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in Scripture there are many times when music is played in private (as with David upon his harp) and in public (as during the festivals and celebrations), but the one theme that runs through all of the instances is that they are for the praise and glorification of God, our Father... so I guess to answer your question, you have to ask yourself what is the purpose of the music being played: to praise and glorify God or is it to glorify and lift up man?? is the music designed to take you closer in your walk with God or is it meant to help you feel better about the world??? God does want us to feel better, in fact, Jesus said that he came to give life and that more abundantly, but God wants us to come to Him for this life, not to the local radio station or CD.
Musical notes are amoral. There is no inherent moral value in the sound waves that musical instruments generate. The moral value comes in when lyrics are added. And when lyrics are added, the moral worth of a song is determined solely upon those lyrics. Bach would sign his music with "In Nomine Jesu-", obviously, "In the name of Jesus". Yet, his music contained no lyrics. Was it "Christian" music? At the end of the day, I believe that the morality of music is going to be mildly subjective. That is to say I believe there are clear examples of songs that contain immoral content and extol a lifestyle that does not line up with Biblical values. These songs don't benefit us and I think we would do well to avoid them. And then there are other songs which are not so clear. Then there are other songs that I think truly are morally neutral. I can think of dozens of songs by bands such as DC Talk, Casting Crowns, Third Day, and Mercy Me which don't actually contain references to God specifically. Think of the love songs written by these bands to their spouses. Are those songs "Christian"? I think so, even though they don't mention Christ specifically. Those songs are about love, and faithfulness, and loyalty - those are all admirable attributes. I can listen to "You Raise Me Up" covered by Josh Groban, who is not a Christian, and glorify Christ through it. I think what we're left with is a position that musical instruments are amoral. Song lyrics can either 1. contain a message that is directly against Scripture,: don't listen to 2. be directly based off/copied from Scripture (hymns): good to listen to, or 3. be indirectly based off Scripture (worship songs, think Chris Tomlin):good to listen to (though I would examine the theology behind the songs), 4. be indirectly based off Scripture without pointing to Scripture (Third Day/Casting Crowns love songs)Probably fine to listen to, though may possibly bother some people. I think the style of musical instruments appreciated by people is entirely subjective, based upon their cultural upbringing. There's nothing inherently moral or immoral about a fast or slow beat.
The ability to create music is a gift from God. Therefore, the use should be in praise to and worship of Him. It is not a secret that the music industry is satanically influenced and in its content praises the god of this world. What enters the mind enters the heart and from the heart flows all of the matters of life. This means that what we put into our heart is what comes out, like a program. Music can be a very powerful tool, as it can incite us on an emotional level. It is advantageous to be programmed by the Word of God (and music promoting the Word) than to be programmed by words inciting the fallen nature. Thus the proverb,"I will hide Thy Word in mine heart that I may not sin against Thee."
Being a professional musician and a creative person who desires deeply to have a FULL TIME relationship with GOD, I am forced to say and contend that the bible really says nothing at all about secular music specifically. The concept of "secular" from a biblical point contrast God's way with that as it is contrived by man apart from God and it never ever purports to suggest that there is two ways. The Bible manifests that there is only one way and that is do everything we do to glorify GOD. Music and be expressly created to glorify God and music not written written for that purpose can be adapted to glorify God. Many of David's Psalms which were spiritual songs was set to secular tunes of his day. It is really not about the purpose or reason the music was written or composed but rather the heart and mindset for which it is being used. God created music so there really is no such thing as secular music but only music that does not bring glory to God. Such music however can be adapted and changed to be what God originally created music for, to bring glory to Him. If music is used to deter us away from God or not glorify Him instead of question the kind of music we should question the motives of our hearts which lead to it's creation. Music that is solely created for the glorification of ourselves deters of from the purpose of God which ultimately is to lead of to the "choice" the real reason we are here on the earth in the first place to decide to love God of our own accord and reap His bountiful blessing for all eternity being actualized in what we choose for all eternity.
The church where I worship includes both "traditional" hymns that I have heard all my life and "non traditional" hymns that are new to me. Since I am old, sometimes the "new" music is so loud and overwhelming that I am uncomfortable. I can't hear the words because the music played loudly by drums, amplified guitars and other instruents drowns out the singing. When the words to these hymns are projected, I see that some songs repeate a phrase over and over again. I want to make my point clear; often while singing or listening, some music resonates with my spirit and in the words of one hymn writer, I feel strangly (and wonderfully) warmed. Sometimes, I feel God's love bathe me with floods of Joy, peace and ectasy. A sob wells up in my throat and tears cascade down my cheeks. Other unfamilar Christian music does not "bless" me in the same way. i AM NOT CONDEMNING THIS CONTEMORY MUSIC. It is very possible that it produces the same blessing that I experience when I hear traditional hymns, in my grandchildren when they experience contempory hymns played, sung and amplified to mega decibals. . I read that the the brothers who wrote the hymns that I enjoy most, were criticised by "the church" because they sang them to tunes that were heard in bars. This music was familiar to the sinners that these "unorthadox" brothers were called by God to reach and the words (and prayer and much fasting) convicted them of their sin and led them on their knees to the cross. The result was a history of revivals that shook the world ! Possibly instead of criticizing this "unfamiliar" music, we should pray that God would use it and the words being sung, to reach "lost" young people lead them to repent and be "be born again". I am retired. From 1971 to 2010 I was a mission director In Haiti. Praying for old time conviction and revival, John Hawthorn.
Music and writing and art that glorifies God need not be narrowly defined because God created all of life. When we love, when we live our life, our questions, all can bring God glory because He loves us and our stories. He made our imaginations and wants us to fully use them as we get to know Him and the world He has created. Church and the openly religious parts of our life are just one part of His world and influence on us. We can even express the dark parts of life if we show God's opinion and the hurtful results of sin. Some of the most powerful work by Christians does not back away from showing the true nature of evil.
The bible teaches us that anything we do must be to the glory of God. If for example a medical Doctor uses his professional training to kill unborn babies in the womb, he is committing an offense against God. In the same light, if we use our musical talents to play music that promotes evil in the society, we are offending God. I believe that music such as R&B etc help to promote evil in our society and should not be encouraged by Christians.
Much of the contemporary Gospel music is very good. But the rap and rock music of the world would probably get the same reaction as the day that Moses came down from the mountain with the 10 commandments and found the people partying. He shattered the 10 commandments because he was so upset. God is probably just as upset about the current rock concerts that sing about sex, perversion and violence.
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