Fall From the Loft

September 12, 2010 at 7:02 pm 15 comments

House of Love (Amy Grant song)

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I used to have an album that I wore out called, Songs From the Loft. It was one of my favorite albums ever. It was a compilation of praise and worship songs that were recorded with various Christian artists singing alongside a group of youth, recorded in a barn on the estate of Amy Grant and Gary Chapman. Gary produced the album.

Gary Chapman is a Dove winning songwriter and a Christian music artist in his own right, but most people in the secular world would not be familiar with him. He wrote or co-wrote a lot of Amy’s recorded songs, the most famous of which is probably, “Father’s Eyes.” They married in 1982.

Gary’s career took a back seat to Amy’s. A lot of people in the secular world probably didn’t know who he was until he and Amy’s divorce in 1999. The ensuing scandal involving suspected adultery on the part of Amy with Vince Gill was troubling and disillusioning to many in the Christian world.

I am a fan of Amy Grant. I’ve seen her in concert more than once. I’ve bought her albums. I wasn’t the kind of fan who had every album, but I had several. I just thought she had such a perfect wholesome apple-cheeked pop sound. The appeal was rather irresistible for me. It was so wide-eyed and optimistic, and it matched my sensibilities as a younger woman.

As she grew as an artist, she moved from a bubble gum pop sound to a more mature style in the vein of some of the sixties folk rock artists like Joan Baez or Joni Mitchell. She even recorded a cover of Joni Mitchell’s, “Big Yellow Taxi,” on House of Love, the 1994 album that also introduced Grant to Vince Gill when they recorded the album’s title song.

Behind the Eyes is an album that was written and recorded while Grant was going through some intensive marital counseling with Chapman, immediately preceding their separation, which was announced in December of 1998. She called it her “razor blades and Prozac” album. It’s my favorite of her albums, and I can listen to every track on the album and never get tired of it.

For some reason, the dissolution of Amy Grant and Gary Chapman’s marriage was very disappointing to me, as if I knew either of the two of them personally. I didn’t. But I wasn’t the only one who felt that way. Most people weighed in on the situation, heavily biased for one side or the other. My friend, Amanda, who never missed Gary Chapman’s talk show on The Nashville Network, was very vocal about her take on the matter. That Grant woman had broken that poor man’s heart. And, no doubt about it, I’m sure that was true.

If you haven’t heard about it already, I’ll tell you what went down. In 1994, Amy Grant and Vince Gill meet in a recording studio, where they are recording the duet, “House of Love.” She is so moved at the sight of him that she immediately hugs him and tells him that she could hug him forever. They become fast friends, and they begin playing golf together and being seen all around town in Nashville. Nashville is a big city with a small town feel, and tongues start wagging.

This is the same year that Chapman gains some well earned critical acclaim for his new Gospel album, “The Light Inside,” and he and Amy come clean about some serious marital troubles they’ve had, in large part due to Gary’s cocaine addiction. Gary decides to go public after he’s had eight years of sobriety, in the hope of helping others in the same circumstances.

http://www.crossrhythms.co.uk/articles/music/Gary_Chapman_The_US_CCM_songwriter_with_his_first_album_for_six_years/40202/p1/

Vince Gill’s wife, Janis Oliver, a Country recording artist with the group Sweethearts of the Rodeo, files for divorce in 1997, after she finds handwritten letters from Grant to Gill, in Gill’s golf bag. The notes are signed, “I love you, Amy.” Janis asks Vince to stop seeing Amy, but he refuses to do so. So, Janis takes him to court and names Amy as a respondent in the divorce.

Both Grant and Gill offer to sign sworn affidavits, verifying that there was no physical relationship between the two of them. From the time of Gill’s separation from Janis until Grant’s separation from Gary, the two of them say that they have no contact with each other.

