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Should a Christian Listen to Secular Music?

May 17, 2005

Actually, (and I freely admit this) its a stupid question. I simply posed the question “Should a Christian listen to Secular Music” because I wanted you to read further. The fact is, most Christians listen to secular music at some point. And they have reasons they like to do so. As I mentioned in a recent post, the designation “Christian” when added to any art form is a term that is open to a varied amount of interpretation. Personally, I believe that Christian music is any music produced by a Christian. I admit it is a pretty broad definition, but I think it fits the bill.

So why do Christians listen to music that is not produced by Christians? I think there are many good reasons. First, they might enjoy a genre of music that Christians have not delved into very far. Reggae doesn’t have many Christian producers and performers, so if that is your gig, you couldn’t very well listen to the Christian version. The same could be said for Emo, Jazz, Grunge (although there are a few Christian Grunge bands), Torch Music, Big Band sound etc. If you are an aficionado of these, then Christian bands cannot be included that easily.

Another reason is that many Christians enjoy quality music and they may find that the quality of Christian music is lacking. I think the gap is closing, but perhaps not fast enough for your taste. DC Talk and Mercy Me have excellent producers and their sound is clean.

My brother helped point out a third reason that you might listen to secular music. He was visiting a while back and he mentioned the name of an 80s hair band. I didn’t recognize any of their music. He quipped, “There was culture in the 80s outside of church, you know.” I actually had a good excuse for not knowing the band in question. I lived in a tiny town in British Columbia with one radio station (public radio) that played no rock music. We had no music store in town and Kathy and I didn’t own a television. Even if we had, MTV was several years away. My brother lived in the big city. He also has always been leery of becoming too “churchy”, so he compensates by listening to the music of the culture. By doing this, I believe he hopes to relate better to the pre-Christian ethos.

As one person noted in a recent comment to this blog, a lot of Christian music is “worship” oriented and preaches too much about God. Here is something to consider concerning that. In the Old Testament, one of the best stories is the book of Esther. Esther’s story was probably written by Ezra the priest and certainly chronicles a very dangerous time in Israel’s history. But it is unique, not for what it reports, but for what it doesn’t contain. The name “God” is never mentioned anywhere in the book. God is nowhere to be found explicitely. Several famous Bible scholars and preachers over the centuries have wanted Esther cut out of the Bible for that reason. But God is found behind the book.

There are truthful statements all over our culture. Consider the words from Creed’s song, “Six Feet on the Edge”:

reflecting on all of my mistakes
I’ thought I’m found the road to some where
some where, where there is grave
I cried out heaven save me
but I’m down to one last breath
and will he let me say, let me sayhold me now I’m six feet from the edge

This song is incredibly deep and shows that the writer is wrestling with truth.

Or look at this song by rap-artist Kanye West:

Jesus Walk- God show me the way because the devil tryna
break me down
Jesus Walk With Me- The only thing that I pray iz that my
feet dont fail me now
Jesus Walk-And I dont think theres nothing I could do now
to right my wrongs
Jesus Walk With Me-I wanna talk to God but im afraid cuz
we aint spoke in so long

There is a mint of musical philosophy that can be appreciated by delving into it. There may be people astounded to hear it, but I like these artists: Avril Lavigne, Faith Hill, Creed, Blink 182, Default, Nora Jones, Diana Krall, and Shania Twain. I don’t like every one of their songs. But I like their musical style and some of the lyrics they try out. I like their striving for perfection and the attitude of professionalism. But I don’t always like their lifestyle.

I don’t need to worship all day long. I think there is a place to think about what others believe and ask questions that need to be asked.

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