About Christians and The Issue of Music

case-cute-iphone-iphone-case-Favim.com-951104

Conflicts over music is not a present-day struggle among Christians of today. From time immemorial, the church has been divisive over the issue of choice of music. Back in high school, I had a friend who vehemently protested against the use of musical instruments in the church because he believes it is paganistic and unbiblical. You probably know of folks who are deeply acquainted with old hymns that any other form of music appears to be ‘devil-inspired’ to them. In our time, many Christians divide mostly on 2 key things with respect to music and that will be my focus:

  • Should a Christian listen to “secular” music?
  • Are all music styles (focus is more on Christian Rap, Pop and Rock music) acceptable for a Christian to consume or not?

Music is not inherently bad. As a matter of fact, music is one of the good and perfect gifts from God to man. It forms an essential part of our human life and that’s the more reason I even decided to talk about it. But like any other gift that is susceptible to abuse, music is no exception. If a song can comfort a broken heart, produce a therapeutic effect in a sick individual or unite people from different backgrounds then I bet the effect of music on us cannot be overemphasized. As a Christian, it is just right to evaluate the songs we listen to using biblical principles. If God indeed gave the gift of music to man, it is only right for man to go back to God if he needs more information on what has been given to him. So let’s go ahead and examine music under God’s light.

The first thing I want us to look at is the reason behind any composed song. Every artiste surely has an aim for producing a particular song. I know of musicians whose songs inform and educate society tremendously on various issues of life. There are others who delight only in entertaining their listeners. In the Bible, music was used to achieve various purposes. For example:

  • Music was used to offer worship to God or idols
  • Music was used to announce wars as well as celebrate war victories (2 Chronicles 20:26-28)
  • Music was used during the crowning of kings (1 Kings 1:39-40)
  • Music was used in soothing troubled souls (1 Samuel 16:16-23)

My point is, music composition has never been coincidental, there’s always a purpose underlying its production. But the question deepens more for us Christians: Does the purpose of the music in question agree with the entire counsel of scripture? Does the song bring glory and honor or shame to God’s name? I don’t care about the quality of the song or the depth of info it’s got to feed people with. But it makes mention of God’s name and teaches me some good values in life. Good eh? John Bevere will be extremely glad to tell you that it wasn’t the EVIL side of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil that Eve was drawn to but the GOOD side. My friend, whether God’s name appears a 100 times in the song or the music encourages you to be determined in life or be content with what you have, you must desist from songs that fail to please God’s heart. The fact that something looks good, feels good or sounds good doesn’t mean it’s submitted to God.

What intrigues me most is when Christians ask if it is okay to listen to songs filled with swear words. Like how do you for a second think swear words are acceptable in God’s sight? It doesn’t matter if the song expresses godly values such as purity, honesty, integrity, forgiveness, love, etc. Dirty, silly talk doesn’t fit the Christian lifestyle. It’s not our dialect! The Bible admonishes us to be gracious in our speech so that we can bring out the best in others. I don’t even have to waste more space explaining to you why it is wrong for believers to entertain songs laced with swear words. They’ll set you off a downhill slide into more filthiness and eventually leave you pretty messed up.

Don’t listen to music for listening sake. Scrutinize the content of the message it carries across. I’ve reached a point in my life where I ask myself these questions: what is there to learn from this song I’m listening to? How does it stir my emotions? What does it make me worship? What kind of mood does it create for me as a child of God? Does it stimulate pride or humility within me? Does it make me calm or aggressive? Does it encourage me to engage in social vices? Does it make me yearn more for a closer relationship with God, friends, family and loved ones? You see, music is a strong force (positive or negative) that moves the listener to dance to its tune so it’s important to figure out what exactly the song is trying to communicate to you. I was in this group chat with a friend and he made an interesting comment concerning this ‘music issue’. He said that you may come across a very powerful, inspirational song about a guy fighting every battle to win the heart of the love of his life…and then you look at the music video and it’s the total opposite. He’s besieged by naked women dancing all around him and you’re left in your own small corner to wonder if he’s the same guy who promised another lady to be his one and only. Don’t take music for granted. Unfortunately, some believers have retrogressed to immorality because of the kind of songs they entertain in their lives. You can’t blame them. Like I said, music can shape the thought patterns of an individual, affecting how they perceive and live life. Music engages your entire faculties and that’s why it makes sense for us to saturate ourselves with songs rich in noble, reputable, authentic and gracious things.

