Have you ever had one of those moments when you witness something that really shouldn’t be? I call those “cringe moments.” Once as I was scrolling through my home feed on Facebook, I saw a video of a children’s mass choir. It looked line one of those wholesome, cutesy kids vi I wanna watch this!” To my horror, after I pushed the play button I discovered the kids were singing a cover of Sam Cook’s one night stand anthem, “Stay With Me.” That was a cringe moment.
Several of my Christian friends recommended that I watch Orange Is the New Black, a “dramedy” centered on the lives of female convicts. I tried getting through the premiere episode, which opened with a shower scene featuring two females kissing and bathing together. Extreme cringe moment.
Fellow Christians before you accuse me of being too uptight about entertainment, ask yourselves this: “What partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light and darkness?” (2 Cor 6:14) Why are so many Christians exposing themselves to pop culture ―music, movies, and other forms of mass media― that promote sinful behaviors and attitudes? Is God glorified when we sing Beyoncé’s latest hit? When we buy a copy of Cosmopolitan Magazine? When we play “God of War 3?”
Scripture demands that Christians do not associate themselves with ungodliness. Our obsession with pop culture in its various forms contributes to the development of sinful behavior and strongholds in our lives. Christians should filter the media and entertainment they expose themselves to in order to limit the influence the world has over them.
One Classic Example of Pop Poison
Most secular music is used as an outlet to promote worldly and socio-political agendas, to distract people from the truth, and to influence them to give in to their sinful desires. Every song carries a message that is meant to inspire and/or move the listener into action. Take Macklemore’s “Same Love” for example. This rap song not only sling shot the LBGT agenda, it bashed Christians for upholding the biblical view of sexuality.
“The right wing conservatives think it’s a decision
And you can be cured with some treatment and religion
Man-made rewiring of a predisposition
Playing God, aw nah here we go
America the brave still fears what we don’t know
And “God loves all his children” is somehow forgotten
But we paraphrase a book written thirty-five-hundred years ago I don’t know”
– Macklemore & Ryan Lewis “Same Love”
While I applaud Macklemore’s effort to speak out against those who harass homosexuals, I certainly don’t think his stereotyping of Christians is a step forward in his noble quest for acceptance and equality for all. (Nevermind that he didn’t use one verse of scripture–and couldn’t– to support his view.) Taking it one step further, Macklemore performed “Same Love” at the 2014 Grammy’s while 33 heterosexual and same-sex couples were wed live on stage.
We cannot deny the power music has in promoting propaganda and influencing our perspectives on hot-button issues. If you- and consequently your children- are listening to music that promotes worldliness, promiscuity, habitual drug use and violence on a consistent basis, do you think you will escape its influence on your thought-life? If you allow your children to indulge in these melodic messages, don’t be surprised when they start living out the values -or lack thereof- the music artists are promoting.
When we sing songs, we rehearse their lyrics in our minds. If our minds are filled up with the world’s thoughts instead of Christ’s thoughts, who is our real master? The world. If we stopped listening to ungodly music, and instead set our hearts on worshipping Christ and reading more of His word, we would be a lot better off.
Before I was born-again, I was a diehard Katy Perry fan. After I became saved, I felt convicted listening to her albums. Could I really sing, “I Kissed a Girl” with a clean conscious? No way! The whole song inspired homoerotic thoughts.
Worldly Songs Can Jack Us Up Spiritually
In Matthew 15 some Pharisees debate with Jesus about whether eating food without washing your hands would make you spiritually unclean. Jesus explains that it is not what goes in a person’s mouth, rather what comes out that defiles someone. (Matt 15:11) He continues in verse 18-19: “[W]hat comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander.” When we sing filthy songs like Katy Perry’s “Last Friday Night” or Beyoncé’s “Partition,” we make ourselves vulnerable to the world’s influence on our values. Our words, even the words we sing, speak something about our hearts.
Some Christians argue that it’s fine to listen to any music, regardless of the content. I agree on the grounds that the songs do not contradict the values of the Bible. It will not suffice to say that you listen to 5 Seconds of Summer’s “She Looks So Perfect” strictly for “the beat,” which is the excuse I have often heard. Can a born-again believer sing “You look so perfect standing there in my American Apparel underwear,” and “Holy is the Lamb” with the same tongue? James maintains that “[T]hese things ought not to be so. Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh water and salt water?” (Jas 3:10-11) We cannot proclaim allegiance to the Kingdom, singing praises of worldliness at the same time.
Pop Culture & Your Christian Witness
Others argue that we become out-of-touch with people when we separate ourselves from modern culture. Some think that they will not be able to relate to others when evangelizing, or feel that they will be rejected as “uncool” for not knowing popular songs. This is contrary to the thinking of the early church. The first Christians were severely stereotyped as anti-social and hated for their lack of participation in Roman customs. Romans often called believers unpatriotic for their failure to view the Gladiator contests and to worship Roman gods. Just because “everybody’s doing it” (listening to secular pop music), it doesn’t mean Christians have to do it.
People don’t become interested in Jesus, just because you listen to the same music, drive the same car, wear the same brands, and so on. The world doesn’t need any more worldly people. Abraham Hamilton, frequent co-host of Urban Family Talk’s “Airing the Addisons” radio show, asserts: