Welcome to the first installment of a new series. When I named this blog “Leaving Fundamentalism” I really meant it to be a diverse examination of all the unusual parts of my bizarre Christian upbringing. In the end, mostly because of my PhD studies, the blog has been swarmed by posts critiquing ACE. Here’s a bit of light relief: Once a week I’ll show you a Christian rock song from my childhood and talk about how it affected me.
People might be misled by this into thinking that ACE and Christian rock are somehow related. They aren’t, really. ACE is adamant in its opposition to Christian rock music. In fact, that was the first thing I disliked about ACE. Long before I realised how sexist it is, or how racist, and years before I noticed they’d been teaching me lies, I loathed ACE because they were opposed to Christian rock music, which for me was the biggest reason that I was enthusiastic about being a Christian.
In the rules for ACE’s student conventions (annual competitions between ACE schools and students), the music section reads now as it did when I was in school:
Competition arrangements are to be Christian or patriotic rather than secular. Classical instrumental music is allowed as long as it is non-offensive to Christian values or good taste. Music sung or played with a jumpy, sensual, or worldly style is not acceptable. Contemporary Christian, jazz, gospel rock, or gospel country music are not acceptable. In our music guidelines, “contemporary” refers to a style of music, not the date on which a piece was written. Music must be appropriate for a typical conservative fundamental church service (musical arrangement, text, and presentation).
When I first read this, aged 11 or 12, I thought it was among the stupidest things I’d ever seen. It’s now accompanied by a disclaimer that wasn’t there back in my day, saying essentially that ACE doesn’t expect all its member schools to agree with these rules, but please to respect them during the competition. Clearly I wasn’t the only one who wasn’t impressed.
Later, I got to ACE’s Music PACEs, a series of six workbooks that, from a music education point of view, are almost totally useless. If you haven’t previously had a lot of music lessons, they’d be almost incomprehensible. If you have had music lessons, you’d probably already know everything in them. Anyway, in Music PACE #5, I saw ACE’s arguments in full for why rock music was sinful and bad.
A true story is told of an African who worshiped idols before he received Christ as his Saviour. When he heard rock music for the first time, he asked the missionary why the young people were trying to call on demons with their music. The missionary didn’t understand what he meant, so the African explained that the rock beat was the same one his tribe used to call on demons. Most likely the young people were not trying to call on demons, but the African brother knew that the style of music they were using had the capacity of doing just that. It is obviously important to seriously consider the type of music to which you listen.
I realise that this testimony doubtless has you rushing to delete every rock mp3 from your hard drive, but wait, there’s more! (All these arguments against rock music seem to be lifted straight from Bill Gothard, whose anti-rock music polemic I have reproduced in full at the end of this post.) Other arguments include:
- Listening to rock music might make you picture sinful activities such as “a rock concert, dancing, or a worldly lifestyle.”
- Some Christian rock bands dress the same as some secular rock bands. You can’t tell from looking at them whether they are evil or not. The Bible says to abstain from all appearance of evil. Ergo, Christian rock is evil. QED, motherfucker.
- In Christian rock, the lyrics and music are in conflict. The music appeals to our sinful ‘old natures’, while the lyrics appeal to our Godly ‘new natures’. So “listening to Christianized rock music produces a warring between our old natures and our new natures. This battle often inhibits our spiritual growth.”
- “Music is appropriate only when the lyrics and musical style coincide with and are consistent with Biblical principles.”
It occurs to me now that if ACE seriously thinks it’s sinful to dress the same as a sinner, they ought henceforth to ban all their men from wearing suits, shirts, and ties, since all manner of ungodly bastards wear them.
Anyway, I thought these arguments were crap. In fact, in my mind ACE’s opposition to Christian rock music made them suspect more generally. I always read my PACEs with a critical eye, watching for other idiocy in my PACEs. You would think, then, that I would have rejected most of what they taught me. Sadly, that wasn’t the case. Although I had minimal respect for ACE, I had the utmost respect for the Bible, and as far as I was concerned most of what they taught me was straight from the Bible and therefore beyond question. I dearly wish I’d thought “Hmmm… they’re full of crap about rock music, maybe they’re wrong about science and politics too”, but it never even crossed my mind. I was as ardent a believer in ACE’s Tea Party politics and crackpot creationism as they could have hoped for.
So anyway, there’s your history. Tune in every Thursday for my dissection of a different Christian rock song.
If you can’t wait to get started, here are some relevant previous posts.
Bill Gothard’s anti-rock tract What the Bible has to say about… “Contemporary Christian” Music is now out of print. The original comes with a notice saying that it may be reproduced freely as long as attribution is given. It has been posted online many times, but it keeps disappearing when the sites get taken down. For posterity, I’m saving it here. When you read this, you’ll get a sense of what it was like for me growing up as a conservative Christian rock fan. Some of the Christians I knew were fine with Christian rock music (rock music made by non-Christians was of the devil, though), and some of them thought like Bill Gothard. Which made me feel… conflicted.
What the Bible has to say about….
CONTEMPORARY CHRISTIAN MUSIC
Ten Scriptural Reasons Why the “Rock Beat” Is Evil in Any Form.
“… There shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies… And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of. And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you…” (II Peter 2:1-3). Music in itself is a language and gives a message. Thus, those who sing and play are teachers. Teaching truth out of balance leads to heresy. A “pernicious” disease is one that is very difficult to cure.
DEFINITION OF “ROCK BEAT”
The “rock beat” is a dominant and repetitious OFFBEAT which competes with the melody and distracts from the words of a song. The contradictory messages in the beat, the words, the melody, the style of the presentation, and the appearance of the musicians all create a subtle confusion in the minds, wills, and emotions of the listeners, which leads them to question the absolute moral standards of God.
