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. ”
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 Lepard, 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?
5 Reply to “The power of music”
I think you’re right. It’s about discernment. “Banning” doesn’t work (especially with teenagers), but we can be an example and take the time to explain the truth/lies in this powerful medium. Hmmmm, still a lot to think through on this one for sure.
Funny…I sang songs whose meaning I never thought about in the slightest until I was an adult.
Let’s Go Crazy by Prince—the speech in the beginning seems to deny God’s aide in our life. I never thought about it as a kid.
Talk Dirty to Me by Poison—Okay, I did think the title was cool…I never thought about the rest of it. I just sang it. Last week I went to a carni concert with my cousins and their kids, who are in High School. The image of Cousin Helen the Sunday School teacher knowing all the words to Talk Dirty to Me was an odd fit…
Pour Some Sugar on Me by Deff Leopard
All REO Speedwagon songs..
Every so often I go through music detox… I’ll fast from secular music. Make sure I am focusing on what is good and holy. Then I’ll enjoy my eighties music again. It’s not that I consider the 80’s music evil…I just need to make sure DWELLING on better things.
It’s all about the dwelling!
You’ve got it Helen!
I think it really depends on the kind of secular music you’re listening to and what your attitude towards it is. You’ve mentioned Bon Jovi here as an example of bad messages. But I think Bon Jovi has some very good messages for Christians. For example, the song Everybody’s broken is a good reminder that we’re all sinners. Also, I like listening to secular music about God, because it helps keep me in touch with the way the rest of the world feels about God. And then there’s some secular music that is so beautiful and moving, that it seems to touch the soul in a way and bring me closer to God.
But I think it is very wise for every Christian to ask how the music they listen to does influence them. But I think it goes for Christian music too. Some Christian songs may encourage feelings or motivations that aren’t that good. Just because a band says they’re Christian doesn’t mean that listening to that music is good for us.
Thanks for coming by and for commenting, Liz.
You have hit the nail right on the head, and this is where the discussion so often becomes unhealthy.
I say that some lyrics in a certain song by a certain artist are not good lyrics to be listening to repeatedly and someone else immediately gets defensive and assumes that I’m saying that all songs by that band are immoral and the band are evil – and some even go as far as to say that I am suggesting the entire genre is evil.
What we need to do is look at each song by each artist and look at its individual value and morality – even, as you say, the ‘Christian’ artists.
The way we listen to music in this day and age definitely helps this. If I have an iPod or something similar and I find a song on an album that I don’t think is good to listen to, I can just delete that one song or remove it from the playlist.
This requires self-control, which is the problem I always had. I knew a lot of the songs that I listened to on ‘repeat’ on my CD player were unhealthy for me but they were precisely the ones I homed in on!