by Tom Allen
For a Scriptural basis for our consideration of standards for Christian listening, let us look first at Romans 12:2.
The writer here is telling us we are not to be conformed to the world — not to be “pressed into the mold” of the world — but to be transformed — “radically transformed” by the renewing of our mind. The purpose is that we might prove — or discover — what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
Paul is saying we cannot discover God’s will for our life without having a renewed mind. We need to have our mind clear enough to know the will of God for our life. Many young people today are very indefinite about God’s will for their life. We lack that renewed mind that is sensitive to what God Almighty is thinking.
As it relates to standards for listening, Romans 12:2 clearly Indicates that music that does not help us on in the process of renewing our minds so that we can know God’s will — making my mind more like Christ — should have no part of a Christian’s life.
The next verse for consideration in Hebrews 4:12: “For the Word of God Is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”
Here we are told that Scripture separates three things: soul and spirit, joints and marrow, thoughts and intents. We will consider only the separating of soul and spirit. We cannot discern between soulish things and spiritual things unless we are a student of God’s Word. Parents need to set down standards for young people, because young people cannot discern. They have not had the time parents have had in God’s Word to learn to discern between what is soulish — that is, what will appeal to the flesh, — and what will appeal to the spirit, that which makes us feel closer to God.
Ephesians 5:19 says we are to sing “psalms and hymns and spiritual songs.” Many older folk today are saying, “I don’t care for that music.” This should not be put off so lightly by young people who say, “Oh, this is just not your era. This is our music; you had yours.” When the majority of older Christians are saying, “I question this new music; I question that tempo; I question some of these men who are singing” — it is time for young people to say, “Why do you question it? Help me.” Those who have exposed themselves to God’s Word are the ones who can discern between what is soulish and what is spiritual.
The standard for Christian music set here, then, is —that any music that appeals to the soul — the carnal nature — rather than to the spirit, should have no part of a Christian’s life.
Our next Scripture is Isaiah 26:3: “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on Thee: because he trusteth in Thee.”
The standard set forth here Is that any music that does not permit me to keep my mind on the person and lordship of Jesus Christ should have no place In the Christian life.
Philippians 4:7,8 says: “The peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”
Any music that does not incorporate these eight things —any lyrics that are not true, honest, just, pure, lovely, of good report [among young and old], virtuous and praiseworthy — should have no part in a Christian’s life. After we have listened to music, we should be able to say, “Praise the Lord, for that music.”
The next Scripture for setting up standards for Christian listening is Matthew 22:37,38: “Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment.”
Any music that does not permit us to love God with all our mind should have no part of a Christian’s life. We are to love God with every mental capacity of our mind, and any music that hinders this is not good for Christian listening.
Finally, turn to Ephesians 6:11 and following: “Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles [tricky ways] of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.”
Christians have been tricked — not by flesh and blood things that we can touch and feel and say, “That’s wrong; I see that clearly,” but subconsciously. Our minds have been played on by the powers of evil that are out to tear down our Christian experience and rip us away from the heart of God. Paul says here, “Watch out, because it is going on in the sly. You are not seeing it all. It’s mysterious. It is one of those things you cannot touch. Be careful. Beware!”
Any music that does not help me in the battle against Satan and in the battle against spiritual wickedness in high places should have no part in my life as a Christian.
Evaluating Rock ‘N’ Roll
In evaluating the place that rock ‘n’ roll music should have in a Christian’s life, let us consider first the lyrics. What are the words saying?
There are five major themes In the world’s rock ‘n’ roll music — sex, drugs, rebellion, false religion [usually Eastern religion] and devils.
There has been a subliminal attack on the mind of many of us through rock music. It has been a secretive move of the devil. I myself was caught in this when God spoke to me; I was a junior in college. I had never been permitted to listen to this kind of music in our home. I got “hooked” on rock ‘n’ roll in a good Christian college, where it was all throughout the dorm.
One day when I was listening to one of my rock records, the Lord spoke to me and said, “Tom, look at the words in the music you are listening to.” I thought it wouldn’t hurt to look at the words. But it did hurt!
My first defense was, “But Lord, I’m not looking at the words; I like the music.”
It is true that in a lot of rock music you cannot discern the words consciously — but that is the trick! That is where we have been fooled! We are learning them subconsciously. Today I can quote several songs because, although at the time I listened, the lyrics were mysterious and foggy, yet after the subconscious had a long enough time to discern and sort them out, the conscious mind knew what I was listening to.
I went to the psychologist on campus and asked him about this subconscious business. I asked if the words were really getting hold of my mind, if I was really listening to words that I couldn’t hear outwardly and yet they were coming into my mind inwardly. The psychologist said, “Undoubtedly, yes!”