1. THE “ROCK BEAT” DECEIVES YOUTH INTO VIOLATING THE FIFTH COMMANDMENT.
The Fifth Commandment is “Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee” (Exodus 20:12).
The New Testament reaffirms this commandment: “Honour thy father and mother; which is the first commandment with promise; That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth” (Ephesians 6:2-3). There is no question that many parents are strongly opposed to the “rock beat.” Therefore, those who promote the “rock beat” are causing young people to dishonor their fathers and mothers.
HOW THE “ROCK BEAT” CAUSED A SON TO DISHONOR HIS PARENTS
“About four years ago, our church got a new youth pastor. He began playing ‘Christian rock’ before meetings and during activities. He encouraged me to get a copy of a certain tape, which I did, even though my parents forbade me from doing so.
“Because I was being home educated, the church youth group was the only significant outside influence in my life, but that influence was enough to cause me to rebel and wreck my life for the next four years.
“I then started listening to secular soft rock music, thinking, ‘What’s wrong with this? It has less beat than Christian music.’ If only I had known what a deceiver Satan is, I would have saved myself a lot of heartache.”About seven months ago at a Christian radio station’s New Year’s Eve party, I was introduced to ‘Christian rap’ music. Before that time, I did not listen to rap, but after hearing it there, I began justifying to myself that the beat couldn’t be all bad because Christians listened to it and it didn’t seem to harm them. “What it did to me was cause a complete breakdown in morals, which led directly to my becoming involved in immoral habits and illegal activities. I was also constantly plagued with violent and unclean thoughts. Since then, I have taken steps to regain the ‘ground’ given to Satan, and for the first time in years, I have a feeling of complete freedom from the influence of this music. ” – Tim Love, age 18, Washington
A SECOND WITNESS ON HOW THE “ROCK BEAT” LEADS YOUTH TO BREAK THE FIFTH COMMANDMENT
“I’ve never been into rock music or even light rock, but lately I believe my standards in music have been going down. Our family was given two music tapes a while back. “They aren’t extremely ‘rocky,’ but the beat in the music is a little off. I have enjoyed those tapes, and when my mother said she really didn’t like them, I immediately became defensive. “I realize now that even if those tapes were perfectly fine as far as the beat, if my mother didn’t like them it would be wrong for me to listen to them,” – Lael Auble, age 14, Florida
A THIRD WITNESS ON HOW THE “ROCK BEAT” CAUSES YOUTH TO REBEL AGAINST THEIR PARENTS
Fourteen-year-old Sari Ann Mitchell of California received a booklet entitled, Notice Of Complaint Against the Unrecognized Enemy in the Church. This booklet contains testimonies from young people about how “Christian rock” has damaged their walk with the Lord and their relationships with others. After reading the booklet, she sent it along with the following letter of appeal to her pastor:
January 19, 1990
“I have been praying for a way to express how I feel about ‘Christian contemporary’ music to my friends and others. I was so happy to receive this booklet in the mail that I wanted to share it with you. I want to add my own personal testimony to the many in this booklet.
“I started listening to ‘Christian contemporary’ (rock) music when I was twelve. At this time I was attending a private Christian school, and there my friends all listened to it. The pressure was great, so I started to listen to some of their tapes once in a while.
“I became hooked. It may be hard to believe, but that music made me think sensuous thoughts, and the beat made me want to sway and dance like the world. After this I started to listen to ‘Christian contemporary’ music all the time, and even though my parents didn’t like it, I got some tapes of my own to listen to.
“One day, I went to my friend’s house, and she had her radio on. It was on a secular soft rock station. When I got home I turned my radio to that same station. I listened to it just once in a while, and it sounded just like the ‘Christian contemporary’ music, except the words were a little different. (Actually, I didn’t even listen to the words!)
“When I started to make these compromises, I started to make other compromises too, like stopping my daily devotions and listening to music instead of studying. When I did do my homework, I listened to music, and I cheated on some of my homework so I could have time after school to listen to music. I shut myself up in my room and became secluded so I could listen to it.
“At this time, I also began to rebel against my parents, spreading from rebellion in music to rebellion in clothes. Then my Dad and Mom took me to a Basic Youth Seminar. There I heard stuff I had never heard before about music, dating, marriage, disloyalty, bitterness, genuine love, and much more.
“After that Seminar, I started to think about where my life was going. It wasn’t going how I wanted it to go, no matter how hard I tried! I knew something was very wrong. Then I went to the Advanced Seminar. This cleared it up. I was going downhill, and only God could pull me up, so I gave it all up to Him, and every day He pulls me up a little higher. “I have to tell you this because I want you to know I’m not just saying that I THINK ‘Christian contemporary’ music is bad and is compromising – I know it is. There’s only one way to get out of its addictive clutch, and that’s to give it up to God. So PLEASE don’t let this wolf sneak into the church and kill people unaware.” – Sari Ann Mitchell, age 14, California
Even if parents are “too strict” in rejecting the “rock beat,” God expects their children to obey them. “… We have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence… For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure…” (Hebrews 12:9-10).
HOW A TRUSTED MAGAZINE IS URGING TEENS TO DISHONOR THEIR PARENTS
On the cover of the January 1990 edition of a respected and trusted Christian youth magazine, there appeared the title: “Sing You Freedom.” On page 32 is the following article, entitled, “Shake Down at Home.” It’s easy to avoid talking to your parents about music, because it tends to be a touchy subject. But before conflicts arise, communicate with your parents about the music you like. This will help them understand why your music is important to you. “Here are some suggestions for developing communication with your parents about music. These ideas come from discussions with three teenagers. [vs. Scripture]
- “Don’t play YOUR MUSIC so loud that ‘the whole house is shaking….’ If you’re considerate about the volume, you will show your parents that you’re mature enough to be thoughtful of others. [vs. obedient to parents]
- “Share your enthusiasm with your parents…. This is a way to show your parents how IMPORTANT YOUR MUSIC IS TO YOU.
