Monday, June 15, 2015

Christian Music & Why I Don't

I applaud artists out there who show their faith in God through music. And before I tell you why I don't listen to Christian Music, please understand that I don't hate Christian Music, or think it's terrible. Also, just because I listen to music that isn't Christian doesn't mean I am any less Christian than someone who does.

When I was in my early teens, I was into Christian Music a lot. Jamie Grace, TobyMac, etc. But since, I have moved on, and now I'm heavily into rock- non Christian and 60's, 70's and 80's. To be honest, I feel like I get enough, boppy, happy, spiritual music I don't like in Church. But that's a topic for another day.

Music is God's, no matter who sings it. Music is a God-given talent, and something for humans to enjoy. It doesn't matter if the person signing it is a Christian, because they are still glorifying God, without even realising it.

Enough of these lyrics. I get sick of signing or hearing "praise our Lord" or "He is risen", "hallelujah". I get that you run out of things to sing, but it makes the music boring, repetitive and shallow. Do you honestly not have anything deep to say about the God who saved your enteral life? I find I get a lot more out of reading my Bible.

Christian music isn't about what being a Christian is about. It's fake, I haven't heard enough songs about sin and failure, hard times and stumbling. They're about praising God, the good times (apart from Lecrae). They make me feel like I'm a bad Christian- why don't I feel like this? The truth is though, the people who write and sing these songs don't have the perfect lives the songs present. Why always sing about the good times- being a Christian isn't always rosy.

What even is Christian music? I take the lead singer of Switchfoot's point of view.

"How can a song be 'Christian'?" asks lead singer Jon Foreman, "there is no such thing as Christian music. No. Christ didn't come and die for my songs, he came for me."

See, you can't really have a Christian band. When a band breaks up or ends, it doesn't go to heaven. We shouldn't be worried about listening to Christian bands, we should be worried about the members being Christian. 

The music I listen to is picked based on: 
What is the message?
Do I want this in my mind?
What effect is it having on me? 

To me, not listening, not liking, most Christian music is a reasonable thing.  What do you think? Do you listen just to Christian Music? Why? Why not? Can I explain anything further about what I think for you?

Do you listen to only "Christian" music?

I listen to a mix of Christian & non Christian
Opal likes Imagine Dragons, Bastille, Fall Out Boy, Pink Floyd, Queen, Pet Shop Boys, All American Rejects, Oasis, Twenty One Pilots and many many others. 


  1. I totally understand how you feel (although Pink Floyd is seriously not up my alley; let's just both agree to enjoy everything else you liked on that last list :) ) about Christian Music. I think BlimeyCow's video about Christian music basically says it all about Christian music—it's cliche, it leans on the repetitive, and never has the same variety as other music.

    I especially liked what you said about all music being a form of worshiping God—I think if we just assume that only so-called Christian music is the only music God appreciates and shows a heart for Him, then we're going to miss out on a lot of talent and good music in the world.

    At the same time, I personally find that only praise music really is this the struggle, and even then, the music, even repetitive and silly, still has its own value because it was specifically designed for God's glory, whereas no matter how awesome that "Centuries" by Fall Out Boy gets to be, we also have to remember that stuff created for God's glory always has more value in His sight than anything that isn't. It's kind of annoying, because in some ways it suggests that God has poor taste in music, but what I think many people value by listening to those convicting Christian radio stations is a guarantee of music that was made to praise the One who made music in the first place. While other music glorifies money, and romance, and sex, and a bunch of other stuff that will ultimately fail us, Christian music (or, shall we say, music written expressly for God) is not intended to lead us away from God.

    So, you'll find it an annoying dichotomy that the people who write the best music rarely do it for God's glory, and the people who write for God's glory are more or less writing a remix of "Amazing Grace" despite the fact it is 236 years old, about. It's kind of silly, and even a little embarrassing after a while, but there are some coping mechanisms.

    I think the questions you ask are quite pertinent, as well as the Foreman quote (although I dislike Switchfoot in general), but for me, I think the ultimate rule with music is: do I like this? I love Skillet, and Red, and Flyleaf because a) they primarily don't write praise music, which is where I find the most cliche and ridiculous lyrics are, and b) because I am into heavy metal and screamo and all that good stuff. I like it. I like that I can run around my basement screaming, "ARE YOU SICK OF IT?" because in a way, those bands capture some of the messy beauty of life, and even if God isn't mentioned, I also know the intent with which the music was written. At the same time, I can also love AFI and Duran Duran and the Cascades and Adam Ant (oh, Adam Ant) and Fall Out Boy and Heather Dale and the Beatles and the Monkees and on and on and on and on because I still love the way the songs sound, and that is just is what is enjoyable to me more than Amazing Grace, 456.0.

