At the beginning of 2009, my now husband and I made the decision to devote our lives to Christ. We had both grown up in Christian homes and had identified as Christians our whole lives. But we weren’t living like Christians. We had moved in together, though we were not married. We prayed over meals every day, but never prayed for God’s will over our lives. We volunteered in the kid classrooms at church, but punched out after that hour and a half, never looking for other ministering opportunities through the rest of the week because we already filled our Christian good-doing quota.
We were Christians who were not really living for Christ, but rather doing as little as possible to make us feel good about ourselves without actually letting God have control over our lives.
Then one Sunday, we felt God convict us through the sermon about our living situation. That night we talked about it and prayed together asking God what He wanted us to do about it. It took us a week to say it out loud, but the answer was clear: we needed to get married, or break up. We had already planned on getting married, but were waiting for the “right” time; after we graduated from college and had steady jobs. But we realized that the only true “right” time was God’s time. We felt God convicting us to get right with Him, and we chose to say ‘yes’ to His calling. And in that moment, we were engaged. There was no ring, nor grand speech filled with promises based on how much we loved one another. There was just us, answering God’s call on our hearts, with only His promise that He had a plan for our life together.
That moment forever changed our trajectory in life. That was the moment when we truly laid down our lives at the cross and said with complete sincerity, “Have Your way with us, God.” Since then, God has gently asked us to give things up that were hurting us as He became the source of our identity, instead of the fading things of this world.
Things like dying my hair red. I had been dying my hair red for 5 years. My fiance had never seen me with my natural hair color. A month before our wedding though, I dyed it back to it’s natural dark brown. It was a hard decision for me to come to, but ultimately I felt God lead me to it. We were spending so much money on the wedding, had just moved, and were still full time students. Needless to say, we were on a shoe string budget, not just for the wedding, but for life in general. I needed to get my hair done though because I had about an inch of growth and our engagement session was coming up. Trying to crunch numbers to find the money to do my hair, I began stressing out. My hair grows pretty fast, so I knew that I would likely need to get it done a second time for the wedding too. “Why don’t you just dye your hair back to brown?” the still, small voice said. It made the most sense, but I freaked out, “But my hair defines me! I’m the girl with red hair! That’s who I am!” Quick as a whip, God said, “I should be what defines you.”
See, little things matter. I would never start preaching that dying one’s hair is a sin, because that’s ridiculous. But it had become a sin for me, because I was allowing an overpriced artificial dye to define me instead of Christ.
Another change that we made during that time was with music. This one happened organically on it’s own. The more we allowed God to mold us, the more we instinctually drew away from secular music and craved Christian music. Now, we exclusively listen to Christian music. I have no idea who the top artists are on Top 40 stations, and am likely to never hear their songs. And I don’t miss it one bit.
Have you ever watched scenes from a scary movie without the music? It’s nowhere near as scary. Have you ever felt moved by an instrumental piece, and not really understood why you were reacting so emotionally since you didn’t even know what it was about?
I am a firm believer that music speaks to our souls. I believe that we are hard wired to have strong, visceral reactions to music, because the God who created us stresses the importance of music in communicating with Him. Have you ever felt the Holy Spirit surge through you while singing a worship song? It’s the best feeling ever.
Guess what? Satan knows how powerful music is. Christians don’t really think of Satan and the Bible as a connecting thought, but he definitely knows scripture. In fact, Satan might know scripture better than some Christians who don’t read their Bible regularly. We can’t be completely sure, but the Bible hints that Satan may have been in charge of worship while he was an angel:
Your pomp is brought down to Sheol,
the sound of your harps;
maggots are laid as a bed beneath you,
and worms are your covers. — Is 14:11
If he was in charge of music, would he not use music as his primary source of attack?
The literal definition of ‘worship’ is “the feeling and expression of reverence and adoration”. What if all music was originally designed for worship? Would that mean that, whether we intend it to or not, all music still is worship? If that is the case, then my question is: who are we worshiping in the songs we listen to, and let our kids sing along to?
