Should a Christian listen to secular music?

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.

In closing...
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.

19 comments:

HSK11 said...

hey i agree
as long as the music has the positive set back and it's good to listen to, then we christians can listen to any genre of christian music

jonathan ho said...

this is great article!
thanks for sharing =)

timcooke said...

interesting point of view...I agree for the most part. I like listening to a lot of non-Christian music as well, even if it doesn't give my point of view. If that is the case, I listen to the actual music and do not dwell too much on the lyrics. But it is better if the song agrees with your point of view, it's a better influence for you.

Zepha said...

Bravo, Amen Brother...

Max Miller said...

I've read your 2 posts about secular music. If it's ok with you, may I post them on my blog so others may read it? Thanks.

kenny said...

Sure... appreciate if you could put a link to guitarpraise as well..

Jose Javier said...

I disagree in only one thing. You can't apply a verse of the Bible to justify that to listen secular music is good if the lyrics have a "good message". My philosphy in this topic is so radical, because like the Word of God Says: "What communion has light with darkness?", mi point of view is although the lyrics of the secular songs are good and "inspirational", we can't forget that the interpeters of that songs are people who have no fear of God and who knows what lyfestyle have them.

Alain said...

hi i have read this article and it enlighten me on the confusion that i have on listening to secular music..but i have a question if you could answer it for me?what your stand on Christian metal bands like August Burns Red? i often listen to them coz i the music is pretty cool and though i doesn't seem to be Christian melodically but the message of the song is really Christian.pls give me some light on this.thnx God bless!

rikkiBOi said...

AMEN!!!

Jose Javier said...

August Burns red, Haste the day, Demon Hunter, and more are great bands, I hear them too, they are christian musicians even if their songs do not appear "spiritual" for some people. My point is that christian people must not listen Secular music. It doesn't matter if the music that you like is "heavy" or not Spiritual as long as it is for Christian bands.

Shaun said...

you people are so absorbed by your ridiculous thoughts of righteousness. why don't you just cut yourself off from anything that doesn't give glory to God. that would include everything in existence dumbass.

Sean said...

Hey Kenny, first off, I have to say, great site, great lessons, and great teachings. I think this is a great post. I totally agree on the fact that there is nothing wrong with listening to secular music as long as it doesn't jeopardize one's walk. I mean, after all, Songs of Songs is a book written to celebrate the love between a man and a woman (versus man to God in pretty much the rest of the Bible).

r3ck0rd said...

For Alain:
IMHO, musics are created by humans, some to glorify God, some not. I remember a song by L'Arc~en~cieL, the lyrics are partly Christian, partly, disturbing me. If the song blesses you, so it's OK. People from all genre make music to glorify our God. There is a verse, use your mammon to glorify God. Mammon (money), is knavish. Now you can change the word into music. The genre doesn't matter, is it heavy metal, or is it hip hop. As long God is glorified in the song, it's OK. But if your heart feels it's not right, you don't have to hear it.

lovescarguitar said...

hey to the person who asked the question about August burns red, they are a christian band, as are demon hunter, haste the day, underoath, norma jean, and such... i had the opportunity to speak with the band while they were recording their latest release, and they seem very very into the works of God. Especially the lead vocalist.

heartstrings said...

if the artist dont have relationship with the Lord.. not worthy to listen..

AF1 4 EVA said...

To all of you who say that Christians should NOT listen to secular music, I challenge you to not watch secular movies & tv shows and sporting events either.
Why is it that music is always picked on? No one ever addresses the other segments of the entertainment industry, which I daresay, are abundantly full of non Christian actors, directors, producers, athletes, coaches, etc.
I say (in keeping with your philosophy) that since there is hardly such a thing as Christian sporting events, then don't watch or attend any more sporting events, since those things do not exist for the glory of God.
Since new Christian movies are few and far between, don't watch any more movies whether at home or in the theatre, since they do not give glory to God (whether they're rated G or R). Either be consistent or be silent, for it's things such as these that make Christians look like hypocrites to the rest of the world. If you've made a personal choice to sacrifice these things for your betterment, that's great, but do not tell others they need to do the same unless you're doing it across the board.

jonathan said...

Great post. I just thought of what our music ministry pastor has to say 'bout some of comtemporary musicians.. that since christian music is a multi million industry, some bands would just pose as if they are real christians, but, sad to say is only in the market to earn for a living.

U-jean said...

@AF1 4 EVA you have a good point, i agree with you when you say either be consistent or silent i liked that a lot. I wanna add one thing though, that in Christ and through Christ all things should be seen in His perspective and from there-on-out we can decide and truely seek after the things that are edifying our spirit so that we may continue to LIVE, but not neglecting our flesh as it is our worldly suit and enables us to be here; feed it, keep it clean, etc. dont lavish in the pleasures of the flesh like lust kinda pleasures.

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