Music really is the universal language. It affects our lives both for good and for evil. Music can effect changes in attitudes and lives.
Music is also cultural, and will either follow a culture, or create its' own.
Nowhere can this be seen more clearly then in our youth. A good, fair, and balanced approach to contemporary music is needed. As adults the way we approach music can and will affect the response we get from our audience. The youth of today are generally more sensitive to injustice. And, when their music is the subject of conversation, can be quite defensive. Our attitude toward the 'youth culture' can win souls for the kingdom, or lose them forever.
A case in point might be Ozzie Osbourne, and Black Sabbath. There might be a possibility that a bit of the blame for Ozzie and Black Sabbath going off the 'deep end' rests on intolerant church people.
Back in the early 70's, when Christian Rock was almost unheard of, almost all Christian Leaders were condemning anything with a beat as satanic. Black Sabbath, of which Ozzie was a member, put out two albums which seemed to be 'samplers', they seemed to be dabbling with music that could be used in satan worship. However, when the third album came out titled, 'Masters of Reality', one song stood out above the rest. It was 'After Forever'.
In this song the question was asked, have you ever thought about your soul, can it be saved. Have you ever thought about God, or is He just a thought in a book you read at school, is he for real? The song closes with the statement that the writer had seen the light, changed his ways, and would be ready at the end of his days.
Then when Black Sabbath vol. 4 arrived there was a total about face in lyrical content. One song actually told the Jesus People to get out of their face. The group and Ozzie got steadily worse.
It's only supposition, but, it's possible that one or more members of the group did in fact see the light. But, were told that all Rock was of the devil, and that they would have to play only hymns.
Who knows? One thing I do know though, is that when you reject a persons music you reject the person. Music is very personal, and tastes vary greatly from person to person, and from day to day. (I have heard that the Black Sabbath drummer is now with TBN)
Similar situations as what may have happened to Black Sabbath happen every day to youth that are seeking answers. Everybody says that the youth need to be taught. But, I'd say it's the parents that need the schooling. It's adult intolerance, it's adult bias and prejudice that is costing the souls of our youth.
Music is cultural. Some music is written by rebels. Some listeners are rebels, too. But, all music that we personally don't like is not automatically rebellious. And, anyone wishing to address todays youth had better be evenhanded in any presentation concerning music. Culture must be taken into account.
There is just as much Adultery, Drug, and Alcohol abuse and what-have-you in Country and Western as in Rock. Lawrence Welk music isn't called champagne music for nothing. And, horror of horrors, many favorite hymns were old bar room songs at one time. They just got 'saved', and re-lyricised, only for a greater purpose.
As adults we don't have a leg to stand on when we attack a particular style. It's not style. It's inspiration!
There are three possible sources of inspiration for any given piece of music. Gods' Spirit, mans' spirit, and satans'. And, an awful lot of Gospel Favorites were penned solely under mans' spirit.
We lose our audience when we attack style versus content. What is the artist saying? How is it being said? What is the goal of the song, where is it going? Does it promote things contrary to God's will? Does it promote spiritual anarchy?
Can our youth answer these questions? No. Not very many can. So, it is very important, (no, imperative!), that we teach our youth about real life. Drugs, Sex, Alcohol. At home, At church. God's values must be presented in an even handed, fair, open, and honest manner. Our kids can sort fiction from truth, only if they are given truth with which to test fiction against.
If we hesitate to tell the whole truth open and honestly, they will reject the partial truth we do tell them. They can spot a phony a mile away, or in their own home.
The Word of God says that we are to train up a child in the way 'they' should go, then when they are old they won't depart from that training. It also says that we are not to exasperate our kids. Which we do when we attack music, and clothing that is a bit different than what we had when we were growing up.
We can not isolate our kids, or ourselves. They are going to be exposed to the world. They must be made ready. They must be taught. If our moderation, fairness, and objectivity is apparent, then even though they appear not to be listening, they will be. Tolerance of 'their music' and 'their clothes' (provided they are covered), and 'their hair styles' is very important. It is culture.... their culture.