    So, ultimately, I finish this saying I totally respect your music choices and why you don't listen to Christian music, I also write this totally understanding why I haven't completely abandoned Christian music. Some is good, some is bad, but you know what? I've realized that God speaks to me through all kinds of music, in all kinds of genres, for all kinds of reasons, and while sometimes that means that some band from the eighties is giving me a moment, it also means that sometimes God has the habit of speaking me through music written for his glory, as well. Who'd have thunk.

    Anyway, I totally get your choice and if you wanted to give my regular music to Christian music listening preferences a ratio, it would probably be 199:1. However, it's still in my musical diet. Ultimately, I'd have to say it's an acquired taste.

    1. I vaguely remember that video. This post was inspired many months ago after I was reading a blog that said I should only listen to Christian music and it made my blood boil.

      I agree that in general, Christian music tends to have good meaning and intention behind it. And a lot of secular music is about things that will never bring us fulfilment. I don't know if it means to lead us away from God, after all, many are already as far as they can get. I think that music that leads toward God is a good thing. And in my early teens, it was good for me. But it gets to the point where that sort of music doesn't sound so great anymore, because you've seen so much of the world. For example, I don't listen to Britt Nicole anymore, but I still listen to Lecrae, because his lyrics are real, and I relate to them on a much deeper level.

      Arg, yes don't get me started on remix's of Amazing Grace. I love it as a hymn, it's one of my favourites. I hate seeing it redone and, in my humble point of view, ruined. We have this one we sing in church that is a mix of Amazing Grace and another song and I silently stage a private protest by not signing the Amazing Grace parts xD

      Yeeeeess. When you connect with music, thats super important. And in a way, even if it's not written by a Christian or about being a Christian, when you connect like that you are connecting with God. I think He gave us music to enjoy and connect to. To make us feel.

      It is indeed an acquired taste :)

    2. *cough* Um, a what what what? If I read something like that I think I would punch my computer over. LIKE WHAT. That happened to me with a post on diversity I read recently, and I realized that most of the people I find frustrating are in my own religion.

      I don't think that there are a lot of bands that set out to sell our souls to the Devil (admittedly, there are some Satanist bands out there, but I assume neither of us are into those?) But yeah, I definitely find Britt Nicole just... blah. I don't listen to Lecrae (though I saw him in concert and he was awesome), but I listen to music similar to his, just because it definitely feels deeper and serious.

      I DO THAT TOO BUT WITH A DIFFERENT SONG. I like "In Christ Alone" as a normal song, and then my church mixes it with this other song and so sometimes I don't sing and I definitely don't put my hands up because no. No, no, no.

      But yeah, it's ultimately not who writes the music, but that we're connecting with God, and you put that in a really good way. And I find that I can do that with a lot of songs. Or just neutral songs. But getting to experience our feelings to the fullest is the best, and music helps us do that.

    3. The thing about people like Flyleaf, Skillet, etc. though is they aren't necessarily calling themselves Christian bands. For example, even though they're making music to glorify Christ they play with "secular" bands, and the like. Also, there is so much unique, faith-based music that is nothing like what's on the radio.(as in completely unlike Tobymac, Britt Nicole, etc.) The difference is that nobody ever hears about them because they don't have a big name like those people.

  2. twenty-one pilots is my top band of all times. end of story. why? because they are christian's, but their music isn't repetitive and sounds like a 90's sunday school class. they're christian's but their music is relatable, upbeat, fun, and everything a young person could love. they don't talk about the just the good times in life, they talk about the hard and the dark times in life, they talk about the times when you doubt God even though you're His child.

    and that, to me, is amazing. christian artists are alright, but, as you said, they sing about the same thing, again.. again.. and again. even just their music has gotten boring and is no longer creative.

    so i really hop around, if an artist is non-christian but has respectable and clean lyrics then i'll listen to them. i would prefer and love it if they were christian like TOP and switchfoot, but its not required. you get what i'm trying to say? basically: i agree with you. those three questions are ones that i often ask myself. and several of your points are why i love hymns, they have so many amazing and truthful lyrics that it puts modern christian songs to shame. :)

    p.s. i don't want to offend anyone with all this, i don't hate it all, i just think they could do better. :)

    1. YES YES YES. Twenty One Pilots is a band I hope is around when I'm 80 so that I can still be listening to amazing lyrics and attempting to rap.

