By Dannah Gresh, founder of True Girl
Hopefully, your daughter was all tucked into bed when the Grammy's started out with grinding Sunday night, but it's likely that some girls her age—perhaps friends at school—were glued to the television. Pre-show media touted the 2014 Grammy Awards as a family affair. Huffington Post even offered a table talk guide and ideas to help kids "cultivate the understanding, appreciation and advancement of the contribution of recorded music to American culture."
But what the world saw—from grinding to explicit lyrics to darkly themed performances to a "church" service— was not appropriate for young viewers, and you may need help navigating post-show conversations with your kids whether they saw the show or are just hearing about it from friends. And—whether you realize it or not—there really is something worth talking about.
Her name is Natalie Grant.
Grammy-nominated, five-time Dove Award winning recording artist Natalie Grant has found herself in a Hurricane. (Appropriate, due to her current chart-topping song.) She's been assaulted by media attention that's fueled with criticism–and a sprinkling of approval— for leaving the Grammy's. (I can only begin to image what it looks like in the eye of her media hurricane because when I posted a news article about her leaving the Grammy's my Facebook post was viewed by over six million people! And the nearly 5,000 comments were often heated and divisive.)
Natalie has not publicly stated why she and her husband decided to leave, but was careful to tell people of her choice when she tweeted:
(1 of 2) We left the Grammy’s early. I’ve many thoughts, most of which are probably better left inside my head. But I’ll say this:
I’ve never been more honored to sing about Jesus and for Jesus. And I’ve never been more sure of the path I’ve chosen.
I think that Natalie has placed into our hands one of the greatest life lessons your daughter will ever get to see and it's worth talking about. Here are a few important points I'd make when talking to my daughters (or sons).
1.) Sometimes God's Spirit calls Christians to be in places where He is not welcomed. A lot of the Christians criticizing Natalie have stated that she shouldn't have been at the Grammy's to begin with. (One pastor, confusing me for Natalie, posted this to my Facebook page:
So proud of your stand...
now promise to never go to this kind of trash again.
That thinking wreaks of legalism and a lack of relying on the Holy Spirit. Sometimes God's Spirit calls us to be light in the darkness.
I remember a time when my daughter was only twelve years old and I dropped her off at pottery class. The basement studio was small and each week had a new art galleria in the lobby. On this particular night the display was purely Satanic and pointedly spiritual. Sensual sculptures of Adam and Eve. Burned out clay skeletons. And at the back of the gallery a large Bible opened to a page in Revelation. Every word had been blacked out except three which went connected made this sentence: "God. Is. Dead." Everything in me wanted to take her and run. (And to give the owner a piece of my mind.) Instead, I prayed. And God seemed to be telling me to let her stay. I spent then next hour prayer walking the block.
Do you know that the displayed opened up a spiritual conversation during class, particularly of the existence of heaven and hell? And my sweet daughter, arms deep in slippery clay, lovingly testified of her faith to her Agnostic teacher and a teen in the class who said she was an Atheist.
I think Natalie's work is marked with God's spirit. So she and her husband Bernie probably sensed God giving them a green light to go to the Grammy's. And clearly, while they were sitting in the audience they had an on-going conversation with the Holy Spirit who prompted them to leave. What a great example for our children! How I would have loved to have talked about Natalie's decision with my daughter when she was twelve.
I've said this before, but let me say it again:
IF YOU DO NOT HAVE AN ONGOING CONVERSATION WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT ABOUT RAISING YOUR CHILDREN TO BE SET APART IN THIS CORRUPT CULTURE, YOU WILL BECOME A PARANOID MOTHER WHOSE LEGALISM DOES NOT ALLOW HER CHILDREN TO FACE THE GIANTS GOD MEANS FOR THEM TO FACE!
Natalie and her husband faced their own Goliath at the Grammy's. And I think they were called to it. It would be great if the Church gave her an "atta girl" rather than added to the criticism. We can't quiet those that say hurtful things, but what we can do as mothers is teach our daughters to follow in Natalie's footsteps.
2.) God always asks us to stand against evil. Turn in your own Bibles to Ephesians 6 and read verses 10-20 with your kids. Have them circle each time the word "stand" is used.
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.
Explain to your children that when we face (or see) evil, the person or group of people involved isn't the source of evil. ("Our struggle is not with flesh and blood.") Therefore, we aren't called to argue, debate, accuse, or label. That's not what the verse instructs.
Instead, we are simply called to "stand." This is a silent but strong action.
We are also called to fearlessly declare the gospel. That is, the name of Jesus and his love for this lost world. (Again note: we are not called to argue, debate, accuse, or label but to speak the name and love of Christ.)
When Natalie posted what she did on Twitter, she was standing but not name calling or debating. The one name she did honor with verbal affirmation was the name of Jesus. Hers was a display of Ephesians 6 at it's best.
3.) God does not always require us to speak out against evil. When Jesus was on the earth the Roman culture was corrupt. King Herod was a brutal, baby-killing murder. The Olympics were a hedonistic, pagan religious festival. Many wanted Jesus to speak out against these things.
He just loved.
It is critical that we have a solid Biblical theology about music, sexuality, occult activity and more. In our Bible studies, church meetings and conferences we SHOULD talk about these things. But do we bring the lost closer to Jesus by telling them that they are bad? Usually not. I've never won someone to Christ by convincing them that they are wrong and I am right.
They come to Christ because they feel loved. By Him through me.
Natalie has chosen not to speak out against any specific songs, lyrics, actions or artists. For those who are trying to make this about one single performance or issue, here is what Natalie posted on her Facebook page Monday:
"I've tried to read all of the comments on my previous post but I can't respond to them all. Most of you have always been so supportive and encouraging to me & I'm grateful. It does sadden me when people argue, judge and hurl insults at each other from both sides of the fence. I'm not going to engage in arguments, but just have a few things I'd like to say:
I NEVER said I left during any particular performance. I only said I left early.
I never pointed out any one particular performance, I only said I had many thoughts about the entire show, which were best left inside my head and that is where they will stay. So those who say I condemned one performance but then condoned others clearly did not read the post.
What I DID say is this: I am honored to be a part of the Christian music community. I've had many people throughout my career ask why I never tried to go in to mainstream music and last night was a beautiful reminder that I love singing about Jesus and FOR Jesus.
I've judged no one. I hate no one. And I believe that every person has been created in the image of God. I will never stand on a street corner and wave a sign, I won't use my platform to engage in political arguments that will only divide and not unite. I will continue to pray that my life will be my message. I do have my own personal convictions that I live by, and I will continue to work out my own salvation with fear and trembling before the Lord. (Philippians 2:12)
I was honored to be nominated for 2 Grammy awards last night. I'm so grateful that NARAS and The Grammys continue to recognize the contribution that gospel and Christian music make to the world. And I'm so thrilled for those who won in my categories. And I can say that with all sincerity.
My last thought:
"I am not ashamed of the gospel of Jesus for it is the power of God who brings salvation to ALL who believe."
A brilliant, humble, and well-spoken testimony. Full of the courage to stand and the name of Jesus. Void of name-calling and arguing. This is one "celebrity" our daughter's can learn from. So, let's talk about it with them!
Your daughter is going to have friends who are lost. They will act in ways they should not, listen to music that is vulgar, and maybe even make sexual choices that are contrary to God's word.
She will not win them to Jesus unless she loves them.
" Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.
-Martin Luther King, Jr.