Talking About Music… Don’t Get Mad

Music is an art. Art effects our emotions. Therefore music is an emotional topic. I can think of very few topics that stir up people’s emotions more quickly and more heatedly than music. I am frequently asked, “What’s wrong with this song?” or “What do you think about this style of music?” or “Have you listened to [insert group name here]?” It is always a touchy conversation. With that said, let’s get started!

My Background

I am musically inept. I “can’t carry a tune in a bucket” and “the only instrument I can play is the radio”. Those common phrases describe me well. But lack of talent does not mean lack of appetite for music. I grew up listening to all types of music. In my lifetime I have heard the new styles of rap, hip hop, hard rock, heavy metal, and speed metal go mainstream. I listened to them all. I listened to them, purchased them, went to their concerts, air guitared them (well before “Guitar Hero”… don’t ask), drank to them, and danced to them (you really do not want to know). My unsaved days and nights were consumed with many things, but music was one of the biggest. After I trusted Christ as my Savior I was transformed. But God in His grace slowly backed me out of the music I was listening to. I was convicted to back away from what I normally listened to and started listening to country music. Then I slowly began to realize that most of that style of music was sin stained as well. Eventually I cut up all the tapes (back when CDs were just coming on the scene) that I owned.

I truly desired a “new song” to sing in my Christian life. I did not want to hear the same styles of music with “clean words” inserted. I needed separated from that world. Music was just too powerful a force in my life.

I am sure that some people will label me as a “weaker brother” because of my testimony. And you know what? I’m fine with that. It may very well be that I am the weaker brother. We can address this point later.

Ok. I felt you needed to know that much about me because you cannot separate a man from his testimony. Enough about me, let’s move on.

Music is Powerful

I truly believe that the power of music is why it is listed as the first thing needed to have a Spirit filled life in Ephesians 5.18-19. Singing spiritual songs to yourself is the best way to focus your thoughts upon the Lord. Ever get a song stuck in your head? Ever have a song change your thoughts? I can get most of you to think of a huge purple dinosaur simply by starting to sing, “I love you, you love me, we’re a…” But I wouldn’t want to do that to you. Suffice it to say that music is a powerful weapon for good and evil.

A Disclaimer

Here is a disclaimer before we get too deep into this subject. I am not judging the motives of any Christian music artist. If you will remember from this article, music is an “extra-biblical” area. Different people are going to have different convictions. We must accept people where they are, allow the Holy Spirit to work, and then agree to disagree agreeably. I am not here to judge Christian artists. That is God’s job.

Romans 14:4 (ESV) Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand.

However, just because I am not judging the people producing the music does not absolve me from making some sort of judgment upon what music they produce.

Every Believer’s Responsibility

Every believer must judge (or discern) everything in their lives.

1 Corinthians 2:15 (ESV) The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one.

We are to discern and approve of those things that are excellent so that we may be pure and blameless before Christ.

Philippians 1:9-10 (ESV) And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, 10 so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ,

Every believer must judge whether or not they will listen to certain music. And they must also judge whether or not they will support certain music. So when you are evaluating music you must ask yourself, “Can I listen to this music and glorify the Lord?” “Can I support this music and glorify the Lord?” and “Is this music helping me to be pure and blameless on the day of Christ?”

A Pastor’s Additional Responsibility

A pastor has even more responsibility than every believer. Pastors must ask the same questions that believers ask about music, but in addition they have to decide what music will be promoted in their church services. So a pastor must ask the additional question of “Is this music something I want to promote?” In deciding this, it is important to take into consideration the sensitivity of the individual believers.

Romans 14:15 (ESV) For if your brother is grieved by what you eat [or sing], you are no longer walking in love. By what you eat [or sing], do not destroy the one for whom Christ died.

Romans 15:1, 5-6 (ESV) 1 We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves…5 May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, 6 that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

It is not appropriate to play music in the public worship services that is offensive to the individual convictions of the believers in attendance. As the pastor I have to answer to the Lord for what music is played in our church, not the individual congregants. Therefore I will be very conservative in what music is played in our services. When asked about music, I have to ask myself, “Is this the type of music I want to promote?” and “Will some of my members consider this music sinful?”

Unity with Diversity

How can a church have unity concerning music when there is such a diversity of choices out there? I tell my members that they can listen to whatever music they want to in their cars and in their homes. They will answer to God for their choices. If their choices are of the CCM, Rap, Rock, or other “less conservative” styles then I encourage them not to push their music upon someone that may not have their same convictions. If they do, then they could cause their brother to sin. My personal convictions exclude these styles as well. But when the church comes together, I have to answer for what is played. And because of that, we have very conservative music styles in our church. We play the music that all can agree is God glorifying and uplifting.

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2 Comments on “Talking About Music… Don’t Get Mad”

  1. Chuck Landon Says:

    EXCELLENT! Thanks my friend. Well thought out and “safe.” 🙂

  2. Jon Bell Says:

    Thanks for the thoughts. I touched on the subject myself today. It is a difficult thing to find that balance but if we focus on building up the whole body we can find a “sweet spot” where God is glorified and His people are edified.

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