Consider this. When we go to the mission field do we go condemning, or do we go sharing? When we win a cannibal to Jesus do we insist that he toss out all of his culture? Or just the things that are clearly contrary to God's Word? If we can tolerate differences on the mission field, why can't we tolerate our own youth? Our own youth are the most important mission field we will ever have!
Music, as was stated earlier, is the universal language. If you like the style, you will 'absorb' the lyrical content. Music that is enjoyed will open the minds' gate. Music is the transport medium for the message. Be it Good, bad, or indifferent.
This concerns me. That youth are responding to adult lack of understanding by going further into rebellion, and listening to progressively more rebellious music. They will listen to anything just to get a 'rise' out of the adults!
I am not concerned about subliminal messages, or backmasking. I think that they are a ploy to generate fear in both adults and youth alike. A person who is operating in fear is not operating in love! Quite honestly, in all my technical reading I have not come across one documented instance where backmasking was proven to have been received by the subconscious mind. I would be interested in seeing any documentation supporting subliminal messages, or backmasking.
However, I do believe that there are spiritual forces at work in the music industry. These forces are at war for our children. And, pieces of music that are satanically inspired may have spiritual hitchhikers attached to them. Without the constraints of time or space to restrict him it is possible that satan could send spirits along with each purchase of music he has inspired.
For this reason I do not discount reports of unusually thick black smoke, shrieks, and apparitions at record burns. But, not all records have the potential for such a high level of influence.
Let's face it satan is a defeated foe. His power, though great, is limited. He is not all powerful, he can not be everywhere at once, though it may seem that way.
But, with a 'bed' of enjoyable music and a mind not firmly planted in God's Word he can influence people. And, after continuous long term exposure wear down ones resistance to doing evil. The absurd can become the norm if Jesus is not the center of ones' life.
We have the tendency to lump all Rock Music, both Christian and Secular into one package. We ought not to do this. And, we do it for some rather petty and obscure reasons.
There are probably many 'flavors' when it comes to music. And, much of man's music is 'grey' when it comes to spiritual quality. Unfortunately, both Christian and secular music styles have an enormous ammount of 'grey' content.
So, why don't we stop 'nitpicking' and let Spirit Led musicians go forth into battle rescuing the youth of today. Just like a cannibal isn't going to change his loin cloth for a three piece suit, we shouldn't expect our youth to do the equivalent either.
The Apostle Paul did say he became like all men that some might be saved. He copied their culture, even though he was not, and did not actually become a part of that culture.
Yes, there are problems in the contemporary Christian Music scene. Many of the bands are quite young in the Lord. Many are targeting a certain audience. Some might not even be born again...yet. But, this has been the scene in the Southern Gospel scene for years. And, gladly tolerated by the 'Rock Bashers', I might add.
Just because some spiritual truths we hold especially dear are not perfectly communicated, that does not mean they won't be later. Anyway, when did you become perfect? And, how long did it take you to get where you are now? True, you aren't as visible as the 'Rock Stars', but every man is to be an evangelist for Jesus. I haven't seen any major Christian Rock stars cause as much bad press as the few highly visible TV Evangelists have.
So, who has the right to point the finger? Only, Jesus! If our correction isn't a Word from the Lord, perhaps, though scriptural, it's best left unsaid.
Another interesting note is that most of the evangelists who have gone into 'Rock Bashing' have found themselves laid low. So beware that what you do is really of God.
So you can't understand the words. Not to fear, most Christian Artists are now putting lyric sheets in their albums. If you're not in tune you aren't expected to understand it anyway.
Yes, some of the lyrics can be taken two ways. And, some are just plain mediocre. Well I'm sure your life is just perfectly perfect, and never misunderstood being so right on and, true for Jesus.
C.S. Lewis has been writing for years, allegorically, or with words that can be taken more then one way. Even Jesus used parables. And, those most spiritual of all men, 'the disciples' had trouble understanding them. Relax you are in good company!
Lets stop dividing the Body of Christ and start winning souls or the kingdom! The life of a church is in it's youth, the guiding force is in the adults. We must never forget the command to 'forget not to communicate!!!!'