Being afraid of music

As someone who grew up in the church, I was raised on the belief that, “Spirits ride on the wings of music.” The basis of this logic is that a singer/musician has the potential to either edify or weaken your spirit and that no one is immune to these effects. The logic ends with the axiom that if we are not careful to what we listen to, we leave our spirits vulnerable to attack. (Not to mention that Lucifer was the angel responsible for worship and music)

In practical terms, it would make sense for football players to listen to DMX before a game in much the same way many people have an Isley Brother’s song as part of their “setting the mood” play list.

It was my fear of being seduced by music that prevented me from listening to rap music without feeling like I wanted to wash my ears out with soap. It seemed simple because when a song has lyrics, it is usually easy to discern if this song is edifying your spirit or not. But then things got weird when there are no lyrics.

I grew up on Gospel music but for as long as I can remember; my travels to school in the morning were saturated with jazz music. Most jazz songs are straight instrumental so without the lyrics test, how was I to know if this music was helping or harming me? Overtime, my love for jazz music caused me figure that jazz was neutral, even though I had the inkling that if a jazz musician had a spirit like that of Marilyn Manson, I was in big trouble.

I then thought that Christian music had a better chance of being good but no one is perfect. And isn’t it possible to have a bad spirit but sing Godly lyrics? I was a mess, seriously. So then I thought I am only going to need two things for my listening pleasure, jazz music and…National Public Radio. My logic was simple, jazz music is neutral (in my mind) and at least with NPR, I would be learning and because it is talk radio, I didn’t have to worry about any spiritual question marks.

All of that brings me to a couple days ago. I was reading my Bible in silence and had a deep longing for the Gospel music I was raised on. (I really don’t like contemporary Gospel music for the most part, if there is someone you really like, please share) I pulled up iTunes and downloaded songs from The Winans, Take 6, and Commissioned. Maybe it was just because these artists’ songs remind me of growing up that I trust them, I don’t know. Either way, music matters and I felt my spirit man grow as the music ushered along my attempt to connect with Him through the Word.

Let me open it up to you though, where do you stand in the never-ending saga of what music you should or shouldn’t be listening to based on your spiritual beliefs?

Do you think you are immune from the effects of secular music?

Has music helped or harmed your spiritual walk in any way? Explain.

Looking forward to hearing from you,

 

Stay up fam,

Brandon Q.

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4 responses to “Being afraid of music”

  1. Steven M DeVougas says :

    This has always created a challenge for me because I love music. I would rather have music than TV. I believe that the gifts of God is without repentance, and as such, a good musician is a good musician. If we had to worry about the spirit of every musician or person we dealt with, we would live in silence.

    I think it comes down to the place the music has in your life. Also, you have to place music in the right context. I grew up with gospel and old school. To this day, I love the old school.

    I can live with bad secular music, but bad gospel is almost more of a crime because the subject matter is sacred. However, music can be an impediment to your walk. i often ask myself should I be listening to something that is blatantly “anti-christ” (e.g. glorifying jail, fornication, murder, death, etc. etc.). I know it is not edifying and as they say, “garbage in, garbage out.” Music is so insidious because it bypasses our conscious mind and heads straight to our subconscious (any one who has had a song stuck in their heads can relate). I am still seeking guidance though.

  2. David B. says :

    I don’t think anybody is immune to the effects of any music. It’s, quite possibly, the most resonant art form known to man. Music has, without question, affected my state of mind and spiritual walk. There have been moments in my life when secular music has put me in a mood to do worldly things and allowed less than spiritually desirable thoughts and behaviors to exist relatively unchecked. On the flip-side, there have been moments when Gospel/Christian music has helped to rescue me from a spiritual abyss of my own creation.

    Lyrical content aside, the tone and mood of music are resonant as well. I have recognized a difference in mental disposition depending on whether the tone of music I listen to is melancholy, upbeat, soothing, or whatever. So when listening to instrumental music, one should be careful to not induce a mood that is not desired.

    Steven said it well when he spoke on the place the music has in one’s life. Secular music isn’t necessarily universally deplorable. But, if a strong spiritual life and upright walk before the Lord is desired, then secular music has to be put in a certain perspective.

    I feel a Christian should be able to recognize the instances where Godly living and secular music don’t mesh well, and should develop listening patterns such that one’s thoughts and behaviors won’t be negatively affected. I don’t think there is an exact formula for how this is done, rather the listening decisions have to be specific and individualized to the point where the listener can avoid music that would make them most susceptible negative messages.

  3. Brandon Q. says :

    Steve, I get what you are saying, but in the same way you love gospel and old school, I love gospel and jazz. So using the paradigm of my post, is old school music immune for critique because you love it so much? To me, it seems that some music, i.e. Luther Vandross is kept separate from the type of spiritual rigor we use on say Nas or Kanye West.

    Dave, I feel where you are coming from when you talk about how music has affected your state of mind and spiritual walk. However, I was confused when you wrote, “I feel a Christian should be able to recognize the instances where Godly living and secular music don’t mesh well.” My question to this would be, when do they mesh well?

    Thanks fellas

    Brandon Q.

  4. David B. says :

    I’ll concede that instances where Gospel and secular music mesh well are just about non-existent. From a Christian perspective secular music fits into like 3 categories: deplorable, bad, and less bad. With “less bad” music being the closest to meshing well as it is somewhat supporting a virtue that is similar to something in Christianity.

    For example, no secular love song is going to be able to compete with 1 Corinthians 13 or Ephesians 5:25–it just won’t happen. But, there are secular “love” songs that are in support of a long term emotional commitment and then there are “love” songs in support of one night stands. The song that somehow supports long term emotional commitment, however flawed it may be in relation to Biblical love, is closer to supporting a Godly virtue (hopefully a marriage in this case) then a song that mentions the word love in relation to how a girl moves on a dance floor. That type of situation is the closest one is going to get to meshing well.

    So, how does this relate to my attempted blurb of advice? Well, if someone feels convicted or guilty about listening to a certain song, artist, or genre, then they should stop listening to that song, artist, or genre. If a Christian can’t notice glaring differences between secular music and the scripture, then they should definitely stop listening to secular music. But, if a Christian can listen to a song, recognize the moments where it is Biblically flawed, and keep it in a place where the song has minimal effect then I don’t necessarily see a problem with the music.

    As I write this post I recognize more clearly the slippery slope potential of trying to keep secular music in a certain perspective. It’s based on an assumption that one can minimize the influence of a profoundly influential medium. But I’m thinking that’s the chance one takes unless they cut themselves off from the world altogether.

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