If you are new to Christian rock, please read this
post about the definition of Christian rock and some of the biggest questions about Christian music.


Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Criticism of Christian Rock Part 2

Here is Part 2 of me looking at the biggest criticisms of Christian rock music.  I want to dissect these criticisms and show you that Christian rock is bringing praise and honor to our Lord.  If you missed Part 1, you can find it here

The first criticism for Part 2 is about a musician’s look.  Some Christian rock bands today have tattoos and they have long hair.  On these two subjects a lot of critics stand firm.  Critics believe that Christians should not have tattoos or long hair.  First, I want to talk about tattoos.  In today’s society, tattoos are very prevalent in both secular and Christian societies, especially in Christian rock.  Many members in Christian rock bands today have tattoos.  When talking about this issue, critics like to quote this passage of scripture from Leviticus 19:28.  It says, “You shall not make any cuts in your body for the dead nor make any tattoo marks on yourselves: I am the LORD.” 

That is a pretty straightforward passage.  I totally agree that it reads that you should not have tattoos.  But, let’s take a little deeper look at this passage, and see the true meaning behind it.

Once again, like any other passage in the Bible, we need to take a look at the surrounding verses as well as the entire Bible to fully understand each verse.  Let’s take a look at Leviticus 19:26-31.  It says, “You shall not eat anything with the blood, nor practice divination or soothsaying.  You shall not round off the side-growth of your heads nor harm the edges of your beard.  You shall not make any cuts in your body for the dead nor make any tattoo marks on yourselves: I am the LORD.  Do not profane your daughter by making her a harlot, so that the land will not fall to harlotry and the land become full of lewdness.  You shall keep My Sabbaths and revere My sanctuary; I am the LORD.  Do not turn to mediums or spiritists; do not seek them out to be defiled by them.  I am the LORD your God.”

In this passage, God is specifically speaking about pagan, religious rituals.  Each of these acts would lead the Israelites away from God and toward false Gods.  One of the pagan rituals in Biblical times was the use of tattoos.  So, the word ‘tattoo’ in this passage is totally different than tattoos of today.  Nowadays, tattoos are used as body art or decoration.  Today, getting a tattoo is a form of self-expression; it is not a pagan or cultic, religious ritual like the Biblical times.

Second, the Old Testament laws were meant to point the Israelites to God.  When Jesus Christ came and died on the cross, Jesus wiped away all the old laws.  We no longer had to keep following every little law in order to get close with God.  Now we only have to accept Him as our Savior and Lord.  Certainly, though, if we accept Christ it will change us, as we seek to honor Him with our lives.  Part of the choice of getting or not getting a tattoo for a believer should be, “does this honor my Lord?”

Finally, tattoos can be a form of evangelism and witness.  Many Christians in today’s world get Biblical and spiritual tattoos in order to be a witness.  For example, the lead singer of Skillet, John Cooper, has a large tattoo on his forearm that says forgiven.  This could be an entrance into a conversation about Jesus Christ forgiving us of our sins, if a non-Christian engaged Cooper about his tattoo.

With all this being said, I do want to say that you should not come to a decision about getting a tattoo lightly.  You should take time and think hard about whether or not this practice is right for you personally and spiritually.  I think a person should also carefully think about why they are getting a tattoo.  Is this about drawing attention to one’s self or are we genuinely trying to be a testimony of Christ?

If you would like some more information on tattoos and the Bible, click here.

Many critics also dislike the idea of long hair.  Many musicians in the Christian scene do have rather long hair.  Critics like to quote the Bible verse, 1 Corinthians 11:14, which reads, “Does not the very nature of things teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a disgrace to him.”  Just like the tattoo verse, this pretty blatantly says that long hair is a disgrace.  But, once again, we must look at this verse in context. 

In the Corinthian culture long hair was a sign of feminism and even homosexuality.  When writing to the Corinthians, Paul was reminding the church to protect their testimony and witness.  Paul was telling the Corinthians to guard themselves against things that might hurt their testimony.  He was not saying long hair was necessarily bad or evil; it was just a cultural issue at the time.  Second, when Paul was writing to the Corinthians, the church was having divisions on some issues.  In his letter, Paul talked about how certain issues should not divide the church, including the length of your hair.

