We don’t need more Christian Music
As I write this, the world is buzzing with frantic anticipation for the arrival of music’s biggest night.
Somewhere, right now, Lady Gaga is being lowered into some kind of pre-civil war, steam punk inspired Transformers costume. Nicki Minaj is sifting through a Skittles bag, searching for the perfect wig color.
That’s right, the Grammy Awards are upon us. Millions of viewers will tune in to see which of their favorite artists will be awarded for their recent musical endeavors. They are looking forward to live performances from some of the world’s most talented individuals.
I am one of those viewers. For a long time I had no interest in the Grammy’s or popular music. It seemed like any pretty face with a gym membership and functioning vocal cords could get a record deal. Lately, there seems to be a resurgence underway, people shifting back to an appreciation for musicianship and strong lyricism.
Great bands like Mumford & Sons have gone from playing small festivals to packing out stadiums. This doesn’t make the hipsters happy, the ones who knew them before they were big, but I love it. I love music.
Having grown up in a religious context, I am well aware of the dividing line that splits many Christians between what we call “Christian” and “Secular” music. I have never done too well with this line, but I understand it. Much of the music that exists, regardless of genre, is pathetic. Degradation of women. Celebration of crime. Promotion of infidelity and promiscuity.
My parents didn’t want me singing along in celebration of these things, and I respect that. The solution? Listen to “Christian” music. It’s wholesome.
But while “Christian” music is void of sex and drugs and stickin’ it to the man, for me, much of it is void of originality, art, and honesty. There are exceptions, which I will cover later, but I have felt this way since childhood.
Why do I have to listen exclusively to “Christian” music to be a Christian?
Have you ever seen the “Atheist Rock” category in iTunes? Of course not. Why do Christians need to mark the distinction? We don’t do this elsewhere.
I’ve never been to a restaurant with a fellow believer who asked,
“Hey, do you know if the chef here loves Jesus? I’m not eating steak prepared by a Scientologist.”
Or how about sports, the ultimate sacred cow.
“I only cheer for southern teams because they’re closer to the Bible belt. Go Bama!”
I know the rebuttal. Music is different. If you look at the works of people like Bob Dylan, it is clear that music can influence an entire generation. Therefore, people should be careful what they expose themselves to. I agree. For instance, I love Hip Hop, always have, but unfortunately I have to avoid most of it due to explicit content.
But, with recent exception, the last two decades of the “Christian” alternative have been laughable.
You should try Jee-sus, not smoke weed and cuss. Homie.
Come on. There is more to good Hip Hop than rhyming slang and heavy bass lines. There is art to be found in metaphor and juxtaposition, in articulating the bleeding cry of the culture. It resonates.
In my opinion, we don’t need more “Christian” music. We need more Christians in music.
Christians who, with great skill and dedication, capture the essence of hope and life artistically. We don’t need Top 40 copy cats. The market is already flooded with them.
Fortunately, things are changing, and many believers are a part.
These artists don’t fit in a “Christian” music box. Their work is some of the best in the industry. Period.
Music, like food and sports, is amoral. It’s neither Christian nor Secular. Therefore, content should be the dividing line.
I believe beauty and truth belong to God, whether in the mouth of a believer or a skeptic, spoken or sung. This explains why an artist who has never cracked the cover of a Bible can so effectively capture the pain of Lamentations and herald the beauty of the Psalms.
What do you think? Join the discussion in the comments section below.
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