Should Christian Artists Collaborate with Secular Artists?
A couple of weeks ago Tasha Cobbs Leonard, a popular Christian artist, released a new album called Heart. Passion. Pursuit, and on this album one particular song, called I’m Getting Ready, raised a lot of eye brows especially in the Christian community. She featured Nicky Minaj. This has rekindled the debate ‘Should Christian artists collaborate with secular artists?’
The first thing to note is that Tasha is not the first person to feature a secular artist. There are a number of other Christian artists who are going this route. For example Kirk Franklin was featured on records with Kanye West and Chance the Rapper, and then there is also Lecrae who has featured a lot of circular artists from B.O.B to Ty Dollar $ign. Locally Fungisai did a song with Killa T and Prophecy Collaborated with Soul Jah Luv.
In Tasha’s defence
A lot of people have criticized Tasha for her collaboration with Nicky, quoting verses from the bible that tell Christians not to sit in the counsel of sinners or to be unequally yoked with unbelievers, 2Corinthians 6: 14-18. Tasha responded with a meme she posted on her social media quoting the Message bible version of Romans 14:1 which says
“Welcome with open arms fellow believers who don’t see things the way you do. And don’t jump all over them every time they do or say something you don’t agree with—even when it seems that they are strong on opinions but weak in the faith department. Remember, they have their own history to deal with. Treat them gently”
From this one can construe that Tasha believes Nicky Minaj is a believer and should be afforded grace in the same way it is afforded to other Christians. Whether Nicky is a Christian or not is up to her and God, but Jesus on the otherhand clearly states that you will know a tree by its fruit, Matthew 7: 16.
If this is how we tell, then Nicky`s art and lifestyle which cannot, by the standard of the bible, be described as good fruit, clearly portrays that what she stands for is not the God of the bible. Her music is loaded with vulgar or profane language, nudity and it promotes values that go against what the bible teaches. So I would think it’s a long stretch to think that Nicky can be perceived in the context of Romans 14:1.
Lets look at the advantages critically
Others have argued that the features are a form of evangelism and that Christians should not consider themselves high and mighty or too perfect to commune with sinners since Jesus himself was known to associate with them even though they were looked down upon. It is true that Jesus would talk, walk, visit and eat with sinners and so this argument seems to make sense when we consider the issue of these collaborations but, there is also another angle.
Jesus would interact with sinners on a personal level telling them the truth about God but nowhere do we see Him inviting them to teach or minister to His disciples or to the multitudes that were following him. We don’t see Him invite them to share His platform and lead people into prayer or worship.
Even the disciples did not start ministry until they had been taught extensively by Him for years and when He was no longer there to oversee, they had to wait until they received the Holy Spirit. Collaborating in ministry and sitting down to have meal are two different things. In another way wouldn’t it be the same thing as a preacher or pastor allowing an openly vulgar and lewd person to come and take the pulpit for a Sunday?
Its not as serious as we are making it
This also brings us to the issue where some people have complained that, by calling Christian music a platform for ministry, we ascribe way too much responsibility and gravity to something that shouldn’t be that serious, “It’s not that deep.”The truth is that if you do music for Christ, at that level, you are a leader to the people that follow your music and therefore you have a responsibility to them and to God to make sure that whatever you present will not willfully misguide or lead people in the wrong direction.
In as much as it may expand the type of people you reach, doing a collaboration with a secular artist may appear like the Christian is saying you can live your life any way you want, sing promoting the worldly things of the flesh and still be able to come through and lead people in worship with us. This is not the kind of Christianity that the bible teaches. An individual`s faith and actions must tally.
Even people who are not Christians complain about the hypocrisy of having someone who was twerking in the club last night come in and lead worship in the morning. It can be said it’s just a record, but when they perform the song live it will be in a setting where believers are gathered to worship and so Nicky Minaj will essentially be leading worship.
In the end we all have to give an account
Collaborating with secular artists may have its advantages for the artist business-wise and also for reaching a different fan base but, it also carries a lot of risk when it comes to how we represent or present Christ to the people that will listen to the songs. The artist may have to weigh and see if the benefits are greater than the risks, but ultimately consider the reality that when the time comes they will have to give an account to God of how they used the gift and the platform that He gave them.