Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Amy Grant

My response to Amigo's comment on my last blog post:
Help me out with Amy Grant. I really like her singing. "Tis so Sweet to Trust in Jesus" ranks up there as one of my favorite Christian songs. But then comes her personal life (as I understand it). She is divorced from her 1st husband and marries another man, who divorced his wife and married Amy Grant. I read where she said she felt God "released her" from her first marriage. Now I am not trying to be smart mouthed or mean here, but isn't this pretty much what John the Baptist slammed Herod for? I understand God forgives us our sins, but I really don't get the feeling that Grant ever really repented. If I'm out of line on her, let me know and delete my comment.

I would never delete an Amigo comment, and I think he brings up a lot of good points that really ought to be discussed often in the Christian community -- especially as non-Catholic Christians continue to divorce at the same or higher rate than the general public. One thing I've realized recently from some stuff going on at our church is that there is no such thing as a "private" sin in the family of God. So, though a Google search may someday reveal this post to the rabid Amy Grant fans out there who like to insist on her near-saintedness and kvetch continually that a divorce of seven years ago ought never to be discussed again, I'm going to post a bit about the whole "Amy Grant thang" and why and how it affected me. Bear with me, please.

I try to imagine sometimes what it would have been like to have been raised in a Christian household. For those of you who were, try to imagine for a moment what it would have been like to be a sixteen-year-old high school junior and never have heard the Gospel. Of course you would have heard of Jesus (usually in the swear-word format) and you may have even been to church once in a while, but you had never really been told the message of Good News and the unfathomable love of Christ. Try to imagine that, if you will.

Then, imagine that at the end of your favorite pop music CD you hear the words, "When it all comes down, if there's anything good that happens in life it's from Jesus." You can imagine, I'm sure, that at first you would be surprised; then, maybe, a little angry or turned off. But, if you kept listening, the words would start to seep into your soul and revolutionize your worldview.

It took almost five years of soul-searching, flirting with Objectivism and atheism, reading the Bible, praying and listening for this sixteen-year-old to become the young woman who committed to Christ at the age of twenty-one. I would never say that Amy Grant made me a Christian -- only the grace of God through the Holy Spirit can do that -- but Amy Grant's music was the first exposure I had to the idea that there was something unspeakably precious to be gained at the cross of Jesus Christ.

To say I have a soft spot for Amy Grant would be an understatement.

To say that my heart was not broken by the sad and sinful events in Amy Grant's personal life in 1999 would be a lie. Because I had seen a woman made of clay and then expected her to walk on water -- the mud ought not to have been a surprise, but it was. Amy Grant had become so much more to me than just a singer of wonderful songs -- she had become my model for what life in Christ can mean -- beautiful family, happy marriage, successful career. Not exactly what Jesus said about taking up the cross to follow Him, huh? But what did I know, anyway? -- I was a baby Christian looking for the keys to secular bliss in the bosom of eternal truth.

Amy Grant's divorce was, I believe, caused, at least in part, by her and Vince Gill's adultery. I do not believe it was physical adultery, but I do believe -- from the evidence of both their subsequent actions and their words -- that it was spiritual adultery, which, as Jesus reminds us, is pretty much the same thing. She fell in love with a man who was not her husband, and, instead of fleeing the situation, she allowed herself to be mired in incredibly tempting circumstances. For the sins of the heart -- which is where all sin begins -- I believe that repentance comes from nipping those flashes of darkness in the bud. When the heart's contemplations turn into action, repentance is shown by ceasing the actions and seeking forgiveness. All of this is only done through prayer and the workings of the Spirit within.

Has Amy Grant repented of her sin? I should think that her repentance would have included staying away from her temptation instead of marrying him, but my job is not to try to peer into her heart. She says she has sought and found forgiveness from the Lord. I can only take her at her word. Has she asked her first husband, Gary Chapman, for forgiveness? Has he asked her for it (since marriages seldom break up for a one-sided reason)? I don't know. The worst of it was the Chapmans' three children's having to witness their parents' marriage falling apart. That stinks, no matter how much money or fame or faith your family has. Have they asked their children for forgiveness? Goodness, I hope so (though parents so rarely do).