- “Choose CAREFULLY the songs to play for them. Chances are that your parents like a different style of music. For your parents, listening to YOUR MUSIC may be a bit like trying to understand a foreign language. So choose a song that has clear words and an understandable message. [What an indictment to much of the music!]
- “After you listen to a song together, talk about it…. [One of the three teenagers] explains to his parents what the writer is TRYING TO SAY…. Talking to your parents about the words shows your parents that you’ve listened to the lyrics and have thought about what they mean.
- “Be willing to listen to your parents’ music. IF they are willing to listen to your music, it’s nice to meet them HALFWAY.
- “Don’t expect too much; you may not convert them to YOUR STYLE of music. Different generations tend to like different types of music. YOUR GOAL is to communicate to your parents why YOUR MUSIC IS IMPORTANT TO YOU.” [Emphasis added]
WHAT A SHOCKING ARTICLE!!
OBSERVATIONS ABOUT THIS ARTICLE:
- The reference to “the whole house shaking” leaves no doubt that we are talking about “rock music.”
- The writer is very aware that many parents of teenagers are not in favor of the music which their sons and daughters are playing. * Rather than encouraging the young people to honor and obey their parents’ wishes, the writer instructs them to stand up for the rights to “their music.”
- What appalling counsel to say, “Be willing to listen to your parents’ music. IF your parents are willing to listen to your music, it’s nice to meet them halfway.
- Deception is encouraged by urging the young people to “choose carefully the songs to play for them…. Choose a song that has clear words and an understandable message.”
- To say that “different generations tend to like different types of music” is to totally disregard the destructive nature of the “rock beat.” This statement also disregards the true meaning of deference,
- Deference is limiting my freedom in order not to offend the tastes of those God has called me to serve.
- The conclusion of the article is a blatant defiance of parental authority: “Don’t expect too much; you may not convert them to your style of music…. Your goal is to communicate to your parents WHY YOUR MUSIC IS IMPORTANT TO YOU.”
The goal of God’s instruction in Ephesians 6 is not for the parents to capitulate to the will of their children, but for sons and daughters to obey and honor their parents.
Any teenager who disregards the instruction to honor his father and mother will experience the consequences of which God warns in Proverbs 30:17: “The eye that mocketh at his father, and despiseth to obey his mother, the ravens of the valley shall pick it out, and the young eagles shall eat it.”
2. THE “ROCK BEAT” VIOLATES GOD’S COMMAND TO “GIVE NO PLACE TO THE DEVIL.”
When sons and daughters disregard the instruction of their parents by listening to the “rock beat,” they are guilty of the kind of rebellion which is described in I Samuel 15:23:
“For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry….”
Rebellion is simply reserving for myself the right to make final decisions. It is deciding to have an equal voice with those whom God has placed in authority over me. This was the type of rebellion which Satan demonstrated when he said, “…. I will be LIKE the most High [God]” (Isaiah 14:14).
Witchcraft involves exposing oneself to the realm and the power of Satan’s control. Whoever gives Satan such “ground” violates the command of Ephesians 4:27. “Neither give place [ground] to the devil.” The Greek word for “place” in this verse refers to a sphere of jurisdiction. When Satan is given authority, he uses it to control and destroy the one who gave it to him.
HOW SATAN GAINED “GROUND” WHEN A TEENAGER LISTENED TO THE “ROCK BEAT”
“I started listening to ‘contemporary Christian’ music about four years ago. I thought that the music was OK, and I enjoyed it, but one day I was listening to a Christian radio station and a song came on that I had never heard. I liked the song even though it was questionable.
“When the group who played that song came to town, I went to their concert with some friends. I knew, however, that my parents would not have approved had they known what type of music was played.
“After the concert, I borrowed money from a friend to buy their tape. I brought it home, but my parents did not want me to keep it. I did anyway.
“I listened to it all the time and finally bought some other ‘Christian rock’ tapes even though my parents did not want me to. I listened to them for a while but soon got bored with them.
“I then started listening to secular rock on a light rock station without my parents’ knowledge.
“I began to want to listen to rock music more and more, and I began to enjoy the harder stuff. I soon changed stations to a hard rock station so I could listen to the harder stuff.
“After listening to that station for about a year (all without my parents’ knowledge), I found that the stuff I liked the station could play only at night. So I got the tapes of some of the groups I liked, and I found that I loved heavy metal. I just couldn’t get enough.
“When I finally faced the reality of how wrong I was, I made commitments to give it up. However, I still struggle with it daily, and every time I hear it I am tempted to get back into it.” – David Brown, age 16, Arizona
THE TESTIMONY OF A FORMER SATANIST HIGH PRIEST THAT THE “ROCK BEAT” GIVES “GROUND”
“My background is not a good one, but I give thanks and praise to God for saving me from it. I was a Satanist high priest for nine years.
“I am writing in regard to ‘Christian music’ or what is called ‘power tracts,’ ‘Christian rock and roll,’ and ‘contemporary Christian’ music, and their counterparts, rock and roll, heavy metal, black metal, country music, rap, and punk.
“I understand that I cannot judge groups as to whether or not they are genuine believers. But the Bible does say that we are to judge their fruit.
“The Bible says that we are to be Christlike. Some groups who play this kind of ‘Christian’ music say that they do so because it’s the only way they can reach the young people of today. They claim that we must look like the world and use the world’s music in order to reach young people with the Word of God.
“How long will Christians allow themselves to be deceived and lied to by Satan [the father of lies]?
