A Cry For Justice

Awakening the Evangelical Church to Domestic Violence and Abuse in its Midst

How an Abuse Victim Might be Guilted by Some Christian Hymns

UPDATE Sept 2021: I have come to believe that Jeff Crippen does not practise what he preaches. He vilely persecuted an abuse victim and spiritually abused many other people in the Tillamook congregation. Go here to read the evidence. Jeff has not gone to the people that he spiritually and emotionally abused. He has not apologised to them, let alone asked for their forgiveness.


[October 20, 2022: There have been some changes made to this post. For more information, read the Editors’ notes at the bottom of the post. Editors.]

I am in my church office on a Sunday morning going over my sermon notes and listening to our worship music leaders practice. Among other pieces, they will be leading us in this well-known and widely cherished Fanny Crosby classic, Blessed Assurance [Internet Archive link]1. (Most of you probably know that Fanny Crosby was blind.) This time as I listened, I did so through the ears of an abuse victim sitting in a pew, carrying the load of confusion, fog, false guilt, and all of the other trash that her abuser has laid on her. It struck me that the following verses would very likely not bless her at all, but in fact would add to her load of shame and false guilt. See what you think —

(1) Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine!
Oh, what a foretaste of glory divine!
Heir of salvation, purchase of God,
Born of His Spirit, washed in His blood.

This is my story, this is my song,
Praising my Savior all the day long;
This is my story, this is my song,
Praising my Savior all the day long.

(2) Perfect submission, perfect delight,
Visions of rapture now burst on my sight;
Angels descending, bring from above
Echoes of mercy, whispers of love.

(3) Perfect submission, all is at rest,
I in my Savior am happy and blest;
Watching and waiting, looking above,
Filled with His goodness, lost in His love.

It seems to me that many hymns that came out of the 1800s are not at all the best music the Christian church has produced. Numbers of them are filled with an unrealistic, empty sentimentality (see, In the Garden, for instance). Yes, yes I know. Mess with these kind of beloved traditions and you may as well say you are ripping pages out of Holy Scripture. I’ve been through all of that. Blessed Assurance is, in my opinion, characterized by lack of substance and crosses into the mushy genre designed to emote. Sorry, Fanny. (Fanny will probably have words for me and my cousin when we meet up with her in heaven if she knows that once when we were kids in church on a Sunday morning my cousin, while we were singing one of her hymns, pointed to her name “Fanny.” That’s all it took. We got one of those horrible cases of the non-stoppable giggles. As Providence would have it, the pastor’s wife was sitting right behind us an whacked each of us alongside the noggin. Hey, Mrs. Pastor, loosen up! I mean, you’ve gotta cut kids some slack in those cases. You cannot stop those giggles!) But to move on.

Let me ask each of us — do the words of this hymn accurately express the common experience of every Christian? Do they accurately express the experience of abuse victims while they are being oppressed by the wicked one? No! And yet they are presented in hymns like this as the ideal, common fare of the truly spiritual believer, implying not so subtly that if you are not praising your Savior all the day long, if you are not seeing and hearing visions of rapture bursting above, if angels are not descending upon you — then you just don’t measure up! “Where is your faith? Fanny was blind. What are your troubles compared to hers?”

Empty sentimentality is dangerous. By “empty,” I mean devoid of substance. A vacuum when it comes to biblical truth. Check out the hymn’s words again. How many of them are actually presented in Scripture as the normal experience for every Christian? Angels descending? Visions? I call us all back to Colossians 2 where we are repeatedly instructed to beware of this very kind of thing. Oh, I know, Fanny probably didn’t mean to say that she actually saw angels and visions. But she is saying that she experienced and felt this kind of thing “all the day long”.

And then there is this “perfect submission” business. I assume she means perfect submission to the Lord. Is any Christian capable of PERFECT submission to Christ in this life? No. Decidedly, no. We strive for it. We battle our flesh by the Spirit. But perfect victory is only going to come on that Day when Christ appears.

There is another dangerous theme lurking behind this perfect submission. It says “abuse victim, quit whining. If you were perfectly submitted to Jesus, then no matter what you are suffering, you too could be experiencing what I am — angels and rapturous visions and blessed assurance that Jesus is yours. So get to work on it!” But what is the very normal experience of Christians who are suffering? I suggest that the norm is far more often perplexity at the seeming silence from heaven. “Lord, where are you? Jesus, please deliver me. All day long I cry out….but….” And I cite the Word of God on this. Just look through the Psalms and you will find this very experience written about by David and other Psalmists.

So, thanks to Fanny for the good words she did write in many of her hymns. But remember — when you are singing out of a hymnal or from the overhead at church, those words were written by human beings, not the Holy Spirit. Do not hold them on par with Scripture. Do not be taken captive by the traditions of men. And do not feel guilty if angels and rapturous visions don’t invade your life later on today.

1[October 20, 2022: We added the link to Hymnary.org’s page containing Fanny Crosby’s hymn Blessed Assurance. The Internet Archive link is a copy of that page. Editors.]

[October 20, 2022: Editors’ notes:

—For some comments made prior to October 20, 2022 that quoted from the post, the text in the comment that was quoted from the post might no longer be an exact match.
—For some comments made prior to October 20, 2022 that quoted from the post, the text in the comment that was quoted from the post might no longer be found in the post.
If you would like to compare the text in the comments made prior to October 20, 2022 that quoted from the post to the post as it is now (October 20, 2022), click here [Internet Archive link] for the most recent Internet Archive copy of the post.]


  1. Still Scared (but getting angry)

    I would have to disagree, I love this hymn….

    Blessed assurance, Jesus is MINE!
    Oh, what a foretaste of glory divine! [Capitalization done by the commenter.]

    I don’t even know if I think of the rest of the words of the song when I sing it as I am so in awe of the first two lines. 🙂

    • Jeff Crippen

      That’s ok, SS. This is a rather subjective, personalized topic I know. We will all react differently to hymns. Assurance of salvation is certainly a blessed thing.

      • Still Scared (but getting angry)


      • Memphis Rayne

        I agree there is a false message for “”perfect submission” then all in life will be a fairy tale full of rainbows, pots of gold coins, lattes and brownies.”

        It reminds me of the MIW words “Behind EVERY good man, is a GOOD woman” (“if the man aint good, its because the woman is bad”) and that thinking seemed to be echoed [in] “….if there is ANY flaw in YOUR man, it’s because YOU do not achieve that perfect state of submission.”

        I don’t know why they ever even preached on “leadership”. They seem to think that meant dragging somebody around, and if they were not willing to be dragged, then the thinking was “Well what’s YOUR freakin problem?” “Christ is perfect, and IF you were right in the head, you would be perfect too!!” It’s never about bad leadership rather about “somebody” is not “perfectly submitted”. Now I am annoyed because the church just drives it in that the word “submit” was somehow ONLY meant for women in regards to a spouse???

        Honestly most of this interesting conversation is over my head, and I have blocked out most of my memories of the music in our church / synagogue of doom because it was all about the entertainment value, then when the Pastor felt the need to be more “down” with the people, he would come out and sing an acoustic solo to show that he really was just one of us, out of tune, horrible, but who cared because it was like watching a famous person, people ate it up, then poof he disappear behind the curtain. The music was a very high standard, in fact I believe most people that made the cut had to know somebody that knew somebody, and it became a gig-type situation. If they knew you had tried out for “American Idol” and you did not make the cut, then forget about it you needed to be at least top ten.

        I used to listen to nothing but Christian music, the contemporary stuff, off the “Okay, church-certified channel” but now I don’t, and my daughter just brought up to me some of the songs they used to learn in church, and I’m sad for them because alot of times (most) we did not have “Joy, JOy, JOY down in our hearts”. It’s like the Joy wasn’t there but they kept telling me to have it, or else!

        [Paragraph breaks added to enhance readability. Editors.]

