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Music & Christianity: How Do They

What Is Music?
Take some responses from the audience.
Lets look at some educated responses or definitions to this question:
o The science or art of ordering tones or sounds in succession, in combination, and in
temporal relationships to produce a composition having unity and continuity; vocal,
instrumental, or mechanical sounds having rhythm, melody, or harmony.
o Merriam Webster
o Art concerned with combining vocal or instrumental sounds for beauty of form or
emotional expression, usually according to cultural standards of rhythm, melody, and,
in most Western music, harmony.
o Encyclopedia Britannica
Then there are some quotes or personal definitions from some pop culture icons I found
interesting as well.
o Gods little reminder that theres something else besides us in this universe; harmonic
connection between all living beings, everywhere, even the stars.
o Robin Williams in August Rush, 2007
o Music is a world within itself, with a language we all understand.
o Stevie Wonder
Music and the Christian Jerry Solomon
Music is a pervasive part of contemporary culture. We hear it on elevators, in restaurants, on
telephones while we wait for our party to answer, in offices, in hotel lobbies, and in virtually every
corner of contemporary life. In fact, it permeates the airwaves so thoroughly we often do not realize
it is there. For Example, Television uses music not only in musical programs but also in

commercials and program soundtracks. Movies also utilize music to enhance the events shown on
the screen. Radio offers a wide variety of music around the clock. The availability of recordings
allows us to program music to suit our own listening tastes, and we can hear them in virtually any
location. Concerts, especially in large cities, offer a potpourri of music to choose from.
There is also a wide variety of musical genres. Rock (with its assortment of styles and labels), rap,
country and western, jazz, Broadway, folk, classical, New Age, and gospel provide us with a
dizzying assortment of listening and performing options. Such permeation and variety provide us
with a unique opportunity to practice discernment. Some may think this is unnecessary because
they claim to listen only to "Christian" music. Nevertheless, the broader population of the
evangelical community spends innumerable hours absorbing music, whether "Christian" or
If music mirrors culture, if it tells us of important issues and themes; and if it shows the
implications of various world views, it can tell us a great deal about our culture. Lyrically, music
can be used as a medium for criticism, commendation, reflection, questioning, rebellion, and any
number of other thoughts or emotions. When the musical language is employed to relay these
thoughts or emotions the result can be significant.
History is replete with examples of the ways music has been vitally employed in various cultures.
One of the more prominent examples of this can be found in the Psalms, where lyrics were merged
with music to form a strategic voice for Israel's life. The same is true in contemporary life. The
themes of rock, rap, and country music demonstrate how music can be a notable voice for the spirit
of a culture, whether for good or evil.
In order to affect our culture we must listen to that voice. We must hear its questions and be
sensitive to the needs that cry out for the answers God provides.

Is It Possible for Music to be Christian?

Listen to the following instrumentals and select the lyrics that you think best suits
being a musical prelude to worship if you will.

How should we judge or classify music?

Some say there is a particular musical style that is distinctly Christian. Others reject such a
Some believe that certain musical styles are intrinsically evil. Others reject this.

The examples of such conflict are numerous. It is important that we join the dialogue. In the
process we will observe several ways we should respond to the music of our culture.
The term "Christian music" is a kind of inaccurate (a Mis-no-mer if you will). Music cannot
be declared Christian because of particular ingredients. There is no special Christian musical
vocabulary. There is no distinctive sound that makes a piece of music Christian. The only
part of a composition that can make it Christian is the lyrics. In view of the fact that such
phrases as "contemporary Christian music" are in style, or popular, this is a meaningful
observation. Perhaps the phrase "contemporary Christian lyrics" would be more appropriate.
Think back to the three clips I playednow take a look at the following lyrics for the songs
respectivelyOf course, the lyrics may be suspect doctrinally and ethically, and they may be
of poor quality, but my point is concentrated on the musical content.
It is possible that misunderstandings regarding "Christian music" are the product of cultural bias.
Our "western ears" are accustomed to certain sounds. Particular modes, scales, and rhythms are part
of a rich musical heritage. When we hear music that is not part of that heritage we are tempted to
label it, inaccurately, as unfit for a Christian's musical life.
Play ROCK VIDEO here!
We should realize that music is best understood within its culture.
For example, the classical and folk music of most Asian cultures are created around
pentatonic and whole tone scales, which are unpleasant if not foreign to most of our ears.
They generally sound very strange to us, and they are often played on instruments that have
a strange sound. But we would be guilty of flagrant prejudice if we were to maintain that
such music is un- Christian because it does not contain the tones we are used to hearing.
Another example of the way evangelicals tend to misapply the term Christian to music can
be understood by reflecting on how music may have sounded during biblical and church
history. Scholars have begun to demonstrate that the music of biblical history may have been
comprised of tonal and rhythmic qualities that were very different from what we are
accustomed to in western culture.
Our musical preconceptions do not die easily, and they seem to recur periodically in church
history. Once a style becomes familiar enough, it is accepted. Until then, it is doubtful and
Reference BACH and hymns and how they were not accepted.
Discuss use of drums, electric instruments in the Anglican Church..

