The Closed-Minded Christian

What does it mean to be closed-minded and are Christian deserving of the label? When people label us as closed-minded, it's definitely not meant as a compliment. I've heard the label be applied to Christians often and I've seen people attempt to refute the claim, but what if it's true? And what if being closed-minded isn't always bad?

Introduction

I was scrolling down my Facebook timeline one day last week and I saw that someone posted an article (When Satan Becomes the Worship Leader) calling out gospel music artists. The person who posted the article wasn't posting in argeement, but to make the statement that this article "proved Christians are close minded." Reading those words, I felt compelled to speak on the topic of being a closed-minded Christian.
Top

Defining Closed-Minded

Closed-minded is often hurled at people as an insult, but it's only we're talking about controversial topics. No one would call me closed-minded if I said I thought racism was bad, that being a racist is stupid, or that excluding people from your life on the basis of race is crazy. If someone said the same things, but was referencing desegregation instead of racism, people would call them close minded...

Merriam-Webster Definition of "closed-minded" or "close-minded"

The above image is a screenshot of Merriam-Webster's definition of "Closed-Minded."[1] Based on the definition, it seems that both would be indicative of a closed-minded attitude. People seem to realize that all ideas should not be worthy of you entertaining them. Not every idea is a healthy idea. Another topic you won't get me to budge on is that of self harm. Self harm is never good. If I find out a person uses self harm to cope with the card life has dealt them, I'm going to insist they seek help; nothing they say is going to convince me their behavior is ok. I am "not willing to consider" that "idea." By definition, this too is closed-minded, but most people subconsciously know and agree that sometimes, you should be closed-minded.

Which brings me to what actually prompts people to label someone closed-minded. I remember listening to a classmate passionately express his opinion about something—it's been a while, so I don't remember what. I didn't agree, but I asked him why he thought what he thought. He elaborated, and after hearing his point of view, I still didn't agree. He was quick to label me as closed-minded. I've noticed that whether you consider the other person's perspective or not, if you don't concede, they will call you closed-minded. Mind you, this person never asked me why I didn't agree or what my perspective was, but the mere fact that I didn't change my mind based on his argument made me closed-minded in his opinion. He seems to have confused the concept of open-mindedness with being wishy-washy.

Basically, a lot of people misuse the word or only call it out when it suits their purpose. The truth is, there are some instances when being closed-minded is very bad, and some instances when it is appropriate.

Are Christians Close-Minded

Any time you try to blanket label a group, you're going to have a problem. The person on my timeline ascribed the label of closed-minded to all Christians based on one Christian's opinion (he probably has some personal examples he was thinking of, but he only posted the article).

The funny thing is, the article actually disproves his point. The author of the post wrote it because the one artist he mentioned by name, Kirk Franklin, is popular among Christians. Kirk Franklin has won 12 Grammys, plus a bevy of other awards.[2] You don't win that many awards when no one is listening to your music. The author is actually arguing that Christians are too open-minded.

The question posed is are Christians closed-minded, and I think if you want to answer based on majority, the answer is no. However, I think the answer should be yes.

I can tell you, with out a doubt in my mind, a good pastor will tell you to be careful what you open your mind to.

Christian Principles

The word "Christian" means follower of Christ. It is a broad term given to anyone who follows the teachings of Christ. I have to remind you that all Christians don't interpret the Bible the same way, which means many Christians don't actually believe the same things. Nonetheless, Matthew 24:4-31, 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4, 1 John 4:1, Colossians 2:8, Romans 16:17-18, and Matthew 7:21-23 are only a few of the passages in the Bible which warn us about being deceived by things that are not of God.

How do we discern truth from deception? The gift of discernment comes from the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12), but the Bible gives us a surefire example of how to differentiate between the devil's corruption and God's Will. Satan tries to tempt Jesus 3 times just before His crucifixion (Matthew 4:1-11). First, Satan tries to convince Jesus to break His fast and turn stones into bread. How does Jesus respond? He quotes Deuteronomy 8:3. Second, Satan tries to convince Jesus to put Himself in harms way ("cast himself down" means to throw himself off the roof) under the auspices that God will protect Him. How does Jesus respond? He quotes Deuteronomy 6:16. Finally, Satan tells Jesus that if He bows down to Satan, Satan will give Him all the kingdoms of the world. (Just as an aside, does anyone else read Matthew 4:8-9 and picture the scene in The Lion King where Mufasa is telling Simba everything the light touches will be his?) How does Jesus respond? He quotes a combination of Deuteronomy 5:6-7 and Deuteronomy 6:13. Do you see the pattern? Each time Jesus counters the devil, He does so with the Word of God.