Now, let’s turn our attention to music forms. It just so happens that some genres of music invoke an unpleasant atmosphere in certain parts of our world. But does that make that music style in question bad in a general sense? The fact that an open palm, fingers-up gesture is offensive in Greece and not in Ghana or any other country in West Africa should tell us that the gesture is never the problem – the interpretation of the gesture rather is the issue. Greeks find that particular gesture offensive because it reminds them of how people smeared the faces of criminals with faecal matter as they marched them through town. However, an open palm gesture has no such connotation in Ghana. Nobody needs you to be careful to hand-signal the number 5 to someone in Africa because you won’t be offending anyone with that gesture. All I’m trying to say is there may be nothing wrong with the song style in question, but its mere connection to an awful historical event can make it unsuitable for consumption by an individual or a group of people. I know people who eschew Gospel rap music. Their reason for not patronizing Gospel rap is that rap invokes scenes of violence and profanity. They’d rather feel comfortable listening to another music form – and that’s totally fine. I do understand them because majority of the rap music out there propagates very nasty images such as immorality, language perversion, vengeance, egotism, racism, sexism, glorification of drugs and so forth. Does it mean rap music is entirely wrong because of its past association? Not at all! You cannot accept or reject a claim by basing your facts solely on someone’s/something’s history or source and overlooking its current meaning or context. It’s illogical to presume that all who continue with the rap tradition are promoting violence just like it’s illogical for anyone to shun a VW beetle car just because Adolf Hitler was the one who ordered its development. Please understand this: A genre of a song is different from its message. A genre of a song is like a blank canvas waiting for a picture – it’s what you paint on it (your message) that matters most. The likes of Andy Mineo, Trip Lee and Lecrae equally preach the gospel and speak against negative cultural attitudes contrary to the principles of Christ using this same rap form and make great, positive impact in people’s lives. Why? The answer lies in the painting (message) they put on their canvas (rap music). As someone said, the point of music is not that you have music and you want to adorn it with words, but rather that you have a message and want to adorn it with music. A musician can decide to adorn his/her song words with any music style of his/her choice. It’s the message that counts. However, not all of us are at the same level of understanding in this. Of course, perceptions don’t change overnight so I’m not expecting anyone to embrace this truth within a space of 10mins or 24hrs. It’s a gradual process. In the meantime, don’t try to force a particular style of music in a place where it is unwelcoming just because it glorifies God. No matter how truth-honoring and God-pleasing the message of the song is, it can still create a negative environment for people who haven’t come to the realization of that truth yet and you’ll make it extremely difficult for them to express true worship to God. Be very sensitive so you don’t end up sending the masses away from God. Understand your audience, choose the suitable music style and allow yourself and everyone else to worship God in spirit and in truth. After all, your abstention or involvement in a particular genre of songs does not change God’s attitude towards you, it changes your attitude towards God (positive or negative).

Let me say something real quick here. Paul said in 1 Corinthians 8 that God does care a lot when we use our freedom carelessly in a way that leads a vulnerable person to be thrown off track completely. I say this in relation to the argument we make concerning secular music. Well, I won’t deny the fact there are very good, inspirational secular songs out there. This is my major problem with listening to those songs. Most of the artistes who compose these wonderful songs also compose profane songs. Now tell me, if you heard someone listening to a profane song by one of these artistes, on what grounds will you stand to tell that person that it’s wrong to listen to that artiste or song in question? Do you get my point? It complicates everything. All things are lawful but not everything is spiritually appropriate so if I were you, I’d be willing to give up anything that creates a stumbling block for people. Don’t let your personal preference prevail over your love for your neighbour. 

Never ever underestimate the power of music. It reaches your inner being, stirs your emotions up strongly and eventually molds you to become whatever it constantly feeds your senses with. AS A MAN THINKETH, SO IS HE. Let’s be very discerning when it comes to the songs we entertain in our lives. If it in no way glorifies God, please do away with it. It’s that simple! Stay away from songs that glorify what God opposes and opposes what glorifies God. A word to the wise is enough!

 

 

 

Advertisements

Feminism and Misogyny in the Bible (#BustingBiblicalMyths)

Does the Bible hate women?

