Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Garbage In...

When I was in high school, our youth minister was really big into talking about what music we listened to. And what books we read and what movies we watched. He told us we should guard our hearts and our minds in Christ Jesus. He told us, garbage in...garbage out. I heard it a lot.

I still listened to "secular" music sometimes, but mostly I tried to listen to contemporary Christian music.

I grew up listening to country music. That's what my parents listened to. And by the way, I read once that children in the 40s listened to whatever kind of music their parents listened to. There was not separate music for different ages. It was during the 50s when "teenager" became a marketable notion, that music began to be sold and made and marketed just to them. Suddenly, children thought their parent's music was no good, and insisted on listening to "their" music. The divide remains.

Anyway, looking at the whole thing from a wise old 39 year old viewpoint, I can see what a racket it all is. Justin B. is a good example of this. You may have never heard any of his music, but by golly, you've heard of him. Most children know about him. He is well marketed. And he seems to be a clean teeny-bopper kind of kid. What could be wrong with his music? Lay you ten to one most parents have never even checked it out. There may not be anything wrong at all with his music, but it is being produced by adults. Who know what they are doing.

I do not have children who are interested in music just yet. Sweetheart got a little MP3 player for her birthday and S loaded it with some Christian music we had on our computer. It's not exactly a hip play list from a worldly point of view. She hardly ever listens to it. She just isn't "into" listening to music. Whatever I put on in the car is fine with them. And my kids still don't know who Justin B is. I know because I overheard a 1st grade boy ask Sweetheart if she knew Justin B. and she said no. He was shocked. I wonder, how does HE know?

I'm thinking about all this today because my nephew listens to some bands I've never heard of and when I look up the lyrics I am not really happy. A teen at our church told me a name of a band recently and I looked them up. Yeah, not impressed. It isn't really even what they are saying wrong but that the lyrics make really no sense. Throw in a few cuss words and I'm really not impressed.

Now I know I sound old saying the lyrics make no sense but really...I am literate. I minored in English. I am left reading the song and thinking, "WHAT is this song even about?" Sometimes it's quite obvious what the songs are about and that Christians should not be listening.

When I was a teenager, I differentiated between songs...not singers or bands. I might say, "Well, this one song they sing has bad words, but most of their stuff is OK." I really didn't buy CDs (OK OK---cassette tapes) of groups or singers that much so I was pretty much left with what was being played on the radio or MTV. And no, we weren't supposed to watch MTV but we did when my parents were gone.

I want to get a grip on all this before my children start caring about music. It's funny to be thinking about a topic from a parent's point of view, FULLY remembering how I felt about the topic from the other side.

As Christian parents, what should we say and do about music in our children's lives?

Tell them "Christian only" and enforce that at home?
Buy them itunes cards for Christmas and choose to not listen to their ipod to see what they downloaded?
Tell them it's up to them but don't make the rest of us have to listen to it also?
Look up the lyrics to every single song and read over them with our children before putting a band on the good or bad list?
Make them listen to classical music until they leave home? :)

What do you think?


  1. We don't allow a lot of classical. A lot of homosexuals wrote classical and I'm sure they probably somehow put their message in their music. And seriously, what kid wants to be stuck listening to boring classical music? I think if they do love music, being only allowed to listen to classical would surely kill that love.

    I've heard the "garbage in, garbage out" thing in church growing up always talking about how they thought CCM was bad. Of course they never Biblically proved that, but you had to follow the rules anyway. In our house, CCM is allowed as it is more worshipful than a lot of other Christian songs.

    We do try to keep away from a lot of the worldly music, though.

  2. I was kidding about the classical music. We had a teacher in high school who played that during detention. It was considered punishment! :)

  3. Haha yeah I'd see it as punishment too. How many kids fell asleep during detention? haha.

  4. My husband and I only listen to Christian music so that is what our kids listen to.
    I believe music is about worship, whether worshiping God, that boy/girl or whatever else that song is about.
    My kids all really like to listen to music so we listen to a variety of styles as long as they worship God than we see them as good!
    I agree with the garbage in garbage out statement. My pastor always said it is like you have two dogs a white dog (your spirit) and a black dog (your flesh) that are constantly fighting and which ever one you feed is going to win.