“The Bible says we are to be in the world – not a part of it. It also says that to be a friend with the world is to be an enemy of God.
“As ambassadors for Christ, we should represent Him the best we can. Christ never changed His appearance, whether He talked with kings or the poor.
“When I first became involved in the occult, music had a big influence on my life. It was not just the words but the music itself. Its affect on me spiritually was to bring me into another state of consciousness.
“The beat and style of the music used in the occult rituals is the same that I now hear in ‘Christian power tracts,’ ‘Christian rock and roll,’ ‘Christian rap,’ and in much of what is called ‘Christian contemporary’ music today.
“People who were saved from the youth culture of today say, ‘I cannot listen to this new Christian music, because when I hear it, it takes me back to my past when I was lost. It brings all that back to me – lustful desires, love of money, sex, suicide, and rebellion against authority.’
“Think of the struggle that these young Christians have when they try to separate the things of the world from the things of God. When they hear what is called ‘Christian’ music that sounds just like the world, these vulnerable young Christians become confused and the music becomes a stumbling block in their lives.
“Normally a Christian will take only what is good and leave the bad. This discernment does not always work with music, however, because if the music is bad and the words are good, many Christians are not able to separate them and both are swallowed together.
“Satan tried a mixed-message tactic on Jesus in the desert when he misquoted Scripture by mixing it with half-truths. Jesus rebuked Satan for this tactic and quoted the whole truth back to him.” – David Pratt, Chattanooga, Tennessee
THE SECOND WITNESS THAT THE “ROCK BEAT” ITSELF IS DEMONIC
In April 1990, a Christian from Zimbabwe, Africa, arrived for his first visit to the United States. He is a native missionary under the Awana Youth Association. When he turned on a Christian radio station and listened to the music, he was shocked. Here is his report:
“I am very sensitive to the beat in music, because when I was a boy, I played the drums in our village worship rituals. The beat that I played on the drum was to get the demon spirits into the people.
“When I became a Christian, I rejected this kind of beat because I realized how damaging it was.
“When I turned on a Christian radio station in the United States, I was shocked. The same beat that I used to play to call up the evil spirits is in the music I heard on the Christian station.” – Stephen Maphosah, Zimbabwe, Africa
A THIRD WITNESS THAT THE “ROCK BEAT” DOES GIVE “GROUND” TO THE DEVIL
“In 1981, I was driving down a jungle road in the Ivory Coast with several African pastors in the car with me. I had recently received a couple of cassette tapes from our denominational headquarters that were intended for our teenaged daughter.
“These were recordings of various ‘Christian rock’ artists. In listening to the tapes, I was very disturbed in my own spirit that such material was being sent to our missionary kids.
“But not trusting my own reaction alone and realizing that these pastors with whom I was traveling were very sensitive to the spirit world (both good and evil), I decided to play the tapes for them. The reaction I got was immediate and verbally violent!
“One of the pastors asked me this question, ‘Do you mean to tell us that this kind of music is played in your churches in America?’
“I answered in the affirmative. His response was filled with disgust and anger as he replied with another question. ‘What are you doing allowing your church people in America to call up the evil spirits with their music?’ ” – Rev. Joe Meyers, Tacoma, Washington
3. THE “ROCK BEAT” MOCKS GOD’S COMMAND TO “LOVE NOT THE WORLD.” There is absolutely no way that Christians who love the “rock beat” can deny that they love the world. The “rock beat” not only originated with the ungodly elements of this world, but it expresses the evil intentions of the world’s system which is opposed to Christ and His Truth.
The very phrase “rock ‘n’ roll” describes a form of immorality. To say that we can have “Christian rock” is like saying we can have “Christian immorality.” Furthermore the “rock beat” does not come alone. It was originally designed to stir up and express rebellion to authority, as well as immorality. Those who try to put Christian words to a “rock beat” are simply imitating the world, and because one of the strongest evidences of admiration is imitation, they are guilty of violating God’s command in I John 2:15-16: “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
“For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.” God condemns any Christian who loves the world.
“Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? Whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God” (James 4:4).
Christians are to be IN the world but not OF the world. We are not to be influenced by their evil ways; instead, we are to be a light in their darkness. God brought judgment to His own people when they “… mingled among the heathen, and learned their works. And they served their idols: which were a snare unto them….
“Therefore was the wrath of the Lord kindled against his people, insomuch that he abhorred his own inheritance. And he gave them into the hand of the heathen; and they that hated them ruled over them” (Psalm 106:35-42).
HOW THE AMERICAN MEDICAL ASSOCIATION LINKS THE “ROCK BEAT” WITH THE WORLD
“‘Doctors should be alert to the listening habits of young patients as a clue to their emotional health, because fascination with rock ‘n’ roll, especially heavy metal music, may be associated with drug use, premarital sex and satanic rites,’ a committee of the American Medical Association said.
“‘At the very least, commitment to a rock subculture is symptomatic of adolescent alienation,’ the AMA’s Group on Science and Technology said in its report, ‘Adolescents and Their Music,’ published by the Journal of the American Medical Association.
“‘The AMA committee reported that ‘the average teenager listens to 10,400 hours of rock music during the years between the 7th and 12th grades, and music surpasses television as an influence in teenagers’ lives. While TV viewing often is supervised by parents, music largely is uncensored,’ the committee said.“‘As an important agent of adolescent socialization, however, the negative messages of rock music should not be dismissed,’ the committee said.
“The committee cited ‘… evidence linking involvement in rock culture with low school achievement, drugs, sexual activity and even satanic activities.’ “The committee expressed special concern about two relatively recent developments in rock music – heavy metal rock and music videos. “‘The violent and sexual content of the video images are disturbing to many,’ the committee said.
