The other day my teenage son walked up to me and asked, “Dad, should Christians listen to rock music?” This got me thinking and sent me on a truth-finding mission.
What is Rock Music?
It is a kind of popular music that evolved onto the music scene in the late 50s. Its major features were anti-establishment attitudes, drug-related lyrics, and musical experimentation. It was characterised by driving rhythms, a strong bassline, amplified electric guitar, and other instruments.
From its beginning, many Christians disapproved of listening to rock music because of its negative effects on the morals of young people. They watched in horror as once well-behaved youngsters embraced a lifestyle of drinking, rebellion, drug use, materialism, and promiscuity. The music thus gained the fame of “the devil’s music.”
But is rock music inherently evil?
It is an Old Question
Many Christians over the years have wondered whether it was right for them to listen to rock music. The Bible is the Christian’s only rule for faith and practice. Its clear principles can guide one in making the right decision.
Christians should only listen to rock music if it glorifies God, praises moral excellence, does not tempt one to go back to a sinful lifestyle, and there is no check from the Holy Spirit.
Does it Glorify God?
The Bible reveals that God created all things, including music, for His glory. The devil did not create music. He only seeks to pervert it and use it to destroy human beings.
Rock music is just a style of music and nowhere does the Bible condemn it.
There is nothing inherently wrong with it. Its suitability is determined by its lyrics.
In 1 Corinthians 10:31, the Bible says, “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”
It is important to remain true to the standard of doing all for God’s glory when deciding whether to listen to any kind of music.
What is the artist’s motivation?
If the artist is glorifying and promoting an ungodly lifestyle such as promiscuity and drug use, then the music should be avoided.
The artist’s lifestyle should also be considered.
In 1 Corinthians 15:33, the Bible states, “Do not be deceived, bad company corrupts good morals.”
You keep company with the artist, albeit emotionally when you listen to their music. If the artist has an ungodly lifestyle such as homosexuality, drug use, and profanity, their music is tainted by these vices. It should be avoided.
If the music leads you to think of, say or do things that do not glorify God, discard it.
The music that glorifies God contains lyrics that glorify the greatness of God and His splendour. It speaks of the great salvation that can only be found in Jesus Christ. You can listen to and even dance to it.
The Principle of Praising Moral Excellence
Whatever you permit to dwell in your mind eventually determines your speech and conduct.
In Philippians 4:8 the Bible says, “Finally, brothers whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.”
This scripture is an excellent guide that can help us determine which lyrics are suitable for a Christian.
Rock music does not necessarily have to be filled with Bible verses or themes of the Christian faith for it to be acceptable to a Christian.
We think of the virtues enumerated in this scripture when we listen to music that has lyrics which promote them. Lyrics that honour character qualities such as honesty, purity, loyalty, integrity, courage, and fortitude.
On the contrary, if the music glorifies vices such as immorality, violence, pessimism, envy, racism, and dishonesty it should be shunned. If it mocks and belittles positive character traits such as purity and integrity, it should not be listened to.
The Meat Principle
What is right for you may not necessarily be right for your brother or sister in Christ.
In 1 Corinthians 8:13 the Bible says, “Therefore, if what I eat causes my brother or sister to fall into sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause them to fall.”
This scripture spells out what I call the meat principle. I should not listen to rock music even if its lyrics are wholesome if it causes a brother or sister in Christ to be tempted to go back to their old sinful ways.
Some people were steeped into ungodly rock music before they became Christians. They should completely avoid listening to the same song even if it has good lyrics, lest they be tempted to lapse.
Conviction of The Holy Spirit
The Bible discloses that only those led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. To determine the appropriateness of rock music, listening to the guidance and conviction of the indwelling Holy Spirit is critical.
The Last Word
A true Christian is someone who has decided to forsake his or her sinful lifestyle and follow Jesus Christ in a life of purity that glorifies God. He or she seeks to honour God in all things including the choice of music they listen to.
What we listen to affects our spiritual health. Listening to music about sexual immorality and racial violence affects our spiritual health differently than songs that promote integrity, honesty, sexual purity and care for one another.
When we follow the relevant Biblical principles, we arrive at the correct decision on the question of which music to accept.
The promise of the Lord Jesus Christ in John 16:33 is still valid. “But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come.”
We can always claim this promise in prayer to God and be sure to receive guidance into all truth regarding rock music.