I’m sitting in my office listening to piano renditions of Skillet songs. Yes, that’s right, nice piano music playing versions of loud & rowdy Skillet songs. And I was thinking about this: If I actually had Skillet playing, and someone walked in, they might not be too pleased. Even though it’s a “Christian” band, the music would not be “acceptable” to many. Yet, if someone walks in while I’m listening to these piano versions: 1. Most won’t even know it’s Skillet (because they don’t know who Skillet is!) and 2. They wouldn’t be bothered because it’s just piano music.
So here’s the question: What makes music “Christian”? Is it the lyrics? Is it the “beat”? Is it the person writing it? I also like to listen to a lot of Phil Keaggy, most of which is largely instrumental, jazz, blues stuff. Keaggy is clearly a “Christian” artist, as reflected in his projects with lyrics. But can we also call his instrumental music “Christian”?
Or how about this one. The homeschool orchestra/choir/band program our kids are involved in recently tried something new. The band played as the pep band for an area homeschool football team. In picking music, several “secular” songs were selected, which is pretty typical for pep bands. There was one parent in particular who objected to the band playing an old classic rock song. They weren’t singing it, so it’s not the lyrics. Is it just the association with the lyrics? What if they band said they weren’t playing the old rock song, but were playing the Apologetix version. Without the lyrics, what’s the difference?
So again, what is it that makes the music “good” or “bad”? Most of the parents who would object to the pep band thing wouldn’t have a problem with their kids playing classical music in band or orchestra. But do they know the perverse lifestyles of some of those composers? Do they know the vile content of some of the operas from which that music is taken? How is that any better or worse than the instrumental versions of the classic rock songs?
I know many churches have fought the “worship wars” which largely draws the lines over the style of music: contemporary vs. traditional, choruses vs. hymns, etc. But even there the lines are blurry since many who dislike contemporary choruses also bristle and singing old hymns they may not know. They dislike some of the newer hymns being written even though they are written as hymns, not praise choruses. So maybe it’s not really about style after all.
What makes music Christian? What makes it worthy for the church? What makes it acceptable for Christians to listen to? Now, let me be very clear. Our home will never be filled with the sounds of Lady Gaga or her ilk. But does that make me a hypocrite?
More questions than answers here folks. Just thinking out loud (or on the keyboard as it were). Music is a powerful thing. So many memories of mine are tied up with music. It’s an important part of our family life. But is the music “amoral,” that is to say, does the music itself have a “good” or “bad” attached to it, or is it the lyrics, the person performing it, the person who wrote it, etc.
I welcome any and all feedback on the issue. For now, I’m going to go back to my piano Skillet music. Feel free to enjoy some for yourself.