“‘…. A study found that 7th and 1Oth graders, after watching one hour of music videos, were more likely to approve of premarital sex than were a control group of adolescents.”‘ (Reported in the Chicago Sun Times, September 15, 1989)
4. THE “ROCK BEAT” DISREGARDS GOD’S COMMAND NOT TO OFFEND OTHER CHRISTIANS.
On Friday afternoon, May 18, 1990, a twenty-year-old man attending the Detroit Basic Seminar asked the following question.
“Several years ago I was saved out of a life of immorality and drugs. The church I began attending told me to get rid of my rock music. I did and have been growing in the Lord. But now my church is playing the same kind of music they told me to give up. What am I to do?”
This grievous question exposes the violation of the law of love in the matter of “Christian rock” music. It brings us directly to the appeal of the Apostle Paul regarding questionable things: It is good not to do
“… ANY THING whereby thy brother stumbleth, or is offended, or is made weak” (Romans 14:21). This vital command is repeated in I Corinthians 8:9-13. It puts to silence any Christian who says he has a right to play the music that he enjoys.
“But take heed lest by any means this liberty of yours become a stumbling block to them that are weak…. And through thy knowledge shall the weak brother perish, for whom Christ died?
“But when ye sin so against the brethren, and wound their weak conscience, ye sin against Christ….”
The “rock beat” offends Christians who, when they first hear it, immediately discern in their spirits that it is not of God but is of the world.
HOW A YOUNG MISSIONARY WAS OFFENDED BY THE “ROCK BEAT”
“In the summer of 1988, I attended a missionary training conference with many other Christian young people. Some of the music contained a subtle “rock beat.” The beat offended me, and I decided to appeal to the leader of the group.
“However, before I could make my appeal, he preached a message to the whole group justifying the “rock beat” by condemning anyone who judged another person for his music style.
“Last year, a much larger conference was held by the same organization. This time I was absolutely shocked when I heard the music. The “rock beat” was so strong that many young people began to dance in a worldly manner.
“I was so grieved, I had to walk out of the meetings whenever the music was played. It was a strange mixture of pure worship and sensual beat.
“The conflicting messages created confusion in me and grieved my spirit.
“After the training we went into an area for outreach. Our goal was to bring young people into an evening meeting, but at the meeting, they again played the rock music. I could not even attend these meetings, and there were several others who felt the same way.
“We prayed and fasted and then made our appeal to the national Christian leaders. They received our appeal; however, they had been looking to the American Christians for an example and assumed that because the Americans did it, it must be right.” – Janet Yast, age 27, Pennsylvania
“P.S. What disappoints me so much is that this leader has had such a great influence on my life. He is such a Godly man; I just cannot understand why he is not discerning in this area of compromise.”
HOW THE LAW OF SYMPATHETIC VIBRATION EXPLAINS WHY THE “ROCK BEAT” OFFENDS MANY
In music, there is a law of sympathetic vibration. This law is demonstrated by a tuning fork. When a note is played on the piano, the tuning fork vibrates at that pitch. Similarly, when we hear sounds, our whole body will either vibrate with the sound, or react to it. When a little child hears a syncopated “rock beat,” he will tend to sway and dance. If, however, the child is spiritually discerning, he will say to his parents, “That is bad music.” The “rock beat” not only offends Christians who have not been exposed to it, but it also offends Christians who have come out of the rock culture and are trying to rid their lives of the rebellion and immorality that the “rock beat” stirs up in them.
HOW THE “ROCK BEAT” OFFENDS THOSE WHO ARE TRYING TO ESCAPE THE WORLD’S CORRUPTION
“I used to reject my family and spend all my free time in my room listening to music that did not glorify God.
“I slid deeper and deeper into the satanic realm. I knew it was satanic, but I couldn’t get out. It also gave Satan a handle to get into other areas of my life.
“I loved the world and the world’s music. I listened to it, sang it, and talked about it, and when anyone said they didn’t listen to it, I would ridicule them.
“Rock music had dulled my senses. Even when I knew something was wrong, I would do it anyway.
“Rock is powerful, and if anyone tells you that it isn’t, they are lying.
“I needed it all the time, just like a smoker needs a smoke. I couldn’t go on a vacation without secretly taking a radio.
“I am now trying to get away from this kind of music. If anyone plays the ‘rock beat,’ it reminds me of songs that I can remember word for word, note for note.” – Dan Steele, age 18, Minnesota
The “rock beat” is not only offending Christians in America, but it is especially grievous to Christians in other countries who are being influenced by American missionaries and visiting youth groups.
Stephen Maphosah, who was trained to use the beat for demonic worship (see testimony on page 8), visited a Christian bookstore on June 25, 1990. He purchased samples of ten individual “contemporary Christian” musicians and groups that are among the most listened to by Christians in America. He evaluated each tape on the basis of its beat. Some tapes contained the demonic beat that he was accustomed to in his ancestral worship of evil spirits. Other tapes contained a slower variation of the demonic beat. However, he classified ALL the tapes as “unacceptable and offensive to the Christians of this country.”
WHY TWO SINCERE CHRISTIANS CAN HAVE OPPOSING VIEWS ON THE SAME MUSIC
Two Christians may listen to a contemporary rock song and give totally opposite evaluations of it. One will say, “I know that song is wrong because it causes me to be rebellious and sensual.” The other Christian may say, “I don’t see anything wrong with that music. It doesn’t stir up any rebellion or sensuality in me.”
Their viewpoints are illustrated in the chart “The Development of Concupiscence” given in the Basic Youth Conflicts Seminar. Music that becomes sensual will follow the stages leading to reprobation.
Therefore, if two Christians are on different levels in the development of reprobation, they will see the same music from two different viewpoints. The Christian who has not given way to various sensual sins will recognize this music as a temptation to compromise in sensuality. Those who have engaged in sensual activities will probably not be stirred up by this music. Their previous sensuality has dulled their senses, and they are tempted only by a more radical expression of the “rock beat.”
