When I think of gospel music, I think of songs like “How Great Thou Art”, “Amazing Grace”, “Wade in the Water”, “Rock of Ages” and others (like those seasonal songs we love so much). When I think of gospel artist, Mahalia Jackson, John Newton, and Fannie Crosby come to mind. I never considered myself old fashioned but I find myself surprisingly repulsed by more contemporary “Christian” music because it is getting increasingly secular-sounding in nature. Naturally music is going to change over time but when it gets to the point that one can barely tell “Christian” music apart from secular music what message is being sent?
The worst argument that I’ve heard in favor of the secularization of Christian music is that it attracts more people to the church. I understand the concept but I think it’s wrong for Christian artists to lower their craft to fit the standards of the world despite who they want to attract. In the Bible music was used to glorify God. Music and church doctrine are powerful; people should raise themselves to meet the standards that God has set. One shouldn’t ensnare themselves in pulling people toward Christ to the point that they step out of the bounds of His protection (don’t lose your spiritual HP). One doesn’t have to have been an alcoholic in order to help someone who is; likewise, one doesn’t have to secularize their music to reach those who listen to secular music.
This blending of worldly music and Christian music has gone too far. I find it strange how Christian musicians find a need to compromise their music to fit in with the secular world while secular musicians have no interest in adapting their music to the Christian sphere (how about that?). I read on Wikipedia (yes, again with the Wiki) that, “Gospel music is music that is written to express either personal, spiritual or a communal belief regarding Christian life, as well as (in terms of the varying music styles) to give a Christian alternative to mainstream secular music”. For the sake of this post, let’s go with that definition. I first heard the duo Mary Mary’s song “It’s the God in Me” on Heaven 600 (which regularly features secular R&B, or hip-hop instrumentals in the background. Go figure) and I was extremely confused as to why Heaven 600 was playing a selection that sounded very similar to that which is played on 92Q (how is that an alternative?). I disliked the song for that reason but honestly it made me want to dance (and not in the way David danced). I looked up the lyrics at http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/marymary/godinme.html and discovered that not only did the beat sound secular, but the lyrics promoted secular ideas like pride/boastfulness -“Everywhere you go man you get alot of shine”, covetousness/materialism-“Everything you wear people say they got have it. From the sweat suit to the white tee to the Gucci” (I see a problem Christians rockin’ Gucci), and the love of money (*evil)-“When it comes to money she can be a hero. She writes them checks with a whole lot of zeros” (for charity right?). Wait, it gets worse in the hook, “But what you don’t know is when she get home and get behind closed doors man she hit the floor and what you can’t see is she on her knees and if you ask her she’ll tell ya [Chorus:] It’s the God in me”. So the heroine of the verse is a closet Christian too? “What is it you think you see when you see me?” If she’s hiding her Christianity, then I’m not sure if what I’m seeing is God. There are innumerable examples of this “Gospel”. I wonder if Kirk Franklin knew that the “Nu” in his CD entitled the “Nu Nation Project” was also the name of, “the oldest of the ancient Egyptians” who has a large part in the Egyptian creation story as seen athttp://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/422462/Nun andhttp://www.egyptartsite.com/glossary.html.
While I think the state of “Urban Contemporary Gospel” is deplorable, Christian rock is in the same boat according to http://www.av1611.org/crock.html. I don’t listen to “C-Rock” (is that song “I Can Only Imagine” rock?) but I do (correction “did”) listen to secular rock. I have songs from bands like Linkin Park, Fall Out Boy, Daughtry, Evanesence and Flyleaf, which does not want to be labeled as a Christian band. In one of the comments athttp://www.songmeanings.net/songs/view/3530822107858550687/#73014980470, someone says, “Christian or not, the nice thing about religious bands nowadays is a lot of them make their songs [ambiguous]”. Wait. What? Religious bands are tolerable because their songs can be mistaken for secular songs? Why would any Christian artist want their songs (that are supposed to glorify and praise God) to be easily mistaken for secular ones? The band Chevelle (only heard of them recently) was apparently represented by a C-rock label but is not even a Christian band and is indifferent to being referred to as such. “Our faith is still extremely important to us, but it’s also very personal. None of us feels being a rock band on stage should be a pedestal for preaching.”http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chevelle#Christianity_controversy. If their faith is so “extremely” important to them, why do they feel a need to separate it from the music they make (which is such a powerful witnessing tool)?
Call me a traditionalist or even closed minded but I do not like this secularism creeping into the Christian realm. I’m trying to pull away from the secular world but what place for me will there be if all the ideals I hold sacred become bound to the world? In any case, Christian music (whether Contemporary, “Urban Gospel”, C-rock, or “Christian” rap) should not be ambiguous in terms of its purpose or lyrical content nor should it use beats that make one want to headbang or booty pop. Also covering secular songs with Christian lyrics doesn’t cut it. When I hear songs like that it takes me back to the place I was when I heard the original and naturally the original lyrics are brought back o the surface of my consciousness. Well, with all that said, I guess it’s high time I start pulling the weeds out of my itunes garden. http://www.av1611.org/cqguide.html (check it out).
Sing praises to the Lord, which dwelleth in Zion: declare among the people his doings. Psalm 9:11