Soulful Ballads

Secular Music

As he does in all his letters when he speaks in them of these matters. There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures. 2 Peter 3: 16

To All Christians,

Secular music is the issue focused on in this letter. It is dedicated to every believer whose found him or herself struggling with whether listening to secular music or singing it is acceptable in God’s sight. Further the letter intentionally seeks to redirect any Christian who has turned another believer away, because he or she finds pleasure in listening to clean secular music. STOP!

The time has come to be definitive, while divinely correct. Before I begin let’s consider the fact that “God is not the Author of confusion.” That said, “unless you know that you know beyond a shadow of doubt that listening to, or recording secular music is a sin, or dead wrong, stop telling people who obviously think you really know Scripture.

One major reason that Christians should stop pushing falsehoods about the fate of those who listen to secular music is that the allegations are  bible-based unsupported. Knowing God’s Word for yourself is the first step to becoming false prophesy proof. Knowledge of Scripture is crucial in your walk with Christ. To assume that every man or woman standing behind a pulpit was sent by the Father is ludicrous.

Many have called themselves in hopes of deceiving those least educated in Scripture. I’m always amazed, as well as disheartened when I hear somebody use the Bible to support personal opinions . Even worse are those who go along with unsupported false prophesy that could be easily squashed by searching the Scriptures.

Having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people. 2 Peter 3:5

For many years I’ve witnessed Christians push fake propaganda about secular music and how it’s sinful to listen to it. Now, some of these same folk sit in silence, while bearing witness to a multitude of other sins going on around them in church as well as in their personal lives.

To understand the dilemma one must search Scripture that speaks to the permissible use of music in our lives. Anybody who hasn’t done that has no business telling anybody that listening to secular music is a sin.

But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. 2 Peter 2:1

In my opinion, the best article on the subject of secular music and God was written by an unknown author for “Got Questions.org” Got Questions.org is one of, if not the best real-deal Bible-based website. Articles published on this site are not only well written, they also reference Scripture to support writings. Additionally, you can get Scripture supported insight on pretty much any type of situation that people encounter in modern-day life.

Got Questions.org wrote, “The Bible nowhere condemns any particular style of music. The Bible nowhere declares any particular musical instrument to be ungodly. The Bible mentions numerous kinds of string instruments and wind instruments. While the Bible does not specifically mention drums, it does mention other percussion instruments (Psalm 68:25Ezra 3:10). Nearly all of the forms of modern music are variations and/or combinations of the same types of musical instruments, played at different speeds or with heightened emphasis. There is no biblical basis to declare any particular style of music to be ungodly or outside of God’s will.”

Furthermore, since neither the content, purpose of music nor the style of music determines whether a Christian should listen to secular music, perhaps the content of the lyrics should be the decider. 

Got Questions.org recommends using Philippians 4:8 as a guide for musical lyrics: “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.” If we should be thinking about such things, surely those are the things we should invite into our minds through music and lyrics. Can the lyrics in a secular song be true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy? If so, then there is nothing wrong with a Christian listening to a secular song of that nature.

Should a Christian listen to secular music?

Question: “Should a Christian listen to secular music?”

Answer: Many Christians struggle with this question. Many secular musicians are immensely talented. Secular music can be very entertaining. There are many secular songs that have catchy melodies, thoughtful insights, and positive messages. In determining whether or not to listen to secular music, there are three primary factors to consider: 1) the purpose of music, 2) the style of music, and 3) the content of the lyrics.

1) The purpose of music. Is music designed solely for worship, or did God also intend music to be soothing and/or entertaining? The most famous musician in the Bible, King David, primarily used music for the purpose of worshipping God (see Psalm 4:16:154:155:161:167:176:1). However, when King Saul was tormented by evil spirits, he would call on David to play the harp in order to soothe him (1 Samuel 16:14-23). The Israelites also used musical instruments to warn of danger (Nehemiah 4:20) and to surprise their enemies (Judges 7:16-22). In the New Testament, the apostle Paul instructs Christians to encourage one another with music: “Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs” (Ephesians 5:19). So, while the primary purpose of music does seem to be worship, the Bible definitely allows for other uses of music.

2) Music style? Sadly, the issue of music styles can be very divisive among Christians. There are Christians who adamantly demand that no musical instruments be used. There are Christians who only desire to sing the “old faithful” hymns. There are Christians who want more upbeat and contemporary music. There are Christians who claim to worship best in a “rock concert” type of environment. Instead of recognizing these differences as personal preferences and cultural distinctions, some Christians declare their preferred style of music to be the only “biblical” one and declare all other forms of music to be unwholesome, ungodly, or even satanic.

The Bible nowhere condemns any particular style of music. The Bible nowhere declares any particular musical instrument to be ungodly. The Bible mentions numerous kinds of string instruments and wind instruments. While the Bible does not specifically mention drums, it does mention other percussion instruments (Psalm 68:25Ezra 3:10). Nearly all of the forms of modern music are variations and/or combinations of the same types of musical instruments, played at different speeds or with heightened emphasis. There is no biblical basis to declare any particular style of music to be ungodly or outside of God’s will.

3) The content of the lyrics. Since neither the purpose of music nor the style of music determines whether a Christian should listen to secular music, the content of the lyrics must be considered. While not specifically speaking of music, Philippians 4:8 is an excellent guide for musical lyrics: “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.” If we should be thinking about such things, surely those are the things we should invite into our minds through music and lyrics. Can the lyrics in a secular song be true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy? If so, then there is nothing wrong with a Christian listening to a secular song of that nature.

However, much of secular music does not meet the standard of Philippians 4:8. Secular music often promotes immorality and violence while belittling purity and integrity. If a song glorifies what opposes God, a Christian should not listen to it. However, there are many secular songs with no mention of God that still uphold godly values such as honesty, purity, and integrity. If a love song promotes the sanctity of marriage and/or the purity of true love—even if it does not mention God or the Bible—it can still be listened to and enjoyed.

Whatever a person allows to occupy his mind will sooner or later determine his speech and his actions. This is the premise behind Philippians 4:8 and Colossians 3:25: establishing wholesome thought patterns. Second Corinthians 10:5 says we should “take captive every thought and make it obedient to Christ.” These Scriptures give a clear picture of the kind of music we should not listen to.

Obviously, the best kind of music is that which praises and glorifies God. Talented Christian musicians work in nearly every musical genre, ranging from classical to rock, rap, and reggae. There is nothing inherently wrong with any particular style of music. It is the lyrics that determine whether a song is “acceptable” for a Christian to listen to. If anything leads you to think about or get involved in something that does not glorify God, it should be avoided.

What's on your heart?