts and deeds are contrary to His instruction and order, receive forgiveness AND repent – which is a change in what and how we think, that by definition will change behavior. The Holy Spirit will then guide us in surrender of our rebellious nature.

  6. -The real elephant in the room that no one’s discussing is the fact that this Flamy Grant song is being classified as “Christian”. How so? By what or whose standards? I perused some of his (hers? theirs? its?) lyrics online and there’s absolutely nothing Christian to be found. Any direct reference to God or the Bible is in a profane and blasphemous context. Don’t give the LGBT community, and the media, the satisfaction of conflating this garbage with Christianity.

    1. -Indeed. This was my first thought as well. Disappointed to hear about Jon Foreman responding to this even as I know of his libertarian/ California egalitarian sort of leanings. But the rest of them can hardly be classified as Christian given they’ve overtly defected, always expressed liberalism, or shown have shown outright contempt as Derek Webb has.

    2. -If you listen to her songs, you will tell her faith is beautiful. There is Jesus all over the place in her music.

  7. -Curious, anyone been able to verify whether Amy Grant approves or disapproves of her name being used in a drag reference like this? I know she hosted her niece’s same-sex wedding, but that’s not really the same thing. If it were me, I’d be none too pleased, even if it was meant in reverence.

  8. -What we have seen attacked incessantly for a few decades now is the covenantal principles God instilled within creation itself – the sanctity of human life (imago Dei), the immutability of human sexuality (male and female He created them), and the covenant and sanctity of marriage (And the rib that the LORD God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. Then the man said, “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.” Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.) – the latter being compared to the mysterious union of Christ with the Church (Ephesians 5). Of course, if one claiming the name of Christ rejects out of hand the account of creation in Genesis as ‘myth’ or ‘allegory,’ it becomes all the more easier to reject these immutable truths ingrained within creation itself.

    The strategy of the spirit of the age is simple – destroy the foundations and the entire building crumbles. We as a culture are just dancing and strutting upon the ash heap where so many other empires have gone to die… empires that followed the precise path that we now are on (see Arnold J. Toynbee’s “A Study of History” and “Civilization on Trial” for examples). The writer of Ecclesiastes had it right. There really is nothing new under the sun. The enemy trolls us by causing repeated history to rhyme as well.

  9. -Guys maybe the lgbt community wants to just exist and be themselves and aren’t harmful to anyone

    1. -Drag Queen Story Hour, Easy-tuck bathing suits for 8 year olds, Firing of teachers for not using “They/Them” for non-binary students, elementary school curricula luring 7 year olds to explore their sexuality and not immediately accept that they are a boy / girl until they have time to explore…ALL contradict your statement. Yes, there are some who are experiencing a ‘mental health crisis’ and confusion (as testified to Congress by de-transitioner Chloe Cole) but the undercurrent of this global movement is far deeper and darker. Tom W. summarizes it well.

    2. -You mean well but LGBT philosophy does hurt people. It hurts children who are kept from knowing a mother or father because their parents are of the same gender. It utilizes a surrogate mother industry which often exploits women and always breaks a natural maternal bond. It forces women to share prisons with biological men who are sex offenders. It causes children to stereotype themselves based on traits society sees as feminine or masculine, which has now resulted in irreversible surgeries instead of treatment for depression, anxiety, or trauma informed counseling.

      Our identity is supposed to be in Christ, not in malleable gender affinities, but gender seems to have become an idol. As a Christian, I don’t believe men can really marry, so I’d feel uncomfortable going to a wedding between men even if they were my friends. I also don’t endorse a boyfriend and girlfriend living together outside of marriage or people commiting adultery. That doesn’t mean I hate anyone, it’s just something I can’t endorse.

    3. -This is what I’m thinking is generally the case. We need to be about the business of solving problems that are quantifiably creating a lot more needless suffering.

    4. -Dear Unknown: Unfortunately they are harmful to their own eternal security. That is not something I shouldn’t ignore as often as I do in my own ignorance.

      1. -yeah, but if they don’t have a good reason to think that’s the case like any other claims people have made about their eternal fate like the Greek concept of the underworld. or the idea of Valhalla. at least outside of the claims of the bible. because many religions past and present make several contradicting statements.

  10. -My two teens and I have this ongoing conversation. They believe that the LGBT, etc. community and homosexuality is okay. I tell them that I disagree and they immediately label me a “homophobe”. Just because I disagree doesn’t mean I hate. It is is difficult to have an honest, civil conversation about this topic because the world, the flesh and the devil are all about deception and twisting the truth. The enemy knows scripture and will twist it to his advantage but as Christians we have an opportunity to love others where they are and share our testimonies of God’s love and forgiveness in our lives. Christians need to be real and vulnerable about their own sin and failures. We are not perfect just forgiven and walking in the truth that if the Son (Jesus) has set you free, you are free indeed! (From John 8:36)

    1. -.. how would you tell if it was the devil or actually the truth that you haven’t considered is such

    2. – They have probably been told to label you as this. There are many stories you can find online of people who have left homosexuality and transgenderism. I feel these stories may be helpful for Christians. I know they are helpful to me because homosexuality does not really make sense to me.