      Music doesn't need to be written by Christians for us to enjoy it, it's just a bonus when it is :)

      Thank you for dropping by Opal Swirls! :)

  3. Dude, I totally get you about the cliche part. I've gotten to the point where I really dislike listening to some of the songs circulating in Christian radio because they seem superficial and shallow. Like, there's this one song by Shuree that I couldn't stand (for both tune and lyrics) and another one by Building429. I actually don't listen to most of the popular Christian bands/singers, and Christian rap is mainly what I roll with because it's got depth.

    But at the same time, I do love some Christian artists whose music I will probably love until I die. tobyMac's Portable Sounds album is the one I always go back to (if his lyrics are too poppy, his tunes aren't--his new single "Backseat Driver" slams all of the melodies down), "Ready Or Not" by Britt Nicole is my jam, and I really like Lauren Daigle because her voice is this perfect smoky tone. I also like a couple of Switchfoot's songs.

    There are ups and downs to both "Christian" music and "secular" music. I'm not quite sure if they should really be generalized like that, but I don't think assumptions should be made just because music is "Christian" or not. A song written by a Christian has the potential to be just as good as a song written by a so-called secular artist, so I'm willing to listen to whatever as long as it has good lyrics and a good tune.

    The CCM we know now originated in, like, the eighties with Amy Grant and Michael W. Smith and dcTalk (OMGAR DCTALK), so I totally get why you only really listen to rock from the sixties and seventies.

    Great post! I've been wanting to express this for a while.

    1. I was into TobyMac and Britt Nicole in my early teens, and they defiantly had their place there. Now... not so much. Partly because I don't want to remember back to those years, but more because compared to the music I listen to now, I find I can't stand it, and that makes me sad. Your music taste is yours though, to each his own :)

      God gives everyone different gifts, and when it's being used to write good, clean music, Christian or not, I'd like to think that it makes God happy. Like wow, he gave us such an amazing thing, and we are using it for good. If that makes sense?

      Yes to DcTalk!

  4. The point about repetitive lyrics really got me. I'm not religious myself, but I always find it somewhat unrealistic that Christian music might be able to convert me because (a) my faith is not based on your musical ability and (b) you really just keep saying the same things. It's true. So great point there.

    And you're absolutely right that Christian music idealises the religion. It's not all rainbows and ponies, it's a choice that's difficult to make (IMO at least), and making it sound wonderful isn't going to change the fact that placing your faith somewhere is a challenge.

    1. Yes! How can we expect to convince someone to become a Christian when we only sing about how great it is? Everyone knows thats not true. Being a Christian is hard, and the choice is very hard.

  5. I really love the take you took on this...I had never really thought about it in that way before. So many "Christian" songs are SO repetitive, so I completely agree with you. There's definitely a lot of original songs though that do help me with my worship of Christ. But I love how you said that you "find I get a lot more out of reading my Bible."
    Loved reading this!

    1. Thank you :)

      There are always exceptions to what generally happens, and I have encountered Christian songs that have had an impact on my life. But at the same time, I got a huge amount out of Proverbs. So yeah :)

  6. I always saw the labeling of songs as Christian was that so other Christians could recognize that it had no sexual references, cursing, encouragement of bad behavior, etc in it. But like I said I thought. I honestly don't know for sure why people label their music Christian.

    Also a lot of people can claim to be Christian--including members of allegedly Christian bands/groups/projects--but not actually be. Only God truly knows. So...I was going to make a point with that statement. But I guess it's just a statement *sigh* I'm so bad at this.

    But seriously I don't listen to fairy tale Christian music either--my mom always loudly complains when people play it publicly--as I prefer realistic and heartfelt lyrics. A Christian radio station I listened to for a while a couple years ago actually brought me through a tough time with it's songs of redemption, forgiveness, and trusting God even when you've messed up big time. Aaaand that sentence made me sound like one of those Christians who wear "Jesus is awesome" shirts and deny women pastoral rights. So I'm gonna go.

    O | Life as a Young Lady

    1. Hmmmm you have a point. But at the same time, you can have secular music like that. So it's a blurry line.

      No, I totally agree! Sometimes when I look at artists who claim to be Christian, and wonder if it's true. And only God can know, you're totally right. Realistic and heartfelt is the way to go.

