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There’s Nothing Loving About Dolly Parton’s False Gospel

Dolly’s right that all should be treated with love and kindness, but when we refuse to label sin a sin, we’re doing more harm than good. 

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Fifty years after her original rise to stardom, Dolly Parton has released her highest-charting album and is more beloved than ever before. Initially known for her songwriting skills and beauty, Parton has entered her golden years as a “secular American saint.” 

In a world where division is the default, she collects fans of every political stripe, refusing to denigrate anyone, and regularly proclaims, “I love everybody,” when asked how she does it. 

This response is usually seen as a nod toward the LGBT alliance during interviews with media folks forever fixated on this particular group. 

Like other universally adored figures such as “The Rock” and the late Betty White, Parton is a beloved icon who generally steers clear of controversy. She would never, for example, speak negatively of those who disagree with her on LBGT acceptance.  

All of that neutrality might be fine, if she didn’t consistently pivot to her faith as the reason for the “love is love” talking points. 

When asked about her diverse community of fans, Parton always mentions Christianity, saying she does her best “not to judge” and only “to love” for that reason. 

But Parton’s version of love, which includes condoning immoral sexual behavior (“be who you are,” she’s said), is unaligned with God’s vision for humanity. Like so many secularized spiritual leaders, Parton equates love with agreement, but the two are not reciprocal. Love doesn’t mean we must accept sinfulness as good to avoid hurting someone’s feelings.

It’s a reminder to be careful when looking to cultural Christians to light the way. For example, we love to hear Stephen Colbert testify about following Christ, but when he rants against the overturn of Roe v. Wade, it’s clear he’s misguided. 

Similarly, in the same week that Parton mentioned her upbringing in church, The Advocate (a large circulation magazine) called her an “LGBTQ+ icon.” And her rhinestone-studded flashy outfits, big hair, and infamous chest have inspired many a drag queen. That’s not her fault, but she does seem to indulge it. 

“You say things … in a way that includes everybody else,” Drew Barrymore told Parton on her talk show. 

These buzzwords — inclusion, acceptance, love — usually mean only one thing to leftists. But Dolly is the rare character who extends that meaning to others as well — namely, conservatives. 

Pressed to condemn former President Trump recently, she refused, saying, “I have a lot of fans out there, and I don’t want to offend anybody.” 

Parton often defaults to humility as her reason for staying out of politics and partisanship. 

“I’m not a good enough person or a good enough Christian to judge and criticize other people,” she told Barrymore.

This, however, is her “get out of jail free” card. Who’s going to argue with it? She’s not alone in this avoidance tactic. Christians often use the “let him who is without sin cast the first stone” Scripture verse to sidestep addressing sin directly. Parton does exactly the same thing here. 

Even Christian singer Lauren Daigle has gotten caught in the trap, saying, “I’m not God,” when asked if homosexual behavior was a sin. 

To be sure, the culture is on a constant witch hunt for those who would call homosexuality sinful. I understand wanting to avoid the avalanche of criticism, but calling sin out by name isn’t judgment. It’s adhering to Scripture.

Parton had no problem identifying another kind of sin, saying, “Judging [others] is just as bad as any other sin.” I guess she’s a “good enough” Christian to call that one out. 

Furthermore, it’s illogical to avoid taking a stand on something simply because of imperfection or human nature. If this were the case, we couldn’t call anything wrong. 

Like most people, I too love Parton. She’s fun, confident, beautiful, and still spunky at age 78. I appreciate that she refuses to condemn conservatives as so many Hollywood Democrats do, but according to Scripture, she is wrong on the issue of homosexuality. 

She’s right that all should be treated with love and kindness, but when we refuse to label sin a sin, we’re doing more harm than good. 

The gospel of Dolly Parton is popular with the masses, but don’t bank your eternity on it. 


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