  5. This really is a non-issue in our home and I have kids that LOVE music. I've always talked to them about "hype" and the ridiculousness of getting wrapped up in it. They realized quickly that what I was saying was true as they watched their friends act completely silly about someone and then a few months later they were on to someone else. We've also taught them their whole lives to use Philipians 4:8 as a measuring stick for the things that we are listening to, watching, etc.
    Lastly, there are A LOT of Christian music options these days so no matter what genre of music you prefer there are Christian varieties of it. We've exposed them to many different praise and worship and contemperary Christian groups and they are perfectly content to listen to only Christian music. It's just normal to them. I would assume that if they were in public school it would be more difficult...just part of the beauty of homeschooling.

  6. We listen to a mix... probably 85% Christian mostly contemporary. 10% Country or like a mix of 70-now and 5% classical- cuz we like it...

    We do obvioulsy listen to some songs that the message is not "biblically worthy" but we try to mostly listen to good music. I mean it is the same as movies, books etc.. I have found attempting to rid ourselves of it ALL is too much and I try to keep it light on the "YOU CANT EVER LISTEN TO "x" , we teach our children why we want to gaurd our ears etc... but come Happy Birthday to you... is pretty secular!

    I can say we draw the lines at some topics of songs... I kissed a girl and I liked it, purely satanic in its basis, degradation of women (although I can still quote word for word-- I like big butts) Emily can sing Gwen Stefani If I were a Rich girl (it is on Beverly Hills Chiuaua (spell that) after I realized what she was singing we had her listen to THE Fiddler On the Roof, for the original version!

    I guess it is all in the you give and take you just never give TOO MUCH. I think it is also the HEART-- if they are trying to be rebellious and you see that in their actions there is a problem. But matt isnt beign hurt by tap dancing to Cold Play- Viva La Vida (which is a song about Napoleon although most people DO NOT know or realized that)

    I also think there are plenty of country music songs that have as much worship and or message as some Christian songs.

    AND I can praise God to Vivaldi for making this world and the seasons!

    IT Is a hard topic!!! Last thing is that my pastor said the same thing garbage in and garbage out BUT he also said that conviction is conviction... some people are convicted by "X" and some arent--- God sees your heart and I think that goes a long way. It does NOT give us liscience to just do whatever we want but Me singing Alright by Darius Rucker is an encouragment to my and my day... I STILL KNOW that God is responsible and HE is who is making it ALL RIGHT! :)

  7. I think this is getting into eating meat like in 1 Corinthians. Do not use your freedom if it's going to offend a brother. or sister. I might can listen to 80's-90's oldies (you know the local station I'm talking about) and it doesn't bother my heart or soul at all. BUT, if I had someone else in my car it might bother them so I wouldnt' do it.

  8. Like, someone who used to be into the club scene and drinking, etc. That music might take them down or remind them of before they were saved, etc. I guess that's a good reason to listen to other things in the privacy of your own home. WITHIN REASON. Some things should not be going into anyone's brains b/c, like Big Butts :) they STICK!!! :)

  9. Call me the odd girl out here because while we listent to Christian music 75% of the time, we enjoy Jazz, classical on occasion, and my husband and I both like the more innocent love songs from the 60's Motown groups like The Temptations, Smokey Robinson, etc. We don't have a problem with romantic music though we do have one strict stipulation:

    Nothing from the 80's because we need no reminders of the lives we lived apart from the Lord while coming of age during those years. No reminders of songs that we heard while we had a crush on Susie or Johnny or of anyone he or I (mostly he 'cause I didn't date much) dated during the 90's.