The Word of God tells us what God expects from us; anything contrary should be a red flag that it isn't of God. Note, this means a lot of studying, and a lot of understanding doctrine. The interpretation of the Bible often reveals itself across chapters, books, and testaments; in many cases you will not be able to make snap decisions based on one verse. Without getting into the more complicated things, here are a few examples (references link to more verses that confirm the statement):

  1. You should be closed to any thing that requires you to hate someone, because hate is not of God. See 1 John 4:8,19-20[3]
  2. You should be closed to theft. See Deuteronomy 5:19 and Exodus 20:15[4]
  3. You should be closed to idolatry. See Exodus 20:4-5[5]

Ideas from the Article

The ideas I mentioned earlier were easy and obvious. The information presented by the author of the article is much more nuanced and hangs on interpretation. The author calls into question to the spirit of the music and the "sexiness" of the artists. Notice, the author doesn't ever say contemporary music is bad. The author isn't closed to genres of music; he is suggesting we evaluate the subtle messages coming through the music.

I don't make an effort to keep up with pop culture (Christian or otherwise), so I only recognize 2 of the people featured in the image that headlines the article. One is of Kirk Franklin and the other is of Erica Campbell from Mary Mary. Before reading the article, I knew exactly why the two of them were pictured.

Modesty

Erica Campbell made headlines when she appeared at the Grammy Awards in a fitted white dress; this is the image the author chose of her for the article. Critics accused her of being immodest and argued that her attire was inappropriate for a woman of God.[6] Seeing the image, I already knew the author was going to talk the topic of appearance as it relates to Christian artists.

Personally, I don't have a problem with Mrs. Campbell's dress. Of course, as a straight woman, I'm not likely to be tempted to sexual immorality by anything Mrs. Campbell wears. I agree that as women of God we are called to different standards. Romans 14:13 tells us we are not to put a stumbling block before others. There are many artists in the secular world who use sex to sell their music. Let's be honest, when is the last time we saw a chart-topping, award wining, household name singer who was not attractive? We know if we wear a garment with a plunging neckline or cutouts that show cleavage, eyes will be drawn to our chest. Sometimes we are fully aware that we are wearing something that will draw attention to physical features that may induce lust, and I believe Romans 14:13 is warning us not to do this. However, some people are going to be tempted no matter what you wear. Though form fitting, the dress fully covers her chest and is fairly long for a "short" dress. I'm only 5'3" and I have a hard time finding true knee-length skirts and dresses. While many secular celebrities keep it classy for the red carpet, their performance outfits (and sometimes even their red carpet outfits) tend to show skin in much more provocative ways.[7]

The controversy over Mrs. Campbell's dress seems to be framed around the shape God blessed her with more than anything else. Interestingly, the root of this issue is far deeper than whether the clear outline of her body would make someone stumble. In an interview discussing the fallout over Mrs. Campbell's dress, Christian artist Mahogany Jones said "Your shape dictates what you can and cannot wear. If I was shaped like Erica Campbell, would I wear that dress? Eh. I don’t know."[8] This reveals a deeper issue. Mass media has been over-sexualizing the curvy body-type for quite some time. Mrs. Jones' statement is evidence that we have been taught certain body types are more beautiful and more desirable than others. Mrs. Jones is suggesting a woman with smaller boobs and less of a figure could wear the same dress without causing a stir. However, the hidden truth in her statement is that other figures aren't sexy or desirable. Yet, we are all wonderfully and fearfully made by the same God![9]

Photocredit: Daily Mail
Curves should not be more desirable than, say, a lean figure. To the right is an infographic that shows the different body shapes for women—I've never seen one of these for men. In society a that hasn't been corrupted by media images, these body types would be equally desirable. What I mean by equally desirable is not that every man would see each of these with equal desire, but that an equal number of men would find these shapes desirable. It stands to reason that if God made women with so many different shapes, He made men to appreciate different shapes. Why would God create a rectangle shaped woman with the intent that this would be an undesirable shape among the men He also created? If your mind wasn't programmed by the images we see in magazines and on TV to associate the full-hourglass figure with sex, Mrs. Campbell's attire would be neutral.

