Musical Posture

I heard an evangelist speak once when I was a kid. His topic was music, particularly the evils of rock ‘n’ roll. I don’t remember much now of what he said but for one thing. It was something to the effect that rock music was evil because most rock songs put their beat on 1 and 3, rather than on the traditional 2 and 4 beats (or it could have been vice versa). Being just a young kid (I think I was six or seven years old at the time), I swallowed that line completely. It wasn’t until much later (read, college) that I began to question what that man said.

Over the past couple of days, I have been ripping some of my CDs from home to my work computer (.wma format) so that I have something to listen to while I crunch data all day long. I discovered my “WOW Gold”: album and added that one to my stack. I’ve already removed a couple of the songs from my playlist, though; they just seem a little inappropriate to me. One is by Stryper, entitled “To Hell with the Devil.” Aside from the questionable usage of the term ‘hell’, I think it might actually be a wrong mindset. I’m sure we all long for the day when we can be rid of Satan’s influence in the world, but the closing chapters of _Left Behind: Armageddon_ shed some light on what God’s perspective probably is – sadness that one of His creations even _has_ to be condemned to hell. I think it’s something that we can learn from.

The other song that no longer graces my playlist is one by Larry Norman, “Why Should the Devil Have All the Good Music?” It could be that I just find this song entirely annoying, but more it touches on a couple of personal peeves – there are a lot of _great_ hymns out there, and there is a lot of great music in all genres (even at the time that song was written) that is not, pardon the pun, devilish. This touches on my philosophy of music, a philosophy that was challenged and reshaped when I began my college career.

Growing up I believed that music was split by some defining line into righteous and evil. I felt that you could take any song and clearly categorize it as white or black. This was in large part determined by the _style_ of the music, though if the lyrics weren’t focused somehow on God that also played a huge part in deciding which was which. Imagine my confusion and dismay then, when I got to college and found that there were quite a few Christian bands whose style sounded very much like rock to me. Initially, I reacted as I always did by labeling them evil, as wayward Christians who had lost their focus on God. Forget the fact that some of those bands had exceptionally theologically rich lyrics. Their style was too rocky, their beat in the wrong place.

Over time I was pushed out of my comfort zone, and I was forced to reconcile this internal conflict. My roommate was a huge fan of Petra, the other guys in my suite played various Christian artists whose beat was a little too heavy for my tastes, and chapel frequently featured contemporary Christian music. I couldn’t escape it and so I had to deal with it. It was a gradual process, encompassing some of my Bible classes, various chapel services, and personal study.

I was actually a bit surprised to find that I had arrived at a conclusion quite a bit different from what I grew up with – I had determined that music, in and of itself, is amoral and that it is the way people use it that determines how righteous or evil it is. I could find nothing in Scripture that stated that any particular style of music was more evil or righteous than any other. In fact there are many places in Scripture where it describes music that can’t be anything other than lively (though what it exactly sounded like we can’t do more than speculate, but it very likely _wasn’t_ ‘church’ music). Therefore, it must be certain principles that determine the level of music’s morality.

I enjoy a wide variety of music – classical, baroque, American, rock, Gospel, contemporary Christian, for starters. I try to maintain a diet of music that 1) keeps me in touch with the current trends, and 2) is wholesome for my spiritual, mental, and emotional development. I do enjoy some secular music, but more and more I am trying to limit how much of it I listen to, as the lyrics and content of so many of those songs are less than beneficial. I also avoid metal of _any_ variety, as that, to me, is the music of rage, bitterness, and hatred, all vices with which I already struggle and so need no more such exposure, not to mention being very unartistic.

As I understand it, music is amoral; it’s what you do with it that matters. I have absolutely no problem with music that bumps. I like to get my groove on, too. And if the words are wholesome and uplifting, so much the better and is, in fact, my first music of choice. It took me quite a while to arrive at this conclusion (the first half of my college experience), but it is, I believe, a balanced and biblical stance.

I can’t wait to find out what the music of Heaven will be like…

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