by Musico_4_Cristo (from the guitarpraise forum)
Many secular songs that have entertaining melodies, thoughtful insights, and positive messages. There are also many talented secular musicians to learn from. Given the attractiveness of secular music, many Christians wonder if its alright to listen to it. Here are three points to consider: (1) the purpose of the music, (2) the style of music, and (3) the content of the lyrics.
(1) The purpose of music.
Is music designed solely for worship, or did God also intend music for other purposes? King David primarily used music for the purpose of worship (Psalms 4:1; 6:1; 54:1; 55:1; 61:1; 67:1; 76:1). However, when King Saul was tormented by evil spirits, he would call on David to play the harp in order to soothe him (1 Samuel 16:14-23). The Israelites also used musical instruments to warn of danger (Nehemiah 4:20) and to surprise their enemies (Judges 7:16-22). In the New Testament, the Apostle Paul instructs Christians to encourage one another with music: "Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs" (Ephesians 5:19). So, while the primary purpose of music does seem to be worship, the Bible definitely music to be used for other purposes.
(2) The style of music.
The issue of music styles can be very divisive among Christians. For example, some feel that musical instruments should not be used, and others feel that only traditional hymns should be sung. Only the other hand, some Christians prefer contemporary music in a "rock concert" environment. Instead of recognizing these differences as personal preferences and cultural distinctions, some Christians declare their preferred style of music to be the only "biblical" one.
The Bible does not condemn any particular style of music, nor does it declare any musical instrument ungodly. The Bible ,mentions numerous types of string and wind instruments. While drums are not mentioned specifically, the Bible does mention other percussion instruments (Psalm 68:25; Ezra 3:10). Nearly all of the forms of music are variations and/or combinations of the same types of music instruments, played at different speeds or with heightened emphasis. There is no biblical basis to declare any particular style of music to be ungodly or outside of God's will.
(3) The content of the lyrics.
Philippians 4:8 is an excellent guide as to what we should look for in song lyrics, "Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy — think about such things". This is because whatever a person allows to occupy his mind will eventually determine his speech and his actions. This is the premise behind Philippians 4:8 and Colossians 3:2,5 - establishing wholesome thought patterns. 2 Corinthians 10:5 says we should "take captive every thought and make it obedient to Christ."
As the qualities in Phil 4:8 are the things God wants us to think about, and we should encourage ourselves through song lyrics. If the lyrics in a secular song is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and/or praiseworthy, then there is nothing wrong with listening to the song.
Admittedly, many secular songs encourage immorality and violence. If a song glorifies what opposes God, a Christian should not listen to it. However, there are many secular songs that have no mention of God, but still uphold godly values, such as honesty, purity, and integrity. If a love song promotes the sanctity of marriage and/or the purity of true love–but does not mention God or the Bible—such a song can still be listened to and enjoyed.
Obviously, the best kind of music we can listen to is that which praises and glorifies God. There are very talented Christian musicians in nearly every musical genre, from rock to rap and reggae. As there is nothing inherently wrong with any particular style of music, it is the lyrics that determines whether a song is "acceptable" for a Christian to listen to. Ultimately, if a style of secular music, whether in the music itself or in the lyrics, leads you to think about or get involved in something that does not glorify God – it should be avoided.
For more on the topic, click here for an older article.