  2. Jeff S

    Modern worship music can be even more unrealistic in this regard. I remember going through the dark periods and thinking “Wow, my Christian walk looks nothing like the songs we sing!” (And I was / am a worship leader!). “I don’t WANT to be SUPER HAPPY JOY JOY right now because that would betray the pain that I am in”.

    I’ll be honest, while I’m not a huge fan of really simplistic songs, on some days they ARE the best expression of my faith. But as a worship leader I take very seriously the charge not to burden the congregation with unrealistic ideas about what faith should look like. My chief example is the song Trading My Sorrows [Internet Archive link]1.

    I won’t lead this song in worship because this seems like a heavy charge to put on someone who walks in on Sunday morning having just experienced the death of a child or some other catastrophe. Beyond that, I don’t even know what it MEANS to “trade my sorrow” and it’s sure not something I can just choose to do because a song instructs me.

    Choosing worship music is a huge responsibility and I can’t say I always get it right. I know that I do allow songs that aren’t true but I WISH were true in (Everyday it’s You I live for [Internet Archive link]2), and some might say that is bad. But I know when I sing songs like that, they do represent the desires of my heart.

    And I think the key to all of this is to think in our worship and not be blinded by sentimentality and emotions. Emotions are good and embracing them is a part of worship through music, but we should take stock of where we are when we sing, test our hearts to see if we can sing in Spirit and truth – and if we can’t it’s OK to just be silent for a bit.

    1[November 16, 2022: To protect against copyright infringement, we deleted the lyrics (from Trading My Sorrows (Yes Lord), by Darrell Evans) from Jeff S’ comment and added a link to a page with the lyrics for the song. The Internet Archive link is a copy of that page. Editors.]

    2[November 16, 2022: The sentence Jeff S quoted is from the song Everyday. We added the link to a page with the lyrics for the song. The Internet Archive link is a copy of that page. Editors.]

    • Still Scared (but getting angry)

      Well said!!

    • K

      This could also be applied to people suffering from depression. What could make a depressed person more miserable than hearing everyone around them sing about “perfect delight”? Or that being full of joy is just a matter of “laying it down” and saying “Yes Lord”?

      • Jeff S

        K, exactly. When I first heard this song I immediately felt burdened for the depressed.

        Now, I do want to make one point about this song. I have played guitar on it many times in worship because it was not my call. There are songs I play on today that I don’t agree with because it isn’t my call. But I think we can can still use these songs and think upon the truth that is missing in order to use them in worship. Or maybe it’s just the joyful sound that elevates our spirits. And has been said already, a perfectly decent song can be a trigger to someone. Our worship hear on earth will always be tainted by the brokenness of this world, so I would never want to be judgemental of songwriters who miss the mark. Goodness knows I have. Critical spirits will not help us worship better, but sensitive ones will.

    • Anonymous

      Thank you, Jeff S, for what you’ve shared. I agree with you and I’ve even gone through periods of time where I refused to listen to any music at all because otherwise I’d be severely triggered.

      Sometimes entire Bible passages are turned into songs that are then played on the radio. My daughter and I wonder why it’s never the hardcore passages that are turned into song but usually the guilt-tripping, sacrifice stuff.

      What if you heard this little ditty on the radio?

      But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God — having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people. [2 Timothy 3:1-5 NIV]

      Can you imagine? A non-Christian happening upon this hardcore truth in song form about the type of people they are encountering in their lives and they actually look up the lyrics and discover that it’s from the Bible? Maybe they would then start looking in this direction (the Bible) and who knows — maybe they’d even come to Jesus. Or little ones like us hear this song and we see that God knew about evil people and how hard it would be for us and we could then gather together to look more in-depth at what other things the Bible forewarns us about.

      Thank you, Pastor Crippen, for opening another “sacred” can of worms and dumping it out. This subject along with the one where you talk about getting rid of stuff written by Christian authors or pastors you discover are in error, so that you aren’t deceived are tough stuff to address but good things to think and pray about.

  3. Katy

    To be honest when I was married I didn’t pay any attention to the worship music. It was totally unhelpful because none of it made sense in my life. (Although I am not musically inclined and that is not my natural mode of expression, so that probably adds to it.)

    The only hymns that would have made sense to me would have been a song based on Ecclesiastes. Because back then, life was meaningless!

    Although I can sing along in church now….this church tends to “sing” its doxology and doctrine, rather than emotions and sentimentality, which I really appreciate.

  4. Great post, Jeff! I laughed out loud imaging you giggling in the pew. I have fond memories of going through some Bible passages with my sisters and doing the same thing!!

  5. Heather 2

    Thank you, Jeff. I, too, have sung those hymns, which I love. My spirit would rejoice in my Lord. But, I also experienced the perplexity when the Lord seemed silent to my struggles and pain. I thought that I was alone in feeling these things when others seemed to “have a better grip.” In fact, I was one of them, once upon a time. But life has ways of changing, and what we felt once does not always hold true when something else challenges us. I suppose it depends on each circumstance as is often the case. And then we see more clearly.

    I wasn’t sure how I was going to feel about your post. It bristled at first. As I read it, I understood. I have often chafed at the “Jesus is my boyfriend” types of contemporary worship songs, but alas, you have made an excellent point.

    You had asked me once about my sharing more about my story. Goodness it is long. It spans decades so I would rather not bore you with its entirety. I’ll be short.

    When my husband first committed adultery I felt Jesus’s presence and believed Him to save our marriage. I thought that when my husband chose to remain with our family and me that he was changing, as I knew I was. When I lost my 7 year old son to a horseback riding accident a year and a half later, Jesus was there. He was clearly supporting me and comforting me. I could “hear” Him in my heart and through His Word. In these circumstances I knew peace and hope. The years went on. Another affair, though he contended that it was just emotional. I hung in there, because now we had more children. I had been a stay at home mom. I couldn’t give up….

    Something snapped three years ago. The children were grown and everyone thought that we were the perfect Christian couple. I wasn’t physically abused, neither was I treated badly as some would define abuse. But I could not take the abandonment, physically and emotionally, any longer. It shocked everyone, including myself. I finally had the courage to leave even though it made no sense, even though I returned twice to try again. And as you can assume, I had no support from my local church. They wanted me to hang in there and prove to others what a miracle God could create from our circumstance. But they were preaching to the choir, and no one expected my husband to change.

    I cried to the Lord and I got no answer for a couple of years as the blinders fell away. I was devastated at what I saw. My heart never hurt so deeply before. I had been abandoned, just as I had by my father, and by my abusive mother. A couple of my children were very angry with me, and were sympathetic to their dad. That changed over time when they also saw the truth.

    It seemed that all I could do was cling to the Lord and His Word, even if He appeared to be silent. I had to trust Him. At times I didn’t want to live. I spiraled into a very deep depression and fought the darkness with everything that I had left in me. Another year went by.

    The story doesn’t end on a sad note, however. After reconciling, I moved in with my married daughter and her young family. About a year later I accepted a proposal of marriage from my good friend who supported me over the years through my distress. My children were very happy and gave us their blessing. He is a good and godly man, a true believer. His actions back up his words and I am learning about love and relationships. It isn’t always easy. But, as my son-in-law told me, “God gave you a do-over!”

    On that great Day when all is made whole I will have no words, just tears of thanksgiving and praise to the One who never leaves me nor forsakes me. Even if we don’t “feel” anything at all, He is who He says He is, and He loves us with an everlasting love. I appreciate everyone here, and I read the testimonies of others which make me cry. I ache with them. But I rejoice with them too, for they know Jesus and hang on with all that they’ve got. When we have no one else, we have Him!

    • Heather, thank you so much for sharing. It is wonderful to hear of the restoration that God has given you after all those years the locusts ate away at your life. I resonate a lot with your story, separating, returning, separating, returning….and going through ravages in the wilderness when I could not feel God. Hugging you across cyberspace right now, and looking forward to hugging you in heaven!

      • Heather 2

        Thank you, Barbara. Hugs right back to you too!

