It has been suggested to me that some Christians believe that rock music is inherently immoral, and as a result they believe that Christians would do well to avoid the entire genre.

For example, several older Christians have told me that statements about the immorality of rock were more common back in the 60s and 70s. Apparently, American evangelist Bob Larson was against rock music, and that he was lampooned for these view by Larry Norman, a musician who wrote rock music with a gospel theme. If this perspective is widespread, are there denominations that are opposed to rock music? Is there a cross-denominational movement that objects to rock music on the grounds that the genre is in some way unholy?

I met someone in my previous church who held this view, but I was never able to get a straight answer from her as to why. Was this just a personal perspective, or is this a widespread perspective amongst Christians?

If there is an anti-rock music movement amongst Christians, where did it originate? What is the basis for the belief? Are there particular Bible verses or doctrinal stances that underpin the anti-rock stance?

In answering the question, note that I'm not interested in debating whether or not rock music is actually immoral. I just want to know if / why groups of Christians believe it to be so.


5 Answers 5


After reading several of the comments, it appears that many are taking the original question, "Is rock music sinful / immoral" and rewriting it in their heads as "If I listen to rock music, does that make me a rank sinner?"

As Paul put it...

I Corinthians 6:11-13 And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God. All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any. Meats for the belly, and the belly for meats: but God shall destroy both it and them. Now the body is not for fornication, but for the Lord; and the Lord for the body.

Is it expedient to listen to a song that contains lyrics about traveling down the Highway to Hell? As one commenter noted, this song may be theologically accurate, but the lyrics are that "I'm on the highway to hell". No thanks. That's not expedient for me to sing along to.

Jesus admonished us to remember Lot's wife, who was so in love with the things of the world (Sodom) that, as fire fell from heaven, she had to turn back around to get one last look.

LUKE 17:32 Remember Lot's wife. Whosoever shall seek to save his life shall lose it; and whosoever shall lose his life shall preserve it.

GENESIS 19:24 Then the LORD rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the LORD out of heaven; And he overthrew those cities, and all the plain, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and that which grew upon the ground. But his wife looked back from behind him, and she became a pillar of salt.

As Paul said, "but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God." Sanctification brings separation.

I believe true sanctification produces a difference between what you used to be, and what you are today in Christ. The difference between what you used to do, and what you do now, should be so obvious that anyone can see it, and you become a living testimony to all men.

I Corinthians 3:1-2 Do we begin again to commend ourselves? or need we, as some others, epistles of commendation to you, or letters of commendation from you? Ye are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read of all men:

Summary: To say that listening to rock music makes you a sinner is legalism. On the other hand, make sure you are washed, sanctified, and set apart, and aren't turning back like Lot's wife.


If there is an anti-rock music movement amongst Christians, where did it originate? What is the basis for the belief? Are there particular Bible verses or doctrinal stances that underpin the anti-rock stance?

There is no organized "movement" as such. However, local Christian leaders may periodically condemn the music and urge their followers to some sort of action or demonstration. This sort of public activity has decreased since the 1970s.

The basis for it was primarily focused on the reaction of youth to popular music of the 1960s. The parents of these youth were mostly WWII veterans and their cohorts (age wise). They had been significantly homogenized by their war influenced experiences and sought to live the new suburban life as one similar in many ways to the military and civilian orderliness that they experienced. Their expectations were such as to think that their children would follow in their orderly footsteps.

When Christians of this time saw the reaction their children had to the music heard on radio programs and on record albums, they often equated rebellious behavior as caused by the music. The story of the Pied Piper and the recent image of invading armies provided a mental framework for many to view the phenomena as some sort of attack to which a response must be made.

I once heard Graham Edge of the Moody Blues (not a Christian as far as I know) reflect on the history of the group. He remarked that as a musical group they made a philosophic decision to change the direction of their music away from what he called "genital" music (music that resonated with that part of the anatomy) to "cerebral" music (music that resonated with a higher portion of the anatomy). He cited Simon and Garfunkle as examples of cerebral music.

The ability of music to have a physiological effect is fairly well known. (Music hath charms to sooth the savage breast). However, the causative aspect of corruption may have been overstated by concerned parents of the time.

What music resonates with is what the Bible calls "the flesh". If one considers the monolithic child rearing practices of the 1950s such as indulging children. For example, over-dosing them with sugar, almost unlimited toys, and almost non-stop entertainment with TV. One can see a pattern of fleshly indulgence of which "rock music" could be seen as a natural progression.

Often Christianity was defined as a system of rules to follow. Many people thought Christianity was the default condition of not sinning. Since rock music was often seen associated with fleshly responses, it was classified by many as a "sin" and put on the don't do list.

In addition to the resonance characteristic of rock music there were the embedded messages;

"live for today" "love me all night long" "go where you want to go, do what you want to do" "love the one you're with"

It is easy to see how Christian parents would view this as corruptive.

