Christians and (Christian) Music by Ken Hicks of newgenevaopc.org
Before we start I want to make some points so that people don’t immediately get their dander up. If you keep these points in mind as you read this it should help you understand where I am coming from.
The main thing to remember when considering my stance is that Paul tells us that “…everything that does not come from faith is sin” Rom 14:23. So in this article the mention of sin will be in this context not in an accusatory “You are in sin” sort of matter. Also remember that though we are “justified” sinners we are sinners none the less and we still possess the propensity for sin that we inherited from Adam and the fall. Everything we do has the stain of sin on it and it is only Christ in us that pleases God. As we live out our daily lives we fall short in many respects without even actively engaging in things that we know to be sin. Our thoughts wander, we are complacent, we are judgmental, we don’t make the most of our opportunities to share the Gospel, etc. Everything we do is a sort of “yes and no” in regards to sin. Glory to God that it is Christ’s righteousness imputed to us that makes us right with God and that He is gracious and merciful towards our shortcomings.
Having said that, let’s talk about Christians and music or more specifically modern western Christians and music. Do I think Christians that listen to secular music are in sin? Well, “yes and no”. Yes in that we still maintain the flesh and so all we do is tainted by sin. No in that all things are permissible (but not necessarily profitable 1Cor 10”23). Are you a youth that has parents that don’t want you to listen to secular music but you do anyway? Then you are in sin and need to repent and honor your parents. Are you a new Christian that still clings to the world and the music you listen to keeps reminding you/drawing you back to your old ways? Then you should probably give it up for awhile. Are you a mature Christian that can listen without being sucked in by the World’s agenda to corrupt? Then go ahead. Go ahead as long as you are not causing a weaker brother to stumble. But to those that would adamantly oppose secular music I would ask them if we should stop reading secular books or enjoying secular art too? In reality it comes down to one’s convictions and for others to judge is not their place.
But now let’s get into some meat and talk about some biblical concepts. Mainly “types and shadows”. Types and shadows are a concept that everything that goes on in the earthly, temporal realm is a type or shadow of things in the heavenly realm. The classic four year old’s question “Why is the sky blue?” can be met one of two ways (three if you count abdicating and shrugging your shoulders). The first could be the scientific explanation that the visible spectrum of light from the sun passing through the various elements within our atmosphere cause the sky to appear blue. But if one believes that it is our God that has created all the elements, set up all the laws of physics, created the human eye to perceive the above mentioned interactions in the way it does then the first answer hasn’t really explained WHY. God could have very easily set things up so that the sky appeared green. The why is the “type and shadow”. Ex 24:10 …and saw the God of Israel. Under his feet was something like a pavement made of sapphire, clear as the sky itself. Anthropomorphically speaking, we consider the heavens as being above us. Our blue sky is a “type and shadow” of the sapphire “floor” that separates God and the heavens above from the earth below. The concept can also be seen in the notion of the City of God as opposed to the City of Man. Is it a coincidence that the areas that are fulfilling God’s mandate to subdue the earth, i.e. farms and rural areas, are relatively free of the corruption and crime that goes on in the cities of men with their towers being built to reach the heavens (that God knocks down every once in awhile but that’s another topic of discussion)? This type and shadow concept plays out in the fall too. Lucifer was cast down because he desired the praise and glory that was due God alone. He desired to be like God and he enticed Adam and Eve with the same thing. “You can become like God.” So how does this relate to (modern) Christians and (Christian) music? Well I see the same thing going on in Christian bands. A type and shadow of the fall and the impulses that have resulted from it. Praise and adoration heaped upon the members of the band. Does the atmosphere of a concert differ that much from the descriptions we have of what is going on in the heavenly realm other than the object of that praise and glory? We are wired to worship/praise and the fall distorts/distracts so that we spend our time heaping our praise and adoration on “idols” and our “idols” seek it out.
Now I’m not saying that if you are in a band you are in sin (so to speak) I just see the fall playing out in our lives daily. Our sin nature drives us to seek to become like God. To make a name for oneself (you should look into the concept of name theology). Remember how consumed with making a name for himself and being remembered by history Brad Pitt’s character in Troy was? We as Christians should desire to claim the name of Christ but the flesh wants to make a name for itself apart from God. Having one’s name means you belongs to them and the autonomous flesh will have none of that but it does want the praise and adoration due to God. So now we’re back to the “yes and no”. I think, as modern Christians, we spend most of our time worrying about our wants and desires and give little thought to what is really going on around us. “But God has called me to be in this band.” Did He really? How? I think, as with most things, we just do things because we want to. We usually only scratch the surface in seeking God’s will in things. Personally I think that all the reasons given for the existence of modern Christian music are excuses. God doesn’t need us to be relevant to get His Gospel proclaimed. He needs us to be lights to a fallen world. To do that we need to set ourselves apart from the world not copy it and act like it. So in the above sense yes you are in sin because you have been complacent (at least and rebellious at worst) in examining your motives for listening to the music you do or the reason you are in a band. No in that all things are permissible. You want to listen to Slayer? Have at it. You want to be a band? More power to you. I would just encourage you to engage in more self-examination. Holding your wants, desires, motives, etc. up to the light of God’s Word and let it illuminate the reality of what is going on. If your convictions allow for you to listen to whatever, to tear it up on stage, to drink (but not unto drunkenness) who am I to judge?