What was hardest for me was to see evidence that Christianity does not protect us always from our sinful natures. With repentance, it protects us from God's justifiable wrath, but it doesn't automatically make us the most discerning of people. We are so easily deceived -- and we do whatever we can to justify our exposed sin to ourselves and the world. For Amy Grant to have said that she had been "released" from her marriage without giving one of the very few reasons that a Christian is biblically allowed to divorce sounds like someone desperate to give holy sanction to sin. That's dangerous. But, if she did have biblical reasons to divorce (from my understanding: abandonment, abuse, adultery, and a non-believing spouse who wants out) why not state them? It is not edifying for the Body of Christ to see their brethren divorce without cause. No-fault divorce is a worldly message that ultimately harms the Gospel.

Okay, so Amy Grant and Vince Gill most likely committed adultery (and their spouses had most likely sinned against them, too). Divorce is generally bad. It is one of those things that, even when it is the necessary course, is never really good. When children are involved, it is often catastrophic. The Baby Boom generation on up through today's parents are going to be answerable to the future and the Lord for two main legacies of foulness: the social acceptability of abortion and divorce. Both rip children apart -- the first physically, the second emotionally. I can only imagine that that pisses Jesus off to no end.

But, where do you go from there? Can Amy Grant still be a powerful witness for the Gospel? I can acknowledge my own disappointment and disillusionment and still find that, yes, her life is a powerful witness of God's grace and restoration in the midst of deception and sin. For, though their relationship started out of lust and adultery, God has used that to His glory. He has given the Grant/Gill household a beautiful daughter and, from what I've read, He has brought healing to all the parties involved. He has truly taken what man has done for evil and turned it to good. And He is still using the gift of music that He so lovingly bestowed upon her, as, especially, the two recent hymns albums have resoundingly testified. I could never be one of those people who say that Amy Grant has lost the right to proclaim the truth of God because of her sin; were that the case, I, too, would never be able to speak or write of Him. She is no more sinful than I. I try to live with a prayerful and repentant heart, and I believe that she does, too.

18 comments:

Amigo said...

Bugger, lost my first comment. And it was so pretty too.

Thanks for your patience and thoughtful answer.

Now if I could just find a good copy of Amy Grant singing 'Tis So Sweet (to trust in Jesus)'*. I recently had tried, unsuccessfully, to buy this song and really scrounged the internet. I ended up reading a lot about Amy and ended up not feeling very charitable towards her.

I also see I ended a sentence with a preposition in my original comment.

* Gotta use an asterisk. The only thing I found was a used tape, 'Our Hymns', from 1989(?) which had the song, but I doubted the quality.

Joelle said...

You may know more than I do, but what I had heard was that Amy's first husband had cheated on her repeatedly throughout their marriage, and continued to do so after going through counseling, etc. She didn't want to sling mud when the divorce happened for the sake of the children. I could be wrong, this is just what someone told me. Supposedly they went to a concert she had the year after the divorce where she broke down and told her story. I agree that no marriage problems are one-sided, but it does bug me when "christians" are so quick to turn their back on someone without knowing the whole truth.

Justine said...

Having had some small contact with Gary Chapman, I have a difficult time believing that serial adultery was being committed (by him or by Amy).

This is what I've been able to piece together, through years of fandom and interview reading (and human observation):

1) Amy Grant and Gary Chapman always had a difficult marriage from the start (1982). They have very different personalities.

2) Amy almost left in 1985 or 1986. She has alluded to this many times. She stayed, in part, because her sister said, "You can leave, Amy. But before you go, you need to come over and explain to my children how this Jesus you sing about being big enough to save the human race is somehow not big enough to help you and Gary in your marriage."

3) Gary Chapman had a drug problem (and possibly alcoholism). He had some big problems dealing with Amy's success in light of his own more modest music career. I'm sure that this made him not the most pleasant of husbands at times.