Parents, do you have any idea what the lyrics are that your young people are listening to? Have you cared enough about your young person whose mind is so flexible in these early years — to go in and find what the words are that are being pumped into young brains? Or do you instead just say, “Turn that down!” or “Close the door!”
Christian, we dare not be Ignorant when it comes to the lyrics! We repeat: there are five major themes In the world’s rock ‘n’ roll music — sex, drugs, rebellion, false religion [usually Eastern religion] and devils.
Life Style of the Authors, Composers and Singers
It is important to examine the life style of the composers, authors and singers of rock music. How do they handle their life on the stage and off the stage? They are pouring their life into their music. Any musician will tell you that you have to put part of yourself into the music.
Here is a challenging question: If a writer of music with lyrics attached to it is not a born-again believer, what does he have to offer a serious-minded, born-again believer, whose goal In life Is to be more like Christ?
Listen to these reports of some of the leading rock ‘n’ roll stars. One who has raked in millions of dollars from our teenagers admits to being bisexual. Another confesses to too much drinking. One acclaimed the most successful female singer in all record history says her big fantasy is to “seduce a priest.”
On Elvis Presley’s first TV performance, the station only shot him from the waist up to save themselves from embarrassment. One rock singer says of his own performances — “Think of us as erotic politicians. I’m interested in anything about revolt, disorder, chaos, and especially activity that has no meaning.” Another says, “It is all sex.” Another would associate rock music with revolution and overthrowing the establishment. “Get them while they’re young and bend their minds,” asserts another.
A disc jockey who traveled with a rock group said they were high on dope every time he entered their room. He confessed to having trouble with his conscience playing even some of their so-called “good” songs.
What do these people have to offer a born-again Christian? They are of their father, the devil. We Christians are of our Father, God. They are going to hell. We are going to heaven. They mind things of this earth. We mind things of heaven. How can they offer us anything? Even groups that do not seem so evil, no matter how appealing their music may be — if they do not know Jesus, is their music worthy of my money or of my giving my mind to it?
The very term rock ‘n’ roll was coined by a disc jockey, who borrowed it from the ghetto, where he found it to be a descriptive sex expression. Singers know of its appeal to the sexual drive of the body. Yet, Christians are often ignorant of this. One singer said he knew this music got through to the young people because, “The big beat matches the rhythms of the human body and they will carry this beat with them the rest of their lives.”
Another claims the throbbing beat of the rock ‘n’ roll “provides a vital sexual release for its adolescent audience.” One said of the effect of his music on the audience, “What I do is very much the same as a girl’s striptease dance.” “Rock music is sex and you have to hit teenagers in the face with it,” says another.
Pulsation and syncopation are the two basic rock rhythms. A slow song can be made rock by slowed pulsation or by excessive use of triplets. Even though the tempo may be slow, the pianos, organs, guitars and drums provide the steady beat which characterizes rock music. In syncopation, the accent is on the second and fourth beats in four-four time, compared to marches and classical music in which the accent is placed on the first and third beats.
This pulsation — this steady beat — and this syncopation relate to the great rhythms of the human body. They make you want to get up and dance. They make you want to do things you normally wouldn’t do.
Time Magazine, December, 1975, reports that in a school for unwed mothers in Florida, 964 girls out of one thousand admitted that they committed their acts of fornication while listening to rock music.
The Loudness of Rock
A music therapist, Adam Knieste of San Rafael, California, calls rock music a dangerous drug — “more deadly than heroin.” He has studied the effect of rock music for ten years.
He has treated narcotics by playing soothing music for them, and says, “If certain music can bring emotional stability, then it is possible that other music can create mental havoc among those whose minds are not disturbed.”
He ministered an emotional stability test to 250 high schoolers while they listened to rock music. The results suggested all were sick, he said. He also gave a driving stimulation test to youngsters while they listened to the top 40. Thirty-one percent did worse on the same test than they had done earlier.
The rock band rated loudest measured 120 decibels. An interesting comparison is that the Concord plane, whose landing at JFK Airport was objected to because of noise — only gets to about 130 decibels. The average rock festival fluctuates between 115 to 125 decibels, and doctors warn people after they are hearing more than 90.
Three friends of mine went to a worldly rock concert, and they couldn’t hear for three days. I went to a “Jesus Rock Festival” and couldn’t hear for three hours.
What About Jesus Rock?
There will never be the “wedding” of Jesus and rock. The two will never be combined. Why? The world itself recognizes that the very beat — the pulsation and the syncopation of rock ‘n’ roll appeals to the sexual nature of the human body, and you cannot use a beat that is designed purposely to appeal to the sexual nature of the human body — to lift up the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. It cannot be done! Even men of the world — evil men — know what the beat is designed to do. Yet, there are Christians who try to gather in this whole realm and make money off it.
