I made a Facebook comment on an article a friend shared. The article is here. My comments were twofold: first of all I said “Christian Rock” is a contradiction in terms. Secondly, I said that my music philosophy “is that worldly music styles are not to be used in worship, and some music styles are not to be enjoyed at all. Unfortunately, most of modern Christendom disagrees with me. I’m in the Ron Hamilton/Frank Garlock camp, if that helps.”
One of my Facebook friends asked me to clarify my position, and I started typing an answer to her comment. It grew. It got so big that I thought, “This isn’t a comment, it’s a blog post.” So here we are. Nicole, here’s your answer:
It’s a complicated topic that Scripture doesn’t address directly because Rock music didn’t exist back then, but the guiding principles for how we should live our lives are there. From my perspective, music is NOT amoral. There is music that is uplifting, inspirational, and good, there is music that points our spirits to God, and there is music that facilitates a downward influence, causing us to act more like the world.
Because of this, I personally believe that you can’t pigeonhole all musicians into “good” or “bad” categories, but each piece of music must be individually judged. However, certain styles of music and musicians are so consistent in their worldliness and ungodly philosophies, that we don’t even need to consider them (I’m looking at you, Death Metal). For instance, there are country songs that I listen to that have good messages, aren’t syncopated, and are uplifting (Examples: “Skin”, “I Lost It”.) Then there are country songs that utilize blasphemous lyrics (using God’s name when they aren’t talking to Him or about Him), or songs that encourage or glorify behavior that is blatantly sinful (Examples: lust in Dierks Bently’s “What Was I Thinking?” and “Alcohol” by Brad Paisley.)
Now that just covers music in general (what you listen to in your car or at home). I was specifically addressing music used in the church worship service. I’m going to preface this by saying that I have friends who disagree with me (they use drums, guitars, etc in their churches). I respect these people and do not question their commitment to Christ, I simply disagree with their musical stand.
For worship, my philosophy is this: All aspects of the worship service should be held to a higher standard than your car or home. You are focusing on worshiping God and not on being entertained. There’s nothing wrong with wearing a modest swimsuit at the pool, but you would never wear it for a church service. This is just an example showing that certain things are appropriate for every day, but not for church. Look at it this way: if you received an invitation to the White House to meet the President, you wouldn’t wear flip-flops and a tube top, would you? You would want to look your best to show your respect for the audience of the President. Church to me is the same way: I believe personally that a Christian showing up on Sunday in cutoff jean shorts and a Budweiser t-shirt is not only inappropriate, but disrespectful to God.
This philosophy translates to my worship music philosophy: certain music is not “wrong” or “bad” for everyday use, but is inappropriate for worshiping God. Here’s a personal example: Back in February I visited a church where I have known the pastor for almost 20 years (he is actually one of my FB friends). I did not care for the music. Even if I didn’t mind “Christian Rock” music, I would not have enjoyed their “song service” because the praise band was singing in such a way as to make it hard to follow, most of the congregation was just mumbling along. Many people were simply standing and watching the musicians. I didn’t feel like I was participating in worship. Rather I felt like I was observing a musical “act”. When I contrast this with the music at my current church, the difference couldn’t be more obvious. We sing songs with lyrics that are rich with doctrine, uplifting melodies and harmonies. We use tempos for each song that match the theme of the song which allows a consistent tempo so that nobody has trouble following along.
Anyway, that’s my position. You are free to disagree with me since, as I said, this isn’t something I’m going to be dogmatic about, it’s simply what I believe to be true. As Paul says in Romans 14:5, “Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind.”
For a more detailed answer, read this guy’s post.