(EEW Magazine) On Nov. 17, Prophetess Juanita Bynum, 55, updated her Facebook status with a video of an Atlanta congregation dancing to secular music in the sanctuary, captioning it, “This is why we have to pray.”
The featured footage belonged to Greater Traveler’s Rest (House of Hope), led by Pastor E. Dewey Smith in Decatur, GA. Bynum’s commentary sparked an online war of sorts.
On one side, there are supporters of the viral dancing video. On the other side, there are detractors. Each side, however, claims to be right.
Who actually is?
Well, if the tension it causes among Believers is any indication, there is no black and white answer.
The decades-old debate about whether secular music has any place within the four walls of the church has never been resolved, with some saying yes and others answering with an unequivocal no.
Dr. Smith checks the yes column as long as, according to him, the music is “non-violent, non-misogynistic, non-vulgar, non-profane, non-degrading and non-sexual in nature.”
Too bad one of the songs, Chris Brown’s “New Flame” is indeed sexual in nature, although the highlighted snippet played on the occasion of the ministry’s 138th Anniversary omitted the egregious references.
Each year, House of Hope has a moment of multi-generational celebration, honoring different age groups and acknowledging their journey of faith. This is an effort to bridge the gap that exists in many churches among “Builders” (born 1945 and before); “Boomers” (born between 1946-1965); “Busters” (born between 1966-1983); and “Bridgers” (born between 1984-2003).
One song represents their past, before Christ (B.C.) and the other is the tune that sets the soundtrack of that generation’s after-deliverance (from sin) days (A.D.).
“New Flame,” which features Usher and Rick Ross, is an invitation to a woman to leave the club with a male suitor and engage in sexual relations—hardly meeting the criteria the pastor set.
Notwithstanding, the intention behind what Smith calls a “moment of fun,” is said to be harmless.
Not if you ask Bynum and many others like her within the black church, known to be highly conservative and anti-secular, depending upon the level of traditionalism inherent in their background.
“I want to thank all for standing with me for the sacred things of God,” wrote Bynum in a response comment on Facebook. “Crying, not judging. Just standing for what I hold dear and sacred and that’s the display of worship.”
Her thoughts were met with harsh criticism from Twitter users—many who slammed her for being “irrelevant.”
“People can curse at me, call me names. I really don’t care. I’m crying in worship and praise to God for giving me a conviction about what is to be kept holy. I know these are the times when I must choose between popular opinion and my stand for what is holy and sacred. I already died to self. So whatever people say, you can’t kill me.”
Unfortunately, the varying opinions of each sect has created a division within Christendom where the more contemporary Christians claim that traditionalists who disagree with secular music in the sanctuary are “too deep,” “fake holy,” or worse yet, “ignorant.”
Each side would do well to strive to be loving and compassionate, and considerate of diversity within the Body.
For those who regard themselves as “more evolved” in the sacred vs. secular debate, must not so revel in their perceived enlightenment that they become a dismissive “stumblingblock” for their less evolved (for lack of a better term) brothers and sisters.
Whether it is the one giving the tongue-lashing, or the one on the receiving end of it, each party should check their alignment with Biblical conduct.
James 3:17 says, “But the wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others…”
Throwing verbal—or digital—daggers is not the way to go.