May a Christian Listen to Any Kind of Music?

Sharing a Facebook Thread

Very rarely do I share a conversation from Facebook, but this one with a former member of my congregation (who shall remain nameless) is well worth it.

The following question is an honest one, made by a Christian struggling with a real dilemma.

The Question

“I have been thinking a lot about how music affects me, spiritually. I’m not a big fan of a lot of Christian music although I am a Christian. I like old school hymns but not so much the newer contemporary music. I don’t know how someone can have the gift of music and be a peaceful, Christ-like person, but not go to Heaven or not ever be saved (Like George Harrison). Every time I hear “My sweet Lord” I think of how I can’t wait to be with my Lord in Heaven and my family and friends, but George wasn’t a Christian. Also there are other musicians who are talented and really great people but they’re not saved.

“Does that make me a bad Christian because I don’t listen to J103 [a CCM station in the Chattanooga area] but really like classic Rock? I wouldn’t listen to music knowingly that bashes God, so it disturbs me that a Christian or anyone could listen to music or say things like GD.

“Not sure if this makes any sense, because I am not a writer and have a hard time putting my thoughts into words. But it’s been on my mind a lot lately, for some reason. Maybe I should be listening to more music that praises God, but I feel like most all music is a gift from God. Thoughts please! This is really bugging me.” – (Minor edits were made for this blog)

My Response

“Without him quoting any Bible verses, let this preacher submit his two cents 😉

“Music WAS created by God. Music is what we would call “amoral,” because it is neither good or bad – it just is. However, music is a very powerful force which links emotions, memories, and physical feelings together with the now. That kind of force attached to a lyric (the words) can become a powerful tool – either for good or evil.

“The guiding authority for the Christian is God’s divine revelation to man – the Bible. Regardless of what man (or woman) has to say, we should always base our actions on what is right in the light of God’s Word. Therefore, does the Bible have anything to say about whether a Christian should listen to just Christian music? Only in principle.

“OK, I can’t help it…I have to quote Scripture. “Whatsoever things are true…just…pure…honest…lovely…of good report…have virtue…any praise…think on these things” (Philippians 4:8). There are a lot of non-Christian songs (especially instrumental music) that fit into the above verse. A song about doing good, or loving someone forever, or doing what’s right in a bad world…there’s nothing really wrong with that. However, you do have to be careful when you start liking a style of music without any regard to the lyrics of the song itself. The musical score may be amoral, but the lyrics can be anything but true, pure, virtuous, etc. That stuff you should avoid.

“One other thing I would caution you about: Never fall for the lie of “I don’t listen to the words, just the music.” That sounds all well and good, but it’s impossible – unless you just don’t understand the language being sung. Every song has a message, else it’s not a song. If the message is ungodly, then it will eventually find its way into your heart.

“Remember, there is an Enemy that knows more about the power of music than any producer or executive in Nashville. This Enemy knows our weaknesses and temptations, too. If world leaders know how to use propaganda to turn the minds and hearts of people, don’t you think the Devil is equally knowledgeable? Remember where Satan came from and of what he is capable. One of his actual [attributes] was the ability to create music – not just play it – within himself. At one point he literally led the worshipping angels of heaven and gave praise to God! He KNOWS music. He also knows how to use it to change minds, just like he did to a third of the angels of heaven.

“So, all that being said, we are not under the Law, but Grace. You are free to make choices. However, you are NOT free from the consequences of your choices. Therefore, my advice is to choose wisely. Make sure what you listen to is at least wholesome, if not exactly Christian. Feed your soul with good stuff, not trash, and you’ll not have anything to worry about.”

What are YOUR thoughts?

Yes, I know a little about music. This is myself, along with my sister, Rebecca, Jody Gould, and Steve Castlen. The band was Mirror Image, circa 1992.

Yes, I know a little about music. This is myself, along with my sister, Rebecca, Jody Gould, and Steve Castlen. The band was Mirror Image, circa 1992.

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4 Comments

Filed under legalism, music

4 responses to “May a Christian Listen to Any Kind of Music?

  1. That was a very compassionate response to that question. You hit the point exactly, my friend. Amoral, music is. The intent and message may not be. For example, I happen to love AC/DC. Have for 40 years. Do I listen to it anymore? Nope. Broke all my AC/DC Cds into pieces. Why? Well let’s look

    Have a Drink on Me

    Highway to Hell

    Rock you All Night Long

    Many, many more.

    I don’t need that in my head at all.

  2. Jesse

    I think that really accurately sums it up. Music is a tool and it’s what the tool is used for that makes it good or bad, not the tool itself. A hammer can be used to build and construct things, or bash and tear down things. It’s not the tool, but how it’s used, that defines good or evil.

    I have a friend whose parents taught her from a young age that all music is evil, regardless of who wrote it, who sings it, or what the lyrics are about. If it’s not in our hymn book, it was created by the devil. I’ve been trying to explain to her that God created everything, including music, and although the devil has corrupted some music, that doesn’t mean you have to throw it all out. Just use discernment in your choices. And when using discernment, apply it to everything. Don’t even assume that because it’s in a hymn book, it gets a free pass.

    A personal story of mine (without too much detail) is that I was about to make a really bad choice one time (and I knew it was a bad idea but I was just losing so much hope I almost didn’t care) but while getting a ride with a friend one day a song came on a popular rock station and the lyrics really spoke to me and helped me see that I would ruin my life if I went through with what I was considering and that I should still hold out for God’s plan for my life. Just goes to show that God can speak to you through anything if you’re listening for Him.

  3. I wish more people would see music in this way. Like any tool (or vehicle) any music can be used for God’s honor or for our destruction depending on the message and intent of it’s Author. (now is probably not the time to comment on church musicians who should only sing or play their instrument and not talk).

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