>Can you love the art without loving the artist?

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Call me behind the news, but I just found out two days ago what it seems that everyone in evangelical circles has known for some time now – Steve Fee, worship leader at Northpoint Community Church (and Passion conferences), gifted songwriter, and lead singer for the band Fee, confessed to having an affair with a band member’s wife for the last four years or so. Steve is another in the long line of worship leaders whose ministry has been marred by sexual impurity. As my wife Sarah said regretfully, it seems like this is more and more prevalent. Several questions arise for me.

1. How much is the current evangelical culture to blame for the rise and fall of such Christian celebrities? (See my previous post on Pastors as Celebrity)

2. I’ve scanned the host of blog entries about Steve Fee, and there’s always some sentiment on a blog or comment board about not judging him. “Judge not lest ye be judged,” seems to be the most quoted Scripture. Have these people read 1 Cor recently? We are to judge those within the community of faith. (Read 1 Cor 2-5 in particular.) However, our judgment of the sin is to be restorative, not condemning. We are to extend grace, but we are to judge it nonetheless. Forgiveness begins by naming the sin for what it is – evil, repulsive, and heinous. Only from there, can true restoration happen. What Steve Fee did was regrettable, sad, and tragic because he lost everything, but even more, what Steve Fee did was repulsive because it was against a holy God and a committed wife.

Now I know some will say, “are you without sin?” Absolutely not. In fact, without the grace of God, I myself am only a few decisions away from making shipwreck of my faith. As Luther’s sacristy prayer said, “God, if you remove your hand from me for a moment, I will surely bring [the ministry] to ruin.” Still, while acknowledging the propensity of my own heart to wander, it does not prevent me from judging this brother. My standard is not my own life, but the counsel of God. I call it sin in hopes that Steve will repent and be restored not for the sake of his giftedness, but so that he will experience fullness of joy in a covenantal marriage that expresses God’s faithfulness to him.

3. A final question that I have is what do you do with the music that he has written during the season of infidelity? Does it now make all of his songs off-limits? He has written some amazing music. I think what lies behind this is a theology of art. Does the integrity of the artist disqualify his/her art? Should Steve Fee’s songs be avoided because he committed adultery?

5 thoughts on “>Can you love the art without loving the artist?

  1. >I don't think so. If we decide to avoid the fruit of people's lives because they sin then we would have to avoid listening to pastors preach, because they too sin. Committing adultery is no worse in God's eyes than pride or selfishness or any other hidden sin, right? So while preachers or worship leaders or youth pastors may not appear to sin, they certainly do, but I don't think that means we should dismiss the good things they bring to the world.

  2. >You question how much the evangelical culture is to blame, but I do not feel it is to blame. As you stated, it seems as though everyone in the evangelical circles have known for several months now. That is due, not to Steve Fee, but the husband of the other woman. He is a musician and was a friend of Fee’s, but he was not a member of the Fee band. The friend has a very strong lifetime tie into the evangelical circle, which is why it was spread so quickly throughout. The evangelical circle has not influenced Steve Fee and his choices should not reflect upon them. I have only met the man once or twice, but I am a good friend with a very close friend of his. I heard about the five year affair early May. He found out about it in April. Everyone was shocked and heartbroken for his pain. My point is, it spread fast due the personal connection between family and friends of the man that was hurt by Fee’s sins. As an evangelical Christian, I pray everyone can see that Fee is not one and his actions should not reflect on who we are or what we stand for. I do not think Fee’s works should be band. Ricki makes a good point, we all sin. We need to pray and use discernment and ask God if those are his words.

  3. >Morgan, interesting point about the connections in terms of how the news of this spread. My point (as made in an earlier post) was that our current evangelical culture seems to raise worship leaders, pastors, virtually anyone with giftedness to cult celebrity status, increasing the amount of privilege, power, and pressure that these individuals feel. While we might say that each person sins of his/her own accord, I wonder if they would feel nearly as much pressure and temptation to do so if we did not elevate them to such a celebrity status.I, too, agree that Fee's works should not be banned. God can use art often in spite of the artist. Still, as I sing some of his songs, I do feel a slight hesitation in my heart, but that's probably more me than anything else.

  4. >Can you love the art and not the artist?Sure, but you can't be a Christian and not extend love and forgiveness to Steve Fee. He has confessed his sin and is seeking to restore his marriage. I am saddened, but not surprised, to see Morgan and others appointing themselves qualified to question his salvation. Christians commit sin – sometimes grievous ones.As to the music, it is based on God's truth and Word. If we shouldn't sing Fee songs, then we shouldn't use the Psalms – they were written by a murdering adulterer. Yet God saw fit to use him, and hope He will someday do so again with Steve Fee.

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