All in all, in 1 Corinthians 11:14, Paul is simply stating that long hair is bad, only because of the culture of the Biblical time period.  He is also saying that the length of your hair should not be an issue that divides the church.

The next criticism of Christian rock is that Christian music should not be played in bars or clubs; it should only be played in the church.  Critics of Christian rock certainly believe this standpoint.  But, I totally disagree.  First and foremost, I do believe Christian music should be played in the church.  I think this should be the first place Christian music is played.  Should it be the one and only place, absolutely not.  I believe this for two reasons.  First, the church is not a building.  The church is wherever people have gathered to worship the one true God.  It says in Matthew 18:20, “For where two or three come together in My name, there am I with them.”  The church is wherever Christians come together to worship God.  Church is not a building with a steeple; it is a fellowship of believers that come together.  Therefore, we can sing Christian music wherever we are, not just in a church building.

Second, sadly, the world is not in church on a regular basis.  Sadly, the world is in bars, clubs, and concert halls.  For that reason alone, bands choose to go there so they can minister to non-Christians.  In an interview, Sameer Bhattacharya, a guitarist for the Christian hard rock band Flyleaf, said this, “We go out to the bars and things like that, because that’s life.  That’s the world.  We know we are not supposed to go to church and preach to people there because they already know.  So we are supposed to go out there and love.  That’s our job is to love our God and our neighbor.  People in these places are our neighbors.  No one’s out loving anyone anymore.  Everyone is just condemning people.  We are so far away from the church Christ intended and Paul fought for.”

Bands today are going to bars and clubs so they can evangelize to those that are hurting and who have never met Christ in a life changing relationship.  Christian rock bands are meeting people in this world wherever they are, and sharing Christ through music. 

That thought brings me to the next criticism that Christian music should not be used to evangelize, it should only be used to bring praise and worship to God.  I totally disagree with the statement that Christian music should only be used to praise God, and not evangelize to the lost.  Yes, the number one purpose of music should be used to glorify Christ.  But that shouldn’t be the only purpose.  Why can’t Christian music be used to evangelize?  Evangelizing to the lost is a form of praise and worship to God!  God rejoices when we bring people to know Him. One example of music evangelism is in Acts 16:25-34. Paul and Silas were singing praise hymns to God in prison.  They weren’t singing songs in the church, they were singing in prison!  Later on in the story, a jailer and his family were saved and baptized through the ministry and overt praise of God.  Their singing, along with God’s miracle of the earthquake, helped lead a family to Christ.  Once again, music can and should be used to not only praise God, but also evangelize to the lost.

To sum it up, Christian rock bands are only fulfilling the Great Commission.  In Matthew 28:19-20, Jesus says to the disciples, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.  And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”  Jesus doesn’t say sit in your church building and hope someone comes in.  He says go out into the world.  Meet people wherever they are in life, and share the gospel with them.

This final criticism is the one that bothers me the most.  Most critics say that Christian rock bands are satanic.  I am fine if you don’t like Christian rock.  I know quite a few people that don’t like Christian rock music.  I am fine with that, it doesn’t bother me one bit.  But, what does bother me is when people come out and blatantly judge someone’s faith, and say that they are not Christian simply because of the type of music they play. 

In Matthew 7:1-5 it says, “Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?  Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye?  You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye.” 

God specifically says do not judge or you will be judged by Him accordingly.  God does tell us to judge what is right and wrong, but not the validity of someone’s faith.  When you accuse Christian rock as being satanic, you not only accuse the style of music, but you accuse everyone who is associated with that genre as being a Satan worshiper.  You are judging their faith based on the style of music they play.

My biggest question is how can a genre of music that encourages us to love our neighbors, that lifts praise to God, and that seeks to offer the gospel to the lost, be satanic?  Is Christian rock perfect?  No.  But if Satan was in control of Christian rock, why would he want to lift up the name Jesus?  Why would he want Christian rock bands to praise God?  If Satan was in control of Christian rock, he would want the bands to glorify him, and not glorify Jesus.  I believe Jesus uses Christian rock everyday to reach people.  I firmly believe this.  Satan takes no part in Christian music. 

