Modern genres of music, such as pop, rock, techno, etc. are sometimes accused of having an unholy character, even if the lyrics are explicitly Christian. In Romans Chapter 1, the Apostle Paul describes the problem of taking pieces of nature (which may portray something of God to an extent) and portraying God as being confined to it. I think a similar principle can be applied to music and the character of God.
Some claim that traditional hymns have a soothing, relaxing character that creates a Godly atmosphere, whereas a lot of modern music has a character that stimulates aggression and rebellion. I respect the convictions of the opponents of contemporary Christian music. I certainly would not want to entice people to listen to it if they really believe that it is immoral. However, Paul writes in Romans 14 that if people can do things in honest thanks toward God, then they need not be bound by the convictions of others.
We know that God is love (1 John 4:8). The character of some traditional hymns does reflect something of the loving character of God. But, God’s love doesn’t always work the same way as emotional human love thinks it should. Music conveys emotions in the relative, human sense rather than the absolute sense in which God exists. God sometimes operates in ways that do not appear so warm and fuzzy (even though He has a redemptive goal in everything He does), for we do not live in a perfect world where everybody gets along. If we are to imitate the character of God to the best that we know how, on our end it takes strength and power, not only emotional love, to resist temptation. Sometimes, living according to Biblical principles feels like a life of rebellion against the world system’s immoral influences. Jesus says in Matthew 10:34, “Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I came to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a man’s enemies will be the members of his household.”
In Ephesians 6:12, Paul writes that “we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” In 1 Timothy 6:12, Paul says to “fight the good fight of faith.” I think it takes powerful sounding music to portray the spiritual warfare that believers are in, and I find that some kinds of Christian rock music fits that subject well.
What modern pop music often conveys to me is a mood of excitement and energy. How are these moods incompatible with our Christian lives? We are new spiritual creations with a heart that takes delight in things that are noble and pure, but the Bible indicates that this is not the case for everybody. In Romans 1: 28-31, after describing how people were committing idolatry by worshiping nature instead of God, Paul wrote,
“And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting; being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents,undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful;”
Opponents of contemporary Christian music often point out that the secular rock and pop music industries are dominated by the types of people on that list above. But that doesn’t mean that there is any inherent connection between the music and the immoral activities of those people. The problem is that those people have “debased minds,” as Paul put it, so they can hardly find pleasure outside of immorality. So they personally associated exciting, energetic music with immorality because that is what they’re passionate about. But we who know Christ are not like that. We don’t have to associate energetic music with sinful passions. We know where true joy comes from.
I’m interested to hear your thoughts about different styles of music.
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