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What Luther Says

Macklemore of The Same From 'Voices United'

I want to start this post by asking you to please do me a favor.

Please let me know if you think this is a "knee-jerk" reaction by me (or a case of my old Evangelical mindset trying to reassert itself here in a purely Lutheran forum). I don't believe that's the case, but I don't trust myself or my heart even if I write things like this with the best intentions (Jeremiah 17:9).

So it's "Gay Pride Week" here in Buffalo, NY. I'm not sure if this is a national annual celebration of the gay community here in America, but in my neck of the woods it is, and that means full blown public displays of immorality and licentiousness on the streets of this city where I was born, raised, and have made a home for my family...all in the name of "tolerance" too.

Now, please don't misunderstand me, because I'm just as much a sinner as those marching in the "Dyke March" gay pride parade today (1 Timothy 1:15).

The difference? I recognize that I'm a sinner in need of God's saving forgiveness, grace, and mercy through His Son, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ (1 John 1:8-10), and though there are many times when my sinful flesh overcomes my spirit and I commit sins against my brothers, sisters, and neighbors publicly (Matthew 26:41), I'm not looking to go out into the world to voluntarily flaunt my sins for all to see as if I were thumbing my nose (or worse, giving the middle finger) to Almighty God Himself.

Anyway, this is the backdrop, the context, for this entry today. With all of that fresh on my mind, I remembered something I came across awhile back, but didn't take the time to write about in this space. Have you heard of Ben Haggerty? Macklemore? Don't worry, you will.

Something tells me his meteoric rise in the Hip-Hop/Rap scene is about to peak very soon. Think of how Lady Gaga burst onto the scene out of nowhere a few years ago and then used her fame to push her blatantly anti-Christian agenda with songs and lyrics like "Born This Way" and her recent National Anthem theatrics.

The reason why I'm spending any time writing about him at all is because I'm starting to hear and read some eyebrow-raising descriptions of Macklemore and his music.

Yes, most are from secular sources, but there are an increasing number from...get this...self-professing Christians too!

"It’s Christian hip-hop that Macklemore is making -- only without all the religion."


That one sentence description gives you and idea of where this is headed.

But here's one "Christian" blogger's take (albeit a liberal, progressive Christian at best).

Why Christians Should Listen To Macklemore

You’re asking why a “Christian” blog would recommend a hip-hop artist whose album has the parental advisory notice for explicit content, and who is currently the most outspoken artist for marriage equality?

Because it will make you a better Christian.

If being a Christian means trying to be like Jesus, and it should, then we should be aware of how we are falling short. Macklemore has a unique ability to point out the inconsistencies he sees within Christianity.

Here are some of the conclusions he’s made about God and His people:

God loves all his children is somehow forgotten
And we paraphrase a book written 3,500 years ago

When I was at church they taught me something else
If you preach hate at the service, those words aren’t anointed
That holy water that you soak in has been poisoned

I read the Bible but I forgot the verses
The liquor store is open later than the church is

Open to interpretation, if you’re judging I don’t want it
I’ve got sins that scold, like my throat when I hit the bottle
And I’m sinking, that’s why I’m drinking
I need a refill far more than just once every weekend

I think the problem that Macklemore has put his finger on is that many Christians aren’t very much like Christ. We treat church like a destination rather than God’s people and Christianity like a once weekly activity, rather than a mark of newfound identity in Christ.

We’re happy to be trapped in a works-based, religious contract with God, when He has offered so much more. Because we’ve wrongly understood grace, we wrongly represent Christ. Our do better, try harder mentality forces us to look at others as competition, always trying to out do one another, or we act like uninvited referees, blowing our whistle at every mistake we see. They don’t need to hear that God will love them if…

What they need is:

For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. || Rom. 5:6-8

The good news is that Macklemore’s conclusions aren’t true of God:
God loves all his children is somehow forgotten
And we paraphrase a book written 3,500 years ago

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. || Jn. 3:16

When I was at church they taught me something else
If you preach hate at the service, those words aren’t anointed
That holy water that you soak in has been poisoned

Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” || Mark 12:29-31

I read the Bible but I forgot the verses
The liquor store is open later than the church is

Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. || Heb. 4:14-16

Open to interpretation, if you’re judging I don’t want it
I’ve got sins that scold, like my throat when I hit the bottle
And I’m sinking, that’s why I’m drinking
I need a refill far more than just once every weekend

Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” 15 The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I will not be thirsty or have to come here to draw water.” || Jn. 4:13-15

I’m not saying that I agree with everything Macklemore writes. I’m not saying that Macklemore should be your pastor. And I’m not making judgements about whether or not he is a Christian. I am saying that as Christians we need to understand how society sees the people of God. We need to be aware of the inconsistencies in our lives because we represent Christ and Macklemore is one of the best at highlighting our failings.