Where Does One Find Balance?

Music is like food. The right type in the right amount is good for you. The wrong type in any amount is bad.
Unfortunately, with music its the bad stuff that can be the most appealing. Why do all the good tunes get
saved for the really ugly lyrics?

If you love the sound, does the message really matter? To help answer that question, ask yourself: If
someone wanted to make me swallow poison, how would they coax me into taking it? Would they dip it in
vinegar or coat it with candy? The faithful man Job asked: Does not the ear itself test out words as the palate
tastes food? (Job 12:11) So rather than just swallowing a song because you like its beat or melodythe candy
coating, so to speaktest out the words by considering the title and the lyrics. Why? Because the lyrics
embedded in the music will affect your thinking and attitudes.
Regrettably, a great deal of todays most innovative music features lyrics that promote sex, violence, and
drug abuse. If you dont feel that listening to such lyrics affects you, then youve already started to succumb to
the poison.

Think for Yourself

Your peers may put tremendous pressure on you to listen to degrading music. Theres also pressure from
the music industry itself. With the help of radio, the Internet, and television, music has become a powerful,
multibillion-dollar industry. High-powered marketing experts are hired to shape and control your taste in music.
But when you let your peers or the media dictate what you listen to, you lose your power of choice. You
become a mindless slave. (Romans 6:16) The Bible urges you to resist the worlds influence in such matters.
(Romans 12:2) So you would do well to train your own perceptive powers . . . to distinguish both right and
wrong. (Hebrews 5:14) How can you use your perceptive powers when choosing music? Consider the
following suggestions:
Examine the packaging. Often, one look at the packaging or promotional material is enough to determine
the content. Violent, sexually explicit, or occult images should be a warning. The music inside is probably
objectionable too.
Check out the lyrics. What is being said? Do you really want to listen to or repeat those ideas over and
over again? Are the thoughts expressed in harmony with your values and with Christian principles?
Ephesians 5:3-5.
Notice the effect. I found that a lot of the music and lyrics I listened to made me depressed, says a youth
named Philip. Granted, music may affect people in different ways. But what mood does your music nurture in
you? Ask yourself: Do I find myself dwelling on wrong thoughts after hearing the music or the lyrics? Are slang
expressions that are used in the music starting to creep into my vocabulary?1 Corinthians 15:33.
Consider others. How do your parents feel about your music? Ask them for their opinion. Think, too, of how
fellow Christians might feel. Would some be disturbed by your music? The ability to modify your behavior out of
respect for the feelings of others is a sign of maturity.Romans 15:1, 2.

By asking yourself the above questions, you will be in a position to choose music that stirs your spirit without
killing your spirituality. But theres one more factor to consider.

How Much Is Too Much?

Good music, like good food, can be healthful. However, a wise proverb warns: Is it honey that you have
found? Eat what is sufficient for you, that you may not take too much of it and have to vomit it up. (Proverbs
25:16) Honey has well-known curative properties. Yet, too much of even a good thing can be bad for you. The
point? Good things should be enjoyed in moderation.
Some youths, however, allow music to dominate their lives. For example, Jessica, quoted earlier, confesses:
I listen to music all the timeeven when Im studying the Bible. I tell my parents that it helps me to
concentrate. But they dont believe me. Does Jessicas comment sound familiar?
How can you determine how much music is too much? Ask yourself the following questions:
How much time do I spend listening to music each day?
How much money do I spend on music each month?
Is my music interfering with my family relationships? If so, write below how you might improve the situation.

Modifying Your Listening Habits

If music is taking too much of a bite out of your personal life, you would do well to set limits and be more
moderate in your listening habits. For example, you may need to break the habit of plugging your ears with
headphones all day long or turning music on the minute you get home.
In fact, why not learn to savor some periods of silence? Doing so may help you with your studies. Youll get
a whole lot more out of them if the music is off, says Steve, quoted earlier. Try studying without music, and see
if your concentration improves.
You will also want to schedule time for reading and studying the Bible and Bible-based publications.
Jesus Christ at times sought out a quiet place for prayer and meditation. (Mark 1:35) Is your study environment
similarly quiet and peaceful? If not, you may be stunting your spiritual growth