I grew up listening to Jars Of Clay in the 1990′s. They burst onto the scene in 1995 with a hit, “Flood,” that was played quite a lot on mainstream alternative radio, but if you bought their record, you would learn quickly that they were a decidedly Christian band, and have remained so for coming up on twenty years now. That said, regardless of your feelings about religion, being a musician, I always have judged music firstly on the question, “yes, but is it good art?” Jars Of Clay has produced quite a bit of material that, in my humble opinion, is fantastic music. It’s hard to underestimate their impact on Contemporary Christian Music, either. They were at the forefront of a handful of acts that forced the rest of the industry to step up its game, in a big way.
Fast forward to 2014, and frontman Dan Haseltine is on Twitter, expressing support for marriage equality and forcing his followers to have a really hard conversation about why many of them are so unwilling to see their LGBT brothers and sisters as humans:
Contemporary Christian music isn’t a format where one might think to look for vocal supporters of same-sex marriage, but as with anything else times are changing. Dan Haseltine, front-man for the popular Christian band Jars of Clay, yesterday took to his Twitter account in a series of posts supportive of same-sex marriage, posting “Not meaning to stir things up BUT… is there a non-speculative or non ‘slippery slope’ reason why gays shouldn’t marry? I don’t hear one.” He went on to write “I’m trying to make sense of the conservative argument. But it doesn’t hold up to basic scrutiny. Feels akin to women’s suffrage. I just don’t see a negative effect to allowing gay marriage. No societal breakdown, no war on traditional marriage. ?? Anyone?”
Haseltine compares the issue to civil rights struggles in the past, and asserts regarding Biblical arguments against same-sex marriage that “I don’t think scripture ‘clearly’ states much of anything regarding morality.” He goes on to write that “I think the vast interpretation has left room for people to deal inhumanly and unlovingly toward others that don’t fit their guidelines” and that “I don’t particularly care about Scriptures stance on what is ‘wrong.’ I care more about how it says we should treat people.”
Some readers may be surprised at this, but I’m not. Knowing musicians for my entire life, I am well aware that, even among conservative Christian circles, the artists are always ahead of the rest of the pack when it comes to acceptance, tolerance and understanding people different from them. Moreover, the Christian music industry, just like the rest of the music industry, is chock full of gay people.
Regardless, there are lots of gay Christian teens out there whose days might be just a little better today knowing that the lead singer of one of their favorite bands has their back.
Dan, if you’re reading this, you ought to consider making a NALT Christians Project video. It’ll help people.
Since this is a post about music, I would be remiss not to include a music video of some sort. This was always one of my favorite Jars Of Clay songs: