The power of music

There is an argument which keeps rearing its ugly head, time and time again – and it’s based on this question: Should Christians listen to secular music?

I saw some people online arguing about it just the other day and thought “Oh what a great example we are to the world of how wonderful it is to be in a relationship with Christ. ”

Not.

As far as I’m concerned, Christians can listen to whatever they want to. Really, music doesn’t become evil just because it’s sung by someone who doesn’t shout ‘hallelujah’ at the end of each line. I do, however, feel that we need to have some discernment regarding exactly what we listen to and how much we listen to it though.

Here’s my story: I grew up in the 80’s and 90’s. Wonderful years for music. Big hair, crazy clothes, huge power ballads and the tightest pants known to man.

(I’m talking about the musicians, not me)

By the time I was in my teen years, I listened to a LOT of secular music and virtually no Christian music.

I’ll give you a feel for what I was listening to – Artist, song title and one or two lines.

  • Def ┬áLepard, Love Bites: “When you make love, do you look in the mirror? Who do you think of? Does he look like me?
  • Heart, All I want to do is make love to you: “All I want to do is make love to you”
  • Foreigner, I want to know what love is: “I want to know what love is, I want you to show me”
  • Whitesnake, Is this Love: “And I can’t wait to see you again, so I can hold you in my arms.”
  • Alice Cooper, Poison: “I want to love you but I’d better not touch (don’t touch), I want to hold you but my senses tell me to stop”
  • Bon Jovi, Bed of Roses: “I want to lay you down in a bed of roses, ‘cos tonight I sleep on a bed of nails”
  • Iron Maiden, Charlotte the Harlot: “Charlotte the harlot, show me your legs, Charlotte the harlot take me to bed.”

And many more…

Do you see a pattern here? Do you see a worldview developing? Can you see a common theme?

I went to church all through my teen years and put on a good face but there was a battle going on inside me.

I knew the Christian ideas of what a relationship between a boy and a girl should look like. The problem was, I only did ‘church’ for an hour a week and I listened to music, which suggested a completely different idea of what a relationship should look like, three or four hours a day.

On top of that, my favourite movies were things like Top Gun, Dirty Dancing and Pretty Woman – and what did they suggest was appropriate in a relationship?

I have to admit that staying pure and chaste with all of these song lyrics constantly invading my mind was nothing short of impossible.

At the time, I enjoyed the music because it spoke to how I was feeling. It felt like the artists understood me and were relating to me through their songs – and that is probably quite true.

In retrospect though, I see that while I could connect with those songs because I was going through those wonderfully hormonal teen years, they didn’t help me and guide me through the difficult times, instead they poured gasoline on my lustful insanity.

I would never say that we are ‘wrong’ to listen to music like that but I do feel that we need to have an understanding of the power music has to affect our emotions, our minds and our hearts – and we need to exercise some discernment about what we are pouring in.

Even as I’ve been writing this and going over those lyrics in my head, I can still feel the emotions that they generated and fueled in me – even fifteen or twenty years later.

That’s the power of music – and that’s why we need to exercise caution and moderation in what we listen to.

Which songs have spoken to you and affected how you think/feel?