  11. -Your conclusion only works if you think being gay is a sin. Jesus never addresses it directly because it wasn’t known as we know it today. He did talk a lot about divorce and remarriage. Would you say that to TONS of people who are? Oh, we can hang out with you and love you. But not your sin. I know you want to love again, but nope. You are forbidden.
    Your argument becomes ridiculous because most people don’t think their sexual orientation is a sin. Why? No one chooses it. On the contrary, who would – gays have to put up with being called a sinner just loving who they are attracted to. How is that a sin? Not harming anyone other than a conservative opinion or interpretation. Too bad people can’t just go with what Jesus taught. 1. Love God. 2. Love others as yourself. Done. – No, oh you’re doing this or that. Loving people for who they are lifts them up. Stop tearing people down and wanting to fit into your version of what sin is or your life should be.

    1. Jesus may not have specifically mentioned homosexuality, but the Bible did in Leviticus 18:22, which says:

      “Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination.”

      Also, there are stories of gay people that were able to go straight. Too often, those stories are ignored or dismissed for one of two reasons.

      Dismissal Reason 1: They must not really have been gay in the first place if they now claim that they’re straight.
      Dismissal Reason 2: They’re still gay and they’re only pretending to be straight.

      If we really want to solve this problem, we should focus on preventing more people from developing same-sex attractions. A lot of people develop same-sex attractions because they were either sexually abused as children or they spent a lot of time isolated from the opposite sex (such as doing jail/prison time). So to lower the number of homosexual people, we should make all pornography illegal, because almost all sexual abusers use pornography, and we should also reduce the chances of people winding up behind bars by accelerating the development of the brain’s frontal lobe. Many sources say your frontal lobe doesn’t develop completely until you turn 25. That development needs to be completed a lot faster, and the sooner it does, the better off mankind will be. Educational psychologist Jane M. Healy says that human brains are physically shaped by experience, so the brain regions that get used most frequently mature the fastest.

      Here are ways we can accelerate frontal lobe development:
      1. Parents should be parents and not friends. Those parents should do more to stop their kids from watching violent movies and playing violent games.
      2. More kids should be allowed to own pets.
      3. Brain scanners that can determine frontal lobe development by distinguishing white matter from gray matter need to become smaller, cheaper, and more commonplace.
      4. Every student in grades K-12 should spend part of every day playing chess and/or doing other activities known to stimulate frontal lobe development, such as solving puzzles like the Rubik’s cube.

      If you have any more ideas on how to accelerate frontal lobe development, I’d love to know what they are.

  12. people being accepted for who they are is bad? And if a drag Queen is on top of Christian music then we should be worried because.. reasons?

  13. -Yikes! How do you all think a trans kid would feel reading these comments? Would they see the Christian church as a place where they would be welcomed and loved in a Christ-like way? Or would they see the church as a source of condemnation and judgment? Let’s try to be kind and not throw stones.

    1. – Thanks, Kenosha Kid. You’ve long been one of my favorite people here because of your kindnesses toward others.

  14. -Great article. Thanks for writing and sharing biblical truth in a loving way. You are helping so many and doing a great job. Focus on the Family continues to provide so much wisdom for me as a dad of 3 kids and my wife and I use it all the time. Keep sharing on the tough issues society is facing and thank you for not trying to change what the Bible says and staying true to the faith and using scripture to back it up. I am so thankful for Focus on the Family and the willingness to love people where they are at and call them to a change and turn to Jesus and have their lives.

      1. -That is a good question. I have not seen anything that God can not give someone the strength to change. I am not saying someone will still not be tempted at times and sin, but the difference would be recognizing it as sin, repententing and turning from the sin controlling and defining who you are and being habitual. Paul says in 1 Cornithians 6 that there were believers who were living in many different sins and they are no longer defined by that and have been sanctified and justified. verse 9 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 [g]homosexuals, 10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor those habitually drunk, nor verbal abusers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and [h]in the Spirit of our God.
        Don’t give up, I have seen people leave each of these sins listed and am included in this list also. God has changed so many lives and continues to do so. I am praying for you unkown to experience this if you have not in your life.

  15. -Hi unkown,
    Thanks for the response. Many people did decide they did not want to change in the Bible and I can think of the rich young ruler, the crowd of followers who left after they did not like Jesus’ teaching, the Pahiresses, Judas, and Paul names a lot of people in the Epistles who decided to not follow Jesus and create their own beliefs. I do not see any examples in the Bible of someone living in a lgbt lifestyle (which I know was not a label then) or any other lifestyle that was with sex outside of marriage, and identifying as a follower of Jesus. Jesus was clear that any sexual relationship outside of marriage, and lustful thoughts were sin in the gospels in the sermon on the mount. He also clearly stated that marriage was between a a man and a woman and no one should seperate it in Matthew 19. I know many people identify as Christians who do not see the Bible as the ultimate truth or believe there are many ways to heaven. I understand that you do not feel personal stories are useful so I wanted to just include examples from the Bible. I did want to include though that for 20 years I thought I was a Christian because I saw myself as a good person and that was all that was needed. I did not think about God in any area of my life (like purpose, sexuality, money, the way I treated others) and did not look into what the Bible taught on anything. At 20, that all changed and I read the Bible for the first time and it changed my life. I realized so many areas of my life were not aligned with God. I knew I needed Jesus and decided to follow Him. I only included this as an example of someone who thought they were a believer but was not. I also think Matthew 25 31-46 gives a good example of people who thought they were believers but were not.

    1. -Am kind of confused as to what this has to do with anything being discussed here though

  16. -BTW to anyone curious I Just come here to ask questions and prevent this from being an echo chamber, which in any case is negative.

  17. -Also please review Amphibia considering it has a major cast member of focus’s payroll as Matthew parker.. and he even was in a owl house amphibia crossover voice panel where there was everything focus has a problem with