    As for our kids: Two of them have MP3's and I am usually using one of them while I work out. It's a good opportunity to hear what's on their playlist, which actually mirrors the style of music we listen to. The other day I heard a country song on one that I have always liked called "I Hope You Dance." A great song with a good message even though it isn't a Christian song.

    Our philosophy is that not every song that is supposedly Christian is God-honoring and not every non-Christian or secular song is inherently evil. There are secular songs that have a solid messages and values woven throughout them and "Christian" songs that are so ridiculous you wonder if the writer has ever read the Bible at all.

    In other words, Brenda, the only answer I have is to take care to be watchful and listen without having a rigid set of rules so irrational and legalistic that your kids can't appreciate it.

    We have had very few occasions where we have had to warn our kids against songs that they thought were fairly innocuous. But we keep a close eye on what music they listen to and closely monitor the songs they download (there are many advantages to having an IT Specialist for a hubby) By and large, their choices have met our standards. Their playlists are mostly acceptable contemporary Christian music.

  10. Terry I totally agree! You said it well!

    Brenda I agree... I wish I could get the big butt out of my mind! and yes it is the "meat" I would have nothing but Christian on in my car unless I knew otherwise but not to hide it just to not be a stumbling block.

  11. Classical makes up over 50% of what we listen to. My kids love it.

    My kids know what rock music is. When flipping through the stations and we come across CCM, without knowing what it is they automatically consider it to be secular rock music. Sounds the same. Should not Christians be different than the world? Why do we insist on holding on to the world's music? "Come out from among them and be ye separate..." Like you said in one of your comments "Like, someone who used to be into the club scene and drinking, etc. That music might take them down or remind them of before they were saved, etc. " Should Christian music remind us of the bar scene?

    That said, there are many wonderful "conservative" Christian options out there. Music that is beautiful, ministers to the soul & spirit, and honors the Lord. Example:

    I can't say what my children will choose to do when they are on their own. Everyone needs to make their own choices. We talk about music often - not just, "that's wrong and that's all there is to it!" We discuss the differences in music, lyrics, etc.

    Your posts are great & thought provoking. You're doing a great job raising your children - thanks for your example!

  12. Victoria, if your kids think "secular rock music" when they hear CCM, it is only because you have brainwashed them to think so. I think it's terrible that parents purposely keep hundreds of wonderful, worshipful songs from their kids just because they don't like the sound of the music. And please spare me all the so-called "Biblical" arguments. I've heard them over and over again, yet nobody has ever proven anything except "it's wrong because I don't like it".

    My husband will play CCM in his office and he works at a public high school. Those kids automatically recognize Christian music, and the Christian kids get excited, and the unsaved ones get mad. But the thing is, they know *immediately* on hearing it that it is Christian. That's the way it's supposed to be. Their parents haven't brainwashed them with their own music preferences and then called it "Biblical". It's more than fine to have preferences, but to lie to kids and say that your preferences are Bible is just downright wrong.

    I hope when your children are grown that they can get away from the false ideas about music you are teaching them. Have you listened to any of those songs properly? Most of them are a lot more worshipful than traditional hymns. Some of the traditional hymns we sing in church are actually nonsense and definitely not worship songs at all. Think about "I Want That Mountain" if you know it. It's a song full of nonsense, but it's considered a "good" song because it's not CCM. Or "The Battle Hymn" which is wicked to boot.

    Whereas you compare that with "My Savior, My God" by Aaron Shust, or "My Praise" by Phillips, Craig and Dean, and you can tell where the quality worship music is.