In the early Church, Christians vehemently debated the matter of eating meat that had been offered to idols. Some Christians felt that it was wrong to eat this meat because it had been offered to an idol. Other Christians saw no problem with the meat since it was sold in the open market.
Paul pointed out that there was nothing intrinsically wrong with the meat, yet because it was offending other Christians it should not be eaten. Therefore, the Holy Spirit and the early Church leaders unanimously condemned the eating of this meat because it caused weaker brothers to stumble. They commanded both Jewish and Gentile believers not to eat it. (See Acts 15:28- 29.)
In the book of Revelation, two churches were rebuked because they had believers in them who were encouraging Christians to eat meat offered to idols. (See Revelation 2:14, 20). If the meat offered to idols was condemned when it had nothing wrong with it, how much more should the “rock beat” be condemned in our churches, based on the following Scripture: “But if thy brother be grieved with thy meat, now walkest thou not charitably. Destroy not him with thy meat, for whom Christ died” (Romans 14:15). The same principle applies to music.
5. THE “ROCK BEAT” DEFIES GOD’S COMMAND TO JUDGE ALL THINGS AS GOOD OR EVIL.
In the early years of the “Christian rock beat,” the beat and the sound were justified on the basis that “music is amoral.” If such a conclusion is accepted, then music is not a matter of good and evil, but simply a matter of personal taste. Yet such false reasoning is in total opposition to the words of Scripture. Music is the product of words and actions, and nowhere in Scripture is there an “amoral” classification for words and actions.
“…. We must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be GOOD OR BAD” (II Corinthians 5:10).
All Christians are commanded by God to exercise their spiritual senses in order to discern between good and evil. “But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both GOOD AND EVIL” (Hebrews 5:14).
HOW A FAMILY DISCERNED THAT A “CHRISTIAN” CHILDREN’S TAPE WAS EVIL.
“The day before our three-year-old daughter’s surgery, I went shopping for a small gift to give her when she came home from the hospital. At our local Christian bookstore I bought a tape of children’s songs.
“When she arrived home we presented her with the tape. She immediately wanted to hear it. We don’t own a television set, so listening to her tapes is one of her favorite pastimes.
“We played it for her and were disappointed to find that some of the songs had definite rock overtones to them. She picked up on this, too, because we have trained her to recognize the evil in ‘rock and roll’ music.
“Once we knew which songs we didn’t care for, we would just skip over them. Whenever she would ask to hear the tape and it came to a song we didn’t care for, she would ask us to fix the tape for her. That was all fine and well, but I noticed as time went on that she was wanting to listen to that particular tape more than her favorite tapes.
“At the same time, we started to notice some behavior changes in her that we didn’t really care for. She is a normal three-year-old who would challenge our authority, but she usually knew her boundaries. Usually she would pray and participate enthusiastically in our family devotions, pray before meals, be active and responsive in Sunday school, memorize Scripture, and love to sing songs about Jesus.
“However, the more she listened to this ‘Christian’ children’s tape, the more I noticed her behavior change. She started pushing, shoving, kicking, and biting her friends and her sister. She back-talked more than she ever dared before, and she made faces at us when we asked her to do something.
“She stopped participating in our devotions, stopped praying, didn’t want to go to church anymore, and started doing things I had never seen her or her friends do before. She became openly defiant and rebellious to her father and me, even hitting or kicking us if we asked her to accompany us on an errand or something along those lines.
“I honestly couldn’t figure out what was happening, but because I had been a very rebellious child when I was growing up, I thought I was beginning to reap what I had sown.
“Things continued to get worse. It seemed as though I was forever spanking her, standing her in the corner, or sending her to bed, I started doubting my ability as a parent, and this caused insecurity and other problems to come into my life. It literally affected our whole family, and we were constantly in a turmoil. We tried discipline, we tried reasoning, we prayed a hedge of thorns, and we tried easing up on the discipline. Nothing worked.
“Our personal devotions and prayer lives were affected. Instead of drawing closer to the Lord, I started drifting. This all happened in a three-week period of time. Finally, one evening after the children were in bed, my husband and I discussed our dilemma. He suggested that maybe we ought to do some ‘housecleaning.’
“The more I thought about it, the more I realized that our daughter’s behavior had started changing the day we gave her that tape. My husband was thinking the very same thing. We also noticed that some magazines we had been subscribing to had pictures of alcohol and cigarettes, and different cult articles were scattered throughout their pages. We decided to burn the tape and the magazines as soon as possible.
“The next morning after breakfast, we explained to our daughter what we intended to do. When she asked why, we told her that having these things in our house did not please Jesus. We showed her some of the pictures in the magazines, and she agreed with us. She wasn’t agreeable about including her tape in the things to be burned, but she didn’t put up as much of a fight as I had expected.
“We took everything outside, piled it up, and set fire to it as we all stood by and watched. When we came back in the house, we asked her to forgive us for allowing those things to come into our house. She did and then went on her way.
“This all happened on a Friday, and our daughter’s behavior was still pretty bad. However, by Monday the change in her behavior was incredible! I thought we had brought the wrong child home from church on Sunday!
“Our home is just about back to normal now, since our ‘umbrella’ has been patched. The change in our daughter has been obvious, not only to us but also to our friends who went through this with us. We have learned much from this experience, mainly to be careful about what things enter our home.
“Not everything labeled ‘Christian’ contains the Lord’s blessing.” – The Patrick Hait family, Maryland
Evaluating the evil of the “rock beat” is not a matter of musical ability, but rather of spiritual discernment.
“Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world” (I John 4:1).
