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Gospel Soundcheck


VIDEO: Are Derek Webb’s “What Matters More” Video and Lyrics Explicit? You Decide

posted by Joanne Brokaw

Last week Derek Webb announced that he will be releasing his upcoming album, Stockholm Syndrome, in two versions – clean and explicit. The controversy surrounds the song “What Matters More,” for both it’s language – there’s mild cursing – and likely the subject matter, which addressed the issue of homosexuality straight on (no pun intended.)Here is the video and lyrics for the song, “What Matters More.” You decide. Frankly, I think the label “explicit” is entirely appropriate, and not in terms of the cursing, but in terms of bringing an important issue and dropping it right at the feet of the Christian community. The Christian community for far, far, far too long has hung it’s hat on two issues: abortion and homosexuality rather than on the general reality that we are all unholy people before a holy God, a God who loves us all and sent his son as an atonement for all of our sins.But that’s another column for me. For now, here’s Derek Webb. He says it much better than I can (and by the way, I’m interviewing Derek next week, so if you have any questions, feel free to leave them in the comments section):What Matters More, by Derek WebbYou say you always treat people like you like to beI guess you love being hated for your sexualityYou love when people put words in your mouth’Bout what you believe, make you sound like a freak’Cause if you really believe what you say you believeYou wouldn’t be so damn reckless with the words you speakWouldn’t silently consent when the liars speakDenyin’ all the dyin’ of the remedyTell me, brother, what matters more to you?Tell me, sister, what matters more to you?If I can tell what’s in your heart by what comes out of your mouthThen it sure looks to me like being straight is all it’s aboutIt looks like being hated for all the wrong thingsLike chasin’ the wind while the pendulum swings’Cause we can talk and debate until we’re blue in the faceAbout the language and tradition that he’s comin’ to saveMeanwhile we sit just like we don’t give a shitAbout 50,000 people who are dyin’ todayTell me, brother, what matters more to you?Tell me, sister, what matters more to you? For more about Derek Webb, visit his website.UPDATE: Read my interview with Derek Webb as he talks about his art, this song, and why he doesn’t have any agenda with Stockholm Syndrome.Click here to subscribe to Gospel Soundcheck by email and have the Gospel Soundcheck headlines delivered daily to your email inbox. Visit me on my Rochester Christian Living Examiner page, and don’t forget to follow me on Twitter!



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Bill

posted July 10, 2009 at 5:26 pm


Quick note: did you mean to write “rather than on the general reality that we are all unholy people before an unholy God”



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Joanne Brokaw

posted July 10, 2009 at 8:27 pm


Eeeek! Bill, that’s now what I meant! I should know by now not to write and do something else at the same time … like drink iced tea or feed the cat!
Thanks for catching that! I fixed it.
Joanne
host of the GS blog



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Tim

posted July 11, 2009 at 1:54 am


I’ll start by saying that I love Derek’s music and I’m grateful for the stands he’s taken in addressing the problems in Christianity that most ignore. I agree with you that we as Christians have focused too much on abortion and homosexuality and with the sentiments of the song. I know that he will receive a lot of heat over this (and already has) and I know that a lot of Christian intellectuals will run to his defense. I think he’s way too gifted a writer to sink to using language i hope nine of us would approve of in normal conversation and just because he’s trying to make a valid and needed point doesn’t excuse it. The end doesn’t always justify the means.



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Chad Holtz

posted July 11, 2009 at 10:18 pm


I posted a critique on my blog of this song. I love the album, love the song, love Derek Webb. I would be curious what Mr. Webb might have to say about what I address in my short post.
http://chadholtz.wordpress.com/2009/07/11/derek-webb-and-what-matters-more/
peace,
Chad



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Joshua

posted July 12, 2009 at 6:18 pm


I think the explicit label is warranted. Being a huge music fan, I was enthralled by the cryptic secrecy and controversy of Webb’s new album, but when I preordered and got a digital copy, I was not prepared for what I heard.
I have been a true believe in that Truth does not have to be shoved onto anyone. I believe living out the Truth as much as one can, making relationships with people, and sharing the Truth in those relationships are what the Walk is about. With that being said, I am also frustrated by people that claim to know the Truth jokingly calling homosexuals faggots or are angered into hatred at the mere thought of other ideologies, but I also have a problem with members of the Church tearing down their brothers and sisters, because God nor His Spirit is not a God of chaos or confusion. We are know that a house divided cannot stand.
Some might say people do not have the right to ‘judge’ art, but I think Webb stepped over the boundary this time. Though it might seem premature, I cannot help but thing this move was a try at using controversy to sell records.
Now the important part: I hope the Christian Music community will act with wisdom is dealing with Webb and this CD. I hope it will not just turn its back on him and ‘burn’ him, but I also think it is important to let him and other artists know that this is unacceptable. It is a sad day when Christian Music ceases to be free of the fallacies of the world.



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Chad Holtz

posted July 12, 2009 at 9:00 pm


Joshua,
What exactly are you unhappy with in the album? What “fallacies of the world” is Derek Webb introducing to Christian music?



