Gospel artist Kirk Franklin has defended his appearance on Kanye West's controversial new album, "The Life of Pablo," after experiencing backlash from many in the Christian community.
As reported by The Gospel Herald, Franklin appears on the very first song on West's new album, titled "Ultra Light Beams," which the rapper has described as a "gospel album with a whole lot of cursing." At the end of the song, which is interlaced with a number of obscenities, including the "F" word, Franklin prays, "Father, this prayer is for everyone that feels they're not good enough. This prayer's for everyone that feels like they're too messed up. For everyone that feels they've said, 'I'm sorry' too many times. You can never go too far when you can't come back home again. That's why I need faith. Lord, save war."
Then, during an appearance on Saturday Night Live last weekend, Franklin and West performed the song along with The-Dream, Kelly Price and Chance The Rapper.
After facing criticism from Christian fans, Franklin took to Facebook to defend the move: "Kanye is not me. I am not him," he captioned a photo of himself and West. "He is my brother I am proud to do life with. No sprints, but Marathons; like most of us are on. Before one song was released, I was crucified because my brother asked me to take a picture. Again 'no Kanye, you're not good enough'? No. That is a dangerous message I believe we send to the world when our posture is they have to meet certain requirements before they are worthy to kiss the ring. It says people are not redeemable, forgivable or candidates for grace. That my friend is religious."
Last month, rapper 2 Chainz took to Instagram to post a photo of himself, West, Kid Cudi, Andre 3000 and Franklin, initially sparking the backlash.
"I will not turn my back on my brother," Franklin added. "I will love him, prayerfully grow with him. However long he'll have me, and however long the race takes. To a lot of my Christian family, I'm sorry he's not good enough, Christian enough, or running at your pace...and as I read some of your comments, neither am I. That won't stop me from running. Pray we win."
Franklin is no stranger to pushing boundaries within the Christian community; in fact, the singer told The Gospel Herald that he wrote his latest album, "Losing My Religion," in an effort to encourage Christians to focus less on the judgement and dogma surrounding religion and more on the grace of God and a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
"I believe that one of the reasons there is a decline in churches and why Millennials are no longer professing faith is because the doctrine and the dogma that we place on people when they come to faith is getting in the way of us pursuing a relationship with Jesus Christ," Franklin said. "Instead of allowing the love of God to compel people, we place too much emphasis on trying to control thinking and actions and developing discipline. When people fall in love with Jesus and realize how much He is in love with them, that affects how we live and what we do and how we think."
While many took to social media to voice their support for Franklin, others argued that the Christian artist should abstain from all appearances of evil (1 Thessalonians 5:33) and take no part in darkness (Ephesians 5:11).
"Kirk....light has no fellowship with darkness," wrote one commenter. "The word of God can not conflict itself. [Kanye] claims to be a god and has mocked Jesus in so many ways. The Bible says come out from among the world and be separated. The bible says to shake the dust off your feet if they don't want the truth. This is nothing but another publicity stunt for Kanye. The Bible says do not let your good be spoken evil of. You are not 'getting rid of your religion' you are turning your back on the word of God. If Kanye wants the truth he can come to an altar call, he can walk into a church, you can meet with him and have a Bible study....but making music with him is a no go. Love you brother."
Still others argued that the issue was not Franklin's association with West, as Jesus himself fellowshipped with sinners (Mark 2:13-17), but the blasphemous insertion of a prayer alongside a slew of profanities in "Ultra Light Beams" (Ephesians 4:9).
Writing for Christian Today, Martin Saunders argues that Christians should take issue with the "F word" not because it represents a "moral decline," but because it has two distinct roots of meaning: sex and violence.
"So when we use the modern form, we're using a word which encapsulates both sex and violence. To make love AND to strike. All wrapped up together," he writes. "I have a nagging feeling that among all the areas in which Christians have relaxed in recent years, this might be one that some of us have got wrong. In assuming we're chilling out about some of the non-essential issues, we've missed something quite important. What does it mean that a word with these meanings... is right there at the heart of our culture? Heard every day, billions of times, all around the world, far more often than words of worship or love. Should we really just be waving it past without critique?"
He adds, "Once you know what the f-word really means, you can't simply give it a free pass on the grounds of avoiding irrelevance. It's not just a holiness issue - although I think that's part of it - but a justice issue too. My hunch is that if more people knew the ugly, violent roots behind the f-word, they might just stop using it so much...If the swearing doesn't bother you, maybe it's time that it did."