D.L. Moody said, “Out of 100 men, one will read the Bible, 99 will read the Christian.” We have the privilege of giving small glimpses of what God is like to a watching world. I hope their conclusion isn’t, “But God loves all His children is somehow forgotten, and we paraphrase a book written 3,500 years ago.”

Newsflash! The world will always hate the church -- no matter what -- because of who we represent and stand for (Matthew 24:9; John 7:7; John 15:8; James 4:4; 1 John 3:13)! That will never change and getting the lost to "like us" is the wrong motive, my friend!

That was written by Jeff Perry from Seattle, a fellow Lutheran brother I might add, but definitely not of the Confessional kind. I mean, come on, did he really say that listening to Macklemore will make us "better" Christians!?! Galatians 1:10 and 1 John 2:15 anyone?

Thankfully, it only took the second person to comment on his piece to set the record straight.

Macklemore is talented. But who’s perspective are we to hold everything to? Man’s? No! We are to hold everything to God’s Word and his perspective. Ultimately everything we do should be justified by “Does it glorify God?” That same song there also mentions that gay is a decision. Obviously contradicting God’s Word by challenging how He created the world. As a Christian. How can you say that listening to music that is explicit, with swearing and the degradation of women, glorifies God because it appeals to culture? The same logic produces that if I have sex before marriage well, and if I have good moves in bed, I am glorifying God by perfecting my craft. You are replacing God’s absolute truth, with logic. Man’s logic is fallible, God’s is not… If you had said we should listed to this song, to remind us of our failures, I would be on board with you. But we could also just read a Bible…

Amen! Ironically (maybe not), there's a "Christian Version" of one of Macklemore's hit singles. I can't tell if this is for real or a sarcastic parody, but it really doesn't matter because either way it's an offense to my Lord and to me.

Dare I say that this is what happens when the Church takes its cues from the world?

Dare I say that this is what happens when Christians try to appeal to the un-churched?

Dare I say that this is what happens when Christians tell other Christians that listening to Macklemore will make them a "better" Christian?

Now you know why I'm taking notice and am eager to call your attention to him and his music. But there's another reason too.

The Music Industry has a history of "Coming Together To Benefit The Community" whether such a belief is real or imagined. One popular example from way back when I was just a young redhead includes the following.

USA For Africa - "We Are The World"

Yep, we're all a part of God's family, and love is all we need.
I guess Rob Bell was right, huh? Seriously, in hindsight, that's gotta be the where the Emergent Church got it's marching orders from.

All kidding aside, this isn't a laughing matter. But I wanted to point to that classic song/video to make a point before getting to the real subject of today's message.

The point? Isn't it just like sinful men and women (particularly, those within Hollywood and the Music Industry) to use God and even reference specific verses of Scripture when it suits them, but then attack Him ferociously when it doesn't?

Case in point, the recent Voices United concerts. Have you heard about this yet? It's lovely. During one weekend this past September 2013, this nation was stirred up by various celebrities (comedians, rappers, singers, and musicians) who were looking to do nothing but attack Christianity. That's not hyperbole either. There's really no other way to describe it, folks.

About Voices United:

Music has been engaging people with important issues throughout American history, whether by increasing awareness of a cause or pushing for action. We want to build on this rich history by celebrating the importance of the constitutional principle of church-state separation, standing up for individual liberties in the halls of government and rallying the people of this country in support of freedom of conscience. We are Voices United for Separation of Church and State!

In September 2013, singers, musicians, and comedians will harmonize in a nationwide weekend of events to celebrate -- and defend -- the vital principle of church-state separation. Join us! www.voicesunitedconcerts.com You can be one of the Voices United for Separation of Church and State - it is easy! We are looking for a short video (speaking into your camera phone is great!) of you telling the world about why you support church-state separation. Have you ever felt like a second-class citizen due to your beliefs or lack of belief? Are you horrified by the influence the Catholic hierarchy and Religious Right are wielding in the healthcare debate? Are you furious at the multiple proposals by Congress to fund religion and deny civil rights to citizens? To tie the project together, we ask that you end your video with the words, "this is why I am one of the voices united for separation of church and state." Videos should be posted to YouTube and links should be emailed to voicesunitedconcerts@au.org and may be posted on our website and featured on Facebook and Twitter.

What I don't quite understand is the focus of the entire campaign.

I mean, do any of these people who have associated themselves with the Voices United movement really think that we don't already live in a nation that practices "Separation of Church and State" or are they serious?