  6. Wendell G

    This is a tough one, Jeff. Though hymn lyrics were written by fallen men, they were often written out of the depth of tragedy (“It is Well With my Soul”), or in a mountaintop experience (as this one probably was). They are usually the intimate expressions of a particular person, in a particular place in their lives to an event that has caused some deep emotional response to God. To many, they bring great comfort and joy, if at least for a little while.

    I know that in my own struggles with depression from my past, I often have turned to some of the great hymns to help lift my spirits. There is just something about many of them, though not necessarily achievable goals in this life, that do give hope there is something better.

    Unfortunately, any words of a hymn have the potential of being a trigger for someone, somewhere. Someone will always be able to take exception to what some hymn writer says, whether it be a theological disagreement or an emotional trigger that was tripped through no intent of the author.

    In fact, can Scripture also not cause a person to trigger? Could one of yours or my sermons (or anyone else’s) cause a similar response, even though we certainly do not wish for it to do so? At the same time that one abuse victim may be in agony over words in a hymn, another may be finding some freedom and hope. Like I said, it is a very tough nut to crack, which makes me so glad I am not a worship leader like Jeff S!

    I do agree that much of modern worship music is little more than spiritual “Pablum”, or spouting sanitized versions of errors like Word of Faith Theology. The example Jeff S pointed to is a good one. You can say you are trading your sorrows for joy all you want, but saying it does not necessarily make it better.

    That being said, I will end with an example of a modern song that really helped me grieve for my Mom when she passed away. It is I Will Rise [Internet Archive link]1 by Chris Tomlin. I really needed that one at that time! It was a musical reminder to me that my mother, for all her faults and early abuse, was no longer in pain and was finally free.

    1[November 16, 2022: We added the link to a page with the lyrics for Chris Tomlin’s song I Will Rise. The Internet Archive link is a copy of that page. Editors.]

    • Jeff S

      The safe thing is to write songs that are about God, not our experiences. For example, the Revelation Song [Internet Archive link]1. Some people would say that ALL worship songs should be only about God directly, but I disagree. Worship is about our response to God, and that includes pieces of us in it. Without personal songs you wouldn’t have “It Is Well” or “I Will Rise”, which are both amazing and worshipful songs. I know of one site where “It Is Well” is listed as one of the top 10 worst worship song ever because it is man-directed, and I think that reasoning is totally faulty. The words are objectively true and Jesus is magnified. That is enough for me.

      Some personal songs probably ought to be limited to personal expressions rather than corporate worship (some of Kari Jobe’s songs get into this territory in my estimation), and that’s ok. In fact, I think some of my own material is worshipful, but not necessarily good for congregational worship. I’ve only ever written one congregational worship song, and it is only fair. But I think Kari Jobe has music that has let to a lot of individual worship times in the car on a level of spiritual intimacy that maybe is not reached in corporate worship.

      It can be a tough nut to crack, but my question as a worship leader is always “Am I comfortable putting these words in the mouth of every person who enters this place?” With songs like the “Revelation Song” the answer is easy, and with “I Will Rise” I’m OK as well, though obviously it only applies to believers.

      1[November 16, 2022: We added the link to a page with the lyrics to the Revelation Song, by Kari Jobe. The Internet Archive link is a copy of that page. Editors.]

      • Wendell G

        I agree, Jeff S. I hesitated to say anything because I have seen so many knock down fights in churches over music (though it was usually over the style of the music rather than the content). I do see a place for testimonial type songs as performance pieces, but a lot of them probably should not be congregational participation songs. Since music is such a powerful psychological tool in the dissemination of ideas and even teaching, it must be used carefully in the church setting.

      • Jeff S

        I’m going to apologize for this in advance since it’s quite silly compared to the topic at hand, but I actually think Hawkins makes a good point about the language used in worship songs starting at 1:18 in this video (though he’s saying it for the laughs here).

        Tim Hawkins — Requests for Worship Leaders [Internet Archive link] [After clicking on the link, if the video doesn’t play, try copying and pasting the video link’s URL to a new tab, and the video might play. This has worked for some people. Editors.]

      • Katy

        Oh this is great:

        Am I comfortable putting these words in the mouth of every person who enters this place?

        Wendell, the only major fights I’ve seen over music that led to the destruction of a church is when the leadership decided that they want to abandon hymns and go full-on contemporary “rock show” – complete with lead singer in a mohawk, blasting electric guitar. and drummers etc.. The elderly people in the congregation were literally jumping in their seats with fright every time the guitar hit a screeching note – they all left the church for someplace calmer. 🙂 I found it funny because when the senior population left, so did all their tithes so then the church finances collapsed. But the leadership insisted they needed to “attract the lost” to their church. lol. They somehow came to the conclusion that attracting the world meant blowing out everyone’s eardrums!

      • Kagi

        Question to you and Wendell both, and whoever else – what is your opinion on Hillsong? I started looking at them in a different light when my Australian friend pointed some of these very same things out to me, and I found that a lot of them really did ring hollow for me, despite how popular they are, and I felt so much better about the fact that I had never really liked them when I was in church.

        I am behind the times these days since just walking into a church building has been so triggering for me for so many years, I haven’t heard many of the recent worship songs like Tomlin, but I do remember finding some comfort and joy in Darrell Evans, particularly the “Trading My Sorrows” song, although it was more about the music itself, feeling the joy in the beat, than the words. But I had so little joy at the time, it was a relief to feel, in the music, that someone else had found it. I do agree the words are rather unbiblical, however.

        But I often found my best worship experiences when I stopped paying attention to the words and just let God speak to my heart through the music. That’s one reason why I dislike most hymns, in general, because their melodies are so familiar that I can’t disconnect them from the words, but I find most of them triggering for other reasons. My favourite hymn and one I do like and listen to is “Be Thou My Vision”.

        [Paragraph Breaks added to enhance readability. Editors.]

      • Jeff S

        Hillsong represents a tricky spot because their music is insanely popular (It was funny talking to Barbara last week who apparently had no idea how much exposure Hillsong has stateside with their music.) and by and large, there is very little disagreeable in most of their lyrics, but the church is in the health / wealth vein. The lyrics aren’t often very deep, but usually they do represent the truth of honest worshipers, simple as they may be.

        Really, Tomlin and the rest of the “Passion” crew don’t write deep lyrics, though some can be very moving. I actually like Tomlin a LOT because I think he really does somehow capture with simple songs the true emotional response of my heart to Jesus, and songs like “I Will Rise” can be VERY healing for those experiencing a lot of pain in this life.

        When I look at the pattern of worship in Scripture, it does seem to me that there is a case for simplicity and repetition. Whenever we see a picture of heaven, it seems that the angels are singing the same, very simple chorus. I think we want to be careful not to carry this to extremes, though, and certainly we should not avoid the higher content songs like “In Christ Alone” and a lot of the older hymns. I strive for a mix when I lead worship (and I always try to include a few hymns, even if they are re-styled).

        In some ways, simple songs can represent a real unifying way to worship with our Christian brothers and sisters. These are truths we all can affirm without hesitation – but I think a diet of ONLY these types of songs can leave us unexpressed as worshipers. Our truths should be deeper than just the things we all agree on.

        So back to Hillsong. I like a lot of their songs: “Mighty To Save”, “Stronger”, “Hosanna” (even though I won’t lead it due to some lines about a “generation rising up to take its place” which I see making it somewhat of a youth-oriented song rather than a mixed-age group song) and even some older ones like “Everyday”, “Hear Our Praises”, and “My Redeemer Lives”. Used in balance, I think their music can be very uplifting as long as it is divorced from the teaching of the church (unless I am mistaken about the nature of Hillsong preaching).

      • Wendell G

        Hey, Jeff S. What do you think of Lead Me [Internet Archive link]1 by “Sanctus Real”. I can’t place my finger on it, but that song has bothered me for a while, especially since I have become more cognizant of abuse. Something about the wife saying to her husband to lead her with strong hands just bothers me. Maybe I am being too sensitive.

        1[November 16, 2022: We added the link to a page with the lyrics to Sanctus Real’s song Lead Me. The Internet Archive link is a copy of that page. [Editors.]

