Just like there are so many different denominations in the Christian faith, there are also seemingly many denominations of music. You may have heard or even used the term “secular music” yourself. Rest assured, you are not alone as it is a common term among the brethren, that is, people of the Christian faith.
What sets it apart
Mainstream Christian music may share a secular style of groove and musical swag, but if you listen closely there is a running theme of godly lyrics that typically drive home a gospel message. Sometimes the message is aggressive and sometimes not, but the theme is there.
That is the main thing that sets it apart from so-called secular music. But is it really necessary to boycott secular music; do all those writers out there laboring over lyrics day in and day out to make a living and contribute to the musical tapestry of our culture deserve to be booted off the presets? I’m gonna go out on a limb and say, “No.”
Once upon a time
There was a time when it was common for Christian parents to forbid secular music to be played by their teens. I sometimes wonder if it was just easier to do that, than comb over every lyric to make sure that the kids were not being exposed to ungodly messages. The musical themes in the 70s and 80s, leaned towards drugs and sex and not having much regard for authority or parents. Similar to today’s pop music, although I would say currently there is a more blatant approach to getting the point across in the form of a pop song. Sadly, it is a fact that kids gravitate towards music first and not lyrics, but by the end of the song, both are embedded in the brain. Music is powerful, no doubt.
So why give that so-called secular music a chance? A few things to consider; much of the content is quality, for example, Stevie Wonder wrote a lot of great music, with both excellent music and lyrics. To mention a few, “Loves in Need of Love Today” and “My Cherie Amour” were positive hit songs with beautiful melodies. Nothing gospel about them, but they were harmless in content and the melodies, heavenly. Albeit, you have to do your research and find the artists out there that have excellent gifts and take pride in writing positive material, and yes, I believe there are less today than there may have been previously, but they’re out there. Keith Urban is one of my favorite writers because he keeps it real and is never offensive or loose with his content. Vince Gill similarly, is a very conscientious writer whose songs convey truths of life. These men are not gospel artists, but you would be hard-pressed to find anything overtly out of line.
Something to consider
As believers, it’s important to remember that we were not a gospel song when God rescued us. He listened to the off beat of our sinful hearts, and gently sang a different melody to us until we surrendered our offensive heavy metal to him. Of course I am not suggesting that we make ourselves listen to rude music, or that we go soft on our kids when they are singing along to an unspeakable lyric, and Lord knows there are plenty to choose from. What I am suggesting is that we give the musical world a chance to express themselves where they’re at and gently speak to our kids (and ourselves) about lyrics and content while considering God’s relentless love for the lost, and how he meets us in our sin. It’s the perfect picture of grace when we share in that light, not promoting the sin, but finding Jesus in the middle of the concert and remembering that, apart from the blood of our Savior, we are all offensive. It’s also a great opportunity to pray for an artist who has great talent but is obviously not a follower or believer in Christ. I have done that for years for one of my beloved artists, and just this year he wrote a song that actually has me thinking I may not be the only one praying!
For it is by grace we have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast (Ephesians 2:8).
Do you listen to strictly Christian music or do you mix things up a bit? Tell us what you do by emailing [email protected].
Robin is a singer and published songwriter who currently sings with the praise team at CRPC. Follow her on twitter at @robinmahria or email her at [email protected].