Recently I heard a short discussion from a few parents about what kind of music they allowed in their homes. It was short because anyone who spoke up agreed: only Christian music allowed in their homes and cars. That’s absolutely their decision and I don’t think it’s a bad one. The two women leading the discussion both have young children and I commend them for taking a stand to protect their kids from, hopefully, the majority of questionable music out there. If I had young kids I would be inclined to make that kind of decision but probably not to the same extent.
In the past, I’ve really loved Christian music: Skillet, Thousand Foot Krutch, Jeremy Camp, News Boys, etc. While I still enjoy some of this music, I find a lot of it, well, boring.
Not to say I find the act of praising God boring. I find the music boring and it lacks a challenge for me.
I enjoy hymns from time to time because I feel like a lot of them seek to challenge the listener/singer. But Christian music these days feels all the same. Same sound, same words, same analogies, same metaphors (I mean, really, we all know God’s love is an ocean, a fire, etc. I don’t need to hear it eighty times in 2 minutes). It’s just so boring to me because I hear the same things over and over. (There’s something good to be said for repetition but I’m not going to say it here.)
When I look beyond our very tight Christian circles I find a rich and diverse land of music that I can really dig into. The band Twenty One Pilots is my favorite right now. They have such an eclectic taste in their songs that I’ve only found a few that I actually dislike. This is the beginning of their song Trees:
I know where you stand
Silent in the trees
And that’s where I am
Silent in the trees.
Why won’t you speak
Where I happen to be?
Silent in the trees
I can feel your breath.
I can feel my death.
I want to know you.
I want to see.
I want to say hello.
THIS speaks to me about God in more ways than reminding me 62 times in 34 seconds that He’s loving. THIS is the struggle of wanting so badly to hear from God yet hearing nothing. Sometimes we aren’t really listening, sometimes He’s already given us the correct path to follow. But sometimes it’s incredibly lonely to feel like you’re doing everything you can to hear Him and yet come up empty. I know where God stands and I’m trying to be there, silent, listening, terrified that I’m going to do everything wrong, yearning so badly for a word yet feeling only a breath.
I read that the singer for Twenty One Pilots was raised Christian. Whether or not he is one, I don’t know. I believe that all art can hold godly meaning regardless of where it comes from. You know what? I don’t know if anyone in “Christian bands” are Christians either. Isn’t that a funny thing? I don’t know if they’re studying scripture to write their songs. I don’t know if they’re in a good place spiritually. I don’t know if they believe in anything they’re telling me. Some songs end up on Christian radio that aren’t by Christian artists at all and no one bats an eye.
The label “Christian” doesn’t guarantee where it came from, just that it’s supposed to be uplifting and non-offensive. A lot of the music I choose to listen to is uplifting and non-offensive, it’s just lacking that Christian label. I listen to it because I feel like it challenges me to really think about things (I also like the style/sound of the music). I find a much deeper discussion of the human condition in secular songs than I do in Christian songs. I find God in songs by some very depraved people and there is both a beauty and horrible brokenness to that. It reminds me of God’s love in a very real and personal way. I have something that fills the emptiness so many artists (and everyday people) feel and hearing them sing about that reminds me I need to share God’s love.
Circling back to that discussion about what music is allowed. I think it’s good to limit music for kids. They often lack the discernment to find messages being sent and they lack the biblical foundation to really analyze those messages. It’s not a bad thing to shelter them so they can have a good knowledge of the Bible before going into the world. At some point though, I don’t see why they can’t be allowed to branch out. I was in high school when I started listening to secular music and then college solidified my love of some bands. I don’t make uninformed choices about what I listen to, I have lines I draw, I don’t listen to garbage and justify that it’s actually poetry because there IS music out there that I believe Christians have no business listening to.
Music can be a touchy subject for a lot of Christians and I wanted my voice to be added. There is a great deal more to say about this and if I feel that I should continue to share then I will. These are just my thoughts for now. I’m not justifying a playlist full of lewd, blasphemous, songs that glorify sex, drugs, and what-have-you. I’m simply open to some great music that doesn’t carry a Christian label. God is very present in a lot of songs. You just have to take a moment to look for Him.