      • Jeff S

        I had never heard of it before. I just looked it up, I gotta admit I’m not a fan, but that kind of language of men leading their wives is unsettling.

        It’s clearly meant to be a song for men to repent of neglect, but instead they focus on “leading”. So even when a man is engaged in moral failure, it’s in the context of reminding women they are followers and subjects of their husbands.

      • Barnabasintraining

        RE: everything Tim Hawkins said —

        Thank God I’m not the only one! 😀

        Especially about the never ending worship song….

      • Barnabasintraining

        “Sanctus Real” [Their song – Lead Me.]

        I don’t get it. The song makes no sense to me.

      • Jeff S

        As a man I’ve heard this message plenty: “stop running the rat race and lead your family with love. It is your job to sacrificially love them, so man-up and get it done.”

        That’s what this song is about.

      • Jeff S

        I also want to say, there is another subtle issue with this song in that it normalizes spousal neglect. Now I totally get this isn’t the intention of the songwriters AT ALL (I’m sure they intend exactly the opposite) but the way the wife and children in the song express their loneliness –– those are seriously damaged relationships. So while it is laudable that the protagonist of the song desires to repent and change, it is wrapped up a little too neatly for the offense that has occurred.

        That is a challenge of writing songs about serious issues – you only have limited time and space to wrap things up. In this case it can project the idea that it is normal for an emotionally abandoned spouse or child to wait around for the “ah ha” moment this song represents and then trust the issue is settled at that point. But real restoration of relationships takes a lot more work, grace, and rebuilding than the song implies.

        I DO appreciate that the goal of this song was to tell men to start treating their families right and I’ll bet that despite some of my objections, it has been an encouragement to many men in that regard.

  7. Wendell G

    Katy, yes it is usually an old versus young issue and I have seen some feisty older people really get their dander up over the selection of music. It is kind of a dilemma for a church as musical tastes change generationally. I love contemporary Christian music as I am a child of the “Jesus Movement” (yet my earliest days were traditional hymns) and I have tried to keep up with the changes; however, like everyone else, I have certain styles I just don’t care for (like Christian rap and hard rock). I treasure the church that tries to be balanced in their approach, looking to the needs of many generations and seeing music as a God-given gift to man to further the Gospel.

    You should have seen the looks on some seniors faces many years ago when I told them that Jesus did not sing hymns as we know them and that over time music evolved. One would think that I had just renamed John the Baptist to John the Roman Catholic (or Methodist….I grew up in a Baptist church)!

    Since I am really going far afield here, this does raise one of my pet peeves. Does it bother anyone else that for years, many missionaries simply transported American / European hymns to their mission fields and simply translated the words into the native tongue, while leaving the melodies the same? Now, I understand that is what they know, but it bothers me when they don’t encourage the indigenous peoples to create their own worship songs based on their cultural styles of music and language.

    Ok, off my soapbox….

    • Kagi

      YES, as a linguistic anthropologist that bothers me a lot, it’s ridiculously condescending and far too supportive of oppressive imperialist practices of divorcing ‘lesser’ cultures from their own linguistic background and history of music and stories. I think that worship songs can be far more meaningful when they are written fresh in someone’s native language, using phrasing and symbolism they are familiar with, and think how rich and varied the landscape of worship would be today if they had been encouraged to do so.

    • Katy

      My church has used Sunday nights to showcase some other forms of music – they had a bluegrass band that was fantastic! I really like that it is an option to go to the Sunday night service to get another flavor of music. We also had visiting contemporary singers, men’s quartets, and the like. But when you KNOW that all your “gray hairs” are gonna be sitting in the pews at 8 a.m. on Sunday morning, it’s best to leave the electric guitar for another time slot. 😛

      It’s amazing what a little common sense will do!

    • Memphis Rayne


      oppressive imperialistic practices of divorcing lesser cultures

      ….individually I know what these words mean, but whaaaaaaat???? Lol, you are so far off my radar, I feel like linguistically challenged, and I do not even know what that means….lol.

      You go girl!!!!

      • Kagi

        I’m sorry! LOL, my siblings tell me that too….I generally try to not sound like I just ate the dictionary, but sometimes I have trouble with that. 🙂

        I appreciate your taste in music, by the way! I think I’m from a different generation, but hey, those are always great. (My personal favourites are “Metallica” and “Disturbed”, “Breaking Benjamin”, “Three Days Grace” and “Manic Street Preachers”.)

      • Memphis Rayne

        I have never listened to “Metallica”….I’m from the “grunge” era, and I like most the alternative stuff that resulted after that. But I do like those angry songs, and I love stuff like “Linkin Park” especially “In the end” because my thinking is, like they sing about, we come so far, through it all, and the in the end it doesn’t really matter….because the victory is already won, and I KNOW who is on my side. Admittedly I have no idea what the song is about for sure but it just reminds me that truly in the end, none of what the MIW does will matter, he is still going under, and we are still going up. 🙂

      • Kagi

        Ahhh, I love that song! And “Linkin Park” in general, also “Evanescence”, though I don’t usually admit to that in public. 😉 One of my other favourite bands is “Nightwish”, and my sister loves “Krypteria”, which has a similar ‘opera metal’ style.

      • Jeff S

        I will proudly admit to being a huge “Evanescence” fan. 🙂

      • Jodi

        Hahaha! Memphis – that is just what I was thinking! I know what all those words mean, but when put together in a sentence – my mind was blown. Didn’t eat my “Wheaties” this morning.

  8. The Persistent Widow

    Several years ago, I remember that the White Horse Inn [Internet Archive link]1 briefly discussed In the Garden [Internet Archive link]2, and determined that it was a perfect gnostic hymn. Alone in the garden with a love no one else has known….etc.. I heard that song again last Sunday, and I just can’t sing it knowing that. It makes me very uncomfortable.

    1[November 17, 2022: We added the link to the White Horse Inn’s podcast (I Come to the Garden Alone) The Persistent Widow is referring to in which the hymn In the Garden is briefly discussed. The Internet Archive link is a copy of that podcast. If the Internet Archive link doesn’t work, click here. Editors.]

    2[November 17, 2022: We added the link to Hymnary.org’s page with the lyrics for the hymn In The Garden. The Internet Archive link is a copy of that page. Editors.]

    • Jodi

      Really like “Evanescence” — my kids used to listen to “Linkin Park” — I am into so much more “secular” music than I used to be, that my kids are like “who is this woman and what have you done with our mother?” LOL! I even listen to songs that have gasp curse words in them! And I helped pay for one of my son’s tattoos – that really flipped his lid – but in a good way!

      • Memphis Rayne

        Jodi, oh you rebel you!!! Haha…. Of course “Evanescence” is good, I mean you have a strong rocker chick singing things like “Wake me up inside, save me from this nothing I have become, bring me back to life!!!”….how could we not find strength in that?….

        ….about that tattoo….imperialistic divorcee!!!! (No idea where I was goin with that.) Lol.

      • Jeff S

        “Bring Me To Life” is a great song and could easily be interpreted as a Christian song (even though she meant it about a guy, despite what some early people thought). The guy who sings with her on that is from “12 Stone”, though, a Christian band.

  9. Barnabasintraining


    I’ve been having the same experience with hearing hymn / song lyrics through the abuse victim’s eyes. Many are cringeworthy.

    On the other hand, there are quite a few I’ve found to be very affirming, though none come to mind right now. But I notice them when we’re singing them.

  10. Just Me

    I actually love “Blessed Assurance” but I do see where you’re coming from with the lyrics. I guess I never stopped to think about them. It’s just such a beautiful song to sing and it always puts a smile on my face.

    In my Christian high school, we weren’t allowed to sing “He Lives” due to some controversy over the lyrics. My current church sings it every year at Easter. I sing along loudly because I’m just a rebel like that….

    There’s this song I’ve heard a few times on Christian radio called “Restore” by Chris August. I turn it off when it comes on. I’m sure it’s great for many married people, but not for abuse victims. Not good at all.