With the announcement of Grant and Chapman’s separation and subsequent divorce, the internet is full of gossip on all kinds of forums from people who claim to be in the know, either because they live in Nashville or are a friend of a friend of Amy’s or Gary’s or both. Her supporters stress that she lived through hell and that people in Nashville had known that their marriage wasn’t a happy one, for years. She unknowingly married a drug addict, and when he decided to get clean in 1986, it was only because he was going to lose his wife if he didn’t. Unsubstantiated claims of continuing addiction problems with alcohol and marijuana, possible infidelity on his part, and allegations of his temper and ego issues and profound jealousy over her greater success are what her side raises.

On his side, people state that Gary never wanted the divorce. He wanted to stay in the marriage. And even if Amy is telling the truth, and she and Vince have never had sex, what constitutes an extramarital affair? Do two people have to be physically intimate with each other in order for there to be adultery? It seems like a technicality. If your relationship with someone else sublimates the one you have with your spouse, isn’t that also being unfaithful?

After the divorce, Grant marries Gill less than a year later. She stays largely silent about the media frenzy, commenting on her budding relationship with Gill but remaining quiet about her marriage to Chapman. Chapman gives interviews with  magazines where he says that the evidence will bear out, and he admits to a bitterness and a hunger for justice. He says that Amy told him as early as 1995 that she was in love with another man. Despite his admitted issues with Grant’s whirlwind courtship and remarriage, Chapman himself remarries four months later.

It’s amazing that people still have such strong opinions on a matter that is essentially none of their business, but they do. People, including Gary Chapman himself, still comment on the divorce on internet forums, over a decade after it happened. When Gary got a DUI and an arrest for marijuana possession in 2006 and then a divorce from his second wife in 2007, people on Team Amy were quick to point to it as if it were a sign from God that Amy’s divorce was sanctioned by God.

Amy Grant and Gary Chapman are two people who happen to be Christians, who were participants in a failed marriage. None of us knows what went on behind closed doors. Amy and Gary are the only ones who know for sure what happened, and no doubt they each have their own perceptions that are equally truthful but wholly different.

I’m sure that Gary hurt Amy deeply, and Amy did the same to Gary. Infidelity is painful, and addiction is a kind of infidelity. An addict is in love with his drug of choice. Chapman was in love with cocaine the same way Amy was in love with Gill, and I’m sure that it was just as painful for Amy to play second fiddle to a line of cocaine or a bottle as it was for Gary to hear that his wife was in love with another man.

Christians are quick to judge in situations like this. We like to point fingers and assign fault and blame. We like to use these sins as excuses to question a believer’s sincerity or authenticity. She’s not a real Christian or she wouldn’t behave that way. He’s not a believer; a real believer wouldn’t need alcohol to fill a hole in his heart that should already be filled with the Spirit. What a crock!

Amy Grant and Gary Chapman are real, live, breathing human beings who make mistakes, not idols for us to place our unrealistic expectations on. It is not for us to decide their faith in God. That’s between each of them and God. Hopefully, those of us who are truly Christians will keep in mind that the point of Christianity is that Jesus died on a cross to wash all our sins clean, not so that we could have an excuse to sit in eternal judgment of one another.

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Entry filed under: Adultery, Alcoholism/Substance Abuse, Chrisitanity, Entertainment, Ethics, Faith, Love, Marriage, Music, Relationships, Spirituality. Tags: , , , , , , , .

9/11/10 The Last Exorcism

15 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Jamie Wright  |  September 8, 2011 at 5:53 pm

    Well said.

    Reply
  • 2. NE Girl  |  October 30, 2011 at 5:10 am

    Thank you for the first Christian derived attitude about this entire issue. We all fall short….we are all offered mercy…..in our weaknesses it is God who is strong.

    Reply
  • 3. GED  |  February 10, 2012 at 6:54 am

    What was lacking was DISCIPLINE towards the HARD HEARTED, which would have been VINCE and AMY in this case, Michael English was crucified by Steve Green for his actions, , but yet this double affair escaped review, Funny thing I did not see Steve Green doing any restoration, which is obligatory on the part of his faith. Needless to say, a Hypocrite can be forgiven, My HEART goes out for GARY CHAPMAN, I have knowledge of some of the efforts and expenses he went through to keep his marriage intact.