Some people are of the view that Christianity is misogynistic: it expresses a certain level of hatred towards women. But is this really the case? First of all, people really need to improve their skills in Textual Analysis before they make a supposed informed opinion of a text. The presence of a particular event in a text does not define it or represent the major thematic concern of the text. There is murder, genocide, homosexuality, polygamy, alcoholism etc in the bible but none of these are approved practices for Christians. There is a bevy of misogynistic acts in the bible. Does this in any way indicate that Christians are supposed to express a certain level of hatred and disrespect towards women? No! The Titanic is a love story. You cannot merely say it is a story about death because of the number of people who died at the end. So yes, there are so many stories in the bible that demonstrate humanity at its misogynistic best, but is Christianity misogynistic?

The reality is, it is not Christianity that is misogynistic, IT IS THE JEWISH CULTURE THEN THAT WAS MISOGYNISTIC. But Christ came to introduce us to a new life which he exemplified by showing the highest form of respect to women. We will delve into this later on. I would like to state this blatantly, one of the oldest acts of feminism is recorded in the bible. The fight for the rights of women started thousands of years ago. It was a very successful one seeing that the laws of Israel had to be amended because a bunch of young ladies who knew their rights, stood up to fight for it. I speak of the daughters of Zelophehad – all five of them. There are a lot of lessons in their story that present-day feminists can learn. These young girls, upon realizing that they were being denied access to their father’s property after his death (because of their sex) rose up and went straight to the highest authority of Israel – Moses – to demand what was duly theirs. Moses took the matter to God and God said “What the daughters of Zelophehad are saying is right”. Hence, they received properties amongst the relatives of their father and a new law was established. The point is, they didn’t go accusing Moses of being sexist – seeing that the law was above Moses himself. These ladies didn’t challenge Moses’ authority. They simply made an appeal, yet their actions yielded overwhelming results for them and the many other women like them. This is indeed feminism.

Nevertheless, throughout the bible we see so many instances where women are treated unfairly because of their sex. But let’s not go cherry-picking in the bible. The issue is, it is a wrong academic exercise to pinpoint the misfortunes of women in the bible and use it as the foundation to argue out the fact that the bible is misogynistic. That is wrong.

Christianity derives its essence from the life and teachings of Christ. So to determine whether the Christian doctrine in itself is misogynistic, we need to look at the life of Christ and how he treated women. Jesus indeed made a deliberate attempt to go against the status quo set for someone of his status in his relations with women. First and foremost, he allowed his feet to be washed by Mary (a known whore). This is such a big deal considering who Jesus was and his purpose on this earth. Undoubtedly one of the most outstanding events fueled by patriarchy in the bible is the story of the woman who was about to be stoned by an irate mob. Apparently, she was caught committing adultery ‘alone’… all by herself. This is how patriarchal the people were. They didn’t think the man she was in bed with was as guilty as she was so they let him go and decided to stone only her. But Jesus stood up for the rights of this woman and turned the law against the mob. Being convicted by their own conscience and knowledge of the law, they left her alone. Even on the cross, Jesus displayed his love and respect for women. While hanging there, Jesus told his mother ‘woman, behold thy son’ and to John he said ‘behold your mother’. This little gesture implies that Jesus entrusted His mother into the caring arms of John before he died. As a Christian gentleman I am supposed to emulate this lifestyle in every way possible. The gospel of Jesus Christ compels me to respect women and fight for their rights.

One of the most controversial chapters in the bible, so far as sexism and misogyny is concerned is 1 Timothy 2. Militant critics are of the view that Paul’s pastoral letter to Timothy expresses some level of contempt towards women when he commanded them to remain silent and also forbid them to usurp spiritual authority over the men in church. I find people’s assumption that Paul promotes misogyny in this chapter to be very inconsistent with other pauline writings. The apostle was a leading advocate of gender equality within a culture that was popularly known for its heightened hatred towards women. In Galatians 3, Paul makes it crystal clear that there’s no such thing as male or female in Christ’s family. That is, men and women are of equal importance in the eyes of God. A chunk of the New Testament informs us that Paul actually team-taught alongside various women, commending them with the highest form of respect for breaking their backs for the sake of the Gospel. In his letter to the Corinthians, Paul stated that a husband had NO authority over his own body, but his wife DID and vice-versa. Now, that’s a very heavy pronouncement. This is Paul championing gender equality again by demanding mutual respect between both sexes in marital homes – especially concerning sexual activities. Just in case you missed it, the ‘so-called’ chauvinist, in Romans 16, makes a unique reference to Phoebe a sister in Christ, as a deacon. It was such a big deal in those days, that a woman could be a deacon just like Paul, Timothy and Apollos – who had presiding authorities over churches. Seems like the ‘sexist apostle’ is digging his own grave, right? Be reminded that we are examining these facts in the 1st century context where women were heavily despised!