4) Amy always struggled with feelings of attraction for other men. She had to fight them constantly. See "Faithless Heart" from Lead Me On. Plus, I read an interview she gave around the same time where she said the same thing (I'll try to find it, if you want documentation).

5) Amy and Gary went into counseling in the mid-1980's. Things started to improve. Amy and Gary came forward with honesty about their marital struggles. After deciding to stay married, they began a family.

6) Amy Grant met Vince Gill in 1993 and, as they've both revealed since then, essentially fell in love with him and he with her. Jason watched them in the "Building the House of Love" video and said (back in 1996), "She's in love with Vince Gill."

7) Amy struggled and struggled for years to suppress her attraction to VG, with Gary "on his knees begging her to stay." In the end, she ended up leaving in December 1998 or January 1999.

8) Gary Chapman was arrested in Sept. 2006 for drunk driving and marijuana possession. So, who knows how long he had been back to abusing drugs?

I guess what I'm saying is that I certainly think that both Amy and Gary had a big share in the divorce. Amy Grant committed adultery, and I do not think that it edifies the Body to shy from using such terms for sin. Gary violated the sanctity of their marriage, too -- though there is not such a tidy word for his sin.

And I do think it is a big mistake to think that it helps children not to be honest about the reasons for divorce. They need to know exactly why the most important relationship in their young lives is falling apart. If more couples were pressured, by their church or their families, to tell the truth in divorce, I think that fewer divorces would happen. How much more difficult to explain to your child that "Mommy is leaving Daddy because she fell in love with another man," than, "Mommy and Daddy have decided they would be happier living apart." Maybe it would make parents think twice before shattering the security of their children's lives by their own sinful inclinations.

Sorry, divorce pisses me off -- and so-called "irreconcilable differences" and "no-fault divorce" piss me off the most!

Serena said...

I really appreciate your thoughtful responses, Justine. I do know that my husband has a soft spot for Amy. We have both hymn albums and really enjoy them. If I hadn't gone through what I have with my own history of divorce (not my choice, but you cannot make another person do right either), I would probably judged her harshly. I am learning to leave things like that where I am not in relationship with a person to do what scripture says in that kind of situation in G-d's hands. He is perfectly capable of dealing with His children.

One thing to think of is David. He went through a similar thing and he wrote many songs (psalms) after his time of gross sin. Only G-d sees the heart, we don't. From all evidences she is repentant. The clock cannot be turned back and she has to make the best of where she is now. G-d is extremely good at picking us up when we fall and setting our feet going His way again.

Love and shalom,
Serena

Joelle said...

Thanks for your insight, Justine. Like I said, my "knowledge" was hearsay. :)

Regardless of her sins (and frankly, it makes me like her better to know she's human like the rest of us) I've been really blessed by her hymns albums, both of which were recorded after her divorce. I know God is good at redeeming bad situations, and I think He is doing that for her.

Justine said...

And I hope that nothing I have written about Amy Grant makes any of you think that I condemn her or think she's terrible or anything like that. Far from it! I have a ton of respect for her, and her music has made up so much of the soundtrack of my Christian walk.

I think that, with her very public life, marriage, divorce and re-marriage, too many people have either tried to absolve her of any wrong-doing and lay all the blame on Gary, or they have gone to the opposite extreme and branded her a harlot and hypocrite. But, like you said Joelle, she's human -- as deliciously prone to reflecting God's glory and holiness as to revealing humanity's depravity and wretchedness as any of us.

And her hymn albums are wonderful. The first one is my favorite. Have you ever heard Ashley Cleveland's hymns album, Men and Angels Say? It is less flashy than Amy's, but very powerful -- her "Nothing But the Blood" is devastatingly raw.

Anonymous said...