    Reply
  • 4. Rex Jones  |  February 16, 2012 at 12:19 am

    Here, here! I have all the albums of both Amy and Gary, and I love their music, both individual and collective. I have Time Again on DVD, and I asked a friend from Fort Worth recently if she had attended that concert. Sadly her response was, “You know I only attend Christian concerts!” A few nights ago, I was listening to and reading the lyrics of Better than a Hallelujah. Brought me to tears because I was raised in a context that taught me that somehow my “Hallelujahs” were sweeter to God than the cries of despair from people who have no hope. I remember a song Amy recorded, and the lyric was, “Do You protect what you already own?” Sometimes I find myself asking that same question. And the answer is always, “Yes.” Thank God for that!

    Reply
  • 5. Vickie Fluellen  |  June 25, 2012 at 2:27 am

    we aren’t suppose to judge, but the bible does say to abstain even from the appearance of evil. In other words, if I’m married, I’m not going to be seen all over town with another married man. Whether there was a physical affair or not, something was just not wise about the way they were “friends”. Also, if Gary had had an affair during one of this drunken stupors or drug highs, perhaps this was her way of getting back at him. I’m glad if she’s happy, but, she definitely was not perfect. She caused the other man’s divorce more than likely.

    Reply
    • 6. Author  |  June 25, 2012 at 5:38 pm

      No argument from me.

      Reply
  • 7. Steve Jones  |  July 13, 2012 at 12:06 pm

    I too was disillusioned when hearing of the divorce of these two of my favourite Christian singers as a young man. Things move on, and now I’m a Pastor of a Church myself, needing to guide others who are either in this situation themselves, or who are tempted to point the finger as so many do. But for all the ‘let’s not judge’ or ‘there but by the grace of God go we’ talk, Amy & Gary (and other fallen examples) have indeed damaged many lives of those who looked up to them, maybe irreparably. To those who have any public audience, the responsibilities are greater, and for a career chosen where widespread fame and following are part of any success, the consequences for those whose faith is rocked or lost as a result can be eternal. What’s my point? No we shouldn’t judge as if we’re better, but we should all be aware of the responsibility we carry for the lives of those who look to us. Whether kids, friends, churches or fans look up to us… our slips, mistakes, failures (like in marriage) and bad judgement can wreck more than what we think.

    Reply
  • 8. Beth perkins  |  September 14, 2012 at 12:22 pm

    I just love how us Christians are so hypocritical!! We are all fallen creatures, none of us without Christ’s work on the cross, would make it into heaven. Just because we are Christians, does that mean we are without sin? All of us have sinned and despite our best efforts, we continue to go on sinning. So who are we to sit in judgment of any one of these people!!!

    Reply
  • 9. katy  |  September 24, 2012 at 11:48 pm

    Just saw (and heard) Amy Grant and Sandi Patty at the Women of Faith event in Atlanta. I, too, had been saddened by their respective “falls from grace.”

    But this weekend I was only rejoicing in their beautiful praise to the One who cleanses us from all of our transgressions, and who makes all things new.

    As far as the east is from the west, so far does He remove our iniquities from us! Praise be the the God of second chances. Thanks be to the One who said, “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone…”

    All praise to the One who is unfailing love and unfathomable forgiveness. Praise His Name.

    Thank you, God, for using earthen vessels like us sinners.

    Reply
  • 10. patti  |  October 30, 2012 at 2:26 am

    Its not being a hypocrite to confront someone about their sin and expect that they will a) admit their sin and b) repent of it and do what they can to make restorations where possible. This is what any genuine believer will do. Its evidence of genuine faith and obedience and a repentant heart. This is why the apostle Paul directed that a sinning believer who was unrepentant be disfellowshipped until such time as he demonstrated sincere repentance. After that the instruction was to recieve him with love and comfort “lest he be overwhelmed with excessive sorrow”.

