Following Whitney Houston’s death On Saturday (February 11,2012) ABC News re-aired an interview conducted originally ten years ago by ABC News anchor Diane Sawyer. In the interview Houston spoke candidly about her drug and alcohol abuse. Although she vehemently denied ever using cocaine, saying, “Crack is wack!” In a later interview with Oprah Winfrey she admitted using the drug.
At the conclusion of the Sawyer interview Houston declared, “All I know is I love Jesus and Jesus loves me!”
Flash forward to Houston’s last public appearance hours before her death. She sang to a room full of party goers the old children’s song, “Jesus loves me, this I know.” She left the party, went upstairs to her hotel room, exhaled her last and died.
At this writing speculation surrounds the cause of her death.
Houston was raised in a church and gospel music environment. Her mother Cissy Houston is a Grammy-award winning gospel singer. Those who knew Houston personally, some of whom my wife Nedra and I are friendly with in the music industry, attest to the fact that Whitney had a personal relationship with Christ from her youth. Out of her vast repertoire of songs, it is striking that the last song she was to sing publically was, “Jesus loves me.”
“Out of the mouth come the issues of the heart,” and “It is by confessing with your mouth that you are saved.” Those are Bible verses.
So what happened?
Again, I didn’t know Whitney Houston personally, and anything I say here is conjecture; but there are lessons here for all of us based in Scripture.
We all live with inner conflicts that are literally a war for our souls. Even Paul the Apostle passionately declared:
“The power of sin within me keeps sabotaging my best intentions, I obviously need help! I realize that I don't have what it takes. I can will it, but I can't do it. I decide to do good, but I don't really do it; I decide not to do bad, but then I do it anyway. My decisions, such as they are, don't result in actions. Something has gone wrong deep within me and gets the better of me every time. Parts of me covertly rebel, and just when I least expect it, they take charge. I've tried everything and nothing helps. I'm at the end of my rope. Is there no one who can do anything for me? I am pulled by the influence of sin to do something totally different.” (Romans 7.)
I personally believe that was the war that was going on within Whitney Houston.
Sin is real. It is rebellion against God as Paul states, “he covertly rebels.”
So, did Whitney lose? Yes and no. Without getting into all sorts of theological hairsplitting, those of us who embrace Scripture concur with the statement that individuals are not just physical bodies but are made up of “spirit, soul, and body.”
In another Scriptural reference and context, Paul declares that a man who was living in adultery with his father’s wife should be “handed over to Satan for the destruction of the body so that his spirit may be saved on the day of the Lord.” (1 Corinthians 5)
Whitney Houston’s body was found in the bathtub, but I personally believe that her spirit went on to be with the merciful Savior she confessed.
A couple of other points.
Oprah Winfrey stated (and I don’t consider her an authority) that when Whitney sang, “We got to hear a part of God.” I believe that to be true, since God created Whitney, and imbued her with her gift and voice. And there is another aspect to this.
Scripture talks about anointing. This is an individual who is imbued and consecrated with oil (literally, physically, spiritually) to perform tasks, ordinary, medical, and sacred. The purpose of sacred anointing was to dedicate the thing or person to God. The anointing also symbolizes the person of the Holy Spirit. Thus these people were set apart and empowered for a particular service for God. Jesus Christ Himself is called “the anointed one.”
As I understand it, Whitney was dedicated to the Lord by her family and church, for God’s service. The accompanying “anointing” was God’s confirmation on her singing gift. It is transcendent. How, she used that gift is another matter.
Paul the Apostle also stated that the battle is not only in the human dimension of flesh and blood but also spiritual.
Another battleground for Whitney Houston was the world she was immersed in. The music industry was described in an interview this week by ten time Grammy award singer and Whitney friend Chaka Khan as being “demonic.” Obviously not all who work in the music industry are “demonized,” but my wife Nedra and I concur with Chaka Khan’s statement that after many years of experience and battles in this arena many are the fallen.
And finally “drugs.”
The Biblical book of Revelation (most of which I don’t understand) describes seven calamities that would intensify and come upon humanity at the “end of the age.” One of those plagues, also called sorceries, and magic is drugs. (The Biblical word used here from the Greek is “pharmakeia.”) Their purpose is to influence people and circumstances through the aid of supernatural power in the unseen world.
Throughout Scripture, magic, the occult, and sorceries are denounced by God as being obscene and brought under His judgment.
Whitney Houston, by her own confession, fought this battle too. We can only trust that the God who knew her “before she was knit in her mother’s womb,” took her to Himself, as a compassionate Savior and heavenly Father.
To underscore Paul the Apostle’s previous cry, question, and answer: “Is there no one who can help me?” The answer, thank God, is that Jesus Christ can and does.”
I personally speak from experience.
As Grammy host LL Cool J stated at the start of the Grammy show:
“There is no way around this. We’ve had a death in our family. And so at least, for me, the only thing that feels right is to begin with a prayer for a woman, who we loved, to our fallen sister, Whitney Houston.”
P.S. May I just say that all that is expressed here is my personal opinion and doesn’t necessarily reflect the views of CBN and the church world at large.
What viewers are saying about this post:
"It is such a great post. You really must blog more. Your post are spiritually rich and well written. Your heart for God is so evident." -- Cheryl
"I think that you are making a mistake in framing Whitney Houston’s life and her demise primarily in religious terms. Your approach off-loads her responsibility at self determination to the realm of pre-determination or pre-ordination. I don’t ascribe to that religious philosophy and what it suggests. We’re not idiots and robots consigned to and controlled by forces that are wholly beyond our abilities to guide and control ourselves. Were it so, we’d have no need for human brains or emotions and all of the other baggage and features that are the essence of our existence." -- John
"Well spoken!!! … You said EVERYTHING I was thinking… I just couldn’t articulate… you did so beautifully. I know she is with the Lord… He does not forget His own…" -- Gail