It may not rise to the level of justification by works versus justification by faith alone, but the debate over whether or not Christians should listen to secular music is a prominent one. Many Christian parents strive to think deeply and clearly about this issue as they raise their children to honor the Lord. Into the fray of this debate comes a video published by Joe Solomon who tackles this and many other ethical issues on his YouTube channel.
Solomon reminds viewers of a basic precept that in general, music affects your mood, which in turn affects your behavior. This does not mean that we will always act out on what is being said in music, but we have to acknowledge that not only does music provide us information that shapes our worldview, but it will also bring a mood, whether we acknowledge it or not. For instance, a couple who is wanting to be romantic will probably not listen to head banging rap nor will criminals listen to slow R & B before they rob a bank.
Put simply, music is powerful, but Solomon isn’t advocating that all secular music needs to be trashed by Christians. In fact, there are some love songs written and sung by secular artists that are not contradictory to a biblical view of love. If Christians trash all secular music, then do we also trash all the arts such as paintings, sculptures, movies, and even buildings that were not created by Christians? Interestingly, the Apostle Paul when he dialogued with the pagan philosophers in Athens actually invoked these lines from pagan poetry: “for ‘In him we live and move and have our being’; as even some of your own poets have said,” ‘For we are indeed his offspring.’ (Acts 17:28). By no means was Paul supporting the worship of false gods but rather using the Greeks’ prevailing worldview to build a bridge to the true Gospel. In a sense, Paul was using their culture against their culture.
Cultural bridge-building in order to share the Gospel is important, but it does come with a big HOWEVER. Solomon is not endorsing a “free for all” for Christians to listen to secular music. We have to acknowledge that much of secular music glorifies sinful behavior such as sex, materialism, pride, and the list seemingly goes on. This stands in contradiction to how the Scripture exhorts Christians to think. The Holy Spirit through the Apostle Paul wrote, “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things” (Philippians 4:8).
We certainly don’t want to limit the practice of Christianity to keeping a list of rules, but we must always strive to get to the issue of our hearts and minds. A simple analogy is to imagine a guy driving a car with his wife as a passenger and jamming out to a song that brags about a guy cheating on his wife. Common sense would tell us that his wife would be hurt and rightfully demand that he change the song. Though the husband may justify it by saying he would never “actually” cheat on her, we actually use type of reasoning in our relationship with someone infinitely more important: God. So let us as Christians continue to throw off those things that stop or hinder us as we pursue maturity in Jesus (Hebrews 12:1). A great place to start is to discern and possibly spurn the tunes that are impacting more than our ears.
So let us as Christians continue to throw off those things that stop or hinder us as we pursue maturity in Jesus (Hebrews 12:1). A great place to start is to discern and possibly spurn the tunes that are impacting more than our ears.