We see time and time again that Paul’s teachings were in sharp contrast with the promotion of sexism. What then do we make of Paul’s admonition to Timothy concerning women? 2 Timothy 3:6-7 and 1 Timothy 5:11-13 give us a clue as to what Paul intended to communicate to the people. The women of Ephesus then were deeply associated with paganism before they got converted to Christianity. As a result, they were probably spiritually immature. It then makes sense if Paul wasn’t going to risk anything by putting them on the forefront to promote the Gospel. Moreover, there were false teachers around who were ever ready to pounce on any of these women to teach them false doctrines—the very thing Paul was trying to avoid. In summary, I believe Paul was addressing a specific problem that plagued a specific church (the Church of Ephesus). He wasn’t making a general rule, nevertheless, any other church going through the same problem can apply this solution in their case. So if you should ask me, this ideology that Paul was sexist falls flat because the arguments to support such fallacious ideas do not in any way fit the teachings of the Bible. Proper exegesis reveals to every reader that NO passage in the Bible encourages people to oppress women. Rather the bible encourages wives even to strive hard in economic ventures. The woman in Proverbs 31 is a superhero; she has a stable job and still has her family at heart. This appears impossible in today’s world, but the bible encourages women to work hard in their careers while caring for their families.

I would like to say this quickly. More often than not people call out religious leaders for propagating sexist ideologies in their sermons and opinions expressed on other platforms. But why doesn’t anybody question evolutionism for its sexist ideologies? I honestly want to know how a woman can be a feminist and an evolutionist at the same. Especially because Charles Darwin claims that “… males are more evolutionarily advanced than females”. Which means by nature, men are ahead of their female counterparts intellectually and physically.

While it may seem like a greater portion of scripture records several masculine accomplishments, the Bible does extremely well in capturing equally significant events involving women. God appointed powerful women like Deborah and Esther to lead the Jews during Israel’s dark and spiritually-barren period. Jesus (God in flesh) revealed His true identity as the Savior of the world to the woman at the well, much to his disciple’s chagrin. The most important historical event of this world (the Resurrection of Christ) was revealed FIRST to a group of women. The prophet Isaiah, under the influence of the Holy Spirit, alluded God’s tender love towards His people to that of a MOTHER who comforts HER children. What a powerful positive feminine image! Time and space wouldn’t allow me to prove to you more that the Bible doesn’t oppress women but rather celebrates them. Sexism has never been God-orchestrated because in the beginning, He [God] created human being—male and female—in His own image to reflect His nature. The Bible, God’s Word, will forever respect the intrinsic worth of both men and women. It is a word that is settled forever.

Written by: Elvis Sampson and Elikplim Sabblah

References: Galatians 3:28, 1 Corinthians 7:4, John 4, Isaiah 66:13, Numbers 27 (Daughters of Zelophehad), 1 Timothy 2.

Who Wears The Pants?

LeadershipParity

I recently came across this joke about a young couple who were in their honeymoon suite on their wedding night. As they were undressing for bed, the husband–who was a big burly man–tossed his trousers to his bride and said, “Here, put these on.” She put them on and the waist was twice the size of her body.

“I can’t wear your trousers,” she said.

“That’s right and don’t you ever forget it. I’m the man who wears the pants in this family!” said the husband.

With that, she flipped him her panties and said, “Try these on.”

He tried them on and found he could only get them on as far as his kneecaps. “C’mon, I can’t get into your panties!”

She replied, “That’s right, and that’s the way it’s going to stay until your attitude changes.”

You see how society succeeds in ripping so many marriages apart with its poor definition of the various roles of men and women in the home. Like those couples, confusion has already began on their honeymoon night. Do we really expect a woman to appreciate who she is if we keep shoving male superiority down her throat? Are men greater than women in the first place? This is why a good cause like Feminism exists. It’s rather disappointing the manner in which some women protest against various acts that degrade their sense of worth. I totally understand that the rights of women have been infringed upon for so long a time. However, attempting to achieve your goals in anger and bitterness only makes your every opportunity to right any wrong turn sour. Nevertheless, feminism is an important movement worth championing and I believe it requires the full support of both sexes to successfully push its message across.

