The average teen hears 10,500 hours of music between grades 7 and 12. That equals more than 14 months nonstop.
-Taken from Focus on the Family’s Boom: a Guy’s Guide to Growing Up
Music is such a powerful medium now. The kids don’t even know who the president is, but they know what’s on MTV. I think if anyone like Hitler or Mussolini were alive now, they would have to be rock stars.
-shock rocker Marilyn Manson
Those are amazing observations, especially to someone like me. See, I love listening to music. While I am not a musician, I am one of those people who seem to have headphones surgically attached to my ears. Most days I listen to hour’s worth of music as I’m going to and from class, driving, or hanging out at home. Guitar greats such as Jimmy Page, Joe Satrianni and Rudolph Shenker give me an uncontrollable urge to air guitar-even in public! I listen to almost everything (except country music-some music is just evil, after all): rock, punk, emo, screamo, techno, rap, hip-hop, classic rock, folk, instrumental.
While I do not believe that listening to music is wrong in itself, God has shown me recently that it can be easy to let it become something it shouldn’t be. More specifically, He’s revealed to me how much I use music as an escape and a way to vent. For instance, when I get really ticked off, one of my immediate reactions is to get in my car and drive somewhere, cranking some heavy, super angry tunes a hair below the “if this doesn’t make your eardrums bleed nothing will” level. Upon further reflection, I’ve discovered that listening to this angry music when I’m hacked off makes me feel that someone shares my frustration; it allows me to escape and vent without confronting the real reason why I’m upset. Also, this practice reinforces my already angry attitude, tempting me to wallow in misery rather than ask Jesus to “lift me out of the pit” (Psalm 40). For this reason, I really believe that it is important to monitor and be selective about what we listen to. I don’t think that any particular style of music is bad; I don’t personally believe that hard rock music is straight from hell or anything like that. I would even go as far to suggest that darkness has its place in Christian music (many of David’s psalms express anger, anguish, and hopelessness, though he turns to God at the end of most). But again, I think it is immensely important that we watch what we listen to. This is coming from a guy who has listened almost exclusively to secular hard rock radio stations since he was 14 and for years has used the excuse that “it’s just a song; the lyrics don’t really matter.” Lest you think I’m a prude who just doesn’t understand how much angry music rocks, you should know that Rage Against The Machine has long been one of my favorite bands. If you’re one of their millions of fans, you know that there is simply no substitute for Tom Morello’s guitar style and Zach de la Rocha’s incendiary vocals. You also know that they are one of the most hateful, profane, violent, and anti-establishment bands in the history of music, period. When you are very angry and need a song that expresses those feelings, there is simply no substitute for cranking RATM’s “killing in the name of” or “how I could just kill a man” up to level 10.
Yet, no matter how much I feel that this is helping me vent, is it really the right thing to do? As a Christian, should I be filling my head with musical pollution such as this? Regardless of your personal beliefs, it’s a fact: What we believe determines how we behave. It has always been and will always be this way. Does that mean that if I listen to a song advocating the use of violence to solve problems, I’m guaranteed to go out and copy the actions of the lyricist? Of course not, any more than someone who plays a violent video game is guaranteed to go out and commit mass murder. But even if I don’t do these things, I’m subconsciously lowering my standards and allowing my attitude to be influenced negatively.
Colossians 3:7-8 states, “You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips.” Another pertinent verse, Romans 12:2, admonishes us, “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is-his good, pleasing, and perfect will.” Think about that verse, especially that last part. I might be going out on a limb here, but I think it says that because then we will be able to test and approve what God’s will is. ;-)- As we allow ourselves to be continually transformed, stretched, and molded by our Father, we become more in tune with His will as he removes those things in our lives that hinder us from hearing from Him.
Like I said, for years I have ignored this red flag in my life. God is at a point right now where he is seriously challenging me to give up my sinful ways, to put to death my sin nature and rely solely on Him (isn’t He always doing that?) God calls us as his followers to be sanctified, set apart for Him and His work. I would challenge you to examine areas in your life where you turn to something other than God for help. Ask Him to help reveal those areas, and as He does, examine the deeper motives and possible emotions behind those places. What’s the underlying reason for that action? Ask God, as David did, with complete trust: “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” -Psalm 139:23-24.
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