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rcurry71

posted July 13, 2009 at 3:50 am


I do not believe words themselves are sinful. It is their use, and the perception others (believers and non-believers alike) have about it. Do non-believers think a Christian is being hypocritical if they were to say these words? Will a brother/sister in Christ stumble by my using these words? These are the questions I asked as I pondered this topic. I would not want to bring discredit to Christ, nor cause my brother to stumble.
I understand that lyrics are written with passion/belief. I also believe Derek to truly love the Lord and desire God to be glorified. I also desire to believe the best in others (Phil 4:8), so I assume Derek did not do this with a ‘controversy will bring sales” attitude as has previously been mentioned. Having said that, the questions I would like asked of Derek are: “Why did you feel it NECESSARY to use those words?”, and, “What are your thoughts/reactions to those that are offended by the use of those words?”
Again, I do not believe words themselves are sinful. How often do we hear ourselves say things that are mere replacements for curse words? If an “acceptable” word is said with a sinful attitude, it (the attitude) is sinful.
Thanks in advance for asking Derek my questions.



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Jeff

posted July 13, 2009 at 10:01 am


I like all of the comments so far, very logical and thoughtful. My question has to do with the ‘hate’ that Webb is adressing. Condemnation is not hate. Calling something ‘sin’ is not hate. Maybe he’s speaking about some extremes that have happened, but extremes are not the norm. The people that try the “God hates fags” route are not the mainstream and most likely do not represent the view of the American Christian.
My problem when someone attacks the attacker, is that you seem to be condoning the act. A sin is a sin, whether it’s homosexuality or heterosexual pornography. I don’t see anyone sticking up for the pornographers (well, maybe the XXXChurch guys, but they’re trying to minster to those involved in it.)
And as far as the language goes, I still maintain it immediately turns off those you are trying to reach.



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tkjos

posted July 13, 2009 at 11:02 am


Read on another blog that the line about how much we care about the 50,000 people dying today is a direct quote of Tony Campolo’s speach to a group at Weaton College in Weaton, IL. Mr. Campolo then call the group out on how they were more offended by the word he used than by the reality of the dead. We continue to care about things that matter too little and not about the things that matter most to the God who would stop at nothing to love us all.



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Joanne Brokaw

posted July 13, 2009 at 11:23 am


It is a paraphrase of Tony Campolo, and I think Derek probably knew that it would connect with those who had heard it.
Thanks for the questions, folks!
Joanne
host of the GS blog



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Al Boyce

posted July 13, 2009 at 11:30 am


One line is wrong. Should read:
Wouldn’t silently consent when the liars speak



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Bert Saraco

posted July 13, 2009 at 11:56 am


A couple of thoughts:
First of all – I wish we’d remember that the term ‘Christian’ is cast like a huge net over many, many people that are only ‘christians’ in the loosest, most generic sense. It’s like people blaming all Beatle fans for the actions of a Charles Manson – hey, that wasn’t me, man – that was some nut who used a Beatle song to justify his demented actions. Real, true followers of Christ tend to love the ones among us that are hardest to love. Maybe that’s me – maybe it’s you.
But I’m sick of being numbered as one of those haters. If the song is directed toward a particular person or group, ok. I’m just a little tired of being painted with such a wide brush. We all have our ugly side, don’t we?
The language issue:
It’s well-documented that human behavior results from the setting up and breaking down of ‘gates.’ Look at the sexuality of our culture, and the disturbing trends that go all the way back to elementary schools. Much of the ‘sexuality explosion’ is the result of breaking down the first ‘gate,’ or ‘barrier,’ which would be verbal. In other words, if you’re uneasy talking about it in mixed company, you’re that much farther away from committing an act. This goes for everything from violence to… well, whatever. Yes, the way we speak makes a difference. The Bible teaches us that the person who can control his toung is a force to be reckoned with. I’m not sure why we’re not more concerned about our language as a quality of life issue. There are many things that aren’t ‘wrong,’ but there are also many things that we can do better, as ‘a city on a hill.’
Ahhh – I’m talking too much.
Maybe some other time.
PS: nobody is more compassionate to gays, Jews, etc. than a REAL Christian.
So there!



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Jeff

posted July 13, 2009 at 2:30 pm


Right on Bert! Love the PS.



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Joanne Brokaw

posted July 13, 2009 at 3:15 pm


Al, thanks, I copied the lyrics from the YouTube posting. I’ll change it.
Joanne



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Joanne Brokaw

posted July 13, 2009 at 3:16 pm


Very, very well said, Bert!!
Joanne
host of the GS blog



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Your Name

posted July 14, 2009 at 9:01 am


First of all, I love Derek Webb and I absolutely love the message that he is delivering in the song, but curse words? Really? Are we to teach our children that it is alright to use foul language as long as they are delivering a good message?
Colossians 3:5-9 (ESV)
“Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming. In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth.”
Regardless, I still love Derek Webb and his music. I will just opt to buy the clean version of this album.