A lot of people don’t really pay attention to the lyrics of songs; they just like the beat. But the intention behind the music is important and must not be dismissed. Even if we aren’t conscious of it in our minds, our souls are feeling the effect of what we are letting in.
Like I said, I don’t listen to secular music anymore. But a quick Google search led me to the top 6 songs, according to Ryan Seacrest. Here’s a sampling of lyrics from those songs:
- “You watch me bleed until I can’t breathe/ Shaking, falling onto my knees/ And now that I’m without your kisses/ I’ll be needing stitches/ Tripping over myself/ Aching, begging you to come help/ And now that I’m without your kisses/ I’ll be needing stitches” –Stitches, by Shawn Mendes
- “If a judge for life me…/ Would you stay by my side?/ Or is ya gonna say good-bye?/ Now tell me would you really ride for me?/ Baby, tell me would you die for me?” –Locked Away, by R. City & Adam Levine
- “I just fucked two bitches ‘fore I saw you/ And you gon’ have to do it at my tempo/ Always tryna send me off to rehab/ Drugs started feelin’ like it’s decaf/ I’m just tryna live life for the moment/ And all these motherfuckers want a relapse” –The Weekend, by The Hills
- “You’re overprotective when I’m leaving/ Trying to compromise but I can’t win/ You want to make a point, but you keep preaching/ You had me from the start, won’t let this end/ First you wanna go to the left then you wanna turn right/ Wanna argue all day, make love all night/ First you’re up, then you’re down and then between” –What Do You Mean?, by Justin Bieber
- “I said ‘No one has to know what we do,’/ His hands are in my hair, his clothes are in my room/ And his voice is a familiar sound, nothing lasts forever/ But this is getting good now/ He’s so tall, and handsome as hell/ He’s so bad but he does it so well”-Wildest Dreams, by Taylor Swift
- “Gonna wear that dress you like, skin-tight/ Do my hair up real, real nice/ And syncopate my skin to your heart beating/ ‘Cause I just wanna look good for you, good for you, uh-huh/ I just wanna look good for you, good for you, uh-huh/ Let me show you how proud I am to be yours/ Leave this dress a mess on the floor/ And still look good for you, good for you, uh-huh” –Good For You, by Selena Gomez
All of these songs are worshiping the self. If we are putting our focus on ourselves and pleasing our sin nature, how can we please God? If our minds our bouncing around trash like the samples above, how are we going to hear God’s still, small voice giving us directions?
We can say that the music we listen to doesn’t have any impact on us because it’s just music. But there’s no such thing as just music. Think of it in terms of food: someone chooses to eat fruit and veggies instead of processed junk food in order to keep their bodies healthy and strong. We can’t eat donuts and chips every day but expect to be healthy and strong. Likewise, we can’t feed our souls garbage promoting unhealthy sex lives, unhealthy relationships, drugs, and crime life and expect to live a Christ filled life. If you feed your soul garbage, there will be consequences.
As a mother, I certainly don’t want to ever hear my girls sing any of the lyrics I quoted above. I don’t want them to learn to find their worth in some jerk who wants them to wear skin tight clothes, use them as he wants, and leave them in the morning. I don’t want them to be ok with being in a relationship with someone who has broken a law worthy of a life sentence. I want them to learn to put themselves aside and let Christ define them. I want them to live for God, not for men. And I want them to be able to do it with ease because they never got tangled up in the worldly nonsense that surrounds them.
This is not about bubble parenting; I’m not trying to protect them from ever seeing anything bad. They will see that life is hard and that there are many different choices for them to make and they will be the ones to choose which path they will travel down. This is about equipping them with the right tools, so that when they are faced with temptation, they won’t hear songs in their heads that tell them that sin is ok, they will hear the songs that say to seek God first.
Basically it all comes down to food: are we going to feed our souls junk food, or are we going to feed our souls what God intended us to eat?