Because from where I'm standing, I don't see the Bible being taught in schools, I don't see the Ten Commandments where I'd like to see them, and I certainly don't hear about Jesus Christ-anything being received with open arms in the public square unless it's used as an expletive by one of these actors in one of their films, or by one of these rappers in one of their songs. Oh, bet we can definitely keep "In God We Trust" on our nation's money though. That's perfectly fine. After all, it's the "Almighty Dollar" these people worship anyway (when they're not worshiping themselves).

Here's the thing though.

Did you notice the unusual change of verbiage in the description of this nationwide event? The organizers tipped their hand when they described it as "rallying the people of this country in support of freedom of conscience" which is quite telling, IMHO.

Think about it, my dear friends. It's the God-given conscience that we appeal to when we use the Law to witness to sinners. The conscience plays a critical role in a person's salvation (if I can state that without it being twisted to make it sound like I'm advocating an Armenian position apart from the efficacious nature of the Word and Sacraments).

What Is The Conscience?

The conscience is defined as that part of the human psyche that induces mental anguish and feelings of guilt when we violate it and feelings of pleasure and well-being when our actions, thoughts and words are in conformity to our value systems. The Greek word translated “conscience” in all New Testament references is suneidēsis, meaning “moral awareness” or “moral consciousness.” The conscience reacts when one’s actions, thoughts, and words conform to, or are contrary to, a standard of right and wrong.

There is no Hebrew term in the Old Testament equivalent to suneidēsis in the New Testament. The lack of a Hebrew word for “conscience” may be due to the Jewish worldview, which was communal rather than individual. The Hebrew considered himself as a member of a covenant community which related corporately to God and His laws, rather than as an individual. In other words, the Hebrew was confident in his own position before God if the Hebrew nation as a whole was in good fellowship with Him.

The New Testament concept of conscience is more individual in nature and involves three major truths. First, conscience is a God-given capacity for human beings to exercise self-evaluation. Paul refers several times to his own conscience being “good” or “clear” (Acts 23:1; 24:16; 1 Corinthians 4:4). Paul examined his own words and deeds and found them to be in accordance with his morals and value system, which were, of course, based on God’s standards. His conscience verified the integrity of his heart.

Second, the New Testament portrays the conscience as a witness to something. Paul says the Gentiles have consciences that bear witness to the presence of the law of God written on their hearts, even though they did not have the Mosaic Law (Romans 2:14-15). He also appeals to his own conscience as a witness that he speaks the truth (Romans 9:1) and that he has conducted himself in holiness and sincerity in his dealings with men (2 Corinthians 1:12). He also says that his conscience tells him his actions are apparent to both God and the witness of other men’s consciences (2 Corinthians 5:11).

Third, the conscience is a servant of the individual’s value system. An immature or weak value system produces a weak conscience, while a fully informed value system produces a strong sense of right and wrong. In the Christian life, one’s conscience can be driven by an inadequate understanding of scriptural truths and can produce feelings of guilt and shame disproportionate to the issues at hand. Maturing in the faith strengthens the conscience.

This last function of the conscience is what Paul addresses in his instructions regarding eating food sacrificed to idols. He makes the case that, since idols are not real gods, it makes no difference if food has been sacrificed to them or not. But some in the Corinthian church were weak in their understanding and believed that such gods really existed. These immature believers were horrified at the thought of eating food sacrificed to the gods, because their consciences were informed by erroneous prejudices and superstitious views. Therefore, Paul encourages those more mature in their understanding not to exercise their freedom to eat if it would cause the consciences of their weaker brothers to condemn their actions. The lesson here is that, if our consciences are clear because of mature faith and understanding, we are not to cause those with weaker consciences to stumble by exercising the freedom that comes with a stronger conscience.

Another reference to conscience in the New Testament is to a conscience that is “seared” or rendered insensitive as though it had been cauterized with a hot iron (1 Timothy 4:1-2). Such a conscience is hardened and calloused, no longer feeling anything. A person with a seared conscience no longer listen to its promptings, and he can sin with abandon, delude himself into thinking all is well with his soul, and treat others insensitively and without compassion.

As Christians, we are to keep our consciences clear by obeying God and keeping our relationship with Him in good standing. We do this by the application of His Word, renewing and softening our hearts continually. We consider those whose consciences are weak, treating them with Christian love and compassion.


So, the group's acknowledgement of the role of the conscience in all of this is a stunning admission (if only indirect) that they know the truth, but refuse to submit to God's authority, sovereignty, and will. The truth? We know that every knee will bow one day and that every tongue will confess (Isaiah 45:23; Romans 14:11; Philippians 2:10).

The Music Industry itried its best to divide this nation even further apart than we already are, but this time the target was us Christians exclusively.

That's not too surprising. Lucifer was quite possibly an angel of worship himself. Lucifer, another name for Satan, was originally an angel whose purpose was to be involved in the worship of God (Ezekiel 28:13).