    I’ve been around since Amy’s career started in her teens and one thing I think you can see historically is a slow progression towards what is euphemistically called ” crossing over” towards secular music. Christian artists claim they are doing this to have a wider appeal for the gospel message but they almost always wind up compromising that message for the sake of popularity by watering it down so much that its lost in obscurity.They change it for the sake of popularity. Face it, the cross is offensive and being told that Jesus had to leave heaven to come and die in your place won’t get you invited to many parties with the glitterati. Popularity with who? With the world. In other words they get caught up in the bright lights, the rubbing shoulders with influential people and the lifestyle that goes with fame, and don’t even realize what has happened to them until they find themselves living and acting like the rest of the world.

    If Amy was carrying on an emotional love relationship with Vince Gill while he was a married man and his wife found love notes written by Amy in her husband’s golf bag, then as painful as it would be to admit, Amy broke up someone else’s marriage as well as her own by being somewhere she had no right to be. Vince was Janis’ husband. Not Amy’s. The truth isn’t that sometimes someone comes along who shines a spotlight on the situation but it isn’t adulterous… the truth is that if someone comes along who by virtue of seeming more attractive and compatible with you, provides you an alternative exit….then it is adulterous. Scripture says ” The adulerous woman eats, wipes her mouth and says I have done no wrong”. Obviously there is something about what goes on in one’s heart where adultery is concerned, that makes it hard to admit that what we did was sinful and wrong. There is something about it that makes us have a heck of a time admitting that we committed THAT sin. Only really terrible people do THAT one..- we become right in our own eyes regardless of what God says in His word.

    The thing is, people keep arguing about this as if Gary’s sin of addiction someone cancel’s out Amy’s sin of going after someone else’s husband and vice versa. God doesn’t do that. He holds us each responsible for our own sin. I can’t say that becuse my husband was a jackass, I am justified in going after YOUR husband! Not being judgemental at all. Being judgemental would be behaving as if Amy is a sinful and disgraceful woman in a way that I am not and the she needs a kind of grace that I somehow, in superior righteousness, do not need. In fact, I know all too well from personal experience, the capability of my own heart to supply the most creative and airtight alibies for the most deliberate rebellion and sin. I hope for Amy she can call it what it is ( if she hasn’t done so already – I do not know her heart or where she is at as of this moment ) I agree that God does extend grace and mercy to the repentant.

    Reply
    • 11. Bernie  |  June 5, 2013 at 2:51 pm

      Patti: Eloquent. Factual. Compassionate. I love Amy and Vince and their “blended” family. And, in my opinion, if Amy and Vince have truly repented for whatever it is they think they need to, then Almighty God has forgiven them. Thank you for such a beautiful analysis of two human beings who have a soul and free will…..

      Reply
    • 12. Joanna Allen  |  January 2, 2014 at 11:42 pm

      Well said!

      Reply
  • 13. Billy Thomas  |  December 23, 2012 at 6:30 am

    My late pastor was deeply troubled by this event, and talked as if he blamed Amy. I’m sure that it is because of what he thought he knew based on what he had heard and read. I don’t think he had lasting resentment and unforgiveness in his heart, but I believe it was because that Christian image of its’ stars took a great big hit.
    Saying that, I don’t believe that an article could be written any better and it was very thoughtful.
    Thank you..

    Reply
  • 14. Mary  |  May 7, 2013 at 11:28 am

    Christian’s judge their own very harshly. Amy was unequally yoked to an addict. It had to be a hard go for her. Her husband had to mistresses her whole marriage (1) alcohol and (2) drugs. Everyone has a breaking point. I think the bigger issue is why we judge her sooooooooooooooooooooo deeply. What I have noticed is that ALL of the people I idolize to some degree here on earth fall. When they fall people slam them on message boards, blogs, and on websites. Is it really about them or us individually? I think it is us. Brad Pitt got a slap on the wrist for what he did to Jennifer Anniston and he had a strong religious upbringing. Does his relationship with Angelina Jolie get a free pass because of the adoption of kids? Only Amy knows if she cheated in her heart. No one here knows. However, we sure helped Satan snuff out the good she did by reaching people with her music. We pulled her from the radio stations both secular and Christian, wrote bad press about her, and so on… Satan is saying “good job my faithful servants.” God is not pleased.

    Reply
  • 15. Larry Harris  |  May 23, 2013 at 7:48 pm

    Well said.

    Reply

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