Sam Hancock’s Big Day


luminate.JPGWhat will you be doing on Sept. 8? Odds are it won’t be as life-changing as what’s in store for Sam Hancock. Although the 25-year-old Luminate lead singer (in the center of the photo) is used to having crowds focus on him while four of his best friends back him up on stage, this Saturday will be a little different. No guitars. No frenzied fans. Rather, Sam will be standing at the front of a church, waiting to slip a ring on Emily Smith’s finger.

Sam appreciates the magnitude of the commitment he’s about to make. He even told me it scares him a bit. “The excitement kind of wore off into fear because all these friends I have, and even some people in my family, are literally in the middle of divorces,” he explained. “They’re Christians, too. So it’s like, OK, how is this all working? I thought ’til death do us part’ was for sure going to stick in a Christian home with a Christian mindset.”

That anxiety led Sam to sit down with Chris Stevens, a father of four whose 15-year marriage has been an inspiration to him. “He and his wife have been through ups and downs,” Sam said, “so I went to him and said, ‘Hey, man, you’re married still. How did you do it?'” That conversation led to “Heal This Home,” a song appearing on Luminate’s new album, Welcome to Daylight. It indicates that unselfish love is a daily choice. It also reassures listeners that, with God at the center, even a struggling marriage can thrive—not exactly the kind of message we’re hearing from the culture at large.

“Every movie you go to is telling you what love looks like, and to be quite honest, it’s completely the opposite of biblical principles of love,” Sam said. “In movies, you meet somebody who’s cute, that you’re attracted to. You go out on a date. You end up skipping the marriage part and go straight to the ‘good stuff.’ And you wonder why they aren’t together. It’s so crazy how they’re doing all of this backwards. But the biblical [approach] is a covenant. I don’t want to say it’s a contract, which can make it sound less than love, because love is full of life. It’s exuberant. It’s the deepest emotion humans can tap into. But it’s a covenant, an agreement: When I don’t want to I will still choose to love you. If both parties are doing that, that’s when marriages last.”

“Heal This Home” conveys that hope in its chorus:

When you feel like something’s missing and your world is crashing down

When the house you’ve built is falling into pieces on the ground

When it feels like there’s no way to fix what’s wrong

Love is strong, and God can heal this home.

Sam considers this a “prophetic song” over his relationship with Emily. And in concert, it’s a chance for him to intercede for troubled marriages in the audience. He’s convinced that the Holy Spirit can do as much with a three-and-a-half-minute song as through an entire counseling session.

Considering Sam’s passion for music, I couldn’t help but ask what he thought, growing up, about the songs of his soon-to-be father-in-law, Michael W. Smith.

“Um, honestly? I have to be really honest here…”

Uh oh, trouble in paradise.

“… I have to be dead honest with you, it’s kind of a taboo yet funny conversation around the table, but …”

I knew I should’ve gone with “What’s your favorite color?”

“…I cannot name his catalog at all. I can name the hits and that’s about it. I grew up in a Christian rock family. My dad was into all these bands like Whitecross and Whiteheart and Petra and Bride. He had a couple [of Michael’s] records, but it was never like, ‘Let’s just pop this in and go for it.’ So it’s always funny, he’ll have to remind me and show me songs I’ve never heard before. But I will say this, as far as a married couple to look up to, they are number one.”

Whew, good save.

But Sam is absolutely right. After 30 years of travel, artistry and fame—a potentially toxic combination that has torpedoed countless marriages—Michael and  his wife Debbie have prospered where it matters most: at home. Which means that when Sam and Emily tie the knot on Saturday, their holy covenant will include a living, breathing example of how to do things right.

If you’ve been blessed with solid marital role models, take a minute to brag on them. We’d love to hear about it!

To hear our entire conversation with Sam Hancock—including how he asked a Christian music legend for permission to marry his daughter—listen to episode #165 of the Official Plugged In Podcast.

Who wrote this?

Senior Editor for PLUGGEDIN.COM. In addition to hosting the weekly "Official Plugged In Podcast," Bob also writes reviews, articles and Movie Nights discussion guides, and manages areas of this website. He has served at Focus on the Family for more than 20 years. Since 1995, Bob has penned "High Voltage," a monthly column that answers children's entertainment questions in Clubhouse magazine. He has co-authored several books, including Chart Watch, Movie Nights, Movie Nights for Teens and, most recently, The One Year Father-Daughter Devotions. Bob is also co-host of "The Official Adventures in Odyssey Podcast."

Have something to say? Leave a comment.

