Is it okay for Christians to listen to and enjoy secular music?
I’ve been asked this question by many readers, multiple times.
And my answer is yes.
While deciding whether or not to listen to secular music, there are main factors to consider.
First of all, is the purpose of music solely for worship or did God create it to also be entertaining? King David (the most famous musician in the Bible) used music in his worship to God. (Psalm 6:1, 54, 55, 61:1, and 67:1 are just a few examples) It was also used in 1 Samuel, in the story that I’m sure we’re all familiar with, where Saul called David to play the harp for him, because he was being tormented by evil spirits. The Israelites also used musical instruments during battle and to warn of danger. In the New Testament, we are instructed in Ephesians 5 and Colossians 3 to encourage one another in ‘psalms and hymns and spiritual songs’. So while music is primarily viewed as a form of worship in the Bible, it is most definitely allowed for other uses as well.
Secondly, many secular artists are very talented. They perform well, are great entertainers, make catchy music, write songs that are thoughtful, insightful, and have positive messages. Not all are as ‘of the devil’ as a lot of Christians have said in the past. I will say, though, that much of secular music doesn’t match up to the standards in Philippians 4:8 regarding the purity and integrity of the mind. Many modern songs talk about things that go against God’s Word or are considered abominations in His eyes. Such songs as these, no Christian should listen to and glorify. But there are also secular songs that hold no mention of God and are perfectly pure and enjoyable. Some love songs, for example, even promote the purity of true love but don’t even mention God or the Bible. These, I think, can be listened to and still enjoyed.
Music is such a passion of mine. And I consider my singing ability as a gift from God so what better way to worship Him than by using the talent He gave me? But does that mean that He will be angry with me if I choose to blast secular songs while I'm driving? Or listening to a film's soundtrack that is just instrumental?
I think we need to be more careful before we say that ‘listening to secular music is bad/wrong/sinful!’ Also, to quickly jump to the conclusion that someone who listens to secular music is ‘in sin’ or ‘not a Christian’ is ridiculous and downright stupid. There is nothing in God’s Word that says not to listen to ‘non-Christian’ music; no Biblical basis that declares any specific kind of music to be ungodly. Nowhere does it condemn the use of certain instruments or certain styles of music either. And yes, there’s the given that obviously guitars and drums and pianos weren’t existent in Bible times, but as one of my favorite Christian artists pointed out: ‘Nearly all forms of modern music are variations and/or combinations of the same types of musical instruments, played at different speeds and/or with heightened emphasis’. (By the way, percussion is mentioned in the Bible. Check out Psalm 68:25.)
We are all convicted of things differently. These are just my personal thoughts. I will end with a warning and reminder: what a person listens to will eventually come out of him. It will control his way of thinking, his speech and his actions. It’s the lyrics of a song that are what should determine whether it’s something profitable or not for a Christian to listen to. For some, certain kinds of music is tolerable. While for others, it becomes a stumbling block and an addiction. We must keep Philippians 4:8 and 2 Corinthians 10:5’s words as our standards for the kind of music we should or shouldn’t listen to.
Enjoy music for what God intended it for - to enjoy, entertain, and use for worship.