In the Hebrew, the word for "settings" is "toph," which means "timbrel," which is a musical instrument. Likewise, the Hebrew word for "sockets" is "neqeb" and means "pipes, grove, hole." We don't know for sure, but the case can be made from the Bible.

Sorry, I kinda got sidetracked a little.

Besides pointing sinners to the saving grace offered to them in Jesus Christ, here's another point I wanted to drive home for us today...

'Gay Marriage' -- Why Not?

This short piece by Rev. Matthew Wurm of Trinity Lutheran Church, Bemidji MN appeared in the Bemidji Pioneer as a letter to the editor. Pastor Wurm is a fine pastor serving the saints in the far north country and also a personal friend. This short piece demonstrates another way to argue against something as abominable as gay marriage – by pointing it to its logical conclusion.

Gay Marriage—Why Not? By Rev. Matthew Wurm

If two committed homosexuals truly love each other, why should any American in good conscience limit their freedom to marry? If a man and four women love each other and pledge themselves to one another, why should we exclude their desire for a polygamous marriage? If four men and three women truly love one another and are committed to their group, why should we forbid their polyamory (the marriage of multiple partners and sexes)? If a man truly loves his sister, isn’t it discriminatory to prohibit their unique form of sexuality by limiting their freedom and perceived right to marry? And if a woman says she truly loves a fifteen year old boy and that teenager loves her in return, how long can we limit their right to express their love and desires?

If the deciding factor for permitting people to marry is only love and mutual commitment, where will this stop? Think what the logical end of not limiting marriage will mean to the entire institution of marriage for all people.


Please read this excellent follow-up on how we Christians are actually failing homosexuals (don't worry, it's not what you might think).

In short,

We are failing homosexuals because we are not letting the Law be Law and the Gospel be Gospel. ... Our possible apologists doesn’t seem to understand the simultaneous saint and sinner concept. The cure for sin is not changing behavior, but being forgiven.

In a Lutheran Layman's terms, voices will continue to be united to promote the acceptance of sin, but those voices won't even be "united for tolerance" because they are tolerant of anything but Christianity.

NOTE: As you know, I am a newly converted Confessional Lutheran who recently escaped American Evangelicalism. That being said, please contact me ASAP if you believe that any of my "old beliefs" seem to have crept their way into any of the material you see published here, and especially if any of the content is not consistent with our Confessions and Lutheran doctrine (in other words, if it's not consistent with God's Word, which our Confessions merely summarize and point us back to) so that I can correct those errors immediately and not lead any of His little ones astray (James 3:1). Finally, please be aware that you might also discover that some of the earlier pieces I wrote on this blog back in 2013 definitely fall into that category since I was a "Lutheran-In-Name-Only" at the time and was completely oblivious to the fact that a "Book of Concord" containing our Confessions even existed. In addition, there are some entries that are a little "out there" so-to-speak since the subject matter was also heavy influenced by common Evangelical concerns/criticisms that aren't that big a deal for us Lutherans. I know that now and I'm still learning. Anyway, I decided to leave those published posts up on this website and in cyberspace only because we now have this disclaimer and only to demonstrate the continuing work of Christ and the Holy Spirit in my life (Hebrews 12:2; Philippians 1:6). Finally, please know that any time we engage in commenting on and/or interpreting a specific portion of the holy Scriptures, it will always follow the verse-by-verse notes from my Lutheran Study Bible unless otherwise noted. Thank you for stopping by and thank you in advance for your time, help, and understanding. Grace and peace to you and yours!


About JKR

Christian. Husband. Father. Friend.

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Thank you for visiting A Lutheran Layman! Please feel free to leave a comment or a question since we do not exercise censorship. We've seen a similar policy with other blogs and it's worth repeating: Please act as if you're a guest in my home, and we'll get along just fine. I think anyone would agree that the kind of back-and-forth that is characteristic of blogs/chat forums and social media is becoming tiresome for all of us. Still, we should confess, edify, and love (and contend and defend when needed). Bottom line? Search the Scriptures! Apply Acts 17:11 to anything and everything you find here and, if you do happen to disagree with something you find here (which is certainly ok), or think I'm "irresponsible" and "wrong" for writing it, then please refute my position by supporting yours with Scripture and/or the Confessions. I don't think that's an unreasonable request, especially for those who identify themselves as "Christians" here, right? Besides, Proverbs 27:17 tells us "Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another" and 2 Timothy 3:16 says, "all Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness." If you have an opinion that's great, I welcome it, but try to support it using God's Word. I mean, if the goal here is to help us all arrive at the truth of God's Word (myself included), then it should be easy to follow through on this one simple request (I'm talking to all you "Anonymous" visitors out there). Grace and peace to you and yours!

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