Music is a fine art, and as a fine art it is forever changing, and changing rapidly. That is because music, like all artistic expression, captures as much emotion as reason. It seeks to express thoughts that are as yet inexpressible in more detailed and analytic form.
I do not mean that music is not rational. Indeed music is capable of incredible statements of deeply thought-out philosophy, both ordered and harmonic and dissonant and noisy. Music is truly a universal language in that it enables us to communicate across cultures and across time.
But music's special gift is that it is affective. It appeals to our innermost feelings. Consequently, people's taste in music is highly personal, preferential, and idiosyncratic. We know what we like and like what we know. We like what we like whether others like it or not.
In times of rapid cultural change, some music is always on the frontier of discussion and development. So if you like today's music you may not like tomorrow's because you may not share the values, feelings, and philosophies being expressed.
Music is preference because it is so personal. In any given family, spouses and other family members may have very different musical tastes. So judging what is "good" or "bad" in music is forever problematic. As always, the key to determining acceptability for the Christian is whether the music directly violates Scripture or whether the music falls within the infinite realm of choice that God has given us. If it does not undermine Scripture, than the music must not be labeled "bad," whether we like it or not.
Music is a fine art. Like it or not, music is synonymous with preference.
Music is a universal language. It enables us to communicate across time, across cultures, and across psychological and geographic space. Music may be a philosophic statement, deep and profound, or an emotional expression, shallow or deep, profound or simple.
As a philosophic and emotional expression, music is a language within our own language. As Christians, we should develop the ability to ascertain how a given musical expression relates to Scripture. Does the music fit into the infinite realm of Christian liberty God has given us for the purpose of expressing our worship of Him? Does a given musical piece actually violate biblical principles in some way? If the music doesn't violate the Scripture, are we able to appreciate the variety of humankind's God-given musical gifts?
We ought to be able to listen to different kinds of musical styles and lyrical content and determine what the person or persons is trying to say to the world. What is the Country artist saying? The Rapper? The Rocker? Is one musical artist consistently immoral? Is another artist gifted at conveying the beauty of love and commitment?
What is our teenagers' music saying to us? Is it all "bad," or is at least some of it telling us something we need to hear? Yes, it's true that their styles are sometimes musically immature. But whether or not you like what you hear teenagers' music is saying something that needs to be heard and answered.
Music is a medium. It's a language. It communicates. It has something to say. It can be Christian, non-Christian, or anti-Christian. Whatever it is, Christians who care about influencing their culture need to learn to speak the language.
© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2011
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