    I like “Casting Crowns” and Laura Story as far as contemporary Christian music goes. And I love hymns.

  11. Anne

    I had noticed a couple months ago suddenly I couldn’t stand most of the songs I used to love. It left an empty place in my heart to lose the music I’d loved so much. But suddenly the words left me with that sick feeling you get when you’ve eaten candy all day and you are desperate for real food but too sick to eat another bite.

    Gradually I’m piecing together a new playlist with songs that don’t make me cringe. Though I have to admit….a whole lot of country songs are making the list over the worship / praise songs I’ve mostly listened to for the last 15 – 20 years.

    “Lead Me” is a song that makes me turn the radio off completely. I try to let whatever is on play during the day when the kids are around. But that’s one song I just can’t take.

    We Live [Internet Archive link]1 by Superchick is another I can’t stand.

    I used to like those words… now they make me feel guilty and like I should rush back to what I had because life is short and I might regret it tomorrow. That’s a part of the mentality that kept me stuck for so long.

    1[November 17, 2022: To protect against copyright infringement, we deleted the lyrics to Superchick’s song We Live that Anne quoted and added the link to a page with the lyrics to the song. The Internet Archive link is a copy of that page. Editors.]

    • Jeff S

      I understand having to turn off those songs, Anne.

      Because I used to be a worship leader, I couldn’t listen to worship music AT ALL for a while. In fact, Christian music as a whole was just right out. I ended up fleeing to songs from the secular world that much better represented how I was feeling.

      “Let It Die” by the “Foo Fighters” and “How to Save A Life” by “The Fray” were two songs that really encouraged me during that time. They are angry and sad, but at least they allowed me to feel honest emotions. Christian music just wasn’t honest for me.

      It struck me at that time that it is very rare to find Christian musicians who really engage painful topics like this, and I resolved to write those kinds of songs myself because those songs DO bring healing. Sometimes it isn’t about having the right answers, but sharing the same questions, fears, and hurts.

      I have found some good Christian songs since that time though:

      “Unbreakable” by “Fireflight” about God’s strength against those who accuse and condemn us.

      “So Help Me God” by “Fireflight” about the strength if God to leave a destructive relationship.

      “Stay Close” by “Fireflight” about dealing with depression / suicide..

      “It’s A Shame” by “Third Day” dealing with emotional abandonment / abuse.

      “The Edge” by Michael Card about suicide (I’ve known of this song for a while).

      Eventually I did get back into the worship songs I used to love, simple lyrics and all, but it wasn’t a quick process.

      • Anne

        I’ll look those songs up and see if they make it on the new list.

        I do like several of the songs by “Plumb”. It probably helps that I went to school with Tiffany so her songs have an extra level of authenticity to them.

        I do like “Revelation Song” and “Redeemed”. Both of those songs will settle almost any panic attack I have though “Redeemed” is my first go-to song in that situation.

        A few songs will probably make it on the playlist eventually just because they are enjoyable to sing even if the words aren’t quite right.

      • Memphis Rayne

        Oh ya that is me!! I refuse to listen to any of it at this point in time. I was a raging “Third Day” fan, and now it pains me to listen to them….so I do not. So I moved more into the secular stuff, but still somewhat Christian bands like “Creed”, “Lifehouse”, “Switchfoot”….then I hit the hard stuff (lol). Well I went back to the stuff I used to like like “Nirvana”, Soundgarden, “Alice in Chains”. Haha. And honestly that sounded so much more alive to me than the 8 years of crap (not all crap) I was forced to hear….oh! Also I just remembered that the MIW made me toss all my old music stating that if I didn’t then that was proof I was not in fact, saved. (Reminder when I first got married I did not have YouTube or iTunes.) Well I am, and I was, and I didn’t 🙂 because music was my good memories, and music can transport you to a time, feeling, and emotions that otherwise you most likely would forget about. Well there is my two cents.

      • Kagi

        “The Edge” is a really good one. I don’t care for a great deal of Card’s work, but that is an excellent song.

        I had to turn off all Christian music for a time too, and I still have trouble with a lot of it, because a lot of it is so….evangelical. Some of the secular music that speaks most to me is rock and heavy metal, and I’ve found that when I’m upset or angry, sometimes angry sounding music is my happy place – it’s what is most soothing and enables me to find a place of calm and restore my mood and my spirit. Seems paradoxical, but it works for me.

      • Jeff S

        Haha, I actually don’t care for Michael Card’s music at all, but I respect him. “The Edge” is the only song of his that I like, but he deserves major props for it because it is really, really honest.

        Apparently his record company did not like it at all and he had to fight to get it on the record.

      • Kagi

        I like a couple of the songs off that album, and “Starkindler”, which last has probably more to do with my love of Tolkien’s mythology and languages than anything. 🙂 I’ve never heard anything else of his that I like, and a lot of it I actively dislike, but that is just personal taste really. I have nothing against any of his lyrics that I remember, though admittedly it’s been awhile and I was much less aware of anything that might be problematic the last time I paid attention to most of them.

        I think “Breaking Benjamin’s” lyrics not always making sense actually adds to their helpfulness, because a lot of times when you are angry and hurting over abuse you are also feeling confused and sort of lost, and the lack of sense expresses your feelings as much as any of the rest of it does. “MSP” is kind of that way too, I think.

      • Jeff S

        I 100% agree about “BB” lyrics. A lot of them are just like emotions strewn together that don’t make a lot of sense, and when you feel that way that can be exactly what you need.

        It’s interesting that I find myself listening to them a lot less these days. I certainly am not promoting them as a healthy band to listen to in general, but they definitely helped me get through it.

        There ARE Christian bands like “Flyleaf” and “Red” that do a similar style to “BB” (in fact, from what I understand the lead singer of “Red” actually co-wrote some of the songs on “BB’s” last album) but I just can’t get into them as much. “Red” just doesn’t do it for me at all, and “Flyleaf” is good, but not as good a “BB”.

        Ironically, the other band I really enjoyed during that time period was “Alison Krause & Union Station”, which is very much the opposite end of the spectrum. Very melancholy in a lot of places, which helped me process the sadness.

        One lyric that stands out to me from “AKUS” is “I’ll do whatever, say what I have to say — but not for you”. That right there to me is a survivor mentality from someone who has had enough.

      • Jeff S

        I agree about the angry music. That’s why “Let It Die” fit so well for me. The line “Why’d you have to go and let it die” just really matched my disappointment and anger over the loss of my marriage that seemed to have so much life and promise in the beginning. I also listened to a lot of “Breaking Benjamin”, though largely their lyrics are just angry nonsense. 🙂

        “How To Save A Life” (which I guess now technically “The Fray” is considered a Christian band?) may be one that not a lot of others can identify with, but because a huge part of my experience was my ex’s refusal to heal from her emotionally dark place that song hits a real nerve with me. He wrote it about his experience working with troubled teens and how he felt like he knew all the answers to help fix them, but ultimately all of those “answers” really fell flat when put into action. In the end, you see in the song that a person is only healed when he chooses to be healed – you cannot make him do it. Every time he sings the line “I lost a friend” it hits me in the gut so hard, because my ex was my best friend for so many years.

      • Jeff S

        In terms of secular music, there is one album that really, really helped me heal. It actually came out the day my divorce was finalized: “Clockwork Angels” from the band “Rush”. The music is excellent if you are into rock, but the lyrics are amazing for any abuse survivor who had a run-in with the church. It is a concept album of a steam punk story, but some of the songs just really translate perfect into our world. Particularly check out the songs “BU2B”, “BU2B2”, and “Wish Them Well”. That latter one really isn’t my favorite musically, but the lyrics are so amazing that I listened to it over and over again. It’s about walking away from the Pharisees in our lives and not allowing them to bind us any more. A favorite line: “Even when you’re going through hell just keep on going: let the demons dwell”.

        Finally, the song “The Wreckers” is really good if you can handle a little metaphor (though it is literally a part of the story): it’s about pirates who trick ships into wrecking by making it appear like certain places in the water are safe during raging storms, but really the ships run aground and are plundered.

