Tuesday, April 10, 2012

On "Christian" Music

I've been writing this post for a while in my head... and then the other day I came across THIS, and I was all YES. that's exactly how I feel.
But let me back up a little bit... You know how I grew up in a christian home, we attended church regularly, we sang the songs, we performed the songs, we listened to christian radio, I attended youth group, youth rallies, screamed for the christian rock stars, and wore the christian t-shirts. I was into it.
And somewhere during and/or shortly after high school, I was all... wait-- there is a whole world of --GASP-- secular music out there I have never explored. And once the dial on my radio flipped to the "not-christian" radio stations, I don't think it ever flipped back.
As you can imagine there was much controversy in my 'christian home' over this decision of mine. My parents would ask if this was a christian song-- or what the song was about. "I don't know, mom. I just like the music." I would say with a giant eye roll, and my mom would tell me that thought process didn't fly with her and the words you put in your head become your truth, so you should carefully consider what you are filling your head with. Even to this day, when my mom gets into the car with me, or hears me singing a song, or talking about a band I like her first question is always-- "Now, is that a christian band?"
And my response is usually something snarky like-- "Well, I haven't recently spoken with the band members about the status of their salvation, so I can't say for sure. But it's not necessarily NOT a christian band." But the question she is really asking is-- are they played exclusively on the christian station? Can I buy their CD at the christian book store? Becuase only those artists are acceptable listening material, apparently.
Which brings me to this concept that I have struggled with since high school-- what is the difference between "christian music" and "not-christian music". Because (as beautifully stated in the post mentioned above) I kinda think that music itself is neither-- that it's neutral. That it can be a tool and a vehicle for our thoughts and worship, but the music itself as no bent either way. That being said-- I always wanted to ask my mom-- can a 'christian' sing 'secular' music and still be a christian? Can a 'secular' artist sing a song to God?
Recently my husband changed all the radio stations in our house to the local christian music station. I was pretty resistant at first. I haven't really listened to christian radio since jr high. I feel like so much of the music played there is cheesy, of poor quality, or really bad theology and people are okay with that because "It's for Jesus"
But I listened in on my husband rocking my baby boy listening to the radio the other day telling him that not all music is good just because it's "christian", and not all other music is bad just because it's not. Yes. Then after a pause he added that likewise not all people who claim to be christian are good people, and definitely not all people who claim not to be are bad people. YES.
That being said, I have kept the radio station where Z set it and have been listening for a couple weeks now. Some songs have grown on me, and I wake up with their truth in my mind, and I like that. Some of the songs really frustrate me, because I disagree with the theology, or I just think they make no sense (hey-- let's throw a bunch or random ambiguous worship-y sounding words together with a good musical hook, and they'll play it over and over again on the radio stations and we'll be millionaires! Okay!) and I turn the radio off when those play. There is one that is theologically pretty offensive to me that I have been ranting about for a couple weeks. The other day, I was spending time with my mom and she happened to be humming that very song-- I stopped her. "WHAT are you singing?" Oh, that song on the radio... "UGH. I hate that song, Mom. The theology is just terrible."
And my mom replied, "Oh, I don't really know what it's about... I just listen to the music."
Whoa. Throwback and a role reversal.
The words you put into your head become your truth, Mom. No matter what the label-- christian, secular, or otherwise, pay attention and think carefully about what you are letting become truth in your heart.


ztoamom said...

Girl, you are singing my neutral song! I have struggled to listen to "Christian" music for years - in part because it is just as you said - holy-sounding phrases randomly attached and repeated. Banal. Insipid or wrong theology. I like reading your thoughts.

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Danielle said...

Hi, Valerie, I am way behind here, just catching up on your blog, and I LOVE this post. I think maybe Velvet Elvis discusses this some, how God made us to love high-quality music, so we shouldn't worry so much about the label. I hate the songs with really harmful, health-and wealth, just sit around waiting to be raptured theology that somehow pass themselves off as good listening...