I schedule most of my blog posts in advance for a week or two at The Blah Blah. Partly because I have a minor case of OCD and partly because it just makes my life easier so I don’t have to think at 6 in the morning.
I have a name I assigned to my Thursday posts, to help me figure out what sort of post would work well. After doing the Defining Christian Music series, I thought it would be fun to devote my Thursday posts to rants and random thoughts somehow related to music, where I can share a little bit about what I’m thinking and a little less about the facts. So I call it “Opinion Thursday.”
Being “Opinion Thursday,” don’t expect this post to be well-researched or thoroughly-investigated. These are my opinions (except for the Bible verses I’ll include), so I’m probably wrong on a few things, especially where I generalize.
Anyway, there are a lot of theological ideas and beliefs floating around in the Christian indie community that are just plain retarded. Oops, not PC. There are a lot of beliefs floating around that are downright gay. Oh, crap, did it again. Some of the common beliefs out there just suck, and this is my short, un-researched view on a few of them, presented in no particular order.
1. You Can’t Judge Art
Why not? It’s just dumb to say you can judge a person’s character, their attitude, how they use their time, what comes out of their mouth, and so on, but not their art. What Scriptural foundation is there for this attitude? I can’t think of a single one.
Follow this typical line of thinking to its obvious conclusion and you’ve got people singing songs that present rape, incest, adultery, murder, etc. in a good light, and we can’t say anything against it, because “You can’t judge art!”
No. I won’t accept it. Art, like all things, must be judged through the Spirit of God and the Bible. If your art freaks me out, denies Scripture, promotes sin and outright nastiness, or causes me to sink into a major spiritual funk, I’m not gonna sit by and say, “Hey, kids, come over here and check out this great art that’ll mess your life up forever.”
2. Beauty is Godly, In and Of Itself
This is another one that really annoys me. People treat beauty as a divine characteristic, a fruit of the Spirit, something that points toward godliness in and of itself. Besides the fact that “beauty” means something different to everybody, believing this is just not scriptural.
Beauty is not godliness. I don’t have to go and list out all the real world examples for you. Just think of all the movie stars and super models who look beautiful but live godless lives. Think of all the musicians who’ve created beautiful music while having no connection to God. The Bible says that even Satan can appear as an angel of light. It also says that beauty is fading, but godliness lasts forever.
Without godliness, beauty is of no value whatsoever, whether it’s in a song, a sculpture, a photograph, or somebody’s face.
3. Everything God Does is Beautiful
Often used to back up why #2 is right, but this is just as wrong. Not everything God does is beautiful. Crushing Sodom and Gomorrah? Not beautiful. Turning Lot’s wife into a pillar of salt? Not beautiful. Talking through a donkey? Not beautiful. Fun, humorous, clever, and interesting, but not beautiful. Letting Himself be crucified? Not beautiful. Striking Ananias and Sapphira dead? Not beautiful. Making Isaiah prophesy naked for three years? Definitely not beautiful. God is not limited to doing things that are beautiful. Sometimes, since He’s God, He’ll do whatever He wants and make a huge mess of everything.
I guess, since beauty is subjective, you could probably convince yourself that all the above are beautiful, but I don’t even care to go there.
4. Art for Art’s Sake
Another similar one. I hear this from a lot of artists, be it musicians, painters, photographers, whatever. The thinking goes that if beauty is godliness, then art has an intrinsic value just because it’s art.
This is goofy. If your art doesn’t point toward the Creator, then it’s worthless. I don’t mean you have to put a Psalm under every photograph you take or say Jesus’ name five times in every song you do. Just do your art for Him. Art is powerful and has a ton of value, but only when anchored in God.
I think the same about any work you may do. If you’re a car salesman, then do it for God. If you’re just selling cars to make money, then it’s worthless. Sell them to honor God. If you manufacture Bic pens, do it to bring glory to God, so that when people find out you’re a Christian they say, “Oh, that’s why you made the Bic pen work so well and so affordable!”
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music, or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.” Do your art for the glory of God. That is where the beauty is found.
5. Bad Music Does God a Disservice
I’ve said this one, and I half-way believe it still, but let me rant a little.
Define “bad?” I took classes in college on Japanese, Korean, Chinese, Balinese, and Indonesian music that I thought was terrible. Much of it sounded off key and just weird, but to their ears it was amazing. “Bad” is a subjective term.
Do you mean bad like off-key? Or bad like the lyrics are boring? Or bad like there’s no passion? Or bad like it’s not totally theologically correct? God could be honored by any of those if it comes from a right heart.
6. Christians Can Love Jesus Without Loving the Church
It’s not just the Christian indie world falling into this trap but a lot of the church is buying it. This idea is just retarded. I honestly don’t know how you can believe it and call yourself a Christian.
Jesus said that He would build His church and the gates of Hell wouldn’t prevail against it. How can you say you love Jesus but not the church that He’s building?
Paul said that Jesus is the head and the church is His body. How can you like Jesus’ head but not the rest of Him?
I get it that the church is messed up. Of course we’re messed up. We’re people, and by nature of that, we make mistakes, some little ones and some big ones. I hate it when Christians do dumb things, but I love the church that Jesus died to set up. There’s plenty of times that I’d rather just abandon the whole thing and adopt a sort of “personal” Christianity where I love God in my own way, but I just can’t turn my back on the fact that Jesus loves the church and gave Himself up for the church. If Jesus loves the church, how can I not?
7. We’re All in this Together
There’s an idea floating around that Christians and non-Christians are really not that different, that we’re all in this together. To a point, this is true. We share the world and we’re all trying to live together in peace and not just attack each other for our beliefs, but there should be a huge difference between Christians and non-Christians.
When you decide to follow God, everything in your life changes. You shouldn’t be just like the world anymore. You should have brand new goals, brand new dreams, brand new challenges, brand new hopes, brand new everything.
I think we’re supposed to get along with each other and help each other out (it’s called showing love), but if we’re really crazy about God, then we’ll never have deep fellowship with people who don’t like Him. Paul himself said that in 2 Corinthians 6. We need to go out into the world, but we can’t leave behind all our saltiness in favor of fellowship with the world.
We’re just not supposed to be like the rest of the world.
8. You Can’t Hold Artists to a Higher Standard
People think that it’s unfair of us to hold Christian musicians to a high (sometimes higher) standard. Yeah, they may be right, it might be unfair, but, as my Mom said growing up, “Life is unfair.”
As a musician, you have an incredible pull on people. You captivate an audience for a few hours, where they’re hanging on your every word at a concert, and this is impressive enough, but it doesn’t end there. After the show, they go home singing your songs. They fall asleep with your lyrics pumping through their heads. They wake up and pop your CD in. Your songs are constantly going through their heads.
Not only that, but your fans start to talk like you, look like you, think like you, and act like you. I’m sure it’s overwhelming for musicians, and I don’t envy those who have to deal with it, but it goes with the territory. When you’re on a stage, putting yourself in front of a lot of people, I should hope we’d hold you to a higher standard, because you have that much more influence over people off the stage.
Everybody wants to be a musician. If you’re a musician, everybody wants to be you, so live like it. Live like your fans are holding you accountable.
I think that’s good for now. I’m all ranted out.
Be sure to come back tomorrow to vote on the final group in Round 1 of the Christian Music Superbowl.