      Jesus is awesome! :P

  7. I kind of have to agree with you, even though I'm coming from an athiest point of view. I actually really like the Biblical narrative and Christianity in general. I suppose it's the way that past Churches (and some modern ones) teach it that I have a problem with. I mean, even Jesus scolded the religious leaders of his time.

    As for Christian music, I never really understood it (sorry for my lack of empathy). Do Christians listen to it because they feel obligated to, or are the lyrics genuinely appealing? It seems oddly repetitive to me. But of course, if you listen to Christian music, that would be totally cool. I just wonder sometimes, what makes Christian music Christian, and why does it feel so exclusive to Christians? Maybe the same could be asked for secular music, idk.

    Also, do you like The Beatles? You said 60s, so...>:)

    1. YES YES YES THANK YOU. I feel like we would disagree on some things, but agree on many as well. The Church is made of humans, and humans mess up.

      I used to be obligated to, then I enjoyed it for a while, now when I hear it I start to feel obligated again. I guess Christian Music as a label describes music written about being a Christian etc. No one really seems to know.

      Sure do! Not as much as I like Queen though xD

    2. I love Queen! But The Beatles. :') I used to feel obligated when I identified as a Christian (long time ago). And yes, we would disagree on things, naturally, but we seem to agree on many important points, which is great!

  8. Hello Opal,
    I've seen your blog around and came back for another look today. It's beautiful!

    I understand a lot of what you have to say; there are some good Christian songs, but a lot of the contemporary stuff is very repetitive and annoying, not going very deep.
    Personally, I prefer hymns, such as Before the Throne of God Above. I find that one very comforting and beautiful!
    Anyway, I love your blog and am going to follow. :)

    -Christine | Everything is Blogsome

    1. Thank you so much!
      I love hymns as well, I think they are some of the most beautiful songs ever written.

  9. I listen to some Christian, but I don't listen to praise music. I prefer songs that do talk about struggle - and then give me hope for overcoming mine. One artist, Colton Dixon, does Christian rock music, and his albums helped me IMMENSELY through some very tough times. I identified with the lyrics and then the message rose to remind me who God is and what He can do for me. If I need a pick-me up, that is the music I run to.
    However, I do listen to clean secular music and a lot of non-lyrical. Like you, I choose based on message, what I want in my head, and if it is clean of profanity.
    Oh, and I listen to really hard Christian rock like Skillet and Flyleaf, which isn't praise music and often doesn't even mention God by name, but I trust them to give me some hard rock I won't be scared to listen to in case a bad message or cursing could pop up.

    1. Understanding the lyrics is a big part of good music :)
      Skillet! I haven't listened to them in ages. I went through a 'stage' with them xD They are defiantly a great clean hard rock band.

  10. So I know I'm like a month late to this post, but I thought I should tell you that this inspired me to change the music I was listening to (Twenty One Pilots is now my most favorite thing ever) and that helped me get over an insane amount of writer's block, and then I wrote a blog post about it all and basically it was beautiful, so thank you and I am eternally grateful. :)

    1. YES YES. Twenty One Pilots are the best. I'm so happy for you :)

  11. I agree with you... a lot of Christian music is bad. When I ditched One Direction in 2013 (because my sister convinced me to and then later on I couldn't find much meaning in their music) I went on a Christian music search and I listened to lots of people (in 2013) like Beckah Shae, Britt Nicole, TobyMac, ZoeGirl etc.. Now I don't really see the point of me listening to their music. It doesn't really bring me to God. It just seems like some of them are trying to copy of secular singers and put their own twist on it?

    I haven't completely abandoned Christian music, though. I still listen to Jamie Grace (not all of her songs but she seems real to me), Morgan Harper Nichols, Lauren Daigle, Brandon Heath, Moriah Peters, Ellie Holcomb, Mandisa, Chris Tomlin and maybe I'll find more. I just don't want to listen to Christian bands unless they're not really popular.

    However, the problem is secular music is mostly romantic and if I'm listening to it, I don't want to listen to artists that sing in English (unless they're YouTube artists). I don't believe all secular music is bad but I feel a lot of it is (I know a lot will disagree with it). I feel that some musicians are in cults and there are only a few musicians (Christian and non Christian) that are genuine. It sucks that many people have to give up their ethics to become super famous. I think a lot of mainstream musicians started off in the church and then completely changed. Like, some of you could've made some awesome music for Christians, man! *cries*

    I don't even know anymore.