I saw a blog yesterday that answered the question
Is it okay for Christians to listen to and enjoy secular music?
I asked my wife if I really just read that.
It’s 2014 and Christians are still wondering if it’s okay to listen to secular music? The blogger was decent enough to title her post “A Perspective on Secular Music,” but it gnawed at me. It reminded me of famous Christian gurus who are also answering questions.
Some of Mark Driscoll’s readers asked:
- “Is it okay to date an atheist if I speak of God to him?“
- “Where is the line in dating? How far can we go?“
- “If you are both making poor money, should you still trust God, get married, and start having kids?”
John Piper has a podcast called “Ask Pastor John.” His listeners want to know:
- Is Drinking Alcohol a Sin?
- If My Church Lacks Available Singles, Should I Leave?
- Can Christians Cuss to Prove a Point
More theologically left blogger John Shore recently fielded the question “Is it a sin to masturbate?” Theologically fascinating Matt Slick responded to the same question. GotQuestions answered “Is it okay to get tattoos if they are of a Christian nature?”
Getting wise opinions (“Is it a good idea to _____”) is a great idea, but so many of these questions are “Is it okay to _____?”
It’s not about whether it’s a good idea; it’s about whether God is okay with it / God would like it. These are people who, in my estimation, would probably make the stupid choice if the guru could convince them it was the godly one.
I know this because my dad is like that sometimes, but he doesn’t need a guru to tell him right from wrong. He’s spent decades trying to please God because he steadfastly refuses to believe that God is already pleased. He’s made a series of choices that he thinks are godly that have alienated him from his family that he loves. The “please God” campaign isn’t going well for him.
I admit to having googled “Christian perspective on _____” more than once. Seriously, what Christian young man hasn’t googled to find out if God minds masturbation?
The Apostle Paul wrote these guru-busters in I Corinthians:
“All things are lawful for me,” but not all things are beneficial. “All things are lawful for me,” but I will not be dominated by anything. (I Corinthians 6:12)
“All things are lawful,” but not all things are beneficial. “All things are lawful,” but not all things build up. (I Corinthians 10:23)
That’s the deal, I think. God’s not going to burn you in hell if you listen to secular music or date an atheist, if you have sex out of wedlock, drink booze (too much or any), switch churches if there aren’t any other singles, use bad words to prove a point, or even if you masturbate. All things are lawful. Paul said it twice.
Of course there are some things that are bad for you. People sometimes ask if you can smoke cigarettes and be a Christian. While I can’t stand the smell, I have friends who are Christians and smoke. I don’t think it’s the best idea, and many of them are trying to kick the expensive habit, but God’s not looking down and saying “Tough cookies. Gonna have to burn you in hell for that.”†
Jesus gave us another rule: The rule of love. Love your neighbor as yourself (Mark 12:30-31). That means you have to love yourself. Love does no wrong to a neighbor (Romans 13:10).
Is murder wrong? It’s not loving to someone to murder them, so we’re gonna go with “no.”
Is cheating on your husband wrong? It’s not loving to him, so that’s a no.
Is masturbating wrong? That kind of depends how your spouse feels about it. You should ask. (Hint: Most conservative girls will probably go with “no.” Other girls tend not to mind as much.)
Should we have kids and if we’re broke and just “trust God” to take care of us? That depends how loving you think it is to raise children and not have food in the house.
“Trust God” is often shorthand for “We want to make a stupid decision and we’re wondering if you think God will bail us out.”
What about going to the movies and getting involved in politics and watching TV? “All things are lawful,” but not all things are beneficial. What about women wearing pants and reading non-King-James Bibles? Honestly, I don’t think God cares if women wear pants or skirts or whatever they feel like wearing. And I think God would prefer you use whatever Bible translation you can read.
And no. There is nothing wrong with secular music.†† Some Christian music, on the other hand…
† There are Biblical perspectives on smoking. I Corinthians 6:19 says “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, which you have from God, and that you are not your own?” but the “you” is plural. It means “The body that is you all.”
†† You could argue that some of it will motivate you to do unloving things, so that could be an issue, but it’s really the only issue.
David M Schell
I am a doubter and a believer. I have a Master's in Divinity from Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, but because faith grows and changes, I don't necessarily stand by everything I've ever written, so if you see something troubling further back, please ask! Read More.
7 thoughts on “Is it okay to ___________ ?”
“… you are not your own?”
Considering this comes in the passage about sexual immorality, wouldn’t it be more appropriate to apply it to, well, masturbation? Sex is at the very least meant for another, at least as much as it is meant for the opposite sex, and certainly in the Christian perspective.
Another excellent point on how this passage has nothing to do with smoking. You could indeed make an argument that it pertains to sexuality. Micah J. Murray wrote an excellent blog post a couple days ago about how Christians tend to act like sexual sins are the only sins that exist. Which is nuts, obviously. Link: http://redemptionpictures.com/2014/01/31/sin-shalom-love/
Great distinction between allowance and wisdom, David. Thanks for linking this on my blog.
This is called “Reinventing the Wheel” with each generation.
Still banging those rocks together trying to reach Tech Level One.
A bit of background – THIS was the surrounding Greco-Roman culture at the time St Paul was writing that line:
Thanks. I can never un-see that.