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Joseph

posted July 14, 2009 at 10:06 am


Derek Webb is absolutely right and terribly wrong in this song.
This song is filled with a commission to love sinners and fight injustice (all which are good things) yet fighting sin is made little of and the means, the language, and the theology are terrible in this song.
“Wouldn’t silently consent when the liars speak”
– I think it’s great that people from the church are speaking out against this song – this is what Derek wants…people to stand up to what they believe is right.
“‘Cause if you really believe what you say you believe
You wouldn’t be so damn reckless with the words you speak”
– I’m confused by this line…Is Derek talking to Christians or himself? You never see Jesus cursing at His own people in order to motivate them to do something. Derek wants attention, I think more so for himself than for what he’s actually talking about. And he’s getting it. Good job.
“what matters more to you?”
I’m not sure what matters more to Derek. Does he want us to go overseas and give food/medical attention to keep 50,000 alive or call out sin? Why can’t both be important? Feeding the poor and taking care of them is a great thing. I agree Christians need to step up in this mission. But you have to make Christian see Jesus for who is He in order to motivate them or else you’re doing it for your own self and trying to make yourself look/feel good; You don’t curse at them and tell them they suck. At the end of the day, a person is only responsible for their own actions. But, I also feel like he’s making too little of sin. It’s not more important to feed the hungry than it is call out a sin (which is a Biblical thing to do). You see in the Bible Jesus refusing to feed the 5,000 a second time, rather He points them to Himself as the best meal one could eternally have. This infuriated the crowds, so much that they left Jesus (John 6:66). I guess you could say Jesus didn’t give a $%!&, which we all know is a lie.
God is made little of in this song…social gospel seems to be exalted.



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Jeff

posted July 14, 2009 at 2:36 pm


“social gospel seems to be exalted”
Brilliant post by Joseph. Emotion cannot take the place of theology.



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RCB

posted July 14, 2009 at 5:13 pm


It seems that Derek enjoys being controversial. Maybe it is an ego boost for him…or maybe he thinks he is being clever…or maybe it is some type of latent rebellion against “goody-two shoes” Chrisitanity. It seems like he tries to push things as far as his concience will allow to the edge of what is spiritually acceptable in relation to his personal service to God. I think he had an idea that grew out of control where pretentious anger would be the only source of courage to move forward with this kind of offering. He may have a good heart for God but gets cloudy concerning life’s issues and how to balance his faith with them. Just because Christians take moral stands doesn’t mean that it should be translated into hatred for those that practice the behaviors in question. He uses offesnsive and immoral communication to challenge those that he claims are immoral in their attitude and behavior towards those not Christlike. I guess it takes one to know one in his mind. The world hated Jesus and it will also hate those who try to be Chrislike. Derek seems to want to lump eveyone into the same pile just because he has experienced some immaturity from others. Because of his so-called personal crusade and articstic expression, he became blinded and bent on pushing this song forward knowing well that he would be criticized and ridiculed by some and praised by others. If this is how he thinks he needs to get on with things then he has sunken deeper than imagined. He may want to sink to the lowest common denominator to do his thing but that doesn’t mean we have to go with him. I will pass on this one. Hopefully, some day he will find peace with himself and God.



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courtney

posted July 14, 2009 at 6:41 pm


tell derek his lyrics challenge me. and tell him thank you for pointing out truth when it is ugly and uncomfortable.



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JPG

posted July 14, 2009 at 11:43 pm


“Cause if you really believe what you say you believe,
You wouldn’t be so damn reckless with the words you speak”

Is he speaking to Christians or himself? I would say yes. He’s speaking to everyone. We all struggle with consistency; often our words and our actions are contradictory.
What’s getting lost in this is the music. Musically it is by far the strongest release of his career. I always thought he had a record like this in him, but this record is way better than I would have imagined. I only hope the upcoming Mute Math record is as good.
While I wish he would have left out the “language”, this record does make you think. It has caused me to ask questions and further sharpen my beliefs. That’s a hurdle very few records clear. I wish more artists would be as transparent.



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Derek Webb is right

posted July 15, 2009 at 4:35 pm


It’s funny that the very people his music is targeting, are the ones still recycling the same old arguments. He said the “s” word. Get over it and start thinking about what he’s saying, not how. You think “brood of vipers” wasn’t sharp, or an expletive in Jesus’ time? Hopefully you guys will at least listen to “Freddie Please,” where he gives Fred Phelps a long overdue push back. Hopefully you guys will at least acknowledge that the association of the term “Christian” with “hate” is very troubling these days, especially when it comes to homosexuals. It is a sin for sure, but we are not instructed to hate these people, any more than we would hate an adulterer or other sinner. Oh wait, we’re all sinners. I forgot.