        I wished so much that there were Christian bands writing music that I could relate to like this album, but I fear writing about spiritual abuse (which “BU2B”, “Brought Up To Believe” is) would just not fly in Christian music. I remember originally the band took a lot of heat for that song from Christian fans because the lyricist is a well known atheist, but honestly he is dead-on to critique the way he does in the song: “the joy and pain that we receive must be what we deserve, I was brought up to believe”.

      • Wendell G

        I’m seeing a common thread in many of these replies. It would seem that some of the secular artists have a better grasp of reality than the Christian artists do. Or is it that the record companies in the Christian world just want to have feel good, sugar-coated, happy songs on their albums?

        Now granted the hard songs (those tackling life’s battles like abuse) may not be appropriate for a church worship service, it would seem that more Christian artists should be writing them and more radio stations playing them if they did. People need to know that our faith relates to their entire lives and that being a Christian is not a vaccination from horrific problems. When a person needs to go to a bar for compassion and support that they should be getting in the church, something is definitely wrong!

        I think that is one of the reasons I have such serious problems with the Word of Faith (“Name it and Claim It”, “Blab it and Grab it”….) Movement. They try to divorce the reality of pain and suffering from the Christian life. But that would be a topic for another day….

      • Jeff S

        Wendell, CCM [Contemporary Christian Music] is a secular business with a very specific target. Their primary target is Christian women in their 20s and 30s, and I’d guess the majority of that demographic is looking for “safe”, sugar-coated music.

        The heavier groups like “Flyleaf”, “Skillet”, and “Red” get secular play and often tour with secular acts.

        Really, it is what it is. It’s not necessarily bad as long as we understand that the people at the top are not in this for our spiritual health.

        For me, I’ve chosen to go a different path and write music I want to write and build fans one at a time without trying to fit the mold that could get me on the radio. Ironically, my style probably hits that demographic pretty hard, but I’m just too wary of the downsides of playing the game so I do my thing on the outside.

        I do have a couple of songs off the next album that I really hope will be beneficial to survivors that comes from a Christian perspective while still acknowledging the pain.

        So any of you that want to support my one-at-a-time effort, feel free to stop by the band website. 🙂 Steady On

      • Jeff S

        One more comment on this subject – secular artist are free to write about whatever they think or feel, whereas Christians tend to get confined into narrow subjects both by record companies and fan expectations.

        I struggle with this a lot because I LOVE to encourage others with music, but this makes it hard for me to write about discouraging subjects. But I try to remind myself that the discouraged can find encouragement in honest songs about discouraging things, as many have pointed out in these comments.

      • Wendell G

        Michael Card? Now that is an artist I have not heard in a very long time!

      • Kagi

        Oh, I forgot, “Jars of Clay” is also a band I’ve found relevant and helpful and often expressing or accessing how I’m feeling emotionally, especially the “Much Afraid” and “If I Left the Zoo” albums, even though I freely admit I do not know what half of their lyrics are supposed to mean. 🙂 They tend to go on the same playlist with “Lifehouse” and “Evanescence”, usually.

      • Jeff S

        “Jars of Clay” is a great band – I recently watched them do an online concert on “StageIt”.

        “Caedmon’s Call” is another Christian band that I think really does an awesome job in the lyrics department (though I’m partial to those guys because I was acquaintances with them a decade ago or so).

      • Kagi

        I know very little of “CC” [Caedmon’s Call] but I do remember loving that one song that goes: “My faith is like shifting sand, changed by every wave….my faith is like shifting sand, so I stand on grace….”

        I can’t remember the title [Shifting Sand] but that whole song was really good, it helped me a lot when I was first starting to question all the things I’d been raised with and trying to sort out true faith from the spiritually abusive concepts, struggling with whether I needed to throw it all out entirely or if there was a way to find a healthy, strong belief and relationship with God. I had to learn what grace was, and how to reach for it, and how to let it start transforming me from the inside, instead of struggling to follow all the “rules” and always falling short of what I was told I was “supposed” to be. Never being “good enough” for God to care about me. We can’t do it on our own strength, not ever. Faith has to be based on grace, or it will get washed away.

      • Jeff S

        Yes, that one was really good. Those first two albums had some great material on them, as did their album before they were signed “My Calm / Your Storm”. I highly recommend trying to find those first couple of CDs – they are always very encouraging to me.

        One of my favorite lyrics [Internet Archive link]1 was from that first album:

        I LOVE that line “But what error could you invent with more power than the cross”. It gives me chills every time I think of it because I really struggle with dwelling on my past mistakes, lamenting that I was not perfect.

        1[November 18, 2022: To protect against copyright infringement, we deleted the lyrics to Caedmon’s Call’s song Forget What You Know that Jeff S quoted and added the link to a page with the lyrics to the song. The Internet Archive link is a copy of that page. Editors.]

      • Kagi

        It’s good to be reminded of the magnitude of grace we’ve been given, I agree. We are so blessed, as my brother would say. 🙂

      • Kagi

        I realise this is a really old post, but I couldn’t remember if I mentioned at the time, I find early “Lifehouse” to be a very near-worship experience – the first album especially, and the first few tracks from the second are very easily interpreted as being about God / faith / etc.. I don’t know enough about them to know if that was how it was intended, but it reads that way to me.

  12. Katy

    Speaking of secular music that helps heal from abuse, I’m not crazy about Taylor Swift but that song “Mean” – the first time I heard it, it knocked me back. Right on! 🙂 I still love that one. I think we should sing it in church. but replace the part about “living in a big old city” with “strolling on the streets of gold”. Haha.

    • Memphis Rayne

      Haha, “Blab it, and Grab it” I like that. I reading this thread, a clueless spectator because I am not an expert in the music arena, and honestly who is Michael Card? No matter, but I do think it is interesting that the popular Christian bands that have gone “rogue” or “secular” it’s just interesting to me how they are perceived. I am a huge fan of say “Lifehouse”, but in church it was as if they wanted to put their big foot into every aspect of your psyche. For example, what to watch on TV, do not believe in Santa, Fairies, Munchkins, Harry Potter was demonic, these people could find fault in Charles Ingles [Charles Ingalls [Internet Archive link]1]???? WHAAAAT???

      Okay back to music, it’s as if when a Christian band had mega-stardom success, then in their eyes those people were now succumbed by the world, or led astray, or no longer Christians, then on the flip side there was alot of idol worshiping, the local people that were affiliated with other “important” people, it’s like they were in the NAME dropping business. So regarding abuse, the MIW used the church’s suggested guidelines for life, to hone in his control in every aspect of my mind, and now that is all I see them as, a bunch of control freaks.

      I dunno it’s a weird thing looking back on all the things you were told to do and not do. Along the lines of what we are talking about, the church itself has become about oppression, they oppress people, then they demand you ACT so happy about it….”spread your plastic joy to all the world!” I also felt like the church intentionally tried to snuff out the light in children….my daughter express to me how she used to hate the song “Be careful little eyes what you see”. She said that it made her feel creepy, and guilty or in trouble if she saw something she was not suppose to, she felt like she was responsible for seeing anything that was not perfect, or considered holy etc.. She is 16 now but she remembers clearly the way she felt at 7 and it’s still with her.

      1[November 18, 2022: We added the link to Wikipedia’s page on Charles Ingalls. The Internet Archive link is a copy of that page. Paragraph breaks added to enhance readability. Editors.]

      • Memphis Rayne

        Haha, “Blab it, and Grab it” I like that. I’m reading this thread, a clueless spectator because I am not an expert in the music arena, and honestly who is Michael Card? No matter, but I do think it is interesting that the popular Christian bands that have gone “rogue” or “secular” it’s just interesting to me how they are perceived. I am a huge fan of say “Lifehouse”, but in church it was as if they wanted to put there big foot into every aspect of your psyche. For example, what to watch on TV, do not believe in Santa, Fairies, Munchkins, Harry Potter was demonic, these people could find fault in Charles Ingles [Charles Ingalls [Internet Archive link]1]???? WHAAAAT???

