“I want to know You, I want to hear Your voice, I want to know you more.”
I have always loved music. I remember around the time I was in my late teens I started to discover this whole world of Christian music that was beyond the Newsboys, DC Talk, Michael W Smith, etc. For years I would hide my affinity for secular music from my parents, because I just wasn’t allowed to have it. I did everything from have my friends keep cassettes and CDs at their houses to hide them in school textbooks, so I wasn’t quite as sheltered as my parents thought I was. By the time I was 16-17, driving my own truck I was often listening to whatever I wanted outside the purview of my parents. To be completely honest, I was horrible at following the command in Ephesians 6:1, “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.”
I wasn’t always a disobedient kid, but there were a lot of things I just didn’t feel like they were being fair or wanted me to be happy sometimes. There’s likely many more like me, who had trouble following parental guidance. Actually, I could name off quite a number of friends from when I was younger who fell away from their walk with God (and I pray they’ll return someday), because of this root of disobedience. God’s word isn’t for no reason, there is a very real and justified reason that we are called to obey our parents in the Lord, as much of the guidance our parents instill in us as kids is meant to not only protect us as physical humans, but also for the sake of our emotions, and even further and more importantly – our souls.
I remember when I discovered a lot of this music as a late teenager it was funny because my parents didn’t recognize the music as Christian, as it sounded very much like the secular music that speaks of a world we are called to be in, but not of in terms of the sound but the words were very different. Now, my musical taste ranged from hip hop to growling, screaming metal and everything in between so you can imagine the difficulty I had making sure my parents knew the lyrics. This was well before music was widely available on the internet along with lyrics.
As I’m called back to God, walking in faith again, growing my love and passion for Christ daily, I’m constantly seeking ways to stay in His presence. Music is one of those things for me. I listen to it while working, in my truck, and at home. As I came back to Christ I realized that my parents were never wrong in guarding my heart with Christian music. I do think there was a wrong approach though.
As a kid, I don’t recall ever having a real conversation of the damage that a lot of secular music brings. I was always just told I couldn’t listen to it, have it, and sent on my way. In my young years I just looked at my friends around me and were like, “They aren’t drug addicts, killers, or doing anything bad – just a bunch of kids listening to and playing music.” Then the years went by. I worked my way with difficulty through my teenage years trying to fit in, trying to be cool. I saw my friends start to use drugs and alcohol. When I was able to, I snuck out and did the same. I partied, and I partied hard. By the time I was 20 in 2001, I had been partying for several years without my parents realizing it because I was very good at hiding it. I was drinking, smoking weed, had experimented with other drugs. I remember being 19 years old, drunk driving, and somehow miraculously even drove through a DUI checkpoint without being caught. I felt invincible. Did listening to secular music alone get me to that point? No, but it was an early step in the direction of disobedience, and especially dismissing “small” sins as not a big deal because I was able to put on the appearance that I was still a good, Christian kid. That same spirit of dismissal, is what kept me in the double life of immense sin and once a week pretending to be a Christian. I wasn’t even close to living the life God created for me. The bondage in that life, looking back on it was horrible!! This wasn’t the fault of my parents. It wasn’t because of a lack of explanation about protecting myself from sinful lifestyle. It was a result of my choices.
I want to be very real and honest about why writing this particular blog post is so important to me. I have four kids now, and I’m responsible to raise them in the ways and teachings of God Almighty. My oldest son turns 13 in a few weeks. I want to impart various aspects of wisdom that I felt that I missed out on as a kid, which weren’t responsible for my actions but could have given me more to think about at that age. It’s especially important considering he’s talented musically, in a way I could only dream of. He plays multiple instruments, and I know as he enters high school in a couple years that’s going to attract him further to music and I want him to understand the importance of how to guard his heart and mind, related to secular vs Christian music.
I want him to see music artist like For Today, Outer Circle, Relian K, Calibretto 13, Dogwood, KJ-52, Jeremiah Dirt, Ghoti Hook, Stavesacre, Plankeye, Grits, The Insyderz, etc. I want him to see their enjoyment of music, their lyrics, and show him comparable secular music. Let him see that his talent is applicable and accepted by Christians. God gave our human minds and hearts a love for music… for a reason, as a means to worship Him. I don’t have the gift, but I love being surrounded by it.
I was never pointed in a direction of, “This is bad, but try this out…” I think it was largely because my parents just had no idea of the Christian music scene, it’s sudden growth, and the wide range of music available. I think it’s important for us, as Christian parents to not just shield our kids, but give them a weapon to fight spiritual warfare. Give the kids an option of cool, fun music to keep them surrounded by God’s presence through lyrics and style. Most importantly, we should be constantly using scripture to back up our beliefs, and as a tool to show the dangers of going wrong. That combined with loved experience will give our kids a leg up on the world, guard their hearts and minds, and hopefully water those seeds of faith we plant in them.