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cody

posted July 15, 2009 at 4:38 pm


I have never heard so much “out-of-context theorizing” in a long time. The “shit” comment comes from a Tony Campolo quote.
“[According to a profile in Christianity Today entitled] The Positive Prophet, … I have three things I’d like to say today. First, while you were sleeping last night, 30,000 kids died of starvation or diseases related to malnutrition. Second, most of you don’t give a shit. What’s worse is that you’re more upset with the fact that I said shit than the fact that 30,000 kids died last night.”
Obviously that number has jumped to 50k since then. There’s your context. It was not meant for “his ego”, and to imply so would be idiocy.
In no way is his communication immoral. “Offensive” is relative to the hearer. To call it immoral would imply a off-centered moral compass that would add extra-biblical constraints to your definition of morality. Hopefully one day, you can find peace in a morality less defined by a “jury of peers” and on the actual Bible.
Social gospel is not exalted… it’s called to attention. Those who are quick to dismiss justice and mercy as social gospel are void of those things in their life traditionally. How dare we dismiss social issues as something we feel is a ‘false gospel’ to make ourselves feel better for doing nothing.
To say “But, I also feel like he’s making too little of sin” is unfounded and a horrible misinterpretation. God is not made little of in this song… we are made little of because we are known more for our morality than love and Jesus told us it shouldn’t be this way.
(John 13:35)
What is least like Christ is to question a man’s theology and relationship with God based upon the lyrics of a song. That’s what is probably most disheartening about all that I have read.



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Joanne Brokaw

posted July 15, 2009 at 4:51 pm


I had posted that quote in an earlier post about Webb’s album, but thanks for reminding us.
I told someone today that the reference he made will be recognized by people who know about Campolo’s but for people who missed it the first time, they’ll miss it the second time.
Can’t wait to talk to him and bring up all of your questions. :)
Joanne
host of the GS blog



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Alan

posted July 16, 2009 at 7:18 am


The disturbing thing about the lyric is that it seems to imply that there is a direct correlation between speaking out against homosexuality as a sin (and against our culture’s becoming increasingly comfortable with it being legitimized) and NOT being concerned about the “thousands dying”. It is true that there is a small percentage of Christians that may not let love lead their speech and/or actions toward homosexuals. However, it is also true that it is by far those examples that are publicized, particularly by those who would paint homosexuals as “victims” of “hate speech”. Much of the debate is simply propaganda spin. To call sin a sin is going to be offensive to those doing the sinning, and it makes no sense to not call it a sin because we ourselves are sinners. Certainly, we are all called to tend to the planks in our own eyes first, but there is nothing in the Bible that suggests condoning the sin going on around us, particularly that going on within the Christian community. To suggest that having a clear voice regarding this issue is to be lacking compassion is a false argument, particularly toward those who are indeed living their faith. The choice of which “matters more to you” is a specious one and again is more a product of the cultural propaganda going on than of Biblical reflection.



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Jeff

posted July 16, 2009 at 10:31 am


Good stuff Alan. I agree that you can still care about the 50,000 dying and speak out against sin being legitimized. Maybe Webb is trying to say that people dying is more important than worrying about other’s sexual preferences, but I believe that we are simply responding to a culture that is pushing itself on us, rather than us going door to door on a homosexual witch-hunt.



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Rev Rick

posted July 16, 2009 at 12:16 pm


The language problem can be addressed simply: release the clean version only. The church is exposed more than enough explicit lyrics by the surrounding culture. Clean will make his point(s) well enough. I appreciate the music of Caedmon’s Call and Derek Webb. However, Webb misrepresents the conversation concerning “sexuality” and then claims that the church is speaking hateful words around the very straw man he sets up. The church is being reckless NOT to warn all sinners of what the Bible states concerning BEHAVIOR outside of a faithful marriage between a woman and a man. Faithfully proclaiming that further down the road the bridge is out is an act of loving kindness, not hatefulness nor blind traditionalism. He is correct, however, in stating that “talk and debate” have moved the church away from the Great Commission and Great Commandment, especially since God has already addressed the issue of human sexual BEHAVIOR in the Bible and yes, through the church. God has done so without input from humanity concerning our preferences. At the point of sinful pride is where the conflict of wills began. It’s been going on a long time. Genesis 3:1 “Did God actually say…?” ESV



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Your Name

posted July 16, 2009 at 3:05 pm


Thank you, Joane, for receiving the music as it was meant. I look forward to the interview. I don’t believe in degrees of sin, but if one were worse, I believe it would be hating which flies straight in the face of the gospel of grace and love, the gospel of Christ.



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Adam

posted July 17, 2009 at 9:29 am


I think that indeed it is important not to hate, but overall I am not impressed with the lyrics. It seems that Derek is setting up a straw man that a Christian only hates if it says that homosexuality is wrong. That of course is not the only option. I think that the thrust of his latest albums have been attempts to be prophetic at the periphery, while he is not faithfully proclaiming the center : that is the gospel. It comes across as nit-picking observations and having as Keith Green described himself as a “prophet complex”. I wish he would write music from the center of Biblical truth rather than always trying to correct everything. He has an unusual talent that is being spent on nitpicking, I say nitpicking because none of his prophetic messages land on me with any power because I do not relate to them because the gospel solves those problems.