Finally, I just want to urge people who are critics of Christian rock to carefully consider what they are saying and how it impacts others.  I know Christian rock is not perfect, and it has its flaws.  But, as Christians, we should be very careful about criticizing the ministry of others. Jesus says in Mark that whoever is not against us is for us.  Mark 9:38-41 says, “ ‘Teacher’ said John, ‘We saw a man driving out demons in your name and we told him to stop, because he was not one of us.’  ‘Do not stop him,’ Jesus said.  ‘No one who does a miracle in My name can in the next moment say anything bad about Me, for whoever is not against us is for us.  I tell you the truth, anyone who gives you a cup of water in My name because you belong to Christ will certainly not lose his reward.’ ”

God is urging the disciples to stay as one body of believers.  We should not judge each other’s faith and ministry.  But, as a body of believers, we should be out in the world, gaining people for the Lord.  As Christians, we should lift each other up, not tear each other down.  Instead of spending all of our time and energy complaining, arguing, nitpicking, and judging each other’s faith, we should be out in the world reaching people for Christ.

By doing these two blog posts, I am not trying to tear down the faith of those who disagree with me, or to claim that I have all the answers.  I just wanted to share with you Biblical truth, along with my thoughts and opinions.  If you believe deep in your heart that Christian rock is wrong, that is fine.  Stay away from Christian rock music and don’t listen to it.  I will not judge you at all if you don’t agree with Christian rock.  Everyone is entitled to their opinions.  But, if you push your opinions and beliefs on others, I will definitely stand up and speak because your opinions have now crossed over into the territory of judgment.  If you really study the Bible, there is no proof Biblically that Christian rock is wrong or evil.  I firmly believe Christian rock musicians are bringing honor to our Lord, and reaching people for Christ every single day.

10 comments:

  1. I disagree about Christian rock bands need to play in bars. i do not think it is biblical. First off people in bars are not wanting to hear the gospel. They are there to drink and party. Also when a christian band goes into a bar they usually bring with them a folllowing. Sometimes members of that following go back again to the bar and easily can fall into that lifestyle.Even members of the body of Christ. Jesus Christ does not have to hurt the body EVER EVER to win the lost.He would never lead his sheep into a wolves. Our God does not cause confusion to the body. I do not believe Christ leads Christian rock bands to go play in bars. When people get saved the first thing they do if they were in that lifestyle is come out of it. Even the newly saved know to come ye
    out and be separate.

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  2. Thank you for reading and sharing with me. I agree and disagree with some of your points. You say that people in bars do not want to hear the gospel. For the most part, that is probably true. If someone wanted to hear the gospel of Christ, then a bar is not the best place to go. However, Jesus calls us to share the gospel with whoever we meet, whether they are willing to hear it or not. God doesn’t call us to pick and choose who we want to minister to. In everything that I do, I try to mirror the life of Jesus Christ. I constantly look to His teachings and the way that He ministered to people. The one major thing that I find is that Jesus met people wherever they were in life. Whether they were a tax collector, or a prostitute, or even a demon possessed man, the majority of Jesus’ ministry was reaching out to the hurting people in the world.

    I do agree that witnessing in a bar has its temptations. Alcohol is a real and major temptation today. But, I truly believe people can witness in bars without partaking of alcohol. I have heard and read about many bands and pastors who frequently witness in bars without ever tasting one drop of alcohol. Just because you witness in a bar, doesn’t mean that you want to go back to that lifestyle. It simply means that you are trying to save people from an eternity in Hell. When I read the Great Commission in Matthew, I believe God is calling us to go out into the world. He doesn’t say sit in church and hope people will come so that you can minister to them. He says go into the world and make disciples. Sadly, the world is in bars and clubs. The people who frequently go to bars need Christ too. As Christians, it is our duty and responsibility to share Christ with them.

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  3. Amen !!! Jesus ,ministered to sinners where they were.'I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners." If all we do is speak the word to each other ,we may edify one another but we are not doing that "Great Commision" and in my oppinion , that is the culmination of loving God and ones neighbor, as well as obeying Christs final order to ALL disiples.

