Popular worship leader Israel Houghton is on “indefinite leave” from Joel Osteen’s Lakewood Church while he goes through a “process of restoration.” In February, he announced that he and his wife of 20 years had divorced because he had “failed and sinned” in their marriage.
Should churches stop singing the songs of fallen worship leaders? Here's how experts weighed in. Answers are arranged on a spectrum from “yes” answers at the top to “no” answers at the bottom.
“When songs are sung in churches on Sunday mornings, songwriters make money. Though indirect, it is a business deal. If Paul suggests that we should not even eat with certain brothers who are immoral—as in living an unrepentant lifestyle—then should we sing their songs?”
~Josh Davis, coauthor, Worship Together in Your Church as in Heaven
“Churches may remove the song from the rotation for a while, because usually the song has a strong association with its writer and thus recalls their moral failure and could cause confusion or unease. If the writer’s life has been restored publicly, a song may be used again as a means of edification.”
~Jaewoo Kim, director, Arts in Mission Korea
“A boycott would be valid if the worship leaders are decidedly unrepentant, continue to violate Christian principles, or have opted to reject the integral tenets of the faith altogether. But as long as they are engaged in a restorative process, singing their songs in church should be permissible.”
~Eric Lige, director of worship, Ethnos Community Church, San Diego, California
“If the criteria for singing songs in worship depend on the writer’s life, I suppose ...1
Already a CT subscriber? Log in for full digital access.
Subscribe to Christianity Today and get access to this article plus 60+ years of archives.
- Home delivery of CT magazine
- Complete access to articles on ChristianityToday.com
- Over 120 years of magazine archives plus full access to all of CT’s online archives
- Learn more