Profanity and Influence in Modern Music: Christian View on Secular Songs

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Perhaps you have had this conversation with a close friend. Maybe you have run across this Secular vs. Sacred argument on online forums or social media. Regardless of background or context, many people have been confused by this topic and are perplexed by the lack of clear, undeniable facts. In my research, I have discovered that as there are very few actual facts to answer the question, the journey to a conclusion has been long and difficult. The sides are less clear-cut than would be expected. One side would yell a resounding “No! We should shun any and all worldly influences! All secular music is of the devil!” The other side would answer “Oh, always. Secular music is sooo much better than all those repetitive worship songs.” And yet I suspect that the vast majority of Christians would sit silently in the middle, not quite sure of the answer to this controversial and confusing question. Our influences are a crucial part of how we behave in our walks with Christ. If we cannot decide what influences are kosher for us, we will be handicapped when advising others in their media choices, and ultimately confused when others question our beliefs and decisions regarding what media we allow to influence our lives.

Most Christians support the idea that much secular music is of worldly influences, and that Christians should be very cautious when listening to secular artists, yet we still listen to, and much of the time, endorse secular music. A radical group on the anti-secular side would endorse the idea that all secular music is, indeed, of the devil; whatever does not proceed from faith is sin; we should avoid sinful content at any and all costs. I suspect that much of the church would disagree with much of those blunt theories, and yet many parts of them ring true to biblical standards. The Bible does say, “Whatever is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, of excellence, and worthy of praise, think on these things,” (Phillippians 4:8 ESV, paraphrase), and “Whatever does not proceed from faith is sin,” (Romans 14:23 ESV). Then there is the question of profanity. The idea of profanity is against the beliefs of one proclaiming the Christian faith. The fact that much secular music contains some level of profanity motivates them to abhor secular music in general. Also, the fact that there is no Biblical basis for profanity fuels the argument. Profanity tramples on their values. The writers at both churchleaders.com and biblereasons.com point out that any and all music that you listen to will influence you, either negatively or positively. So, in answer to the question posed above, Christians defending this viewpoint would generally say that, no, Christians should avoid secular music and sinful content, and only listen to and expose ourselves to that which glorifies God the Father and Jesus Christ his son.

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On the other side, we have some in the church who would say that both contemporary and classic Christian music become boring quite easily; that secular music is very entertaining to listen to; that as long as we are not directly influenced by it, all secular music is O.K. for Christians to enjoy. Catiana Kheiyn at 412teens.org points out that God intended for us to enjoy our own creativity and that secular music is mankind’s creativity expressed. It is argued that everyone else listens to secular music, that it is quite enjoyable, and if you want clean secular music, there is plenty of it out there to entertain yourself with. Daric Ferrell at overcomingchurch.org summarizes it like this, ”Can Christians listen to secular music and still live a respectable Christian life? I would say ‘Yes.’” Some point out that any secular artist can extol righteous values without extolling Christ himself. Among works cited to support this statement is a passage in the book of Acts, chapter 17, verses 22-28, which describe Paul’s use of secular material to draw Gentiles to Christ. This side would support the idea that Bible doesn’t outright tell us to completely disengage from the world, and a few would even argue that even listening to music with explicit or inappropriate lyrics isn’t sinful. In review, those Christian on this side would generally say that, yes, it is fine for Christians to listen to secular music, so long as their attitudes and behavior are not influenced by the potentially sinful content.

So where does that leave us? It leaves us with two very differing views, neither of which is completely endorsed by the Bible, neither of which are held by a majority of believers in the church. What can we do about this dilemma in the church? I think that the first place we should look for advice on this subject is the Bible. The Bible says many different things about worldly influences, but much of the advice presented in the Bible is subject to personal interpretation and application. I (and others: beliefnet.com) believe that the long and short of it is, that there is no one-size-fits-all answer to the question. Different people are influenced by different things in various ways. One person may be influenced by the style of a song, others by the lyrics. It is up to us personally to decide what is “kosher” for us to listen to, and whether or not it affects our faith. We need to seek God in this matter, no matter the circumstances, as he is the founder and perfecter of our faith, and as he knows what is best for us. It is up to us to apply his direction to our daily life, which includes our music choices. I would like to leave you with this thought-provoking quote from Landon Schott over at charismanews.com: “The battle between Spirit and Flesh is won by the one you feed the most.”

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Profanity and Influence in Modern Music: Christian View on Secular Songs. (2023, February 01). Edubirdie. Retrieved July 15, 2024, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/profanity-and-influence-in-modern-music-christian-view-on-secular-songs/
“Profanity and Influence in Modern Music: Christian View on Secular Songs.” Edubirdie, 01 Feb. 2023, edubirdie.com/examples/profanity-and-influence-in-modern-music-christian-view-on-secular-songs/
Profanity and Influence in Modern Music: Christian View on Secular Songs. [online]. Available at: <https://edubirdie.com/examples/profanity-and-influence-in-modern-music-christian-view-on-secular-songs/> [Accessed 15 Jul. 2024].
Profanity and Influence in Modern Music: Christian View on Secular Songs [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2023 Feb 01 [cited 2024 Jul 15]. Available from: https://edubirdie.com/examples/profanity-and-influence-in-modern-music-christian-view-on-secular-songs/
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