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Have you noticed an increase in on air over-the-edge language or behavior, like television and cinema’s fascination with the F-word or sexual situations in commercials, or outright obscene or pornographic displays in cultural discourse? We are a culture in moral free fall.

Hi, I’m Rex Rogers and this is episode #69 of Discerning What Is Best, a podcast applying unchanging biblical principles in a rapidly changing world, and a Christian worldview to current issues and everyday life.


The Grammy Awards, dating to 1959, are the music industry’s annual recognition of outstanding achievements in the music arts. They are considered by many to be a television spectacle featuring the best and increasingly the most outrageous in music artists.

This year in 2023, “award nominees Sam Smith and Kim Petras performed their duet titled…"Unholy," complete with ominous red lighting and dancers writhing amid flames. Smith was dressed like Satan in a red cape and top hat with horns. He tweeted photos of himself during rehearsal saying, "This is going to be SPECIAL." To which CBS, the network broadcasting the show, responded with the tweet, "You can say that again. We are ready to worship!”

Sam Smith first came out as gay, then genderqueer, an umbrella term meaning not solely male or female, and most recently as non-binary preferring to be addressed as they/them. Fellow artist Kim Petras is transgender, having had gender-confirmation surgery when he/she was just 16 years old. Petras made appearances as “the world’s youngest transsexual.”

Petras said of the Grammy performance, “I think a lot of people, honestly, have kind of labeled what I stand for and what Sam stands for as religiously not cool, and I personally grew up wondering about religion and wanting to be a part of it but slowly realizing it didn’t want me to be a part of it,” she said, per Variety. “So it’s a take on not being able to choose religion. And not being able to live the way that people might want you to live, because as a trans person I’m already not kind of wanted in religion. So we were doing a take on that and I was kind of hellkeeper Kim.”

The Sam Smith/Kim Petras emphasis on Satanism came just two years after rappers Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion “performed,” (I use that word advisedly) with a risqué presentation of the song “WAP” at the 2021 Grammy Awards.

In the lyrics, Cardi B and Megan discuss how they want to be pleased by men, specifically referencing numerous sexual practices.” The song’s title, WAP, is an acronym representing a phrase so graphic and crude I’ve chosen not to say it on this podcast. 

During the performance on network television, Cardi B channeled her stripper past with some pole dancing. Both musicians strutted, writhed, twerked, and grinded together on a huge bed in Barbarella-esque skimpy outfits. Media reporting on the event spoke of female empowerment, sexual pride, and a sex-positive message. Apparently, sex-positive is the new way of describing bacchanalia. 

Musicians and entertainers in general have always been on the edge if not over it in terms of rude, crude, and lewd. This goes back thousands of years in multiple cultures. What’s new now is the degree to which these kinds of celebrations of debauchery are presented and promoted on television, and the degree to which the entertainers themselves are looked upon as some kind of avant garde role models or bold and brave defenders of personal liberties.

There was a time when I was a kid that cartoons, for example, the old cartoons, reached up, so to speak, to high culture. They made funny and harmless entertainment for children in the context of Mozart or Shakespeare, or the best of Americana. Now, beginning somewhere in the 1960s, cartoons or children’s entertainment in general has been on a decades-long slide toward presentation of what is debased and morally questionable.

Articles are regularly written that attack or at least judge conservatives in general or Christians in particular as Puritans or prudes, because they often object to the content presented in television shows, movies, or as illustrated above, awards shows.  

Such articles argue the culture wars are a figment of conservatives or Christians; imagination, that nothing really is going wrong, and no one on the right side of history should object to an anything goes approach. The reason these articles say the culture wars do not exist is because the authors don’t have a moral compass that recognizes wrong or is willing to embrace any standard short of licentiousness. The Grammys are just one example.  

Such moral chaos is the stock in trade of many contemporary so-called artists, online influencers, or celebrities. As they age, and perhaps as what talent they have begins to diminish or is no longer marketable, the artists or celebrities seem willing to do about anything to get themselves covered online, to in their minds stay relevant.

Madonna is one example, a one-time rock star who now spends most of her time making outrageous comments and, sadly, disfiguring herself with plastic surgery. 

Britney Spears is another younger version of Madonna. Britney is a one-time youthful pop star who is approaching middle age, is not producing marketable music, and who to stay in the limelight spends much of her time post pictures of herself with limited even no clothing, just strategic coverage. Even her children have tried to get her to stop this embarrassing and demeaning display.

