My Problem with Christian Music

I like all kinds of music. I do not mind Christians entering into non-typical forms of Christian music to sing about faith and whatnot. When you can mix the perfect tune with the perfect lyrics, I tell ya what, there are few things more emotionally wonderful than that.

Which brings me to a problem I have with Christian music:

In order to have good Christian lyrics the writer needs to have spiritual maturity. Spiritual maturity is in short supply, certainly shorter supply than an acceptable guitarist or drummer.

I enjoy a lot of forms of music that would be termed “young people’s music.” The kind of stuff parents are supposed to tell their kids to turn off, as my dad used to say, “It sounds like gym shoes in the dryer.”

I like a raucous song, a song with a beat and a tune that you can play loud and maybe even bang your head to a little bit.

Christian attempts at this often fall flat for me though cuz the lyrics are so banal.

Spiritual maturity takes years. Old people have spiritual maturity. I honestly don’t think a young person can have spiritual maturity. They can have more than someone else, they can be mature for their age, but sorry, there’s nothing like age and living through pain to lead a person to greater depths of spiritual insight.

I’m not claiming to be the spiritually mature person, I’m merely pointing out a problem I see with much contemporary Christian music that is driven by youth culture and written by youth: youth who have little spiritual maturity.

Most contemporary songs are about the singer, look at me and my struggles and how I am being me in my struggles and oh yeah, Jesus.

That’s how they all sound to me. One reason I like hymns is because they are written by old people. They know what spiritual maturity is, the intersection of theology and life. I doubt highly anyone will ever match the lyrics of a Charles Wesley or an Isaac Watts.

If they did, they wouldn’t be cool enough to attract a good youthful form of music.

Hymns are often too dull, they sound old because they are old. I like the sound of an old hymn, but not everyone does. I have no solution, just trying to articulate my thoughts on the Christian music industry. The fact that it’s an “industry” doesn’t help either.

There’s a rapper named Lecrae who is attempting to put theology in his music. I disagree with his theology on a lot of points but I applaud his efforts. But I think rapping a John Piper sermon can only be done so many times before that well runs dry.

I’m tired of singing about song writer’s angst. I’d like a good song about God, written by someone who knows who He is on a real, experiential level, set to a modern musical atmosphere, one that doesn’t embarrass Christianity either by vapid lyrics or corny copying of a worldly model. Just a simple request.

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7 Responses to My Problem with Christian Music

  1. Rob Grayson says:

    I agree with this quite wholeheartedly. There are exceptions, but as a rule many Christian songs are superficial and vapid.

  2. I think that it is possible for a young person to be spiritually mature. If we look in the OT both David and Daniel were young and displayed a level of spirituality in the early part of their life.

  3. Sorry I meant to say displayed a level of spiritual maturity in the last sentence. (My tablet has a mind of its own!)

  4. jeff says:

    David and Daniel are the very rare exception that, I believe, proves the rule. But yes, every thousand years or so there may be a spiritually mature youth!

  5. I think it must have been a “good era” around Daniel’s time because I would also include Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego too as spiritually mature. I think we could also mention Joseph, Jeremiah and Samuel in this group too. The only one in the NT I can think of off the top of my head is Timothy. I’m sure there may be some others!
    Whilst I think that we can learn a lot from those who have been round for a while and experienced life with its many ups and down, I don’t think we should completely rule out a younger person being spiritually mature. Indeed there are some who can put us older ones to shame with their spiritual maturity levels.

  6. sunstarfish says:

    Hymns are awesome. And they don’t have to be played like a funeral dirge. But, I mean, don’t play it super fast if it needs to be slow! You don’t have to be old to like hymns. My 10-year-old son has had his own hymnal since he was about 5 and he loves to belt ‘em out! And I have another son who’s 28 that loves them as well. In fact, I meet people all the time, of all ages, who love hymns and miss them terribly.

    My big problem with Christian music today is that in most places it is much too loud. At some churches now they hand out earplugs at the door. That is absurd. I do not think it is Christian to damage peoples’ hearing. You can blast your music at home all you want, but why subject everyone, even children, to what is literally physical abuse.

    I don’t like most “Christian rock” because I feel that rock is mainly about rebellion, and it simply doesn’t work because Christianity is about submission. I know most will disagree with me so you can save your comments.

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