Am I allowed to listen to non-Christian music?

Image: Am I allowed to listen to non-Christian music?

Answering a common question about enjoying secular music.

We’ve been getting a lot of questions here at Fervr about whether Christians are allowed to listen to and enjoy non-Christian, ‘secular’ music.

It’s really encouraging that so many young people are thinking seriously about this topic and wanting to do the right thing! So here are some thoughts on the topic.

We shouldn’t love sin

Because we live in a fallen world, it’s true that often the music we listen to reflects the sin we introduced. Music about promiscuous or premarital sex, songs full of swearing and lyrics that objectify people are all problematic.

The Bible says “Do not love the world or the things in the world” (1 John 2:15). It’s pretty clear that we aren’t meant to love what some songs talk about!

We should guard ourselves

Because of their sinful content, some songs might make us feel angry at the world, or make us feel like God is a killjoy for not letting us do everything the world says is good and fun.

Worst, some music might make us fall into sin – we might lust after seductive pop stars, or decide that we should try drugs, or get caught in a pattern of swearing and rude talk.

If this is happening, your relationship with Christ will be affected. So what should you do if the songs you listen to are having a negative effect on you?

In Matthew 5:29, Jesus says, “If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell.” If Jesus is so harsh about eyes, what might he say about a song that causes you to sin? Get rid of it! He might even say, smash the CD or delete the file from your computer!

God wants us to think about good things. He wants us to fill our minds with things that help us praise him and love him. So if any of the songs you listen to are tempting you to sin or drawing you away from loving God, it’s best to stop listening to them.

But… we don’t have to block out the world entirely!

The Bible never says we need to completely disengage from the world! In fact, before we messed it up, God did create this world for us to enjoy and the beautiful creation he made inspires a lot of secular music, art, media and more. Secular music can be enjoyable, beautiful and thought-provoking. So it’s definitely possible to enjoy secular material and glorify God while you’re doing it!

A good question to ask yourself when deciding whether a song or artist is appropriate is… “does this help or hinder my worship”? I personally really love Taylor Swift and I find her music and lyrics really fun and interesting. I thank God for music and fun when I dance around listening to Tay Tay! But for another person, Taylor Swift’s music may be really unhelpful. It may cause them to idolise romance, or become angry at people who have hurt them.

Obviously the line is clearer in other cases. Songs full of swearing are unlikely to help you worship God because they’ll fill your mind with bad language. Songs that speak inappropriately about other people (for example, “Blurred Lines” by Robin Thicke, or “Famous” Kanye West) are probably a bad idea to listen to because they normalize abusive actions and unkind language.

It’s important to ensure that if you are enjoying secular music, you’re aware of what you’re listening to and conscious of how it is affecting you. And if you aren’t sure whether the song you’re listening to helps you glorify or not, maybe it’s best to switch it off.

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