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cody

posted July 17, 2009 at 10:09 pm


Adam, if you want Christian music from the center, go to a Christian bookstore. There are thousands of options. Clearly, this is not Derek’s calling to make pop music that is general enough to please people’s ears. A lot of it is poor art. It’s not nitpicking. Derek is simply holding up a mirror to all of us and saying, “This is a) the way the world sees you and I or b) the way we really are.” There is constantly a self-proclaiming repentance to Derek’s music where he says, “I’m just as guilty as the rest of us, too.” Derek doesn’t address speaking out against homosexuality, but do we really need Derek to? He’s talking about the direct handling of those people that are so put off by the actual hate (Please listen to “Freddie Please”) that they won’t hear the love of the gospel.
Again, it amazes me that people are hearing things that are not in the song, or upset because something was left out!
We need prophets in music. Larry Norman filled that void. Selling CDs was not his priority. You’d see that if you read his liner notes where he encourages sharing the music.
Take the lyrics and the Tony Campolo quote for what it is. A challenge.



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Travis

posted July 17, 2009 at 11:26 pm


1. The straw man is real. The hate is there. There are both figuratively and literally “Christians” on the street screaming through megaphones that homosexuals are going to burn in hell, and that God hates them all.
2. “It’s important not to hate?” What about loving people the way Jesus did? Shouldn’t that be the emphasis? The song is addressing the side of the pendulum swing that has brought justice and love out of balance… and blurred the perspective of various issues we face.
3. I agree that it’s love to tell people “the bridge is out further down the road,” but how you’re telling them that makes a world of difference on what they’re hearing you say.
4. Why does the church come across as so angry about homosexuality? Tell me how it’s any worse than “straight” lust. Let’s get the plank out of our own eye, eh?
6. BEHAVIOR, hm? I believe there is definitely a choice factor with homosexuality. You can fight it. However, you cannot ignore the fact that people have predispositions (childhood abuse is a known factor). It’s a real battle. People don’t just wake up one day and say: “I want to be homosexual.” Whether they set themselves up to it or not, it’s a real battle that we should be coming alongside them in with understanding and forgiveness. Can you agree that is what Christ would have us do? If we banish homosexuals from support within the church, where else can they go to be free? (support meaning not of course embracing the sin, but loving the sinner.)
5. Vulgarity… The Bible teaches that we shouldn’t speak with vulgarity. But what determines that a word is vulgar? I don’t use those words because there is something evil in the words themselves, but because society has labeled them vulgar. So I abstain. But I think people get way too worked up about the words. How horrifying that more people will be shocked by the fact that he said “shit” than that 50,000 people die every day… I admit, I think I saw the same reaction in myself. Sad.



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Travis

posted July 17, 2009 at 11:27 pm


And my numbering is out of order… Haha.



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Jeff

posted July 18, 2009 at 1:19 am


Travis & Cody,
I would suggest reading the rest of the posts, because most of your issues have been addressed(bert, joseph, alan, and others.) Calling out sin is not hate. Fred Phelps and the “god hates fags” people do not represent all of Christianity. To release an album of songs criticizing people is going to get a reaction (which is what Webb wants) but, as I’ve said before, it’s not the way to reach them. “Holding up a mirror” rarely works. It might make you feel better about yourself but attacking people is not a way to change them (whether it’s gays or fellow Christians.)
And about being upset that people care about the words more than people dying…it seems like you care more about the fact that I’m upset about it than you do about the people dying as well….



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cody

posted July 18, 2009 at 2:05 am


Jeff,
Derek’s point is not to call out sin in a song. He’s addressing the issue of hate. To judge what Derek Webb wants is very dangerous. I don’t remember that spiritual gift being listed… premonition of someone’s motives? Not a very good trait for a believer.
Only those who have been guilty should feel convicted, and those that see it existing should feel some responsibility to do their best to counter-act the negative stereotype.
Holding up a mirror does work. Martin Luther King Jr did it. That sounds like a good example to me.
Again, reading something in the lyrics that don’t exist, Derek never attacks people… he confronts an issue. If you feel attacked, maybe that’s conviction.
Ok, that last statement is absolutely ridiculous.



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cody

posted July 18, 2009 at 2:23 am


Please tell me you are questioning my Christian service Jeff.
Please tell me that.



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Alan

posted July 18, 2009 at 9:20 am


One has to question the citation of Martin Luther as an example of effectively “holding up a mirror”, when the net result is a bajillion little different denominations and our comfort level in quoting ourselves (albeit in our favorite Scripture passages) as being the correct version of Revealed Truth.
That said, one has to agree that holding up a mirror can have a therapeutic effect; however, most often it works only when the one viewing it is capable of discerning with a degree of clarity and honesty. Jesus held up a mirror, both of the Father and of humanity – humanity as it was intended to be – and the reactions ranged from “who does this man think he is?” to “Lord, depart from me for I am a sinful man.” I think the argument can be made that it is truly difficult in our culture to discern the Truth of the Gospel. We simply wouldn’t have the degree of affluence that we have in the “Christian West” that we have if we lived by the words of Christ. That is the point being made by Tony Campolo.
The key issue I have with the song (aside from its rather slight musical charms) is that lyrically Mr. Webb has appropriated Dr. Campolo’s point and applied to a topic for which it was never intended, one would suppose to have the effect of equating or juxtaposing the two issues. In doing so, he holds up a warped, dishonest mirror. Yes, one can say that there is a certain stigma being drawn around Christians vis-a-vis their position on homosexuality. Who began drawing the stigma? Homosexual advocacy groups? It’s like the Pro-choice groups saying that Pro-life groups want to kill all the abortionists. It’s not true! They want the abortionists to stop performing abortions! But when one person, with his own warped version of the Truth takes matters into his own hands, the spotlight is on it for weeks. The work of Rev. Hoye should get such publicity! The tiny percentage of faithful that Mr. Webb is trying to speak to will never hear his song and, if they do, will be largely incapable of discerning the truth within it because it has been portrayed inaccurately and they are starting from a compromised point of discernment.
As such, the song constitutes a reaction to a reaction to a reaction, all which have been warped by the actors’ internal Gospels.



