Can a Christian listen to secular music?

By Jerry Smith

Based on what the Bible says directly about it, the question that comes to my mind is can a Christian listen to secular music in the sense of, am I able to listen to secular music. Not so much whether it is right or wrong from a lawful standpoint. It seems these days that much effort and study is spent searching for legalistic-oriented answers to this oft-asked question in a kind of black and white, checkbox-type Christianity consisting of dos and don'ts. The truth is that in Christ we have liberty (c/w 1 Corinthians 8:9, Galatians 5:13, and 1 Peter 2:16). From these verses we know that we can listen to secular music if we choose to. However, are we able to?

God gave us music for an intended purpose and we see the final end for music in heaven. In the end, in heaven, the songs and music will be directed toward God (e.g. Revelation 5:9, 14:3, and 15:3). What we read by way of John's observations in heaven implies that this is the only music worth being engaged in here on earth as Christian since it is the music we read of at the end of the old and at the beginning of the new.

Colossians 3:16 and Ephesians 5:19 are pretty clear about what music we ought to be communicating between believers — music that directs our thoughts to the Lord. We can also include such passages as Philippians 4:8 and examine whether secular music directs our thoughts to "whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure," and so on. So, the question again, can a Christian listen to secular music if it might distract their hearts or minds from God and direct their thoughts to things of this world? Some Christian music can do this too if it appeals to the flesh. That is a question that each believer would need to answer between him and God because we know that to "his own master he stands or falls" and no one can judge him (Romans 14:4).

A point may be raised that sometimes when we feel down we might want to listen to a certain kind of (secular) music. Saul listened to music in 1 Samuel 19:9 when he felt down, but we are not told what music he listened to. It could have been and was likely God-exalting if David was playing. David often cheered himself up in the Psalms with music focusing on God or by reflecting on His works. Will we turn to the "weak and beggarly elements" of this world (Galatians 4:9) for comfort or to the Lord (Psalm 32:7)?

We should ask ourselves, am I tolerant of secular songs that replace God's love with the love of another? Am I able to listen to secular songs that replace Christian charity with sensual love? Do I enjoy secular songs that replace God's blessings with luck? Can I listen to secular songs that promote an angry, tough, rebellious spirit instead of a patient, meek, humble one? Am I comfortable with secular songs that glorify others rather than Jesus Christ? Am I content with secular songs that proclaim my efforts rather than the work of Jesus Christ? Am I satisfied with secular music that replaces melody and appeals to the soul with rhythm and beat that appeals to the flesh? Am I comforted by the message of the world in secular songs or by the Scriptures and remembrance of God's provision in spiritual songs?

The music we listen to reflects the level of comfort we find in God (2 Corinthians 1:3). Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 7:10 that "the sorrow of this world works death." If we extend that sorrow to secular music, the end is the same. It does not provide a lasting comfort and in perhaps many cases can create more mire and self-pity to wallow in. It may even incite a rebellious spirit. I cannot say how many times that I have listened to certain secular music and have felt the urge to just rebel against all things holy and righteous for example. Another example is sometimes if I hear a song with the beat and rhythm going or even an OST (Original Soundtrack) from one of my children's Disney videos I get kind of a rebellious, self-effort kind of feeling that is contrary to Scripture and not spiritually profitable. I find it too easy to wander away from God in my thoughts and feelings when listening to secular music. For my own spiritual walk I have chosen to avoid it when possible because my flesh loves it. Music is a powerful stimulant for good or for evil. So, for the Christian and secular music, the underlying question is not can I listen to it, but can I listen to secular music while nurturing my relationship with Christ to its fullest? It not for us to judge anyone but to get ourselves thinking about our relationship with the Lord and His Word.

Image Credit: Donations_are_appreciated; untitled; Creative Commons

TagsBiblical-Truth  | Christian-Life  | Sin-Evil

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Published on 5-23-17