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  4. Thanks for sharing! I am really glad to see that you are passionate about The Great Commission and following Jesus Christ.

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  5. Thank you for presenting a logical, well thought out, Biblically backed up argument on this. It is very refreshing and much more convincing than reading rash, angry arguments. I had never thought much about this topic until recently and some of my main concerns were the first thing you mentioned in this - the musician's look and the image they were presenting. However, I feel you adressed this and other questions very well, using not only verses from the Bible but their surrounding context and culture of the time. Thanks and keep up the good work.

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  6. Once again, thank you for sharing with me. Reading and hearing rash, angry arguments has been the main problem that I have seen when studying this topic. It happens to people on both sides. People get angry and just start spewing out opinions. So many times, people get in the mindset of arguing and completely forget about what the Word of God says.

    That was my goal for these blog posts. I just wanted to study the topic and really see how Christian rock stacks up with the Bible.

    Thanks again for the kind words. Glad I could help!

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  7. I agree with the first comment that Jesus would not have Chrsitain rock bands to go into bars and preach the gospel. It is to dangerous to those who may be following them in there. The Lord said "Whoa to anyone who cause even one of my little ones to go atray" we are held responsible for leading even one astray.Jesus called Matthew away from the tax table. He went on his path and people followed him. It also says He was daily teaching in the temple! He calls lost people into His house by His Holy Spirit. If the church was good enough for him to teach in daily them its good enough for Christian rock bands. They also should go to nuetral ground many many places such as schools, college campuses, sports events, festivals. These place are not endangering the people who follow them there. Also it is a deception to think that you could do much evangelizing in a bar. Bottom line Jesus doesn't have to endanger his following or lead them to places where they will be tempted. He draws people by His Spirit.

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  8. Thank you for reading and sharing with me. I agree and disagree with some of your points. I truly believe that Jesus calls us to share the gospel with whoever we meet. God doesn’t call us to pick and choose who we want to minister to. In this post, I am not saying that every Christian rock band should be forced to witness and perform in bars. Instead, I just wanted to share why Christian musicians perform in bars, and why I agree and support their ministries. I do agree that witnessing in a bar has its temptations. Alcohol is a real temptation in America today. But, I truly believe people can witness in bars without partaking of alcohol. I have heard and read about many bands and pastors who frequently witness in bars without ever tasting one drop of alcohol.

    Jesus does call people away from their sin and past lifestyles. Jesus did preach in the temple. However, Jesus did not limit His ministry to the church. Speaking and preaching in the temple was definitely a huge part of His ministry. But, Jesus also met people wherever they were in life. Whether they were a tax collector, or a prostitute, or even a demon possessed man, the majority of Jesus’ ministry was reaching out to the hurting people outside of the church.

    Christian rock bands frequently play in churches as well as neutral sites that you mentioned like schools and festivals. But, they also go outside of their Christian circles and play in bars and clubs. As I said in one of my earlier comments, when I read the Great Commission in Matthew, I believe God is calling us to go out into the world. Jesus says go into the world and make disciples. Sadly, the world is in bars and clubs. The people who frequently go to bars need Christ too. As Christians, it is our duty and responsibility to share Christ with them. I agree with you that Jesus draws people by His Holy Spirit. However, that doesn’t neglect our calling to witness to people wherever they are. As Christians, I know that we will disagree sometimes. But, I truly believe that our focus should not be on disagreements, but our focus should be on reaching people for Christ.

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  9. i've been a great fan of christian music but i was lil bit confused coz i came across many critics about this genre by missionaries, councelors so on..but now thing that really cross ma mind is that it's totally depends upon person whether he/she likes them(c.rock) or not but the truth is whether christian rock or gospel, inspirational or worship music whatever...if the christ our saviour lives within thier heart, then GOD will show them his miracle and in everyone of us. Amen

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  10. Thank you for reading and commenting. I am a huge fan of Christian music too. Sadly, there are people who are against Christian rock. Most of the time, it is because of their preferences, and not their religious beliefs. As you said, the most important thing is whether or not Christ lives within someone's heart. Thanks for supporting Christian rock!

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