October 8, 2012

Reader Response

Timely Piece
After I finished reading Herbert Blomstedt’s “Present Truth in Music" (July 12, 2012), I could only say, “Wow!” What a timely and long-overdue piece!

For a subject that often divides churches, it’s surprising that no one has been willing to present an intelligent, informative, and practical response to the madness that has been possessing our people for too long. 

Why don’t conferences have a music educator who would teach churches about appropriate music, styles, content, performance, and so on? Why must we face weekly the challenge of preserving our hearing, or being disturbed by inappropriate musical forms and their presentations? 

There are many who object to the music played and/or sung in our churches, but do not know how to articulate what exactly they object to. Many of our worship leaders do not consider the source and effect of many of the “Christian” songs/music presented in what is to be the worship of God. 

Thanks for printing this message from an expert and committed Christian. Your task is to enlighten God’s people. What they choose to do with the information will be up to them.

Trevor Connell
Dallas, Texas

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With all due respect to Herbert Blomstedt and his article, I am one who finds symphony music to be performers and noise. It has no meaning or feeling to me. The song in our hymnal “Tell Me the Story of Jesus,” however, is very meaningful to me. I am also in the author’s age bracket, and I’m college-educated.

I sincerely hope there is a corner in heaven for people like me who like the majority of hymns found in our hymnal plus many other songs not of a classical nature.

Dorothy Solomon
via e-mail

As a trained musician myself, I found the article by Herbert Blomstedt truthful and to the point. Trained musicians are often stressed when exposed to poorly performed “great music,” which in turn reveals poor taste and a lack of musical knowledge. 

When one has moved in the world of classical music, it is hard to relate to the mundane. Music is a language that speaks to both the intellect and the physical. It creates an atmosphere and at all times needs to be appropriate for the occasion and environment in which it is used. Many folk are simply moved by sentimental emotion and feelings. They do not consider whether the music or words are fitting for the occasion. Text and music must at all times reflect an honest blend. . . .

We must, however, remember that there are more musically illiterate people in our audiences, churches or elsewhere, than trained musicians. Musical words such as “fugue” or “sonata” are meaningless to them. Expecting them to appreciate music of the great masters is like giving a scientific book to an uneducated person to read. 

Much can be done by our trained musicians to educate people by exposing them to quality music, which oftentimes needs some explanation before a performance. Patience and understanding are required of a trained musician in meeting the needs of the untrained!

Wilhelmina Dunbar 
Heidelberg, South Africa

“Present Truth in Music” is about searching for truth, which I wholeheartedly agree with, but the article slides into an opinionated dissertation of what type of music is “true.” The God I serve does not wince when He hears “inauthentic” music. He beams with pride as His children, whether accomplished musicians or struggling amateurs (myself in the latter category), sing and play to His glory during worship. 

Jesus hears our music not with His ears but with His heart. I feel the more important question to be asked is: Are the sounds being made from an “authentic” heart? As a Seventh-day Adventist I would be embarrassed for my non-Adventist Christian friends to read this article. Why don’t we stick to the facts and the “truth” we know and not print articles that are full of conjecture? 

Christian Yaste
Charlotte, North Carolina

Temptation, Sin—and Red Herrings
Thanks very much for helping me understand my discomfort with the concept and reality of the “gay lifestyle” or “gay culture” while actively embracing the people in my life who are same-sex attracted (in response to “The Missing Story in ‘Seventh-Gay Adventists,’ ” July 19, 2012). I’ve never wanted to judge or assume; I too believe all people need and want love in their lives. I’ve also never been able or even willing to soften Scripture’s clear stance on sexual sin of any sort (1 Thess. 4:3; 1 Cor. 6:18)! Any human being on Planet Earth who has not been tempted with sexual sin of one kind or another is someone I’ve yet to meet.
Praise God, His grace not only covers all sin—it promises victory over any and all temptations to sin. To be able to access the very same power that Christ Himself used is awe-inspiring; it is also, to me, the essence of the gospel. This is indeed good news! 

Victoria Wilson
Portland, Oregon

Thank you, Andy Nash, for speaking plainly in “The Missing Story in ‘Seventh-Gay Adventists.’ ” With such a charged issue, it is impossible to advocate a clear biblical position without some-one taking offense. 

I applaud Nash’s courage and tact and forthrightness. Let me paraphrase speaker and author Ravi Zacharias: Anyone who is honest would admit that they are tempted to find love in forbidden places. I can no more legitimize the behavior of a person if they live out their sinful homosexual fantasies than I can legitimize my own behavior if I live out my sinful heterosexual ones. 

Nash quoted Stephen Eyer’s question “How could a God of love ask people not to be in a loving relationship?” Easily, if that “loving relationship” is also harmful. For example, “But we love each other so much; how could this affair/fornication/incest/pedophilia be wrong?” is a tried and “tired” argument for legitimizing forbidden opposite-sex relationships.

It doesn’t work for same-sex relationships, either. And commitment does not make wrong right. . . . Finally, advocating acceptance of the homosexual lifestyle in the Adventist Church is not a solution, because it will not clear the consciences of the many honest believers who experience same-sex attraction and by reading their Bibles know what God, out of love, says about its practice.

Bruce Blum
North Carolina

The Nature of the Issue
As a gay Adventist who lives a celibate life, but only with much struggle, heartache, and questioning, I was interested to read Andy Nash’s column. While he makes some good points, he has made a very poor word choice by repeatedly referring to homosexuality as a “tendency.” Does he believe that heterosexuality is a “tendency”? One’s sexual orientation cannot be equated with “short-term tendencies” such as greed, gossip, or murder, which is exactly what Nash does. 

Sexual orientation goes much deeper—it is intimately interwoven with a person’s physical, mental, spiritual, and emotional being. It is part of the essence of a person. It cannot be categorically separated from the whole person in the same way that sinful tendencies such as greed or any of the other temptations he lists can be. Sexual orientation is a fact, not a tendency. While it certainly doesn’t define me in my entirety, being gay is not a “tendency” for me. I did not choose it; I was born this way. . . . 

I am not saying that what Nash believes—indeed, what the Bible says—is wrong. But his article lacks credibility and sensitivity because of his viewpoint that being gay is an inclination toward a certain behavior rather than an inherent part of one’s being. That minimizes the nature of the entire issue as well as the ramifications of the struggle and the ensuing lifestyle decisions. And unfortunately, although I know it was not his intention, Nash’s words only serve to further alienate and hurt those of us who must daily wage war against a very real and often overwhelming situation that, through no fault of our own, we have been called to face. 

Name Withheld