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Cody

posted July 18, 2009 at 5:31 pm


Just FYI, the example was Martin Luther King, not Martin Luther.
The song stays in context. That we don’t concern ourselves with the most important things, rather than the heart of the gospel. That was the exact intention! For you to say that he holds a “warped, dishonest mirror” is ridiculous. Christianity is known more for its hate of a group than the love it displays among many in our nation. That’s reality, not a warped mirror. To view that truth as warped is to living in reality.
This is dealing with perception, not the truth. That’s the point.
Again, this song is not about abortion, or anything else often mentioned in this blog that others keep bringing up.
The message is portrayed accurately. Your interpretation has, unfortunately, been inaccurate. That’s bold predicting people’s point of discernment. That’s not a very good position for us as believers, to be predictors of people’s motives and discernment ability.



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Jeff

posted July 18, 2009 at 5:39 pm


Chill out Cody–I’m not questioning your service any more than you are questioning mine. I don’t feel convicted about anything having to do with this issue. We’re talking about song and our reactions to it on an internet comment section. I’m not attacking anyone’s faith, salvation, or anything like that. Webb wanted to start a conversation about this topic with his song, so that’s what we’re doing.
Here’s a question for Webb and anyone else…. Do you think living a homosexual lifestyle is a sin? Do you believe it goes against scripture? Be careful with your answer, because if you say yes, some may accuse you of hate.



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Jeff

posted July 18, 2009 at 5:58 pm


I just get a little defensive when we start turning on our own. Don’t Christians have enough groups trying to reduce what we believe to lies, fairy tales, and hatred?



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Cody

posted July 18, 2009 at 10:46 pm


Your statement, “And about being upset that people care about the words more than people dying…it seems like you care more about the fact that I’m upset about it than you do about the people dying as well…” That’s exactly what you did. You are questioning my service and heart by making a character assumption that I care more about your opinion.
This is not the place to discuss the issue of homosexuality. Go find another place to do that.
It’s not your job to get defensive. It’s not turning on our own.



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Alan

posted July 19, 2009 at 2:23 am


My apologies, Cody. I missed the full name. I would agree with you that MLK “held up a mirror” effectively and honestly. However, I would have to maintain my positions that
a) the application of Tony Campolo’s illustration to the discussion of homosexuality tolerance is to take it out out of context in order to create a false “either-or” question within the song, which I would contend is “dishonest” as an argument, and
b) widespread perception is not the same as widespread truth; that Christians in general are stereotyped as bigots because of the statements or the actions of a few is no more valid than to to suppose that the majority of homosexuals are as campy as some of the portrayals one might see in a movie or TV. I’m not saying that the perception is not there; I’m just saying that it is either based on a stereotype that receives greater publicity than the reality or by defining the calling out of homosexual behavior as sin as bigotry. In either case, the primary issue lies with the one applying the “bigot” label, not the bulk of Christians (unless you have some data that indicates that most faithful Christians do indeed hate homosexuals personally).



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Jeff

posted July 19, 2009 at 2:11 pm


Cody,
Well, in all fairness, the song is questioning (if not outright accusing) whether or not I care about the people dying more than the words he uses. That’s his whole point to the song. I don’t know you, your service or your heart, so why would I question it?
The song specifically speaks about homosexuality, and our response to it, so I find this a wonderful place to address the topic. And you didn’t answer my question.
Alan’s point B brings up a good point. No ones condemning Webb or any of his fans. We’re simply stating that Christians, for the most part, DO NOT HATE HOMOSEXUALS!!!!!!!!!!
I just got home from church and did not hear anyone specifically single out gays and rail against them. I’m sure there are some people somewhere that do that, but not the majority of Christians. If Webb is speaking about a specific person or situation, he needs to make that clear. His song seems to state that our stance that homosexuality is a sin is hateful.