I for one can't bear to hear her. Something similer happened to me, nothing that I did made any difference. My children are suffering to this day, it has been 4 years.
When I hear her, I turn the dial. I have never heard her admit to her wrongdoing, and when it was brought up to her that others felt the same way, she brushed it off with "It is NONE of their business." Sin in the church is the churches business. She does not seem to get that what she did was wrong and justifies it. I just read an article by Vince Gill that states his marriage "didn't work out". It is like the other spouse did not exist for either of them.
Comparing this to David is apples to oranges. David publicly repented, neither of the Gills have.
If someone can show me where, please do so.

Val said...

This is an old thread, but I think that Amy Grant's situation is sin. If we divorce for whatever reason we *should remain unmarried or be reconciled*. Every time a high profile Christian does this kind of thing, it gives license to others to give up on their marriages. The early church did not allow this kind of stuff, based on their understanding of scripture. It has only been in the last fifty or so years that the church has opened the flood gates, and millions of children have the broken hearts to prove that we have veered far off of God plan. She should leave Vince and live alone or be reconciled to Gary, period. Something has to happen to turn back this tide....and it starts with repentance.

Anonymous said...

May I please ask a question? This too has bugged me because I am going through a rough time myself. And I searched on the Amy Grant divorce topic for guidance. Just to cover me here, I have read my bible for years for guidance too.
I was married at a young age of 19. That was 19 years ago and I have been miserable the entire 19 years (yes children, we have four). I was only saved 8 years ago and realize because I fear God that I am seriously trapped here. If it wasn't for my being saved I would be divorced. I am not sure why I stuck it out all these years, especially before being saved but because our personalities, goals, dreams, theories, hobbies, thinking, everything clashes, am I supposed to stay miserable like this for the rest of my living life? I really want to know. I don't have one of the okay reasons listed in order to divorce, but I don't feel loved and I don't love. What I have here is a friendship marriage and it stinks. I would rather not be married at all. I fear the Lord too much to divorce but feel there better be some grand reward in heaven for keeping this lofty committment. Sorry if I sound conceited, but it seems so unfair that I wasn't mature enough to know what I was doing and even now that I am saved I would have made a different choice of husbands altogether if I had known all this before. Definately someone more Godly. Any advice would be appreciated!

Anonymous said...

Anonymous,

1 Corinthians 7

12To the rest I say this (I, not the Lord): If any brother has a wife who is not a believer and she is willing to live with him, he must not divorce her. 13And if a woman has a husband who is not a believer and he is willing to live with her, she must not divorce him. 14For the unbelieving husband has been sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife has been sanctified through her believing husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy.

ShofarSong said...

How do I follow you on here? I don't see a "follow" button. You can come to my blog: shofarsong.blogspot.com and comment to tell me...or I can just come check back after a while.

Also, I LOVE your response here, andn I respect it and I am very much admiring the love I see here. That is Jesus!

However, just one little disagreement (and I am totally coming from a place of love here, not condemnation or criticism): when you say that Amy Grant's sin can't keep her from proclaiming the gospel, you are right. And you are right about us all needing to repent and to have grace for one another.

However, I just want to draw your attention to 1 Corintians 5. It is not that we should turn our backs on her or anything like that...but to basically make known that as The Body, we don't condone sexual immorality, and that she should pretty much be removed from the church or a "minister" position until she repents.

The thing is, a lot of people are saying that the asking of forgiveness and stuff should be a private thing between her and God. Ok...but she is in the public eye, and not only her ministry, but her sinful acts reached the ears and knowledge of millions, including non-believers who won't understand that God hates adultery if we all brush it under the rug (or even worse, nod in acceptance or agreement of it)!

Therefore, it would make the most sense, and in fact be necessary for her to confess and ask for forgiveness publicly. And after that, and after taking steps toward repentance, then she can be let back into the church and restored to her ministry. This is biblical!

Many times, we Christians come to fully understand the kindness and love of God--this is GOOD! We love Him because He first loves us...and He is love! But we also often either reject, avoid or just ignore the severity of our Sovereign King. He is both kind and severe...and if we really want the fullness of Him, and a full relationship with Him (and if we want to mature) we have to both accept, come to know and love His severity as equally as His kindness!

