Nov 13, 2013

What's in your ear?

Recently a friend included me in a discussion on Facebook talking about what Christians should be listening to musically.  It was super interesting to hear what everyone had to say, and here are my two cents:

This question makes me think of a particular bit from Scripture - Romans 14:

"14 Welcome those who are weak in faith, but not for the purpose of quarreling over opinions. 2 Some believe in eating anything, while the weak eat only vegetables. 3 Those who eat must not despise those who abstain, and those who abstain must not pass judgment on those who eat; for God has welcomed them. 4 Who are you to pass judgment on servants of another? It is before their own lord that they stand or fall. And they will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make them stand.
5 Some judge one day to be better than another, while others judge all days to be alike. Let all be fully convinced in their own minds. 6 Those who observe the day, observe it in honor of the Lord. Also those who eat, eat in honor of the Lord, since they give thanks to God; while those who abstain, abstain in honor of the Lord and give thanks to God.
7 We do not live to ourselves, and we do not die to ourselves. 8 If we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord; so then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s. 9 For to this end Christ died and lived again, so that he might be Lord of both the dead and the living.
10 Why do you pass judgment on your brother or sister? Or you, why do you despise your brother or sister? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God. 11 For it is written,
“As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall give praise to God.” 12 So then, each of us will be accountable to God. 13 Let us therefore no longer pass judgment on one another, but resolve instead never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of another. 14 I know and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself; but it is unclean for anyone who thinks it unclean. 15 If your brother or sister is being injured by what you eat, you are no longer walking in love. Do not let what you eat cause the ruin of one for whom Christ died. 16 So do not let your good be spoken of as evil. 17 For the kingdom of God is not food and drink but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. 18 The one who thus serves Christ is acceptable to God and has human approval. 19 Let us then pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding. 20 Do not, for the sake of food, destroy the work of God. Everything is indeed clean, but it is wrong for you to make others fall by what you eat; 21 it is good not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything that makes your brother or sister stumble. 22 The faith that you have, have as your own conviction before God. Blessed are those who have no reason to condemn themselves because of what they approve. 23 But those who have doubts are condemned if they eat, because they do not act from faith; for whatever does not proceed from faith is sin."

I listen to nearly everything and anything: pop, mild rap (heavy rap doesn't interest me, neither does heavy metal or screamo), Country, Classical, jazz, Christian Contemporary, soundtracks, etc. I am also very determined and resolute in my faith in God. I love God more than breath itself.
The Scripture passage I quoted above perfectly describes my gut instinct regarding this question. It says to let conscience be our guide - let the Holy Spirit work and guide! Does your conscience say "don't listen to that music"? Then don't listen to it! But don't pass judgment upon those who do. Also, make sure that what you are doing is for the Kingdom of God. Let's think about this a little more....
First, pay attention to what the music is doing to you. Does the music put your mind in a dark place and think unholy thoughts about sex, the opposite gender, life, etc? Then don't listen to it. Does heavy thump-thump-thump music distract you to the point that you generally speed while listening to it in the car? Then don't listen to it. Does it make you want to punch something? Then don't listen to it.
Second, why are you listening to that music? If everything we do is to glorify God, as the Scripture passage above would seem to indicate, then how is your listening to that music in that moment glorifying God? If there is absolutely no way this is possible, then maybe don't listen to it.
Third, are you passing judgment upon those who listen to music you deem unacceptable? Not liking specific forms of music is fine, but don't judge those who do listen to it. You might not like country, whilst the twang runs through my blood. Others might not like 38th Parallel, while the beat and lyrics run deep through my mind and draw me to God in a way that traditional worship music cannot.
Fourth, what is in the music? I've heard people say they avoid explicit, graphic music. Praise God, hallelujah! So do I. Pay attention to not only how the music sounds, but also WHAT the lyrics are. There have been many times that I've loved the SOUND of the song but abhorred the LYRICS - there is a difference. I have a hard time when people say all hard metal or rap is isn't. There are Christian hard metal bands, just as there are Christian rap bands/singers. It depends on the letter and intent of the lyrics. If the music is explicit or demeans another person, then avoid it, but don't judge those who do not.
Fifth, would you be comfortable listening to that song with your grandmother, priest, and Sunday School teacher in the room? I say this tongue-in-cheek, but it's true! If you aren't comfortable listening to it around those who are supposed to uphold moral character, then don't listen to it.
I listen to anything and everything except rap and screamo (and those essentially because I can't understand the lyrics). Youth nowadays will have little to say to you unless you can intelligently discuss their interests, and one of their major interests is music...all music.