One question I get often is about what kinds of music I listen to. I guess, I’m asked this because most people assume that it has to be straight gospel with “Jesus” and “God” in the lyrics before I can listen to it. On the other hand, people ask me what kind of music they should be listening to as Christians and honestly, I think that’s a personal question. It’s a matter of conviction as well as personal preference and choice.
However, in a bid to offer some sort of response, I would say first off it is key to understand that we are a product of what we see and feel as much as what we hear and listen to. These all play a part in determining how our lives are shaped. That’s why the Bible says, “Above all else, guard your affections. For they influence everything else in your life.” (Proverbs 4 vs 23 NLT)
A couple of weeks ago, Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp A Butterfly was released and I’ve always been a fan of his so I went on Spotify to get a feel for the album and I must say it’s pretty awesome. But that’s beside the point.
I’ll be honest it took me a while to get back here; here being: feeling like I can listen to music that isn’t “Christian”.
When I began to take my relationship with God seriously, I gradually cut out/took a break from what people tend to dub as “secular” music but that was because that was a personal journey I was on and I considered music like that to be a distraction and a wasted use of space in my head. I was still at a stage in my faith walk that was tinged with spiritual immaturity when I couldn’t trust myself enough to hold on to a holy mindset.
This was because I had my past as a reference point whereby: certain songs were capable of arousing unresolved situations which could often leave me feeling overwhelmed or angry. while some other songs could make me shut out my better judgement and cause me to take drastic actions that could end in shame and embarrassment for me, especially because I used to be ruled by my feelings and emotions. Now, I have no feelings – I joke!
As a result of understanding myself better, in recent times I have become super anal about what goes through my ears and this isn’t just limited to music but also extends to certain conversations I might engage in because I know my moods, actions and mindsets can be unduly influenced by what I lend my ears to. I found music to be, perhaps, the most influential because with a catchy beat and repetitive lyrics, chances are I’ll be mindlessly repeating the words to myself long after the song is done playing and it’ll be sowing seeds within me subconsciously.
But eventually I got to a place where I felt God was teaching and helping me understand that He created all types of music as well as the people who make music come alive with their lyrics but as long as I’m discerning, there’s nothing wrong with non-Christian music especially if it’s positive and uplifting like Am I Wrong by Nico and Vinz. I also often wondered whether I had to cut certain artistes out completely even though some of their songs were reasonably appropriate and I was enlightened to understand that if I say I won’t listen to Michael Jackson or R. Kelly simply because of their child molestation accusations, THAT IS JUDGING and it’s not my place to do so. Plus I’d miss out on beautiful songs like Heal The World and Happy People.
At the end of the day, it really just boils down to being discerning. Everyone knows their weaknesses and it’s up to you to adopt practical measures in order to stop those weaknesses from taking you to a place you’d rather not go. I mean, if you know listening to certain songs by certain artistes make you wanna “turn up” in a certain manner** which you may have already resolved within you to do away with, then perhaps you should cool off it. And this can also be applied to other things that count as temptation or triggers for us, not just music.
*Everyone has their own issue they are struggling with. So this “manner” would differ for everybody.
Lastly, considering that music does have the ability to penetrate our thoughts and influence our actions, if you seriously feel like you need some guidance on how to filter what passes through your ears, I suggest you focus on songs with lyrics that point to …whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise… (Philippians 4 : 8 ESV).
But what do you think: should it be a personal decision or should there be some structure of wrong or right?
’cause it’s The Steph Way