Anonymous More than 1 year ago

Comment by  MommyBree:

Will B, thank you for responding so well!  I was trying to come up  with the words to reply and you basically took what was in my head and  made it coherent. 

Gipper,  I was simply expressing a bit of thankfulness or "bragging" as the blog  post put it, for some great marriages I've been blessed to see and try  to emulate.  Yes, they have had their ups and downs, a lot of them in  fact, including miscarriages, stillborn babies, seriously rebellious  children, losing job after job after job, almost losing a home to the  bank and ending up homeless, near poverty living, and on and on.   Through it all, they chose to honor their vows, stay true to each other  and stick to God as though their lives depended on it and He brought  them through it.  Having gone through what felt like hell at times has  brought these couples closer together than ever and yes, they are  happy.  Although I think JOY is a better word for it.  When you stick  together and with God, no matter what life throws at you, you will get  through it and like Will B said, the end result of character is  awesome.

Anonymous More than 1 year ago

Comment by  William:

Gipper it sounds to me like your mother was the only Christian in the relationship with your father.  In the relationships described by MommyBree both partners have made the choice to place God in the center of their marriage so her statement stands true. As a happily married man for 5 years now my wife and I have had ups and downs.  We had a miscarriage, I struggled with pornography for a while, my wife has her struggles too, but we have made the choice, following the example of God and the Grace that has been given us, to follow till death do us part. So as in anything if you decide as a couple to stick it out through the rough stuff the character you get at the end is awesome. And I think this article does a fantastic job of reminding us that staying married is a choice and one we have to make everyday.  Especially in the culture we live in now where it is very easy to just pin our hopes and dreams on another person and when they fail to meet our expectations throw them away and try again with a new person.

Anonymous More than 1 year ago

Comment by  gipper:

MommyBree, consider this: why do you believe your pastors' marriages are unshakable? Everyone has ups and downs in their relationships, and it doesn't mean the road is always smooth. It seems like you view their unions as happy, all the time. Just because a person walks with God their whole life doesn't mean happiness is guaranteed. I have walked with God my entire life and 2 years after I was born, my parents divorced due to drugs, alcohol, abuse, and adultery. So it goes to show that even if you do walk with God all your life, the happy fairytale ending doesn't always exist. Your last statement, "They're just proof to us of what happens when you choose to walk with God in all aspects of your life, especially in your marriage" is not the reality for many couples, especially Christians! My mother has walked with God her entire life and the divorce left her homeless, broke, and two young children to care for, and no one to rely upon except the Lord. If you are to believe that your pastors' marriages are the "proof" of a walk with God, you might as well say they walk on water. Or perhaps that all other Christian couples whose marriages fail are not even believers. Just a word of advice/caution.

Anonymous More than 1 year ago

Comment by  MommyBree:

Personally, I love posts and articles like this that illustrate people going into marriage with the right attitude!  Yes, divorce has become the norm in our culture unfortunately, but if two people will truly walk through their marriage according to Biblical principles (selfless love, forgiveness, fidelity til death, etc), they can have something truly special. My hubby and I celebrated our one year anniversary a month ago and while we have had our not-so-great moments, I can honestly say the first year has been AWESOME!  And I can attribute that in a big way to the awesome examples around us of godly, loving, long-lasting marriages.  Both of our parents have never been divorced and are still completely in love with each other after all this time (31 years and 27 years).  They've walked with God this whole time and it shows in their lives.  Our Pastors are also one of our biggest examples.  They've been together over 30 years and their marriage is unshakable.  They're just proof to us of what happens when you choose to walk with God in all aspects of your life, especially in your marriage.

Anonymous More than 1 year ago

Comment by  kate:

Nice article. I know that FOTF promotes marriage as the ideal but I wonder what y'all have to say to people who decide they never want to be married.One of my favorite professors in undergrad is unmarried. She's in her late 50s and seems to be content with her decision.Fun fact: My grandfather is a polygamist -- he has four wives. My grandmother is the first of the four. I know polygamy is demonized in the US, but it is actually the norm in other cultures.

Anonymous More than 1 year ago

Comment by  gipper:

It's a nice article on marriage in theory, but not all marriages or even divorces are comprised of Christians. Some families are divided due to drugs, alcohol, abuse, adultery, or worse. Marriage is considered a sacred covenant, but it is the components of marriage that should be sacred, not the idea of marriage itself. Divorce is more the 'norm' than the exception and always has been-Monogamy is an unusual practice. In any given society, serial monogamy is present. Not everyone stays tied to their spouse until 'death do us part.'