Christian rock: Glorifying or the Devil's Handiwork?
Christian rock...oxymoron? Worship? Worse than listening to secular rock because it puts God in something as sinful as rock music???
This may sound familiar or completely foreign to you. Which is it?
I don't know about many of you, but for most of my childhood I went to a church and Christian school and then Christian college where very well-meaning people (that I love) would bash, give lectures on, and teach against any kind of Christian music that had a "rock type" rhythm to it.
My parents didn't necessarily agree, so they would listen to Keith Green and others and didn't mind my love for Point of Grace or Steven Curtis Chapman. In our home, I listened to everything from Oldies to Hymns, to CCM, to Michael Jackson. My mom was a HUGE fan of the Osmonds and so I know most of their music too, as well as a whole bunch of random trivia about the Osmonds! lol
But in our home we did have music standards. Nothing much more than pop was tolerated. Heavy metal was strictly reserved for Dad's pre-Christian life and rap Christian or secular was unacceptable.
We had friends with strict musical standards and friends with no musical standards. It was all a matter of church, family and "conviction."
Well from 6th grade and up, I felt guilty about my Christian-but-not-church-approved music. I was conflicted, believing what I had been taught at church and school, but knowing I was being edified by what I listened to at home. You just can't mesh the two together.
This continued through college and the beginning of my married life. My husband's family has a very eclectic music style, with his mom preferring hymns and country music and his dad preferring more of an "old rock" type thing. (Sorry Dad, I called your music "old" ;) If I remember correctly, they could listen to most any style they wanted as long as the lyrics were clean. Some styles they couldn't listen to in the house but still.... lol
The church here that I married into was the most contemporary I had ever seen-at least in the Baptist realm.
We do a variety of hymns and new songs, Gospel music and "Praise and Worship." While I enjoyed it personally, I was of the opinion that anything too rocky or "pop-y" as I say shouldn't be used in the church building. If you use it for personal worship than that is one thing, but not in the church. Chase would question my reasoning, and I didn't really have an answer for him, that is just what I felt comfortable with.
Then, we started a praise band.
In the church building.
And I was recruited to sing in it.
I complied because I love to sing, and I was supporting the church leadership in their belief it was absolutely fine...but it was not with a clear conscience in my own heart.
Later we added a keyboard to the mix and I played that as well and had a blast. I love to sing and play for our song service. It is one of my favorite ministries.
But I still didn't have a reason for why it was either glorifying or sinful...I was just conflicted.
I thought over some of the things I had been taught:
"Satan (then called Lucifer) was the "musical director" in heaven before he sinned. Wouldn't it make sense that he use music to pull us away from God because he is especially musically gifted?"
"Rock music or music with a beat appeals to the flesh."
"When the children of Egypt were dancing and worshiping the golden calf, to Moses and Joshua, it sounded like the sound of war. It was music and it was sinful."
"The Bible says to sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. That is it."
"The charismatics use Christian rock to hype up the audience and make it an 'experience'."
"When we listen to Christian rock, it sounds the same to the world. We are supposed to be in the world but not of it. A new creation. We should look different than the unsaved man out there."
"Rock and roll is about sex. The very origin of it's name tells you that. Why make a godly version of something that is about lust and sex?"
"There are so many 'Christian' artists that are not Christ like in behavior or reputation. Just look at Amy Grant."
" Look at these secular artists and albums, do you see all the Satanic symbolism???"
"If you do the houseplant test, the houseplant thrives on classical music and dies when it is forced to listen to rock. What is it doing to you?"
Anyway, these are just a fraction of the things we heard repeatedly (although surprisingly not in college. I don't think we were ever told "why not." Just "don't".) But I found it interesting that many fellow students and friends like and listen to Christian rock or even secular rock but they won't attend or work in a church that uses Christian rock. How can we be so double-minded?
Time went on and for the first time ever, I went to a concert. Not just any concert, mind you, but Spirit West Coast. It was more like 20 concerts over a weekend! It was so much fun. We saw Barlow Girl, Stellar Kart, Newsboys, Third Day, Kutless, Aaron Shust and others. My husband saw more concerts, but I hung out at the Pop-y stage! ;) I was really enjoying myself.
I had never been to a concert before. My dad had the idea that even at a Point of Grace concert there would be a lot of blatant, crowd-wide drug use. ;)
I thought it was really neat how these bands and groups really conducted themselves in a Christian manner. They didn't perform like secular artists I had seen. They gave all the glory to God and shared what God was doing in their lives. They shared verses and Barlow Girl told of their stand not to date and not to dress immodestly. All of the songs held biblical truth with a couple fun ones thrown in too. My view was starting to change. And then it happened, the Aaron Shust concert. I had wanted to go to this one even though I had only heard one of his songs before. It was a song that I had heard in a church in Phx the night Joni Eareckson Tada spoke. The song spoke volumes to me because I was just coming out of counseling and finding out the God of the Bible Himself-not what I always thought He was. Anyways, the lyrics were really simple but the meaning was not.
"I am not skilled to understand
What God has willed what God has planned.
I only know at His right hand,
Stands One Who is my Savior.
I take Him at His Word and deed.
Christ died to save me this I read
And in my heart I find a need
Of Him to be my Savior.
That He would leave His place on high
And come for sinful man to die
You count it strange so once did I
Before I knew my Savior.
My Savior loves
My Savior lives
My Savior is always there for me
My God He was
My God He is
My God He is always going to be...."
The song goes on and is good. But this became one of my favorite songs and when I saw the songwriter was doing a concert, I begged Chase to take me down there.
The concert started and he sang some really great songs I had never heard. And then he started the intro to "My Savior My God" and the crowd cheered. That is the song we were all there for. We all sang it together. Outside in Del Mar California, thousands of voices sang it together. And then, the band went silent and we kept singing..."My Savior loves, my Savior lives, my Savior is always there for me, my God He was, my God He is, my God is always going to be..." the most worshipful time in my life was right then. I closed my eyes and felt the closet thing to heaven I had ever known. And I wondered, maybe God can be glorified with "rock" music. Maybe that is acceptable enough to be in heaven. Maybe then it is even acceptable to be played in church.
I have a feeling that the "no rock" ers would criticize my song saying it is self-absorbed. It is all about what God can do for you. And that is true. It is one of my more favorite "self-absorbed" songs out there. But that doesn't make the lyrics false. And more than ever our post modern, emergent culture needs to know that there is a God and Savior, we are to take Him at His Word and deed, and we do need Him. And even if it is self-absorbed, much of Psalms strikes me the same way. It glorified God but there was much of it that was also very worried about the Psalmist, his enemies etc.
Anyway, I started worrying less about what was acceptable in church and considered what is acceptable for me. I decided that for the first time ever, I would do research on the subject for myself. I would study both sides and know once and for all that I was either wrong in my stand that rock music was ok, or that I was right....Over the next while, I will share with you what I found. I will go over the statements above that I had been taught and talk about whether or not I agree with them.
What are your thoughts so far? What were you taught? Do you live by your convictions?
I welcome discussion, but please do it nicely and with love-whichever side of the fence you sit on.