Should Christians Listen to Secular Music?

This week, Pastor J.D. talks about whether or not Christians should listen to secular music.

Show Notes:

  • While I know it’ll frustrate the listeners, I’m going to have to give a “yes and no” answer. First of all, songs like the national anthem are secular songs — there’s really no way to avoid them.
  • But let’s start with reasons why Christians might want to be very cautious or even want to mostly avoid secular music:
    • The wrong kind of music leads to the wrong thought patterns. I heard someone a long time ago say that music affects us even more deeply than we realize, because it’s tied into our thought patterns.
    • Proverbs (23:7) says that “As a man thinks in his heart, so is he.”
    • John Mark Comer, in his book Live No Lies, writes: “If you sow a thought, you reap an action; if you reap an action, you reap another action; sow several actions, you reap a character; sow a character, you reap a destiny — either in slavery to the flesh or freedom of the spirit.”
    • I listened to a fairly compelling YouTube video about this a few years ago, where this guy named Alan Parr was arguing that Christians generally should not listen to secular music. He said to ask yourself a few questions:
      • Does the music I’m listening to promote an ungodly message?
      • Am I being a light to others if I look just like them?
      • Is this music hindering or helping my spiritual growth?
  • But on the other hand, if you gave a “hard no” to this, you’d have to cut a lot of other things out as well: TV, movies, etc.
  • Jesus tells us to be “in the world but not of the world.”
  • Paul, in 1 Cor. 5, says that it’s impossible to totally separate yourself from all immorality in the world. That doesn’t mean you should participate in it, but that it’s impossible to separate yourself from all contact with it.
  • That’s why I think it’s important to make a distinction between “non-Christian” music and “un-Christian” music.
    • In other words, it’s one thing to say nobody should ever listen to a song that illicitly promotes sex, violence, etc.
    • It’s another to say nobody should ever listen to Faithfully by Journey, or any Taylor Swift songs at all, etc.
  • John Piper says: “There is such a thing as worldly music. One of the marks of worldly music is the exultation in a worldly view of life. A worldly view of life is a life that leaves Christ out and approves of what he disapproves. That is worldly. Worldly isn’t a sound; worldly is leaving Christ out. That is why it is called worldly and not Christly. And it approves of what he disapproves. It is called worldly because it treasures the world above the one who made the world. It revels in the very self-centeredness that gives rise to the miseries of the world.”
  • I think about this similarly to how I think about the question: “Should you go to a party hosted by unbelievers?” It depends on what kind of party. At some parties, the whole point is to sin — I’d apply that to music and movies also. If the whole point is the glorification of sin, I don’t know if that’s the kind of thing our Savior delights in. After all, how could you love somebody and then delight in what led to their murder?
  • What mood is the music you’re listening to putting you in? I don’t know about you, but the mood I need to dominate my heart is one that glorifies God and promotes goodness, truth, love and beauty, and that’s what I want to saturate myself with.

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