hamburgera asked: When is music wrong?
Unka Glen answered:
- Music is wrong when it’s coming from a “band” that has more than two singers, who don’t play instruments or write songs, and who just happen to look adorable and have swoopy hair (and I do know I’m beautiful, thank you very much).
- Music is wrong when it fails to have at least one of these three vital elements: a) soul, b) groove, or c) personality. So, for example, Praise and Worship music has very little of what you would call “soul”. Also, it’s generally devoid of a sense of grove, and it has no real detectable personality.
- Music is wrong when it speaks of God and His Kingdom in a way that utterly fails to capture the reality of what it’s like to actually encounter either, whether that’s due to shallowness, cluelessness, or trivialization. This would apply to a lot of Praise and Worship music out there.
- Music is wrong when one’s sister “butt dials” one, at 8 flippin’ AM in the morning, when one is trying to sleep, because one does inner city ministry and works very late, and one’s sister cannot hear the rebuke, because she is loudly singing Praise and Worship songs on her way to work (actual incident from earlier today).
Of course I’m being a bit cheeky, as I assume the real question you’re asking is: when does listening to secular music become sinful? In biblical times, the Jews lived under the Old Testament law, which included instructions to avoid certain foods or certain people. Over the years the Jews began to exaggerate some of these laws about avoidance, and even added new things to avoid, until they were all trying to compete to see who could be more strict about their own made up rules about avoiding things or people that might be evil.
Jesus rebuked people who were playing games with living this kind of a super-straight lifestyle, and He rebuked them HARD.
Jesus then set up a system where our holiness has to do with how close we get to Him in our relationship with Him. Not by ANY rule or written command. Of course if you’re getting close to Jesus, you’ll automatically be living a more and more biblical life. But some people, bless them, they just love the rules and acting holier than thou, and if those same people are talking to you about the music you listen to, then it’s time to hit mute.
“To the pure, all things are pure, but to those who are corrupted and do not believe, nothing is pure” (Titus 1:15a). Paul is saying that if Jesus has cleansed you and purified you, then you recognize that it’s not about “less secular music”, it’s about more of Jesus and getting closer to Jesus. If you think that YOU are what makes you pure, then you’ll see impurity under every rock and on every song on the radio.
For sure, music stirs our emotions, and it makes sense to listen to music that stirs it in the direction you want it stirred. A sad song can help us express our grief and get over it, or it can cause us to wallow deeper in it. Music has an influence on us, to be sure, but why not ask: how can I create a soundtrack of sorts to enhance, sharpen, and motivate my walk?
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