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Music – Secular or Christian?

June 13, 2013

Music and the church has always been a touchy topic. Hymns vs modern worship seems to be the current ongoing battle. You will be happy to know that is not what I am looking at today. What about those believers who like to listen to secular music? Is there a problem with that? The answer is not clear-cut. It will depend on who you ask and what music you are listening to. For example, most of us would consider Third Day a good Christian band, but I was once told by a pastor I was going to hell for listening to them. On the flip side of the coin, I had a pastor debate the finer points of whether the Eagles were a good classic band. So, as you can tell, there is no winning this argument, but I do want to deposit a few cents into the conversation.

Why do I listen to Christian music at all?

It helps my focus on the Creator. If the song points me to my Maker, then I consider it good Christian music that is profitable for me. By helping focus me on my Creator, it allows me to escape my mindset and listen to Him. While many would argue that music clutters the mind and that silence is the better option, for me, music is the current I can hear best in. So, for me, I listen to Christian music to focus on God as an act of worship.

Is there any intrinsic value in secular music?

There are several things which make secular music valuable. The first is it provides a window into the world of the writer and singer. Why is this possibly valuable? Simply put, it reflects cultural values and norms. If you are thinking like a missionary, you understand the value in this. You can look at it as taking the general temperature of a community.

Another reason there is value in secular music is there are many Christian men and women in the secular music industry. They use their gift for music to open venues to live out a Godly lifestyle before audiences who may never go into a church. Take Aaron Watson for example. He could make wonderful worship music. Instead, he is using his talent to write and sing clean country music. He takes this music into places a preacher would never be allowed to preach a sermon in. To support those artists is to support a missionary.

A third reason to listen to secular music is it typically does better addressing social wrongs, both past and present. Christian music rarely addresses social or justice issues in its music. These songs can reach into a person heart and stir a passion to reach others, to take action. During the Viet Nam War, pop music was filled with songs speaking of the issues surrounding the war. These are little pieces of history interpreted for others to hear.

Last, I would argue some music is not religious or secular. For example, take classical, jazz or big band. If there are no words in those songs, they are instrumental creations which can be quite beautiful. It is a wonder people can create these intricate pieces of music. The mere complexity of some classical music brings one to focus not only on the creator of the piece, but The Creator of the piece.

Do I exercise any caution or concern?

I do exercise some caution when I choose my music. First, I avoid anything displaying the caution label. Not out of self-righteousness, but it is typically a great indicator I would not like the music. I also want to listen to music I would be comfortable to listen to around families. Another caution is sampling a new CD before I buy it. This saves money and can possibly prevent embarrassment. I will also avoid any music that is clearly attacking, or in conflict with, the faith I hold dear. I understand their point and will let someone else buy it.

Last, I keep my listening balanced. I focus on worship music during some particular times in my day, and then revisit it frequently. Other times I listen to my favorite Red Dirt Country (music from Texas & Oklahoma where red clay is the prevalent soil). Yet, when I am in spiritual need, I know to remove the secular music and focus on Christian music alone. This keeps me focused on the King who is working in my life.

In summary, if secular music points you towards your past and makes you dwell on things which are no longer a part of your life, then do not listen. Continue to grow forward in the new. If the music is a seasoning to your life, and allows you to gain perspective of the greater world around you, do enjoy! Look for worship music to speak spiritual truths in your life or through your life, while secular music will entertain and speak to you about larger world around you. Remember, God gifted many musicians and each has chosen to use that gift in their own way. Learn to embrace this and enjoy their gifts.

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  1. Church Idols – Music | anafalz

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