In the first part of this series, I summarized some of the issues: Gospel vs Secular, Good vs Bad, & more importantly appropriate vs inappropriate. However, the accompanying graphic doesn’t use ANY of those words. Yes, there is a rhyme and reason to the words shown and NOT shown, and what IS the deal with the slant?
Firstly, lets look at “The Godly Axis”
The Godly Axis?
I didn’t want to oversimplify it to being “good” and “bad” as those words are very subjective. However, for the Christian, this (and NOT the other axis) is the measure of how good or bad the content is. 2 Timothy 2:15 encourages us to study, essentially, so that we can be approved by God and distinguish between right from wrong. I probably will need to do an entire post on this scripture; however, as it relates here, we should be determining whether the words we hear (and say) are Godly or not. No matter how “good” the lyrics, music arrangements, vocals, or musicians are, this axis deals strictly with the content and NOT the delivery.
The Extremes: Ungodly
Firstly, what the ungodly extreme is NOT. It is NOT simply secular music, hip-hop, heavy metal, or even “gangsta rap.” While songs from these categories are more likely to be near this extreme, they are NOT the extreme by definition. At an extreme level, this would essentially be music that is either demonic worship or directly against God and Godly things. When listening to content that approaches this extreme, lyrics that you cannot find a positive or, much less, Godly message out of are close to this extreme. In general, if lyrics have ungodly themes, such as glorifying sleeping around; killing; etc, then they are on this side of the middle.
The Extremes: Godly
Once again, what the Godly extreme is NOT. For the sake of discussion, this extreme is NOT simply inspirational/positive music, Christian music, Gospel music, hymns, etc. As an extreme, Godly lyrics will be direct worship of God and Godly things. Surprised? Consider how many “gospel” or “christian” artists have a couple songs on their CDs that aren’t suitable for praise and worship yet definitely aren’t secular. Further, when considering praise & worship songs, there are appropriate songs in this category that still have more to do with us than God. However, if lyrics have godly themes, such as love, joy, peace, etc, (even if God or Jesus is not mentioned) then they are on this side of the middle.
A Challenge to Be Discerning
Defining the Godliness of lyrics in this way challenges us to think differently about the lyrics found in music and helps us to ignore (for a second) the delivery (which we will discuss separately). On the ungodly side, we should be able to recognize that some of those “oldies but goodies” aren’t completely ungodly, but may or may not be good to listen to. Similarly, we should be able to distinguish what songs are good but may either be “off” in some way or perhaps aren’t appropriate for worshiping God, yet still be approved unto God within our daily life. I believe that as maturing Christians we should be able to discern, lyric by lyric, song by song, album by album, and artists by artist rather than simply trusting the label or genre that is given to the album or artist. I believe the Bible encourages this level of ‘rightly dividing’ which is also helpful when explaining to others why we do or don’t listen to, or like certain songs.