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Alan

posted July 19, 2009 at 3:42 pm


Jeff,
Giving it another look, I can see that the central point might be that Christians in general spend an inordinate amount of time and energy discussing what righteousness is, and relatively little “doing” righteousness (i.e., tending to the suffering). I do think that his use of two “hot buttons” somewhat obscures that intent, as the language and the first two verses set up the Christian stance on homosexuality and language as red herrings of discussion, as we have seen. I might conjecture that, unlike the Campolo backstory that has given the song its fuse, the challenge is not “what matters more” conceptually, but in practice.
It’s still a somewhat false argument, as those serious about their faith are doing something on both fronts, and in terms of Christians putting their money where their mouth is, as it were, the lyric does not consider that one’s money or one’s mouth might be a more apt weapon, depending on the evil being confronted, whether it’s poverty or moral atrophy. In this regard, the song seems to be a slap in the face of the countless of thousands of dollars given to Christian charities around the world and the hundreds of missionaries and volunteers who are on the ground administering those dollars. To insinuate that the Christian community en toto doesn’t “give a shit” about the marginalized is to marginalize these many efforts.
That said, given that the average tithe for Christians is nowhere near ten percent, Mr. Webb does have a case that many Christians’ use of their mouth far in the pursuit of righteousness far exceeds the use of their money. And that does make one want to cuss…



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Jeff

posted July 19, 2009 at 4:39 pm


I understand what you’re saying, Alan. I’m really looking forward to the interview. Maybe I’m taking the song too literally. I don’t want Webb to have to explain himself, as if I deserve an explanation, that’s not the case. I know from a songwriters standpoint, if you have to explain it down to the last detail, it can lose it’s ‘art.’



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Joanne Brokaw

posted July 20, 2009 at 9:28 am


Hi, all! Wow, you’ve all been so busy this weekend! LOL
First, let me thank you for taking time to talk about the song and for all of the thoughtful comments. Obviously, this kind of discussion can get heated, but I appreciate that you’ve all tried your best to be courteous. It’s a great discussion; it’s going to take me a bit to catch up, LOL.
Second, I have my interview with Derek Webb today. I think what I may do is summarize it, and if the quality is good (aka my dogs don’t bark their fool heads off and the new puppy stays out of trouble … he’s taking dirty dishes out of the sink right now and hauling them into the living room … sigh …) I’ll post a link to the entire audio so you can listen in yourself.
I’m going to go ahead and pull out the major themes from your comments, as well as the specific questions you all had, and try as much as possible to get Derek’s thoughts. I wish I was more tech saavy and we could do some sort of live chat. Maybe someday. :)
THANK YOU ALL!
Joanne
host of the Gospel Soundcheck blog



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Rob

posted July 24, 2009 at 4:37 pm


I have always been and continue to be a Derek Webb fan. He is a necessary voice to a sleeping generation.
Having said that, however, I am a little saddened at the tone of this song that perpetuates the myth that all of Christ’s followers are gay haters.
It is hard enough standing for the truth as a believe in this day and age without immediately being labeled. The most difficult person to be in this age is a straight white middle-class male. We are supposed to feel guilty for discriminating against other races, whether we do or not (if we claim not to be racist, by the way, we are just in denial), we are supposed to feel guilty about not being poor and we are supposed to feel guilty about being a male who keeps women down. Additionally, as a Christian we are supposed to take on the weight of the crusades, the conservative parties that misrepresent what Christ taught and feel guilty because we believe that Islam and Buddhism doesn’t bring you to salvation.
Oh, we’re also supposed to feel guilty about what our ancestors did to the blacks and the native americans (My relatives came from Hungary in the early 1900s, how am I to blame????).
I repeat, I love Derek Webbs’ music and his edginess. I just wish he hadn’t taken the path of lumping all believers together and then bashing them along with everyone else (That is what it seems he has done in this song).
The more difficult path is to to what Derek is essentially trying to get us to do through this song, namely to separate the sin from the sinner or, in this case, the unloving behavior from the believer who really wants to walk as Christ would.



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Jeff

posted July 28, 2009 at 5:22 pm


Any word on when the interview will be posted?



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Joanne Brokaw

posted July 29, 2009 at 8:06 pm


Jeff, I am the worst at transcribing interviews. But tomorrow I have a whole day free to I’ll get it up. I may post the entire audio, or at least snippets; I can edit out my own rambling, LOL.
In the meantime, here’s a tip from Derek on how to love your neighbors:
http://www.examiner.com/x-12513-Rochester-Christian-Living-Examiner~y2009m7d23-Love-your-neighbor-from-Derek-Webb-16-Know-then-love-your-enemies
Joanne
host of the GS blog



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Joanne Brokaw

posted July 31, 2009 at 12:18 pm


Hey all! Here’s Part 1 of my interview with Derek Webb:
http://blog.beliefnet.com/gospelsoundcheck/2009/07/part-1-of-my-interview-with-de.html
You can read portions or hear the audio excerpts that include his full answers to these first questions.
Thanks!
Joanne
host of the Gospelsoundcheck blog



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Teresa Roberts Logan

posted July 31, 2009 at 12:47 pm


Joanne,
Awesome, thanks so much for introducing me to Derek Webb!



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Joanne Brokaw

posted July 31, 2009 at 4:54 pm


You are most welcome! I can’t believe you’ve never heard of him. You’re going to love his stuff. :)
Joanne
host of the GS blog



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Josh

posted August 11, 2009 at 4:29 am


This song definitely isn’t about homosexuality.
The “being straight” part is slang, like “bein fresh” or “acting cool”.
The song is about hypocrisy among people who claim to be followers of Christ, but have no real evidence of Christ made manifest in their life.



