Student Opinion – Should Believers enjoy non-Christian music?
Taylor Swift has announced that her next studio album “Midnights” will be released Oct. 21. Millions of fans — some Christians — will take the time to hear her emotions, stories and even her worldview through her music.
When listening to music by Taylor Swift and other artists such as Childish Gambino and Linkin Park, Christians should use discernment, trying to better understand the world and seeking opportunities to share the gospel.
“Midnights,” described by Taylor Swift as a survey of “the floors we pace and the demons we face,” seems to be an emotional, deeply meaningful album for one of the world’s most popular musicians. It may not directly address religion as some mainstream albums such as DJ Khaled’s “GOD DID,” but it will likely make statements about society, love, suffering and meaning — as all lasting music does.
Music has long been a window into the heart of society. One example is Childish Gambino’s “This Is America.” For TIME Magazine, Mahita Gajanan wrote that the song and music video were a message about the “violent contradictions that come with being black in America.”
Some Christians might believe Childish Gambino’s message is irrelevant if they don’t first listen to the song. So, it seems that Christians should at least listen to secular music if they are going to make honest, theological assessments about it.
But consuming vulgarity is where Christians must use discernment. While all music can make thought-provoking statements, much of it is done in an anti-Christian way. From Childish Gambino to Linkin Park, Christians must discern if music is edifying in any way, or harmful. When the music of the world is too worldly, Christians can turn to Bible-based songs for encouragement and biblical insight.
2022 is the five-year anniversary of the death of Linkin Park’s lead singer, Chester Bennington. His suicide was a shock to many, especially following the band’s most recent album “One More Light.” The title track addresses how Bennington cares if “one more light goes out in a sky of a billion stars” — how he cares about the outcast.
“One More Light” has no Christian influence, but I have been able to connect with friends and share the importance of Bennington’s hopeful message. I’ve also had the opportunity to relate that message — that someone cares for every detail, every “forgotten” person — to the true message of the gospel. Bennington had a lot to say about caring for people, but there’s a deeper truth about eternal love that can be found in Jesus Christ.
This is the most important reason Christians should listen to secular music. Wisely partaking in the songs of the world can lead to gospel-centered conversations and a deeper connection with humanity.
Listening to non-Christian music is socio-philosophical, helping Christians to understand society and life better, and evangelistic, enabling Christians to show the love of Christ to the people we now resonate with. Christians are not to delight in the things of this world (1 John 2:15), but are to conform to Christ who transforms hearts and minds for his glory (Romans 12:2). Christians can listen to non-Christian music for gospel-sharing reasons and listen to worship and Christian music to be uplifted and encouraged, to engage in worship.
If the goal is life in Christ, listening to Christian music will encourage those in the Christian community. Outside the fold, non-Christian music can be a useful tool to share the truth of the gospel with a broken world.
Bower is an opinion writer for the Liberty Champion. Follow him on Twitter