1 Corinthians 5 is very blunt and very harsh...but it is also for good reason! God knows better than we do! He has grace IN ABUNDANCE, yes, but He also disciplines those He loves. Now...please remember that I said that after confession, forgivness and repentance, one such as Amy or even Joe Schmo can be RESTORED. It is not judgement and condemnation. It is discipline and then restoration. It is building up!

Whoever is forgiven much loves much! Imagine after the whole process of discipline (subsequent rebellion, anger, and finally a broken and contrite heart) and then restoration how humble, pure and on fire or Jesus someone would be!!! Don't believe me? Check Peter out. Better yet, check Paul out. Or any of the most fierce lovers of Jesus who are ministering today.

Anonymous said...

No, I do not where Amy stands in her relationship with Christ. I have no way of knowing that for sure. I do know one thing, however...my ex-husband, a pastor, and my ex-friend affectionately referred to themselves as "Vince and Amy."

Not long ago I heard this phrase, "What one generation tolerates, the next embraces." We are so afraid of being called "unforgiving," or "bigots," or "judgmental" that the church has tolerated itself into irrelevance--we're no more moral than the country club. When two-fisted sin is justified on any level, the only person who wins is Satan.

So thanks for your legacy, Amy. David may be forgiven, but Uriah is still dead.

Blud said...

To "Anonymous" who posted on:
Monday, May 17, 2010 9:03:00 AM

I really feel for you and there is nothing that I have time to say that will do anything to help you because the real damage that has been done is the result of issue upon issue upon issue, with sin, misunderstanding, judgment, improper response, lack of forgiveness, etc.

However, thanks to your fear of God, you really do have hope. By the fear of God a man turns his foot from evil. Divorce is not temptation. Divorce takes planning and follow through -- there's more than ample time to get free from the "temptation" and say, "I can't do this!"

That fear will serve you to go before God and say something like:

OK, Lord. I'm NOT going to divorce because I fear You. Therefore, because of Your great love and mercy, surely You can "make a way where there is no way." You can show me how to love and how to forgive and how to honor and bless and love even though I don't feel it and I'm not loved.

Do it in faith that God really is that GOOD (He is!) and that He will show you day by day. Trust Him and believe Him to do the impossible and don't expect anything from your spouse. Put all your faith in God.

What you'll gain is peace and grace and a better relationship with God EVEN if your relationship with your spouse doesn't show improvement for a long time. Walk by faith and only pray for things that your faith can believe. That will keep you from being disappointed.

Remember 1 Peter 2:18 (speaking to slaves) through the end of the chapter. It should encourage you.

Anytime you desire, I'll be glad to pray for you. Just let me know.

Anonymous said...

I have always felt connected to Amy. I suppose it is because my ex-wife looked at one time a lot like Amy.

After 30 years of marriage I finally had a "christian" reason for divorcing her. Adultery.

BUT!

I knew it was over in 1986! I stayed because of God and the Bible. Although i feel God is an evil genie or something.

I was miserable in this marriage and would have gladly left it if I would have had a just reason. I felt trapped. It was a horrible existence. I never cheated. I am not sure if she did until the last couple of years.

It is been nearly 18 months since the divorce and i am still having troubles. I want to forget her. "sigh" can't...I hate still caring,,,don't want to...

To all who would judge Amy and Vince or for that matter Gary and Janice...

cast the first stone

What good would it have been to stay in a loveless marriage? I've been there for all too many years. I tried at one time to be the best any woman could ever have wanted. It was to no avail. Sometimes the other party is not worth it.

God, it hurts to say this. I am crying as I type these words that no one will hear.

I just wish to be loved by a good woman. That is unlikely to ever happen for me. I am so filled with bitterness and resentment and self loathing now. What woman would ever see through this person I've become to see the real me?

Again......judge not for unless you be judged.

CAST THAT STONE!

Elaine Jones said...