        Okay back to music, it’s as if when a Christian band had mega-stardom success, then in their eyes those people were now succumbed by the world, or led astray, or no longer Christians, then on the flip side there was alot of idol worshiping, the local people that were affiliated with other “important” people, it’s like they were in the NAME dropping business. So regarding abuse, the MIW used the church’s suggested guidelines for life, to hone in his control in every aspect of my mind, and now that is all I see them as, a bunch of control freaks.

        I dunno it’s a weird thing looking back on all the things you were told to do and not do. Along the lines of what we are talking about, the church itself has become about oppression, they oppress people, then they demand you ACT so happy about it….”spread your plastic joy to all the world!” I also felt like the church intentionally tried to snuff out the light in children….my daughter express to me how she used to hate the song “Be careful little eyes what you see”. She said that it made her feel creepy, and guilty or in trouble if she saw something she was not suppose to, she felt like she was responsible for seeing anything that was not perfect, or considered holy etc.. She is 16 now but she remembers clearly the way she felt at 7 and it’s still with her.

        1[November 18, 2022: We added the link to Wikipedia’s page on Charles Ingalls. The Internet Archive link is a copy of that page. Paragraph breaks added to enhance readability. Editors.]

      • Jeff S

        Michael Card is a Christian musician from a while back – you don’t hear about him much anymore.

        In fact, I don’t think Christian artists are punished for becoming too popular, but if they don’t “fit” into a very narrow view of what Christian music is supposed to sound like they simply won’t get played on the Christian stations. This is a purely a business thing – churches don’t make the decisions at all.

        There are some Christians who speak out against Christian rock, and sometimes those who have made it in the secular world (like “Flyleaf” for example) get a little heat because they go on tours with some very worldly bands and so are surrounded by a lot of worldly behavior where they play (specialized spectacles, drugs, etc.) even if those band themselves do not participate. Bands like “Flyleaf” make it a little more difficult by not claiming to be Christian bands, even though their lyrics are unambiguously Christian (even more-so than some self-identifying Christian acts). But on the whole bands like “Flyleaf” aren’t suffering for being too popular. In the end they are probably better financially rewarded for their efforts and they do get to play in front of audiences that other Christian acts don’t.

      • Jeff S

        I’ll just add that the music industry is changing in huge ways right now anyway because radio doesn’t have the power it once did any more. So more and more you have all kinds of different types of bands getting popular that don’t fit into a niche. And quite honestly, the thing to do to make a splash right now is write worship music, which is crazy because 10 years ago worship music hardly got any exposure at all. It will be interesting to see where it all ends up 10 years from now.

        My guess is that a lot will go back to hard work and building a following rather than getting “discovered” and landing a big deal.

      • Kagi

        I love “Lifehouse”, they still have what to me reads as a very faith-based mentality, and their music often speaks to hard and confusing emotional issues in a very honest way. I think there are some Christian bands who approach that dynamic too, but they are few and far between, and often get marginalised. Jennifer Knapp is a favourite of mine for that reason – very honest, open lyrics about struggling with life and finding joy and peace in the midst of difficult times, and acknowledging God’s power and majesty, authority, grace and the truth of what He requires of us.

    • Memphis Rayne

      This is just me on the word “secular”. It reminds me of one of those “Christianisty-type” lingo mumbo jumbo words. It was needed to be used to define oneself as a Christian?

      “I am all about the non-secular, look at me my house is filled with non-Disney movies, we have cable but that’s just so the “kids” can watch “Mary Poppins”, Oh no!!!!!! She was a witch!!!, and she sang and danced, and was a rebel!!! But in OUR home we stay away from SECULAR things, but we shop at Costco and Walmart, and have top of the line appliances, NO secular music, or movies, but we have a 51-inch LED flat screen, and flat screens in our minivan, but the kids only watch “Little House on the Prairie”, but oh no!!! That little Laura was a witch, she teaches kids to have too much original thought! “Big Bird” is a symbol of Satan so “Sesame Street” is trying to teach all our children to worship Satan, BEWARE!!!”

      So I could go on for years about how ridiculous our home groups and church were (still are no doubt). It’s like every time they heard somebody else say something, whether it was some big TV evangelistic crusty old guy, or the guy from the most popular radio ministry, they were continually jumping tracks, “don’t do this”, “don’t touch that”, “this is evil”, “that is evil”, “your spouse is human but everything else is what’s gonna kill you”.

      I wonder did God’s mentality imply to us that He wanted the church to pit themselves against the rest of the world, the secular world? As if all the lost people in it were our enemies? On one hand you have got them screaming, up in arms over petty crap that doesn’t matter concerning the secular realm, as if they are better off, well? Because God chose THEM not YOU. Then in the same swoop you have them screaming on top of their lungs “Hey everybody look at us!!! EVERYBODY is welcome here, Satan included”.

      I just don’t like the taste it leaves in my mouth, SECULAR, it’s like one of the most over-used Christian words ever, and it’s just one more thing that puts the glaring lights on their hypocrisy. They will condemn a person for watching TV, or a child for playing with a Barbie because it’s “SECULAR”? The show “Survivor” has half-naked people on it, but hey that was okay? Haha. Hypocrites!! Seriously pertaining to abuse, there were SO much more important things to address!!! Like how important it is to spend 2 hours talking about the evils of “Teletubbies”, OR the equal importance of remaining “Plugged in” to a fellowship, and you were ostracized if you did not regularly attend, regardless if the environment was hostile. It’s sad because fellowship is important but in church the only fellowship was with keeping the facade of peace.

      I honestly believe that in the current state of what we call “church” or in the “Christian Fellowship”-type environments it’s just like High School all over again, but with more money, better cars. Abusers have a hot ticket there, they pronounce their separateness OVER and OVER through lies, and it’s quite easy to see how a church filled [with] hypocrites would meld and jive with exactly what an abuser thinks and desires. Hymns bored the snot out of me as a child, there were some of the worship songs I really enjoyed, but none of the music really mattered, when you have people in marriages facing abuse daily, and the church daily reinforcing to them they are the problem….

      I agree that alot of times the outsiders are the ones who really get it, they may have spent their entire lives on the outside looking in, and most likely become the wiser for it, and if the church wants to stand by there rhetoric of “Who are WE to judge a persons heart?” (even though any idiot knows actions matter) then why are their panties in a bunch over “Secular” singer / songwriters? Why in that case are they able to judge the whole world? I guess to harbor abusers you would have to keep the gate swinging both directions at all times, so they look RIGHT at all times, because as we mentioned in previous blogs [posts] their “spotless doves don’t poop, and if they happen to poop then of course it’s magical poop and we should all just embrace the poop.”

      [Paragraph breaks added to enhance readability. Editors.]

      • Kagi

        Applause. Thank you, that is so much how I feel.

        I think the thing about a lot of Christian bands and music, especially “CCM”, is that even if they are saying things I agree with or would find meaningful, I feel like the entire genre is hypocritical and insincere because of the way I feel about much of the church’s mentality and the issues you are describing here, I have so many triggers that prevent me from being able to hear or receive even truth from Christian artists and especially preachers, because it feels like I’ve seen over and over and been hurt or betrayed by people who said one thing and did another, or were professing one thing and then were miserable or actively promoting things like spiritual and emotional abuse on the other hand.

        I think I feel more comfortable gleaning bits and pieces of truth from secular, or professed secular, bands and speakers and writers, because it feels more honest to me. I feel like I can’t trust the sincerity of the vast majority of Christian sources, because there just seems to be so, so much hypocrisy and insincerity and things like “happy happy joy joy” all the time even when you’re not, widespread in the church today. So I’m glad I’ve found a few places like this blog where people are admitting there are problems and trying to address them and help the victims of them, because I’ve felt so alone for so long, like I was the only person who was seeing all these things as being problematic or just plain wrong. I have struggled so hard with finding a way to just have faith at all, and believe and live and express my faith in an honest, true, and sincere way. To avoid repeating in my own life and faith the hypocrisy that has bothered me in others. It’s hard when you’ve been raised on the ideas and mentality that encourage that kind of thing, or even demand it.

