Why Do So Many Christians Care What Pop Star Lauren Daigle Has to Say?
Christian recording artist turned crossover pop star Lauren Daigle has found herself in the midst of controversy. The rumblings of discontent from within evangelicalism began as Daigle set out on a promo tour for her new album that included appearances on The Ellen DeGeneres Show and The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. It turns out the grumblings about her promo tour were mere appetizers for the full-on fury the singer has evoked with recent comments she made defending her appearance on The Ellen DeGeneres Show.
The outrage ball really started rolling after she told a radio host:
I think the second we start drawing lines around which people are able to be approached and which aren’t, we’ve already completely missed the heart of God. … I don’t have all the answers in life, and I’m definitely not gonna act like I do, but the one thing that I know for sure is I can’t choose who I’m supposed to be kind to and who I’m supposed to show love to and who I’m not, because that’s the mission right?
However, a week later, after radio host Domenick Nati asked Daigle if she believes that homosexuality is a sin, the singer replied, "I can’t honestly answer on that. In a sense, I have too many people that I love that are homosexual. I don’t know. I can’t say one way or the other. I’m not God."
Writing for The Atlantic, Jonathan Merritt reports:
When the clip of her interview was posted online, it drew condemnation from conservative Christians. A writer at The Christian Post said Daigle had been tested by God and “failed,” choosing instead to “fraternize” with the devil by not condemning homosexuality. A Townhall columnist argued that Daigle had given into “the temptations that come with fame and influence” and called on Christians to pray for her to change course. Conservative Christian author John Burton claimed Daigle’s ambiguity compromised biblical truth and now “millions are at risk of deception.” Many on Twitter quickly declared that she can no longer be considered a Christian.
Culminating with the report by Merritt, the criticism of Daigle has poured out of people over the last couple of months. Condemnation has been heaped on her for failing to talk about Jesus on national TV, lyrics that are less overtly Christian than her past music, and for wearing revealing clothing during her TV appearances. Writers have been parsing out whether the criticisms are valid or not. Of course, some of the criticisms are valid and some are not. For me, the more important question is whether the valid criticisms have been delivered in fruitful ways or not. To answer that, I'm going to share a personal anecdote.
In the run-up to the 2008 presidential election, I had been a Christian for less than four years. God had graciously saved me out of atheism and extreme progressive activism. Among other progressive ideological causes, I had been a vocal proponent for gay marriage — way before the Clintons and the Obamas, as a matter of fact.
As an immature Christian in 2008, I still held to some of my past views, albeit uncomfortably, and shared those views on Facebook and in conversations with members of my church. As I prepared to vote for Barack Obama, I defended abortion, LGBTQ rights, and touted socialism. Thankfully, and by God's grace, my friends from church responded with great patience and love. Within two years, as the Holy Spirit continued to sanctify me, my views on abortion and LGBTQ rights had evolved to reflect a better submission to God's ethics as revealed in His Word.
Looking back, and knowing my own heart, if my friends had responded to me with anything even resembling the level of vitriol being heaped on Lauren Daigle, I would have become stubbornly entrenched in my bad positions. Feeling isolated and scorned, I would have sought community with those who would treat me kindly. In other words, I would have gone ideologically backward and not forward.
Obviously, I don't know Daigle, much less her heart, but I do know that she's young and is crafting a career in an industry that does not reward conservative Christians. No doubt, she is surrounded by handlers more interested in seeing her financial pie grow so as to ensure that their piece of the pie increases, too. In and out of hotel rooms, dazzled by the bustle and glitz of the overwhelming entertainment industry, Daigle is probably receiving very little prep regarding her faith. The talking points she's assigned are most likely crafted to help sell records, not promote the gospel of Jesus Christ. And sell records she has done. Her latest album, Look Up Child, peaked at #3 on the Billboard 200 chart.
Do I wish that Daigle had given a better answer when asked about homosexuality? Of course I do. But, she may not have a better answer inside of her. She may very well be genuinely struggling with what she believes about the issue. Unfortunately, the hordes of YouTube videos and articles from professing Christians reviling her are not going to help her come to a more biblically sound position and, hence, answer. And this brings me to a more important issue.
The responses reveal feelings of betrayal. However, unless a person is related to or is friends with Lauren Daigle, she didn't betray you. The angry responses reveal that many Christians have idolatrously embraced the celebrity culture of larger society. A twenty-seven-year-old pop singer should not be viewed as a spiritual leader or as a spokesperson for Christianity.
If you like Lauren Daigle's music, enjoy listening to it without elevating her to a spiritually prominent position that she hasn't earned. If you disagree with what she says or does not say, pray for her. If you publicly criticize her, do so in a way that is charitable and builds up, and not in a way that denigrates, tears down, and could possibly cause a young lady to seek comfort in a community that is not concerned about God's ethics as revealed in the Bible. And stop looking up to celebrities simply because they are celebrities.