Sometimes the only feedback I get from my lady friends is that of negativity towards marriage (as in those who have plans of getting married). I totally empathize with them because some of the stories involving women are really disturbing. In certain places for instance, husbands have sexual authority over their wives. The man is vested with the authority to demand for sex whenever he pleases (even if it’s against his wife’s desire). I also remember reading a story about an 8yr old Yemeni bride who suffered injuries from her 40-year-old husband in what appears to be a forced marriage. (article is right here). How on earth do you sleep with a girl FIVE TIMES your age? We subject women to all kinds of monstrous acts and later point fingers at them when they develop a personal vendetta against us. What hurts me the most is that the good men out there are the ones who suffer the consequence of the bitterness exuding from these victims.

Marlene Dixon once said that ‘the institution of marriage is the chief vehicle for the perpetuation of the oppression of women’ stating that ‘it is through the role of wife that the subjugation of women is maintained.’ Oppression of women…Subjugation of women… this is what societal laws and traditions do for us; they are professionals when it comes to creating differences and distinctions amongst us. They tell us marriage is another platform where the inferiority of women amplifies because in there ladies are made to be ‘subservient’ and not ‘submissive’ to their husbands. How I wish all will come to learn of the truth of what it means to be a man or a woman from the Judeo-Christian point of view. It’s just amazing that the most important historical event of this world (the Resurrection of Christ) would be revealed FIRST to a group of women who in their era were regarded as inferior to men. These were people whose stories and testimonies didn’t hold water in any court of law yet God chose what men call the ‘foolish things’ of this world to establish His truth. God turned cultural norms on their heads by electing women to spread the good news that Christ had risen! It should tell us something; that though our silly culture makes every effort to pin women down, God thinks otherwise by placing them on the same pedestal as men. WE are equal with respect to our worth as the Bible declares that ‘there is no division into Jew and non-Jew, slave and free or male and female in Christ Jesus’. We are all important! We both matter!

Attached to our equal sense of worth lies the differing roles we play in life. The very idea of ‘roles’ seems quite repugnant to some of us. There’s that presumption that certain roles in the marital home registers women as low-class citizens; but is this really true? Consider the relationship between a President and a Vice President briefly. The President and Vice President both work together towards the betterment of the nation. In the course of their interaction, VP reports directly to the President during national affairs. However, this kind of relationship doesn’t in any way belittle the status of the VP because as a matter of fact, both of them are human beings. The President may be up there on the ladder in terms of rank but he’s not superior to the VP of the nation in terms of intrinsic worth or essence as individuals. This is the main point we keep forgetting. Priority doesn’t have to imply inferiority anywhere. One’s position in a human institution such as marriage, has no effect on intrinsic worth. You can’t tell me that the man is superior to the woman just because he’s the head of the home. A man’s role as head of the home actually means he’s the head from the bottom. He’s the foundation on which the home is to be built upon. That’s certainly no joke! You’re in that place to serve and protect your family and to make sure their needs (physical, psychological, financial, emotional etc) are met. But guess what? Your wife isn’t going to sit there and watch you do it alone. She’s there to offer you her greatest help to shape the family’s vision. Your wife will voluntarily submit to you ONLY if you exhibit a very sensitive and loving leadership at home. She is to you what your human neck is to your human head; in order for you (the head) to remain stable or turn and flex in all directions, you need the full support of your ‘neck’ (wife) to make such coordination possible. Your roles differ alright but you dare not for a moment look down on your wife to make her feel inferior. Don’t give her any reason to make ‘HEADSHIP’ and ‘SUBMISSION’ repulsive to her. You dare not! She is just as valuable and worthy as you are.

If you are a man and you think women exist to serve you, then you haven’t understood the meaning of manhood and womanhood yet. Women aren’t properties so let’s not treat them as though they are one. If it was fitting enough for God to respond to the need of a man with such a precious gift as a woman, it should tell us the kind of power a woman carries. Husbands, remember that your wife is that unique individual who has come into your life and has agreed to love, help, and respect and submit to your leadership in order to help you become that influential father and better husband you’re intended to be. Your glory and dignity lies in your wives. If you understand the heaviness of this profound statement, do well to bring your adorable wife to her place of royalty. To the ladies, being a woman and being content with what is rightfully yours is what makes you valuable. In other words, it is no shame being a female. If there’s the need to fight for what is truly yours, do so in a manner that will attract others to support you fully because if it must be done, it must be done well. Let’s work together to fight for what each one of us deserves in life so that our society and our world at large becomes a beautiful place to live in.