        I’ve gotten to a place where the only thing I respect in a Christian leader or pastor or other authority is honesty, and if they’re not willing to be honest about their own struggles and shortcomings and the problems in the church in general, then I don’t feel safe with them, trust them, or feel able to accept any guidance or counsel from them, even if some of what they are saying is sound. Truth, justice, grace and love are the things that I look for in people and leaders, anyone that I need to get counsel or help and encouragement from, and it is sadly more often secular sources that I find it in.

      • Wendell G

        Wow, Memphis! Don’t hold back now! 🙂

        I agree that we take the word “secular” too far a lot of times. It, in itself, is a neutral word and I believe originally was meant to delineate between vocational ministers and those working in non-religious employment. It is sad that the term has taken on such negative meanings. It is as if we have elevated religious work to a very high status and relegated non-religious work to the trash bin.

        There is nothing wrong with living, working and dealing in a secular world. To avoid it, we would have to become monks and nuns. On the other hand, we have admonitions to not be part of the world, but to be in it. I guess the distinction comes in defining what it means to be “part” of the world.

        Is my working in a public library being “part” of the world? In one sense yes, but I think in the Scriptural sense no. I am a “part” of it in that I work there and interact there. The difference is that I draw a line at my acceptance of the world views offered. I try to hold to a Biblical worldview and want to let my faith show through to those I deal with. I don’t embrace their values necessarily, but try to show them the way of Christ. I think that what it means to not be a part of the world is to not to take on worldly values and behaviors as our own, to not make them a part of our being and identity.

        The problem lies in that each of us come to Scripture a little differently, and our sensibilities are offended by different things. We seem to have our pet vices that we shun so greatly, we don’t want to even appear to acknowledge their existence. As Memphis pointed out in her examples, the specifics are different for each person and / or group. Some of it has to do with our background, parenting and what we have been taught in church. So while I may think that “Big Bird” is wholesome entertainment for kids, some people are so afraid of anything that is not purely Christian, they reject it. They wish to believe others who will put together convoluted conspiracy theories about its origins, not realizing that if they took their logic to its conclusion, we would all end up in plain white rooms, staring at the paint in the wall. Even then, we would probably wonder if the paint was mixed by some pagan and begin to stress about that.

        I call these the minors in the Christian life. They are areas that each person needs to reconcile in their conscience before God, because they are not clearly delineated in Scripture. So, while I may have problems with Harry Potter (for example), I don’t rake people over the coals or judge them for reading it. It simply is between them and God.

        Like Jesus told the Pharisees, they needed to take care of the weightier matters of the Law. For us, is that not the things that affect real people in their real lives? Is it not to help the widow and the orphan (which I include abuse victims in)? Is it not to be like the Good Samaritan and bind up each others wounds without worrying about whether every dot and tittle in their lives lines up with our interpretation of Scripture?

      • Jeff S

        “Secular” is definitely Christianese, but it’s a better term than any other I can think of for describing “Music not written to be sold to Christians”.

        You guys may enjoy a blog entry I wrote two weeks ago on the idea of Christian music being “safe” (which was the slogan for the Christian radio station here a few years back). I can’t link to it directly, but if you go to Is Christian Music “Safe”? [Internet Archive link] and look at the entry from two weeks ago about Christian music being “safe”, you might enjoy the topic.

        The short version is selling Christian as “safe” is both misleading (because it isn’t) and a poor characterization of what faith is supposed to look like (a watered down version of the real world).

  13. Anne

    Yeah, I could see enjoying “Mean”. My go to song is “Not Ready to Make Nice”. This week I’ve found myself just playing it over and over for hours after the kids go to bed. It seems to reach feelings I can’t access any other way right now.

    • Memphis Rayne

      Yeeeya? Well? I was actually holding back, alot? Hee hee. But I like what WG said about if they took their logic to its conclusion we would all end up in plain white rooms….it’s so true!!! I used to lay awake at night, just counting myself blink, then once I thought I could hear my hair grow!!! NO seriously I was just joking there, BUT the cult-like manner in which this church breeds its own soldiers, the Pastors went to the “MINI-ME” school of pastoral….uh? The “School of Pastoral MINI-ME”….they literally sounded alike, mimicked the tone, the laugh, the clothes, the general demeaner???? I mean? Am I wrong about that bein just a little creepy?

      Since I was the abused woman, and the MIW was in long-time standing with these people, I couldn’t express my thoughts to anyone – that would of been complete social suicide in regards to when I USED to think I would find support at church. Fancy that? Even if the MIW was the walking talking clone, they would of ignored my bruises, in fact most likely they would of sent me straight to the white room to hide me from the other pastor’s wives.

      Oh? I’m off track….I do understand the meaning of secular as it should be applied, it’s just looking back at my experiences there, I recall hearing that used ALOT!!! I even used it a time or two outside of church, just to see if I felt more Christian-y, and I gotta say?….I got nothing? But a couple people looked at me as if I had a third eye, so I guess that’s something?

      [Paragraph breaks added to enhance readbility. Editors.]

  14. bright sunshinin' day

    Anybody heard Love Like Crazy [Internet Archive link]1 by Lee Brice? It is like a story – a love story. I especially like this verse.

    For me, I’m encouraged with songs that portray life the way God intended. It reminds me of Ecclesiastes 9:9-10 which portrays a hopeful picture of a healthy marriage maybe something like Heather 2 has now. 🙂 I’ve heard that vanity or vain in Ecclesiastes could mean breath or vapor meaning life is short. In a healthy marriage, work hard and love like crazy!

    1[November 18, 2022: To protect against copyright infringement, we deleted the lyrics to Lee Brice’s song Love Like Crazy that Bright Sunshinin’ Day quoted and added the link to a page with the lyrics to the song. The Internet Archive link is a copy of that page. Editors.]

    • Bethany

      I’m coming in late on this thread but it is such a great topic. So here’s my two cents. 🙂 I LOVE music all kinds of music from the soft slow feel-good music to the angry loud screaming music. My mood is generally what determines what I listen to at what time. During my marriage I was not allowed to listen to “unapproved” music which generally meant if it wasn’t hymns or praise music then it wasn’t allowed. So when I did get free I also stopped listening to most of that music and started a kind of journey though the last 7 years of music and tried to figure out what it was that I liked. I have found that I really love “Pink” and the band “Fun” (if you haven’t heard their song “Carry On” I would recommend it) and many, many other bands that have already been mentioned above. Jeff S’s CD is really the only “Christian” music I listen to right now even though there are a few bands that I like I am just not ready to go back to them yet….

      I think the biggest thing for me was trying to re-define my music preferences and figuring out what I (not my abuser) liked and disliked. The dislikes being almost as important. 🙂 I love having my music back and I am slowly losing the twinge of guilt that I am sinning when I listen to secular music. Like it was said above most “Christian” music just doesn’t speak to me right now and I tend to find comfort and healing in other music at the moment.

  15. jritterbrunson

    I am so glad you asked. I work with victims of severe abuse and trauma. Many of the old songs and some of the new songs send them running from the worship center. I finally asked the music department to send me the list of songs for each service. I forward the list to my counselees and then they are at least emotionally prepared or they can avoid being in the worship center until the song is over.

    • That is so sensitive of you!

    • Jeff Crippen

      Yes, excellent idea of giving them a heads up on the music. Thank you very much for sharing your experience on this subject. Validates our point.

  16. G. F. Mom

    I agree with this post. FYI I have been still peaking in and skimming quietly. 🙂 My heart goes out to everybody that posts and comments helpful things. Blessings. 🙂 PS I really love older hymns so I was interested in reading this. Now when I go through hymns I will be looking for statements that might subconsciously induce false guilt. Thanks again. 🙂


  1. How an Abuse Victim Might be Guilted by Some Christian Hymns | A … | Worship Leaders

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