"Become a saint, and do so quickly!" – JP2

Music’s Influence

Music is awesome. And powerful. Some music is so amazing and profoundly beautiful that it tugs our hearts deeper into the love of God and impels us to be better than we were before. Some music, though, leads us astray and encourages us down roads of temptation and sin, ultimately leaving us empty, searching, and unhappy with who we’ve become. Music, therefore, can sometimes be powerfully good or sometimes powerfully bad.

I know some people love to make the claim, “the music I listen to doesn’t affect me”, but let’s be honest here, it does. And it has. And it will. In fact, I can distinctly remember a time in my life (during high school) when I received the brand-new double disc 2Pac “Greatest Hits” album. I threw that thing in my CD player dozens and dozens of times over the next 6 months or so, purposefully ignoring the “Parental Advisory: Explicit Content” label and consistently telling myself, “It’s just music. It’s not like I’m out doing drugs, having sex, or joining a gang.” Well, in due time I found myself doing something I really hadn’t done during my life until this point: Swearing. At first I just allowed myself to get by with some of the “smaller” swear words (the D-word, the B-word, etc.). But very soon thereafter I began dropping the “bigger” ones (the S-word, the F-word, even the N-word at times). I don’t completely recall how it happened, but I think it was a friend of mine who finally called me out on my loose lips, saying something like, “What happened? You used to never swear and now you cuss like a sailor!” It didn’t take much introspection to see all the evidence pointing to my listening of 2Pac, who swore with ease on much of the album I had been listening to for the last 6 months. Almost immediately I shelved my 2Pac album and, within weeks, I had a clean mouth again. I was also now much more careful about what kind of music I allowed myself to listen to on a regular basis.

On the flip-side of this experience, I can also distinctly remember receiving and starting to listen to my very first Christian CD. It was a compilation CD called “Simply Fabulous” that one of my FCA (Fellowship of Christian Athletes) group leaders gave to me as a sort of “door prize” for coming to a Sunday night meeting. The caliber of music on this CD was (and still is) nothing to brag about, but there was something about the lyrics that kept me coming back to this album and playing it over and over again. There was a depth to the lyrics that matched a hunger in my soul that I didn’t even really know I had. This CD, after countless listens, slowly strengthened my faith and drew me into a deeper relationship with Christ. It was also a springboard for me to test out the waters of other Christian music which eventually drew me even deeper into a life centered and focused on Jesus. I know it sounds kind of cliché, but this one CD really changed my life, primarily because it altered the direction of my own musical interest (learn more about that HERE).

Now, I would be remiss to say that music today is the same as it was when I was growing up (1990s). I don’t think one has to be too “hip with the times” to recognize how much more garbage-like popular music is today. Combine that with the all too often inappropriate music videos tied to the top 40 songs of the moment and the average Christian is undoubtedly going to be faced with a lot more musical challenges than I faced as a teenager. Indeed, if teens are being faced with more and more inappropriate music on a daily basis the challenge and struggle will naturally spill over to any parents of teens as well. Thankfully others (specifically Jonathan McKee of Jonathan’s Blog) have written much about this very topic. Please do yourself a favor, whether you’re a teen, a parent, a teacher, or whatever, and give a few of the following links a click and a read. Music is truly very powerful, but where is its power carrying us?

  1. You Mean… The Lyrics Really Do Affect Me?
  2. The “Clean” Versions
  3. Let Me Help, Here’s My iPod: How Kids Use and are Influenced by Music
  4. Can I Download Nicki Minaj?
  5. Do Bad Lyrics Really Affect Teenagers?
  6. Connection Between Pop Music and Depression
  7. No Consequences: A Glimpse at the Top 10 (8/1/11)
  8. A Peek at Today’s Music (8/18/12)
  9. The Top of the Charts… Are Clean?
  10. Should Ashley Download Pumped Up Kicks? – (My own 2 cents HERE)
  11. Sexy and I Know It
  12. Losing Love, Finding Lust
  13. Actually Setting Guardrails
  14. Lost Love: Heartbreak at the Top of the Charts
  15. MTV’s Top 10: The Top 10 Musical Artists that Capture Our Kids’ Attention