There is such a thing as the culture wars. Yes, some people have acted in overwrought fashion and brought ridicule toward those who simply believe in family values. But it is easy to demonstrate the moral decline of contemporary culture and discourse.

Politicians, not just celebrities, and television commercials now regularly use four letter words, build their message around sexual inuendo, flash partial nudity or vulgar hand gestures. 

Celebrities in my youth, like Johnny Carson or Jerry Lewis, were certainly familiar with lewd behavior or language, but cultural norms at the time kept them in check on air. Not so now.

 “The real problems in our world are not the result of bad political policies or poor education or inequitable income distribution. The problem in our world is that there are forces of wickedness in heavenly places, and sinners are held captive by them to do their will. And that means the single solution to all of the problems in our world is the gospel of Jesus Christ, and that human solutions to spiritual problems are utterly useless.”

So, Christians, we know the truth, and it is our task to make it known. Don’t give in or give up. Speak the truth in love.


Well, we’ll see you again soon. This podcast is about Discerning What Is Best. If you find this thought-provoking and helpful, follow us on your favorite podcast platform. Download an episode for your friends. For more Christian commentary, check my website, r-e-x-m as in Martin, that’s 

And remember, it is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm.

© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2023   

*This podcast blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact me or read more commentary on current issues and events at, or connect with me at  

My service in the past 40+ years has taken me into many churches--and I grew up the son of a church pianist/organist who is still playing for our home church. Some churches position their music as strictly "contemporary," which may be OK but denies the fellowship the opportunity for edification and enjoyment drawn from the rich, diverse, and beautiful music developed throughout the history of the Christian Church. In fact, this can perpetuate a certain ignorance among young believers re the musical heritage of the Church. On the other hand, some churches position their music as strictly non-contemporary or "traditional," whatever that might mean, which may be OK as far as it goes but can signal lack of dynamism in the worship experience and fails to tap the incredible wealth of developing music in the Church universal.


I say all this to express appreciation for First Baptist Church of Middleville's music worship approach, which seems to me to embrace "newer" and "older" music, presents music with lyrical depth expressing sound theology, and attempts to identify music that the fellowship can learn and actually sing. Recent music worship suggested all this to me.


I'm old enough to remember "singing from a songbook" and confess that at times I miss this. But that short-range cultural memory is less important than the quality of what I am able to engage in a service and I like the idea that I can sing a Christian song written in the past year, or I can sing one written a few centuries ago, which is to say connect with the Body of Christ that knows no or demographic boundaries. So kudos to pastors Nate Archer Nick Boonstra and worship leader Adam Bradt.


© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2020


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John Lennon’s 1971 anthem, “Imagine,” has become his requiem. People play or sing it reverently as a romantic hope for the world. Consider the lyrics:

Imagine there's no heaven
It's easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky

Imagine all the people living for today

Imagine there's no countries
It isn't hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too

Imagine all the people living life in peace, you

You may say I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will be as one

Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man

Imagine all the people sharing all the world, you

You may say I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will be as one

No heaven, no hell, which is to say no afterlife, nothing to live for, and best of all for one aspiring to fantasy, no accountability. Just an opportunity to live life in any way you wish with no consequences. It is the hedonist's and/or the humanist's dream.

Living for today, no countries, nothing worth dying for, and no religion. Just a meaningless, unfettered, undirected, secular or athiestic existence built upon the now and nothing else, which is to say a nihilistic existence.

No possessions, greed or hunger, just a brotherhood. Sounds interesting. Might work. Except for one thing. Sin, or if you prefer, evil. The perennial human predicament. We’re capable of noble deeds and aspirations, but we’re incapable of divesting ourselves of pernicious intentions, acts, or lawlessness.

Imagine living in peace, sharing the world, just a human race of one. These are understandable desires but unreachable because they forget reality. 

No idealistic romanticism can wish goodness and peace into existence. If it could it would have happened long ago. Yet world history is a record of man’s inhumanity to man, of evil leaders, regimes, and ideologies that were only stopped by coercive response from others wanting some kind of justice. 

John Lennon was a gifted lyricist and an international rock star, and he died too young, tragically and violently. Lennon wasn’t entirely wrong. He hungered for something better, something kinder, gentler, and secure. But the worldview he expressed in “Imagine” is seriously lacking, unworkable and inept even if appealing to certain yearnings of the human soul.