6. THE “ROCK BEAT” DISOBEYS GOD’S COMMAND TO AVOID “ALL APPEARANCE OF EVIL.”
A Christian magazine that claims to be “the most widely read resource serving youth ministry” contains a chart in its September 1990 issue which matches every worldly rock sound with a comparable “Christian rock” group sound. Notice the categories:
Rock ‘n’ roll
Not only are “Christian rock” groups imitating the sound of evil rock groups, but they are also copying the evil dress styles and appearance of the world’s musicians. An impartial observer would find it difficult, if not impossible, to distinguish between many “Christian rock” groups and worldly rock groups by simply looking at their album covers. So-called “Christian groups” are now even using satanic symbols on their album covers. How can Christians justify such a blatant disobedience to the clear command of Scripture?
“Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. Abstain from ALL appearance of evil” (I Thessalonians 5:21-22). Not only is it difficult, if not impossible, to distinguish worldly rock groups from most “Christian rock” groups, but it is also very hard to determine which members are men and which ones are women, because of the long hair, skirts, and other attire worn by many of the men. This is in clear violation of the following instruction of Scripture:
“Doth not even nature itself teach you, that, if a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him?” (I Corinthians 11:14).
“The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman’s garment: for all that do so are abomination unto the Lord thy God” (Deuteronomy 22:5).
7. THE “ROCK BEAT” CONTRADICTS GOD’S COMMAND NOT TO BE BROUGHT UNDER ITS POWER. The “rock beat” is, in and of itself, an addiction. Those who vibrate with it begin to desire more and more of it. Like a drug addiction, one’s appetite for it increases so that the “rock beat” in “contemporary Christian” music soon becomes dissatisfying, and a stronger beat is required. The “rock beat” therefore violates the following Scripture: “All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient… I will not be brought under the power of any” (I Corinthians 6:12).
Seventeen-year-old Susanna adds her testimony to several others in this booklet to confirm the addictive nature of the “rock beat”:
A TEENAGER’S APPEAL TO REJECT THE “ROCK BEAT” BECAUSE IT IS SUCH A POWERFUL ADDICTION.
“I started to listen to ‘Christian rock’ when I was eleven. Each time I heard it, I felt rebellious and had sensual thoughts.
“The feelings grew stronger as my music got harder.
“I finally realized this music was wrong, and I tried to get rid of all my music tapes, but I would always slip back into it.
“I am seventeen years old now, and I still struggle with this music. It is very addictive and so easy to slip back into.
“I pray that as you read of my struggles and of the struggles of other young people, you will want to keep this damaging tool of Satan out of our lives, our homes, and our churches.” – Susanna Dressler, age 17, Indiana
ANOTHER TESTIMONY OF HOW ADDICTIVE THE “ROCK BEAT” IS.
“In the summer of 1989, I purposed that I would listen only to music which is glorifying to God.
“However, Satan had a stronghold in my life because I listened to rock music for many years. As a result the sounds and words were embedded in my memory.
“As the teachers at school lectured, or as I ate lunch or walked through the hall and heard any word that was in a song, I would begin singing a song that the word reminded me of.
“Every conversation brought a song to my mind. Thus every day, evil lyrics were embedded deeper into my spirit.
“Only as I recognized the demonic nature of this addiction was I able to deal with it in a Scriptural way.” – Brandi Brace, age 19, Kansas
“Reaching teenagers” with “Christian rock” music is like giving out liquor with Bible verses on the bottles.
8. THE “ROCK BEAT” OPPOSES GOD’S COMMAND NOT TO MIX LIGHT WITH DARKNESS.
Most of those who promote “Christian rock” music would agree that the rock music of the world is evil. However, they reason that by putting Christian words to the same beat, the world’s music is somehow made right. This human reasoning is directly opposed to the instruction of Scripture.
“…. What fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?
“And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part he that believeth with an infidel?” (II Corinthians 6:14-15).
In the days of the prophet Haggai, the priests were called together and asked some very pertinent questions. The answers which these priests gave have direct application in the matter of mixing Christian words with an ungodly beat.
“If one bear holy flesh in the skirt of his garment, and with his skirt do tough bread, or pottage, or wine, or oil, or any meat, shall it be holy? And the priests answered and said, No.
“…. If on that is unclean by a dead body touch any of these, shall it be unclean? And the priests answered and said, It shall be unclean” (Haggai 2:12- 13). If a priest who had been cleansed would touch something unclean, he would not purify the unclean; however, the unclean thing he touched would make him unclean.
Similarly, the thought of making unclean music acceptable by putting Christian words to it is in direct violation of the following command:
“Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you” (II Corinthians 6:17). The chief justification for combining the pure words of Scripture with the unclean music of the world is that this is the method by which we will reach non-Christians. There are several fallacies to this reasoning.
GOD ORDAINED PREACHING, NOT MUSIC, TO REACH THE LOST.
There are two primary purposes for music in the life of a Christian. The first is to praise and worship God. The second is to edify other Christians. This is the clear teaching of Ephesians 5:19: “Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord.”
When it comes to reaching the lost, God ordained preaching, rather than music, to accomplish this goal. “… It pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe” (I Corinthians 1:21).(See also I Corinthians 1:18.) Based on these points, the commands of Ephesians 5:6-12 are pertinent: “Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience. Be not ye therefore partakers with them. For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light…”
9. THE “ROCK BEAT” IGNORES GOD’S COMMAND FOR ALL MINISTERS TO BE QUALIFIED.
Scripture establishes strict standards for those who would teach others in the Church. A teacher must fulfill the qualifications listed in I Timothy 3 and also Titus 1. Churches go through careful ordination services to make sure that those who instruct Christians are qualified. Ironically, teachers who would never pass an ordination council are being welcomed into churches to teach the young people through music.
