I guess I’ve written so much on this blog about Derek Webb that folks feel the need to alert me whenever they hear about him in the news. I’m grateful that they do. A reader recently alerted me to an interview that Derek gave to a Canadian radio host named Drew Marshall. You can download it here or listen to it below.[audio:http://drewmarshall.ca/audio/100626derekwebb.mp3]
As you might expect, this interview includes material about Derek’s controversial song “What Matters More” and his recent tour with Jennifer Knapp. Up until this point, Derek has been (at best) unclear about his views on the moral status of homosexuality. This interview isn’t much better, but he does make a statement that I haven’t heard him say before. He says that he believes Jennifer Knapp to be a “Christian person.”
“Christian person” might have been interpreted merely as a way of saying that she claims to be a Christian. If that were the case, then there would be no news here. But I don’t think that interpretation is a valid one. Derek explains that “she does believe in and have a relationship with Jesus Christ.” Additionally, Derek argues at length that the term “Christian” can only be applied to people. People are either Christian or else they aren’t. Music can’t be “Christian,” but people can be. It seems like Derek is defining a “Christian” as one who is a disciple. If this interpretation is correct, is he then saying that an unrepentant homosexual can be a disciple of Jesus? At best, he’s being unclear again. At worst, he’s adopted an unbiblical and unchristian view of human sexuality.
My hope is that underneath it all he’s still orthodox and that he is simply multiplying ambiguities in order to be provocative. Although I believe that approach to be singularly unhelpful, I think that would be much better than the alternative interpretation of his continued lack of clarity. Better to be unwise than unorthodox.
Why do I keep coming back to this issue? I’ll mention a couple of reasons. First, it doesn’t advance the Great Commission nor does it help sinners to tell them that they need not repent of their sin to follow Jesus. In fact, to do so is to lead them away from Jesus, not toward him (1 John 1:8). We must not let people think that Jesus’ lordship over their sexuality is an optional add-on to their Christian commitment. It is not, and we condemn people if we lead them to believe that it is (Matthew 7:21-23).
Second, more and more the issue of homosexuality is becoming a litmus test for the functional authority of the Bible. On the issue of sexuality, the spirit of the age is standing foursquare against what the Bible teaches. There is tremendous pressure for Christians to surrender Jesus’ teaching on this point in order to accommodate what the spirit of the age is pushing for. So this question is testing believers, and this particular test has a way of showing what one’s commitments are.
I think we all need to be wary of the idea that clarity on the Bible’s moral claims is somehow at odds with compassion for sinners. Christians should be able to state plainly what the Bible teaches about homosexuality, divorce, gluttony, covetousness, and a host of other moral ills. Clarity on these points need not in any way undermine our love and gospel-concern for such sinners. This is how Jesus loved, and His disciples should do no less.