This brings me back to the point of being careful of what you open your mind to. I have plenty to say on this topic, but I'll save it for another post. Let's get back to the author's point about modesty.

I agree that it would be odd to see the choir on stage praising God in bikini's and hooker heels. It would be equally strange to see the pastor deliver his sermon shirtless. However, as I mentioned earlier, we can't always help what causes people's minds to wander. I once went to a church where one of the speakers' voice was distracting. He can't change his voice! That's not his problem, it's mine. I think we should be mindful of our dress, but I also think we should be mindful of ourselves. We should be able to look at one another fully covered an not be overwhelmed with desire.

Spirit of God

I have a gospel song that has a spoken intro, in which the brother of the artist says his father always told them gospel music should sound like gospel music. A lot of people argue about what Gospel music should sound like, but I think the author of the article hit the nail on the head. Gospel music should take you to the presence of the Lord.

Scientists have been studying the effects of music on mood for ages. We know that music affects our mood. There's a reason a fight has started when "Knuck If You Buck" was playing almost every time I've heard it at a gathering. There's a reason people refer to certain songs as "baby making music." The words of the song usually match music. When's the last time you heard an uptempo song about depression? A ballad about how happy you are? The music sets the tone for the lyrics. When worshipping God, the music should set the tone for worshipping God.

When I think of Kirk Franklin, the songs I think of are "Lean on Me," "Why We Sing," "Imagine Me," "Revolution," and "Stomp." If I were to guess, the song the author heard in the club was either "Stomp" or "Revolution." I can't speak for everybody, but I will agree that neither "Stomp" nor "Revolution" cause me to reflect on God. That's not to say the songs are bad songs; I'm sure the message in these songs is much better than some of the other songs that came out at the same time. However, these aren't the songs I would turn to when I'm trying to worship God (i.e., the middle of service).

The author of the article asked whether the music spoke to the flesh (makes you want to dance) or the heart (makes you think of God). When I try to sing "Stomp" from memory, the only lyrics I remember are "Stomp" and "Makes me clap my hands, makes me wanna dance" (talk about irony). Contrarily, one of my favorite songs for worship is "We Fall Down" (the one by Chris Tomlin not Donnie McClurkin). When I try to think of it's lyrics, the first ones into my mind are "We fall down, We lay our crown at the feet of Jesus." When I try to recall these songs there's a major difference. I can hear the music from "Stomp" and I can hear Kirk Franklin's voice distinctly. Initially, I don't hear any music when I try to recall "We Fall Down" and I don't hear a distinct voice. With one, I internalized the beat and with the other, I internalized the message. This is what the author is trying to call our attention to.

References

  1. "Closed-minded". Merriam-Webster.com; visited June 2017.
  2. "Kirk Franklin". Wikipedia; visited June 2017
  3. "81 Verses about Hatred"
  4. "52 Bible Verses about Stealing"
  5. "27 Bible Verses about Idol Worship"
  6. Deseray. "Minister Lashes Out at Erica Campbell, Calls Outfit Ungodly". Atlanta Black Star. December 13, 2013
  7. Lucy Hutchings. "Grammy Awards 2013". Vogue. February 11, 2013
  8. David Daniels. "How Should Christian Artists Approach Modesty?". Wade-O Radio. March 7, 2015
  9. Psalm 139:14

Post a Comment

About

Author Image Author Image I love reading the Word of God. With prayer God's Word reveals so much: from comfort to temperance, from perspective to affirmation. Digging into the depths of the Word, cross-referencing history, language and time differences, is a passion of mine. In March of 2015 I decided to go back through the Bible doing an in depth study on each section I read. Eventually I decided to share my journal of notes as I partake in this journey. I hope you are blessed by God and inspired to pursue a deeper relationship with Him. I love reading and learning about God, nature, and science. I am interested in how it all connects. The Creator's fingerprints are all over his creation. We can learn so much about Him and how we came to be by exploring the world around us. Join me as I explore the world and draw closer to the One who created it all.
Distributed by Gooyaabi Templates | Designed by OddThemes