Worldly rock musicians who claim to be converted are immediately accepted as being qualified to teach Gospel truths to youth. This is in direct contradiction to the following requirement: “Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil” (I Timothy 3:6).
Even non-Christian musicians who talk about God are being listened to as teachers of truth. At the beginning of Christ’s ministry, the demons gave a very clear witness about Him. One of them said, “…. I know thee who thou art, the Holy One of God” (Mark 1:24). Rather than allowing the demon to testify, Jesus commanded him to be silent. “And Jesus rebuked him, saying, Hold thy peace…” (Mark 1:25).
Even Christians who give a witness for the Lord are instructed first to sanctify the Lord God in their hearts, according to I Peter 3:15. Based on these factors, how can we justify presenting the truth of Scripture in the vulgar and demonic medium of the world’s rock? To justify vulgar music on the basis that it is being used to communicate the Gospel is the same as justifying profanity in the pulpit or pornography in Gospel literature.
10. THE “ROCK BEAT” VIOLATES GOD’S COMMAND TO PROTECT OUR BODIES AS GOD’S TEMPLE.
When we become Christians, our bodies become the dwelling places of the Holy Spirit. Those who defile or damage God’s temple will be judged. “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? “If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are” (I Corinthians 3:16-17). There are many ways in which the “rock beat” damages our bodies.
HOW THE “ROCK BEAT” DAMAGES OUR HEARING
As noted in many of the testimonies, one of the characteristics of the addictive nature of the “rock beat” is that the music must be played louder and louder. Safe decibel levels range from 20 to 65 decibels. As the decibel level of the music increases, irreversible hearing loss occurs. Some permanent damage is possible after eight continuous hours of 90-decibel sound. Rock concerts are consistently between 110 and 140 decibels. Exposure to noise at this level for more than one minute may cause permanent hearing damage.
HOW THE “ROCK BEAT” DAMAGES OUR BRAIN CELLS.
When we listen to music, our minds try to bring the beat and the melody together. When there is an offbeat, the mind struggles to coordinate the two. A study conducted by a neurobiologist of Georgian Court College (Lakewood, New Jersey) and a physicist of Fairleigh Dickinson University (Rutherford, New Jersey) indicated the devastating effects that occur in animals when there is prolonged listening to a rock rhythm. The brain cells involved actually became deformed as they attempted to reconcile the beat to the melody.
HOW THE “ROCK BEAT” DAMAGES OUR CONCENTRATION.
Further research has shown that noise threatens more than just hearing. It is now linked to increased levels of stress, high blood pressure, ulcers, and hormonal imbalance. One of the most common testimonies of young people is that they are unable to concentrate on the Scriptures while under the influence of the “rock beat.”
HOW A TEENAGER RESTORED PERSONAL WORSHIP BY DESTROYING THE “ROCK BEAT”.
“I have listened to ‘contemporary Christian’ music all my life. My parents listened to it even before I was born.
“When they began listening in the early 1970s, the beat was much softer than it is today. However, both secular and ‘Christian contemporary’ music styles have changed. The beat of the music has gotten much harder and faster. The changes were subtle, so only in retrospect can I see where that wrong music led me.
“My parents would never allow me to listen to secular rock music. However, I disobeyed them and listened to it when they weren’t around. This was partly because of peer pressure. It was also because I was used to the beat of the ‘contemporary Christian’ music.
“I felt that some of the ‘Christian’ music had a harder beat than some of the secular music so there must not be anything wrong with the softer secular music. Listening to this music was feeding my growing rebellion toward my parents by putting wrong thoughts and attitudes in my mind. This music also led to lowering my moral standards.
“In 1987 I stopped listening to secular music and focused totally on ‘contemporary Christian’ music. This did not correct my wrong attitudes, because I was still being fed by the wrong music. Then my pride increased. I felt I was better than a lot of people because I didn’t listen to the world’s music.
“In 1989 my parents became increasingly aware of how this wrong music was affecting my life. They began to try to change my views on it. I listened to the Striving for Excellence tapes, and our family read through the Bible and researched every Scripture that dealt with music.
“My parents prayed that I would give up this wrong music. During this time, God was working in my heart. I knew that ‘contemporary Christian’ music was not what my parents wanted for me, but I was afraid to give it up. It had been a part of my me for so long.
“In January of 1990, I met a large group of Christian young people who did not listen to any music with a rock beat in it. I was tremendously impressed with them. They had a peace and a joy that I didn’t have.
“On February 13, 1990, I gave all my music to the Lord and burned all of my ‘Christian rock’ tapes. The results have been amazing!
“God has given me a new desire to know Him better. I have a peace in my life that I never even realized was missing. For years I had a stuttering problem that is now completely cleared up, and I have a new relationship with my parents that I have never had before.
“It was very important for me not just to get rid of the wrong music, but to replace it with right music.
“It is my prayer that every teenager will experience the freedom that I am now enjoying.” – Christiane Quick, age 19, North Carolina
Introducing the “rock beat” into Christian music is like establishing a pluralistic society. It is simply a transition from one controlling religion to another.
A commitment to reject the deception of the “rock beat” in any form:
“Almighty Father, based on the authority of your Word and the testimony of others, I now purpose to remove from my life any music that contains a ‘rock beat’ and to replace it with melodious music that glorifies You and edifies others.” Signature_______________________________________ Date____________________________________________
Reprinted with permission from:
The Institute in Basic Life Principles
Oak Brook, IL 60522-3001
Printed copies may be ordered at the rate of: 1-10 copies: $3.00 per copy; 11-50 copies: $2.00 per copy; 51-100 copies: $1.50 per copy.
(C) 1990 Institute in Basic Life Principles
Reprinted in electronic form by The Light TBBS, Computers for Christ #22, Silver Springs, FL.