I do not believe anyone will ever use Jesus Christ and rock music together and help people that will change their lives forever. It is true that Jesus rock is quite popular in the world and worldlings are listening to it. But that is a basic reason why you can never mix the two. The world loves it because the world loves its own. They love their music even if the name of Jesus is added.
Jesus said, “If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you” [John 15:19].
How Do I Judge Christian Music
First of all, if there aren’t words, does the music have that pulsated, syncopated beat that leaves me — after the song — still going through the song? That is the music I have to watch out for.
If there are lyrics, can I hear them? Are they clearly discernible? Is there “meat” to them? Do they bring me closer to God, to listen to them?
So much of Jesus rock has no substance. The words are often little phrases that are accepted as far as Christians go — but they mean nothing.
Next, what about the life style of the author? We have to deal with this in Christian music also. There are some artists in Christian music today who charge big fees. What does Jesus Christ have to do with them?
Third, how about the loudness? Am I being carried away by the tune of the music instead of by the message of the tune? If so, it is a good indication I should get rid of it.
Parents, Set Standards!
Mothers and Dads, some of you ought to be embarrassed by the exposure of these things, if you are ones who have not been concerned enough about the music your young person is listening to — to take time to sit down with him and help him see the value of what he is listening to. You need to be repentant before God and before your young person. This is the first step before dealing with the music they are listening to. You need to start by asking forgiveness for not sitting down with your young person and saying, “Here is why we’re going to set the standard in our home.”
Then set your standard. There will be no secular music that has lyrics to it played in this home. There will be no secular music without lyrics to it that has this syncopated, pulsated beat. And you’re going to have to help your young person find out what that is and to discern it for them.
You as parents are the ones who are going to have to set the standards. You’re going to have to be strict and straight from here on out. You have only a few years to influence the mind of your young person by the standards in your home. Then they will be setting their own. You must direct them in the way that would be pleasing to God.
Young people, if you have albums that have worldly music in the form of lyrics, there is only one place for them — in the trash pile. Don’t give them to someone else. Don’t sell them. It will only pollute their brains. Get rid of them. Destroy them utterly.
I’ve known as many as 3000 albums to be destroyed by one man. He was a man who owned a store and was selling them out of that store. This man was a talented writer of music. He had contracts to write for two secular companies, but after learning these truths, he walked into their office and said, “I’m going to write for Jesus Christ from now on.” He destroyed the 3000 albums in his store. This was a great loss to him financially, but a great gain spiritually.
It is time for us to make the gray — black and white. It is time to move out of the fog and haze and take our stand. Make your choice! If God be God, serve Him. If Baal be your god, serve him. It is going to be Jesus Christ or rock ‘n’ roll. You cannot have both and please God in your Christian life.
Young Person, Make Your Choice!
The thing I am asking young people to do is the same thing I had to do. I didn’t have many records, but the ones I had were broken up. I went through what you would call a “cold turkey” experience — because that music was just like a drug in my life. I was the kind of fellow that when I got in a car, I turned the radio on every time, and many young people are like that. You are as hooked as I was.
“I can stop any time I want to,” you say. I challenge you to stop right now. You are going to see what has happened to you in the last few years of your life.
Praise God for those days of struggle — of literally shaking at times because I didn’t have that music. But eventually God set me free, in a way that has thrilled me and has defied the devil.
Young person, you may say, “Let me grow out of this. I’m going to have my fun while I’m young.” But the effects of the music you are listening to are going to stay with you, and as the one man said, “You’re going to carry that beat with you the rest of your life.”
There are certain songs that come back to me out of the blue — and I find myself thinking them. Why? Because we reap what we sow (Galatians 6:7). I sowed to the flesh for two years of listening to that music at school. Now I’m reaping corruption to an extent. Oh yes, God has done a new work for me. He has done some real things in my mind, praise His Name! But I paid for the two years I played in this area.
Parents, pray hard. Pray against the devil. He is working hard to convince young people otherwise. Satan is attacking. He would love to get many duped in this area.
Families need to pray together and deal with this issue of music. Parents need to confess, “It has been our fault, too. Oh, God, forgive us!”
Young people, ask God to set you free. Then stay out of cars where people are going to play this. Get away from homes where it is being played. Keep yourselves separate as much as possible. I know there are situations where you have to be where this is being played, but in many cases, you have the choice and you can get up arid get out. This is a serious thing. Many young people are oppressed by Satan about this thing. Satan is throwing darts at them.
It is time to say “NO!” to the world, the flesh and the devil — and to say a big “YES!” to God. For some, a surrender on this issue — will mean the total surrender of your life that God wants.
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