Lauren Daigle was born in Lafayette, went to high school in Baton Rouge and is about as Louisiana as it gets. Her flamboyant personality, Cajun accent and raspy, deep, soulful singing voice has propelled her to the top of the Christian music recording industry and beyond. When Daigle released her "Look Up Child" album in September, it ranked higher on the Billboard chart than records by Drake, Cardi B and Ariana Grande. She's appeared recently on Ellen DeGeneres' talk show and "The Tonight Show." Even though the 27-year old Daigle sings of God's love, hope and forgiveness, her reach has grown far beyond Christian circles.
But with wider appeal comes tighter scrutiny. Daigle received some criticism for appearing on "Ellen" since the host, Ellen DeGeneres, also a Louisiana native, is openly gay.
"I think the second we start drawing lines around which people are able to be approached and which aren't, we've already completely missed the heart of God," said Daigle.
Hard to argue with that. For some Christians to demand Daigle avoid the "Ellen" show, presumably because the host is gay and therefore considered a sinner, would limit the singer's reach considerably. If Daigle's expected to appear only on shows where the host is considered sinless, she's going to end up with an empty calendar.
Daigle's appearance on the "Ellen" show put her on a collision course with a question she must have known was coming. Does she consider homosexuality a sin?
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"I can't honestly say on that, " Daigle told IHeart radio host Domenick Nati last month. "In a sense, I have too many people that I love that they are homosexual. I don't know. I actually had a conversation with someone last night about it. I can't say one way or the other. I'm not God. So when people ask questions like that, that's what my go-to is. I just say read the Bible and find out for yourself. And when you find out, let me know, because I'm learning, too."
Daigle's answer did not sit well with many of her Christian fans. Conservative columnist Matt Walsh wrote, "If you are going to earn your money by catering to a Christian audience, you can't claim that you 'don't know' what the Bible has to say about sexual immorality. Especially when the Biblical view is so straightforward and explicit. "
"Daigle is claiming not to know what the Bible clearly teaches about homosexuality. She lied," wrote author, preacher and Christian blogger Mario Murrillo. "However, we should not condemn her because her failure and dishonesty is a part of a much bigger crisis. An all-out war on the Bible and a rampant illiteracy of scripture in the church," Murrillo added.
A 2018 Gallup poll discovered 67 percent of Americans found homosexual relationships morally acceptable while only 30 percent found them morally wrong. In 2001 only 40 percent found homosexual relationships morally acceptable, and 53 percent believed they were morally wrong.
White evangelicals maintain the most traditional view of homosexuality. A recent Pew Research poll found only 35 percent of them approved of same-sex marriage. But with young evangelicals, the age group Daigle's music mostly appeals to, 47 percent approve of same-sex marriage.
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Daigle was put in a tough spot when asked if homosexuality is a sin. With her career expanding to new audiences, it's understandable she didn't want to isolate them.
It's unfortunate the way many in our culture now box in Christians who hold a traditional Biblical view of homosexuality as sinful. They are often labeled as bigots, homophobes, and haters of gays. But it's possible to consider homosexuality sinful and not hate someone who practices homosexuality. Just as it's possible to consider adultery sinful without hating the adulterer or gossip wrong without hating the gossiper.
It's easy to speculate Daigle passed on taking a stand on homosexuality in hopes she would keep her ever-growing secular fan base. But only Daigle knows what she really believes in her heart about homosexuality, and if she says she doesn't know, we should take her at her word. Giving people the benefit of the doubt seems to me like a Christian kind of thing to do.
Email Dan Fagan at firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @DanFaganShow.
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