Once in a while the debate on whether gospel music ministers can do secular music is had among believers with the only resolution being that it will be had again after a while.
While reading Psalm 137 in church earlier today, I caught a perspective that I believe can shed light for some on the subject. I suspect that more people may remember that psalm from the hit song of Bob Marley, than from the bible, so I have quoted the relevant portion below.
By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, yea, we wept, when we remembered Zion.  We hanged our harps upon the willows in the midst thereof.  For there they that carried us away captive required of us a song; and they that wasted us required of us mirth, saying , Sing us one of the songs of Zion.  How shall we sing the Lord’s song in a strange land?  If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning .  If I do not remember thee, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth; if I prefer not Jerusalem above my chief joy. (Psalm 137:1-6 KJV)
I find this Psalm to speak quite directly to the matter of whether a gospel minister should cross over or occasionally do secular music. The account apparently speaks of musicians who ministered in Zion (today’s equivalent of the church), and who having been taken captive to Babylon (which represents the world and worldliness), were required to continue to sing the songs of Zion in a strange land.
The average gospel music minister who is flirting with the idea of going secular often convince themselves that they will continue to sing ‘positive’, ‘moral’ songs to a secular audience. While they may not appear to be literal captives of the secular world, they are in reality captivated by the lure of stardom and lucre.
These Psalmists of Zion on the other hand while being physical captives, were not captivated in the least by anything Babylon had to offer. “How shall we sing the Lord’s song in a strange land?” they lamented.
“If I forget thee o Jerusalem” they vowed, “let my right hand forget its cunning”. That’s like a gospel music minister saying, if I turn my back on giving my gift to the church, let me lose my skill. When they said “if I do not remember Jerusalem, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth”, it translates into the talented lead vocalist saying, I’d rather lose my voice than use it to sing in Babylon.
“We hanged our harps on the willows” they said. Rather than entertain the world, they say to today’s gospel minister, better to let your expensive guitar rot away.
Musical skill is a beautiful gift given to believers to serve the body of Christ but many personalize this gift and put it at the disposal of the highest bidder, which is often ‘Babylon’ where mammon rules.
Just like Samson who was given a gift and a mandate for the deliverance of Israel, but ended up as a captive, and entertainer of the Philistines, many gospel musicians with a mandate to bring deliverance have themselves been led away captive to entertain the world. Like Samson whose eyes were plucked, the bright lights of stardom has blinded them to God’s vision for their gift.