I believe the difficulty I have with Amy and Vince is not that they sinned or that they are human but that they seem to make excuses and are unrepentant. Any interviews I heard they seem to excuse their behavior. They say they did not committ adultery because they were not sexually intimiate, but they certainly committed emotional and spiritual adultery. I don't say that the spouses - Janis and Gary were blameless. Gary could have indeed been addicted to drugs, jealous of his wife's success, and an all around terrible husband, but that doesn't mean that it's ok for Amy to cheat on him and committ emotional adultery. If Gary was willing to work on the marriage and seek help for himself then Amy should not have divorced him. I have no idea the details but I imagine Janis was not blameless, but it does not seem there was ample cause for Vince to divorce his wife. She had not committed adultery from what I heard. It just seems VG deemed the marriage unfixable and was in "love" with Amy whether he actually planned to pursue her is another story. The point being he basically gave up on his marriage. The issue here is not that WE are judgmental. Of course, we all are sinful and of course we should not cast stones, but this is a case where both parties - Amy and Vince - seem to excuse and justify their actions. Evidence by Amy saying she was "released" from her marriage. Well, unless Gary was indeed unfaithful, abusive, or an unbeliever... then she really had no biblical reasons to divorce him so therefore I fail to see how she was "released"

John Brubaker said...

Amy left her husband because she fell in love with another man, vince gill, and vince gill left his wife because he fell in love with Amy Grant, Vince pursued Amy, he could have stopped but he didn't, he pushed the envelope, Janis, vince gills first wife told him to leave Amy Grant alone and he would not do it, It says whoa unto the man who breaks up a family, vince knew that marriage was in trouble in 1993 and he did not come in there to help out but to take advantage of the situation, and that he did, with every season you reap a harvest, and that harvest is yet to be reaped, he showed his true colors with the westboro Baptist Church, with his swearing and threatening, and the public loved him, slamming all Christians, and hailing vince gill as their new savior, vince gill lead Amy Grant in for the slaughter, there will be a day for atonement, and I am a firm believer that the master is already in the house.

Anonymous said...

Commit them into God's hands. Don't let their foolish behavior become a weed in your own soul. But if you see (like many of us) that they - amy and vince - did their best to deceive themselves and everybody else in this adulteress affair, then don't patronize them either.

One particular deception: In November of '98 Amy was performing in one of her venues; during intermission she played a video of her and Gary and children doing family things together. She in so many words stated, "This answers the rumors going around." Whew!

It's only been excuses, deception,and tortured scripture interpretations ever since.

People can attempt to justify anything. God is merciful, but He will not accept what is going on in some christian circles today. Just ask ancient Israel before the fall.

Roger Dodger said...

I was married in 1987, was separated from her for two years, and reconciled (her idea) by 1992. We've had two children (girl born 1988, boy born 1990). She was always worried about cheating, because her dad was someone who was a serial cheater, and her mother was less than interested in having sex with him from the beginning of their marriage. In November 2002, my ex-wife got drunk and beat the kids, got arrested, and had the gall to say she was unhappy and wanted to divorce. Despite pleas from me and the kids, she had to have her way in a no-fault state. I resisted, but had to accept the court's ruling. Now I have a lot of trust issues. I admit I've done some things that didn't bolster her trust in me, but her unforgiving nature created MOUNTAINS out of mole-hills. Now she's living with a guy (who I like by the way --- no jealousy here), and they had a "spiritual marriage" to please her parents but save her from sharing her substantial inheritance. Folks, I'm the wrong party here, just as Chapman and Janis are. The point is that we --- the wronged parties --- have every right to meet others (if we can trust them --- yeah right)to perhaps be in a blessed marriage. These people who divorce without good reasons are technically dead (according to the Word), and the wronged party has every right to seek another spouse. I hope Amy and Vince can repent and asked God to help them; sorry the damage is done, and they should stay together. But they should say that they wouldn't recommend to others --- for they disobeyed, but can make two wrongs (divorcing) into a right.