I Used to Think Secular Music Is Sinful

It helps to laugh at yourself sometimes.

In my early years as a Christian I struggled with anger and was generally kind of down. My headphones were on and Nirvana was blasting into my brain.

And then Philippians 4:8 came to mind:

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is worthy of respect, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if something is excellent or praiseworthy, think about these things.”

I took off the headphones, grabbed all of my secular music, and tossed it into the trash can. While I can’t say this for all of my music at the time, most of it–including Nirvana–fed my anger instead of relieving it. In other words, I viewed music in terms of its affect on my spirit. Add a conservative church that supported such a move into the mix, and you have my personal views on music for about eight years of my life.

About four years ago I began lightening up. And now I laugh at myself. I laugh because I was so naive to think secular music = bad and Christian music = good. There are such things as good and bad music, but these things can be found in both camps. I still believe that we should not knowingly pollute our minds with music that has ridiculously violent or sexually explicit lyrics, but the line between what’s acceptable and what is not has become gray in my estimation.

Today I listen to David Crowder and Neal Morse, but I have also added Johnny Cash and U2: two artists I would have never listened to five years ago. And that goes especially for U2 (In my opinion Bono is an acquired taste).

And now I’ll leave the rest open for comments.  : )

Technorati Tags:

7 thoughts on “I Used to Think Secular Music Is Sinful

  1. jamie

    Josh and I were just talking about something along the lines of this. An Evanescence song came on and it sounded very depressing and hollow and with a lot of question. At first I felt badly for the writer of the lyrics, but when Josh and I got to talking about it he said that maybe she is more intouch with her emotions. Though there was no hope intended in the song itself, doesn’t mean the writer was left there. Good music to me expresses who you are and what you’re thinking. Though I wouldn’t dwell in the indulgence of music that bring keeps me in a melancholy state, sometimes I like to ponder the same thoughts that the song shares. Even with some songs that sing about terrible things are relavent. I think the Spirit definitely lets me know when not to listen. As far as only listening to sappy, I-don’t-even-like-to-call-it Christian music goes…that can be wrong. I am a truth seeker. I want to know God through Christ and His Spirit. Listening to music or watching documentaries that raise questions about life help me see humanity.

  2. ed Post author

    I’m with ya. I like the idea of being a truth seeker and not limiting our search for truth to the Christian world. Of course Christianity is home base, but there is a wonderful freedom in knowing we have a commonality with people who are trying to express the world as they know it.

    Not too much womping on the English, though I did notice the Message-esque use-of-hypens-toward-the-end. Hyphens and dashes are great fun–especially when used in excess.

  3. Adam Malliet

    I too thought secular music (what does that even mean) was sinful. Ha, I love that, how quaint of me.

    I like what Jamie said, let’s look for truth in art and learn from it. I believe if an artist is earnestly seeking truth their art will reflect the Gospel of Jesus.

    Art can also help us empathize with a person/situation/emotion/country that we otherwise would have no connection to. I think we are in need of empathy.

  4. Charity

    I had a laugh when I read the post title because I always tell my husband that he shouldn’t listen to “heathen music.” I am only joking with him, though.

    I personally like to listen to Christian bands (and Christian mainstream bands like Switchfoot and The Fray), but that stems more from the fact that I have pre-teen children and today’s music lyrics are so explicit.

    The line is definitely gray. It is even more so now that so many Christian groups are making it into the mainstream. I am often surprised to hear songs played in stores that are also played on my local Christian pop/rock stations. It seems to happen more and more often.

  5. Beth G. Sanders

    Hello — Simon & Garfunkel? A couple of Jewish boys from New York who have written and sung some of the most profound, spiritually meaningful music ever written.

    So, aside from that which is obviously not God-honoring, sometimes the “secular” can be more meaningful than the “Christian.”

    Let’s see … “Bridge Over Troubled Water” vs. name-your-own-lame-repetitive-worship-chorus (just to stay with the “hyphen” theme) … no contest for me.

  6. ed Post author

    Beth, I think many people would agree with you on that. My wife keeps Simon and the Funk playing in our house quite regularly. I posted earlier this month on the lame, unimaginative, makes-me-want-to-beat-my-head-against-a-wall quality of most Christian music earlier this month, and I stick by it. Most Christian music is lacking.

    By the way, none of the raging Bono fans have attacked me for insinuating that I once thought he’s not all that great. Tisk, tisk. Stand by your man people! I have been redeemed though.I worked through my issues with his unique style and enjoy U2 quite a bit now.

Comments are closed.