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Joanne Brokaw

posted August 11, 2009 at 9:16 am


Josh, actually, the song is about homosexuality, LOL. Not sure if I shared this part of the interview, but I asked him if he thought that picking such a hot topic distracted from the message of the song and he said:
“[I]ncidentally I don’t think it draws away from the subject matter of the song, I think it IS the subject matter of the song. So you take homosexuality out of “What Matters More” and it just ceases to be what it is.”
You can read the interviews with Derek here:
Part 1
http://blog.beliefnet.com/gospelsoundcheck/2009/07/part-1-of-my-interview-with-de.html
Part 2
http://blog.beliefnet.com/gospelsoundcheck/2009/08/part-2-of-my-interview-with-de.html
Part 3 is on the way
Joanne
host of the Gospel Soundcheck blog



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Justin

posted September 4, 2009 at 2:38 pm


If truth needs to be housed in profanity to prove effective, then Jesus was ineffective.



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Derek

posted September 4, 2009 at 6:41 pm


Justin,
The song is intentionally provocative, a characteristic of all of Derek Webb’s work. The profanity is meant to cause discomfort, to arouse a response in the listener. Does it cause you anger, does it inspire passion, does it make you giggle, etc.? In any case, it does awaken the listener because it is so out of the ordinary, so “unChristian”. And thus, the listener is drawn into the song. He or she is barred from passive listening and becomes engaged in the song. Moreover, the expletives used are arguably the most effective in communicating the righteous anger that Webb feels. Finally, to focus on these words is to miss the message of the song and serves to further illustrate Webb’s point: a majority of Christians in this country are more concerned with keeping up appearances and toeing the party line than in actually doing the extraordinarily difficult, disappointing, and uncomfortable work of loving people as Christ calls us to love them. What matters more?



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Derek

posted September 4, 2009 at 6:47 pm


Justin,
The song is intentionally provocative, a characteristic of all of Derek Webb’s work. The profanity is meant to cause discomfort, to arouse a response in the listener. Does it cause you anger, does it inspire passion, does it make you giggle, etc.? In any case, it does awaken the listener because it is so out of the ordinary, so “unChristian”. And thus, the listener is drawn into the song. He or she is barred from passive listening and becomes engaged in the song. Moreover, the expletives used are arguably the most effective in communicating the righteous anger that Webb feels. Finally, to focus on these words is to miss the message of the song and serves to further illustrate Webb’s point: a majority of Christians in this country are more concerned with keeping up appearances and toeing the party line than in actually doing the difficult, disappointing, and uncomfortable work of loving people as He has called us to love them. What matters more?



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Joanne Brokaw

posted September 4, 2009 at 7:03 pm


Justin, you can read the first two parts of my interview with Derek (I still have to post part 3. Ive been lax this summer). That might help you understand the song more.
Part 1
http://blog.beliefnet.com/gospelsoundcheck/2009/07/part-1-of-my-interview-with-de.html
Part 2
http://blog.beliefnet.com/gospelsoundcheck/2009/08/part-2-of-my-interview-with-de.html
Joanne
host of the Gospel Soundcheck blog



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FRed

posted September 6, 2009 at 10:36 pm


Would be more helpful if the song was actually good.



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Les

posted October 8, 2009 at 10:57 am


If truth can’t be heard in the lack of love we have for the homeless child in the inner city or the sad and hurting widow, if truth can’t be heard in the starving people around the world, if truth can’t be heard in from the lost who can’t stand our legalistic standards that we can’t even begin to attain but are gladly willing to hold others to, maybe we should consider the reality that we live way too comfortably and privileged in our Christian walk. Perhaps, we are uncomfortable with the fact that Webb is reflecting more than his own view but the world’s view of the Body of Christ, which is supposed to reflect a Christ who loved every man and woman and died for every human. Yet, so many stand in judgment over Webb, meanwhile his words ring true and the homosexual goes unloved (if not hated) the hungry child’s stomach still eats away at their own sunken in flesh and the widow sits alone crying and unable to care for herself the way Christ takes care of his bride the church. I love the church and believe Christ has his bride right where he wants her but we the sinners inside resist His love because we deny our sinful and broken ways. Lord come quickly.



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Dan

posted April 11, 2010 at 6:17 pm


The words here aren’t profane.
“Damn” is a short form of “damned” which is literal here –
condemned to hell by the holy and righteous God.
“Shit” is an allusion to Tony Campolo’s famous speech from the ’80s.



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Roger Webb

posted May 24, 2010 at 2:43 am


Well, I just heard the song on youtube, and it’s been out a year. Yes, you can say I’ve been out of the CM scene on some levels. I’m a big Derek Webb fan, and I appreciate what he is trying to do with the subject material and/or the use of profanity in this song. Considering the fact that I have the potential to use profanity (sometimes realized) almost daily and am thankful to God for sending his Son to die on a cross for my sins, just thankful to get to Heaven. Not worried about the song. I think the greater danger here, IMO, is that it is just a publicity stunt to attract attention. But that is the idea, and quandary, isn’t it? Some will be offended, and that is not what I think Derek wants. Some may be tempted to cuss more b/c of the song, and I don’t think that’s his intention either. Bigger problems still exist either way. Love God, Hate Sin, Live for Him. Use words if necessary (to quote an old Saint).



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