Nothing can deal with sin or evil except the biblically Christian redemptive story of the life, sacrificial death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Love and peace come from God and only he can restore these gifts to us who are born in sin through his grace, forgiveness, and reconciliation. It’s worth thinking about and working toward. Imagine all the people hearing and responding to the Gospel, blessed in this life with forgiveness and peace, blessed in eternity with the presence of God.


Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2018   

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“Simply having a wonderful Christmas time. Simply having a wonderful Christmas time.”

If you hear these lyrics less than a thousand times this Christmas season I’ll be surprised. They’re played ad nauseum on the radio, over retail store muzak, in elevators, at the gas pump, and probably in more than a few churches, though thankfully I haven’t heard that yet. Trouble is, the song isn’t worthy of the attention it gets.

Don’t get me wrong. I love Christmas music—my wife plays it non-stop from mid-November on—and we go in for Christmas big-time: huge, real tree (sometimes two) we’ve cut ourselves each of 37 years running, mucho decorations, presents for the kids and now grandkids, good food, family, friends, fellowship, fun, and, via social media, fans and followers. So please, hear me out. Though you may think I protest too much, I am not a Scrooge by a long shot. (I’m even a guy who likes to go to the mall with his wife.)

But Sir Paul McCartney’s ubiquitous “Wonderful Christmastime” is just too much.

Why do I dislike it so? Well, for one, it’s poor music; the tune, texture, form, rhythm, melody, none of it is uplifting, just drive-you-bananas abominable.

Another reason this is my least favorite Christmas song is the over-the-top repetition involved. I know nearly all song lyrics involve repetition, and for good musical reason, but this song is run-you-in-the-ground repetitive. The lyrics repeat “Simply having a wonderful Christmas time” fourteen times as written. Some renditions repeat the phrase more often than that.

Then there’s the song’s claim to “Christmas” status. Other than using the phrase “Christmas time” in the lyrics and “Christmas” in the title and last line, there’s nothing distinctively Christmas, from a Christian point of view, about this song. No manger, no baby Jesus, no three kings, no silent night, no star or Good News. Just “Ding dong, ding dong.”

On this theme I’d even go further and say the song, perhaps intentionally perhaps not, is a wholesale secularization of the season. The song’s been sanitized of all Christmas story content—nothing to “offend” anyone here, just a party for one and all. This is another reason retailers in an increasingly secularized Western society find the song acceptable. “Wonderful Christmastime” becomes a “safe” (in our religiously privatized culture) replacement for “Silent Night” or “O Come All Ye Faithful.”

Read the lyrics yourself. Here’re verses 1-4:

“The moon is right, The spirit’s up, We’re here tonight, And that’s enough”

“The party’s on, the feelin’s here, That only comes, This time of year”

“The choir of children sing their song, Ding dong, ding dong, Ding dong, ding, oh, oh”

“The word is out, About the town, To lift a glass, Ah, don’t look down”

These verses are interspersed by the chorus “Simply having a wonderful Christmas time,” then repeated. Pretty stirring isn’t it?

If there is religious content in this song it’s in the line “And that’s enough,” which makes the subtle statement that we’re the end-all be-all and nothing is needed for fulfillment other than our own happiness at “This time of year.”

Maybe Paul McCartney just wanted to write a little jingle and thought no more about it than any of hundreds of other songs he’s written. But I doubt it. This one was meant to profile him and his work prominently for the general public at least once per year. If he didn’t intend this I’ve no doubt his managers and marketers did. I'm not against Paul McCartney or his music, per se; he's obviously a musical genius and I like some of his songs. But he missed it on this one. Even he reputedly knows this; though he makes about $400,000 per year in royalties from this song, he has said for years that it embarrasses him.

I know I’m making a lot out of a pop song. One could just ignore it and go on, which I try to do. But it’s hard to ignore because “Wonderful Christmastime” gets more airtime every year. When this song is played there’s an opportunity cost in the sense that better Christmas songs are not given airtime.

I’m not against all non-Christian or non-religious Christmas music. I like “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” and “White Christmas,” for example. I like these and other “secular” songs because they’re good music. “Wonderful Christmastime” isn’t wonderful, isn’t Christmas, and isn’t good music.


© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2011

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Rex or read more commentary on current issues and events at or follow him at

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

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Rex or read more commentary on current issues and events at or follow him at