  13. Katy-Anne, there are some Christian songs that are worshipful and good, but I agree with Victoria. I'm a bit older than you, and I went to a LOT of CCM concerts back in the day. Kids dancing around, shaking it :) the music makes folks break out just like if they were at any concert or a club. SOME CCM music seems to be trying desperately to sound EXACTLY like the "other music" and there is a problem with that. It really comes down to 3 things to me: 1. the lyrics, 2. the music (is it all chaotic and crazy? I don't care for that--God is a God of order and 3. the singer. Yes, I care what kind of life the singers lead if it's something my children are going to be into. No, listening to Hank Williams Sr. will not make you live the life he did, but if it's a current band that kids "follow", it matters. They don't only sing at concerts, they talk too. They get their political and world views into the lyrics of their songs.

    I think Kristie nailed it: Phil. 4:8. 'Nuf said.

  14. Brenda, we don't listen to just anything and everything CCM. We have a few bands, like the above mentioned that we like. Stuff like Casting Crowns, Aaron Shust, Kutless, Phillips, Craig and Dean. We're not into the "dance music" like ZoeGirl and Barlow Girl. The difference for us is definitely the lyrics, and the fact that we can HEAR the lyrics. If you can't actually hear the lyrics, what's the point?

    However, I do have an objection when people lump everything together and say that CCM = wicked. Some of it is I'll admit, but some of it is wonderful, godly music that glorifies God. The difference I see is between picking and choosing, like we do, or just saying "CCM is evil" which is not true of all CCM. Know what I mean?

    I've grown up in churches were if it has a drumbeat, it's wicked. Thing is, none of them have ever proven it, but will tell us we are wicked and ungodly even if it has a drum just keeping the beat and isn't real noisy.

  15. I have an opinion too! :0) (Who doesn't, right?)

    I think while my kids are in my house, it is my responsibility to shape their world view. And music is part of that. So they will be exposed to only what I choose to expose them to. Think of it as 'preventative maintenance'.

    We listen to all forms of Christian music. (From hymns, to Casting Crowns, to Chris Tomlin...) We also love classical music. (I am interested in this "homosexuals wrote a lot of it" issue. Fill me in! I feel stupid now.) We don't go into worldly music at all, since we don't do that in other areas. Music is a huge influence.

    I don't think Victoria has brain-washed her kids about music. My kids also have said- "Is this Christian music yet?" When we've searched on the radio and already found K-Love. Some artists are definitely rocky sounding. You can't deny that, Katy-Anne. I think that's where Victoria is coming from. Some of Casting Crowns' music is too heavy for me too. (Like I said- everyone has different taste.)

    I also agree that the lifestyle of the musician(s) is important. Everyone thought Clay Aiken was a godly clean-cut young man, and now he has come out that he's gay. Jennifer Knapp, who many Christians embraced for her music, is a lesbian. So lifestyle is important. (Which is why I need the info about the homosexuals writing classical music!)

    Lots of prayer required here, just like every other part of raising our kids. Wisdom in not squashing their independence, but also not giving them so much freedom at too young an age that they make bad choices. (Which become habits.) Ya know?

    My oldest, who is nine, does not need any kind of electronic equipment that I am not allowed to access. If there's nothing to hide, then hide nothing. :0) I'm not a Nazi-mom, I promise! But my kids are too young right now to exercise full self-control. I won't remove myself from their business until they are old enough to show me they can handle independence.

    And music can be a major influence in the life of a child.

    The End.

  16. Juliemom, google is your friend. I believe it has a lot to say about the issue of homosexuals writing classical. :)

    At least you are admitting that some CCM just isn't in your personal taste, not that it is "evil". I do agree with you on the lifestyles of people thought and if I found out that one of the artists I like was doing stuff like that, I'd definitely stop listening to them.

  17. I'm not sure I said anything about "evil" and I did mention that we discuss music, which is a far cry from "brain-washing." But, in this world which we live, a little washing of the brain is good:)

    I love my children and pray that when they are grown, they will never get away from God. I do pray that they will make choices on their own with His guidance. I'm not perfect. I, like you all, try to raise my children the best that I can leaning on God and His Word.

    I love discussions like this! :)


I don't get to talk to a lot of actual grown-ups during the day, so your comments make me really happy! :)