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Modern Music and the Christian
What's a Believer to do?

By Eric Barger

For the Christian today's entertainment world, in particular, modern music offers many real dilemmas. Over the past 35 years the face of modern music has changed drastically. In fact, I often remark that nearly the only constant remaining is that musicians still play instruments and stand on stages. The lyrics, lifestyle and images of modern rock and pop music have without doubt gotten progressively darker. Still the question just won't go away. What's a believer to do?

Even mature Christians are feeling the strain to bend to a culture gone mad morally. There is constant pressure for us (and our kids) to "let down our hair, have a little fun and go with the flow." The world system, our natural fallen flesh and the demonic "fiery darts" continue to bombard us from all sides yet we are directed by God's Word to "stand firm." Yet in a practical sense to make this stand we must answer some questions. What is acceptable for us? Can some music or movies actually cause us harm? What are we to do if our homes are under the influence or attack of "worldly" entertainment?

How do we maintain a righteous and Biblical standard for what we see and hear and yet not close ourselves off from a lost and dying world thus isolating them from the only hope they've got - Jesus?

What perimeters do we employ to avoid being either too liberal or too legalistic with our families and ourselves in regards to today's entertainment? Considering the tremendous peer-pressure which they are subjected to, how can we keep in touch with our children and teens, communicating God's truth and our concerns, yet allowing them (and the Holy Spirit) room to operate? Before we can answer these and other pertinent questions we must have an understanding of just what we are dealing with. In this first of two parts we'll look into a few of the problems which the modern music scene offers to

Bible believers.

"See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ." Colossians 2:8 (NIV)

The ever-changing world of modern music continues to be a stronghold of controversy. In recent months headlines of shocking vulgarity, occult involvement and even songs allegedly inducing suicide have commanded the attention of the press. Keep in mind that today's musicians are the role models to our youth. Gone are the days of Captain Kangaroo and Roy Rogers. The musicians of today may indeed be shaping our youth as no other force ever reckoned with. In fact, one study of the lives of 1800 Canadian youth 13-18 years old found that rock music was second in importance only to friends (From Rock To Rock, p.3) Tragically, the poll found that parents were sixth and God was sixteenth.

Our kids may attempt to tell us that they never hear the lyrics of the songs and are uninfluenced by the lifestyles presented. However, this is simply a ruse from the enemy. We can ill afford to allow our youth's flesh or immaturity to dictate what is accepted or allowed in our homes. Philosophically, much of what is being presented by today's rock heroes falls dramatically short of what is acceptable before God. Remember that listening is a choice. No one has a gun to our heads forcing us to participate.

If we are have a proper perspective in understanding today's music and how Christians must respond to it we must examine the lifestyles and the lyrics which are being presented. If you've lost touch with this influential force in our children lives here are just a few examples to update you on what is happening in music today.

A few years ago we watched as a record store owner was convicted of breaking the Florida obscenity code for selling the album As "Nasty as They Want To Be" by the rap group 2 Live Crew to an 11 year old girl. The lyrics contained in this 3 + million selling album (even some of the song titles) are unpublishable here.

Not to be topped by 2 Live Crew, pop seductress Madonna released the video "Justify My Love" in November 1990 only to have rock video cable vendors MTV and VH-1 refuse to air it. The video portrays two women (Madonna herself one of them) and a man engaging in voyeurism, group sex, cross-dressing, bisexuality, and S&M. Madonna tried justifying the video's portrayal in USA Today by stating that she was merely presenting "fantasies (which) exist in all human beings." She stated, "this issue is not taboo in the movies. I want people to deal with it; I want people to see it." (USA Today November 29, 1990, p.1D) Her core audience are 12-18 year-olds.

Rock giants Poison continually boasted of bringing a computer listing of their numerous groupie with them on tour. Each name is cross-referenced as to name, city, color of hair and the type of sexual activities which they do best! (Rolling Stone, Dec. 15, 1988)

Grammy winner M.C. Hammer claimed to be a Christian on the liner notes of his hit album yet sings:

"Soft and wet, that's how we like 'em. Yo, baby tell me what's your name. I don't mean no disrespect
but tell me girl are you soft and wet? . . . Soft and sexy, you got it that way. Wet is what happens when
we both start to play. Good, she is. I should know. I like the feeling when my nature starts to grow. I
feel the thrill of a spin at the wheel. I hit the lottery when she says, "I will." I love it when you're just
soft and wet. Get wet baby."

(Note: In fairness to Hammer, he has made a terrific turn around as of 2001.)

In the early '90's British metal monsters Judas Priest were acquitted of charges that one of their earlier albums included messages which induced two Nevada youths to commit suicide through subliminal suggestion. Judas Priest is free to perform but the two young men, one of which testified against Priest (via tape) before his death, are not. Noted for their sadomasochistic attire and lyrics of violence and hate their defense lawyer called them "God fearing, family oriented musicians."

Please understand that we must maintain a balance, not going off on a "demon hunt." Certainly not every song on the radio says "worship the devil" or "shoot your mother." Not every video incorporates images of drug use or suicide. Satan is much more crafty than that. If every modern song held such values very few people would ever watch or listen and certainly rock music would never have grown to it's place as the single most powerful form of entertainment in history. At the same token should the mildest video being currently aired have been played over network television in 1955 it would shocked even the non-Christians (who had not been desensitized by the last 35 years of moral decline) right out of their socks!

As dark as it may seem there is hope. If your children or grandchildren are being adversely affected by rock music or other ungodly entertainment I encourage you not to give up. Stay strong in your commitment to lovingly pray them through. If God can save and deliver me from where I once was as a flesh-dictated drug abuser there is hope for any situation.

(c) copyright 1992, Eric Barger

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