The genre of "Christian rock" might be seen as starting as an alternative to the sleazy words of traditional rock music. However, there is a legitimate concern if this alternative is really helpful or just another way to indulge the flesh.

However, most Christians failed to take advantage of the Biblical way of dealing with problems of the flesh;

Galatians 5:16 This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.

Many Christians opted instead for banning the offending material. However, this often just led to a delayed effect. While Christians are called to purity, they are not called to isolation.

1 Corinthians 5:9-10 I wrote unto you in an epistle not to company with fornicators: Yet not altogether with the fornicators of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or with idolaters; for then must ye needs go out of the world.

Christian parents who see corruptive influences in rock music have much to support their concerns. However, raising children to walk in the Spirit is the best way to deal with the corrupting influences in the world. In this way the corruptive elements of rock become inconsequential.

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    This is exactly the kind of answer I was looking for when I wrote the question. The only improvement would be a few citations to support your historical observations, but even without them, this is a really great answer.
    – Kramii
    Commented Nov 13, 2014 at 9:33

There are a couple of very good answers already, and I think that Bob Black's answer may be the best, but I would like to add to that with regard to how some people might go about classifying music according to a Christian morality.

Commandments and principles versus conviction

To begin, it is important to distinguish the difference between a commandment, a principle, and a conviction. A commandment is something that we're giving directly from the Bible. It's a "thou shalt" or "thou shalt not" that you can find somewhere specific in the Bible. Then, there are principles which are themes that develop in the Bible and which can guide us on certain matters even though they may not be spelled out directly. Finally, there are convictions. Convictions are different because not only are they not spelled out, but they are dependent upon things like culture which change. They should always be informed by principles and commandments, but they should never be mistaken for them. These are important distinctions, especially with something as subjective as music.

Because this conversation is one which relies more heavily upon convictions than upon commandments or principles, the divisions may involve Christians cultures, that is to say groups of Christians who share similar age ranges, localities, political ideologies, etc., rather than being divided strictly along denominational and doctrinal lines. You may find that, for instance, even within the same local congregation you can have groups which believe doctrinally the same but disagree on many of these points. Consider that a person living through the 60s or 70s may may still recall how long hair (even beards) and music with distortion was associated with a large movement actively attempting to subvert Christian morality, but to somebody in their early 20s today that same thing may seem old, tame, or even harmlessly energetic from their reference, and so the implications are different.

Verses to consider

The Bible does say a lot about music, but most of it is about good music with little being said about bad music directly. There are passages that seem to approach it, but they rules must still be implied. However, we do know some things that are generally good for life:

Philippians 4:8

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

We can see that our thought life is important, and that we should limit our thoughts to pure things. Yes, there is bad in this real world and we must live through it. However, when we direct our thoughts, we should strive to think on the lovely things.

2 Corinthians 20:5

Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;

Music can often bring thoughts and feelings into our heads and hearts which can be very hard to dispel once they are there. Perhaps everybody doesn't have the same temptations, but I believe that there are a few who have had to adjust their musical library because some songs would bring such thoughts that were hard to bring into captivity.

As Bob mentioned, there is 1 Corinthians 6:12 to consider, as well as:

Hebrews 12:1 (emphasis mine)

Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,

We are in a race. The purpose of our time here is to seek God with all that is within us and to spread the Gospel. We are in a war, or as Paul pictured it, a race, and in such places there is little time for things that can distract us, even those things which might otherwise be good.

Finally, consider 1 Corinthians 8:

1 Corinthans 8:12-13

But when ye sin so against the brethren, and wound their weak conscience, ye sin against Christ. Wherefore, if meat make my brother to offend, I will eat no flesh while the world standeth, lest I make my brother to offend.

That chapter presents a principle which teaches us that we should watch out for the conscience of other weaker believers. Even though the specific reference here is to meat offered to idols, the principle is made clear that it is possible, in the exercise of our own personal Christian liberty, we may cause a weaker Christian to stumble and that doing so would be a sin.

These provide a sense of the larger principles principles which have informed many Christian cultures to form their views on music.

The message, the music, and the man

When looking at morality in music, I believe that it can be broken down into three areas:

  1. The message conveyed directly by the lyrics.
  2. The musical structure itself.
  3. The artist performing the music.

Different Christian subcultures will view each of these differently, typically with the most contemporary considering only the first point and only the most traditional seriously considering all three.

The first point is the most obvious. If there are immoral things in the lyrics directly, then the music is immoral. This may differ to some degree with the particular denomination and their views as to what is explicitly sinful, but I am unaware of any denomination that wouldn't have some trouble singing along to lyrics which openly denounce Christ or worship the devil directly (and there are such songs out there). Therefore, this is where much of the debate is centered. The most fundamental groups would prefer, at least for worship music, that the lyrics are clear, strongly doctrinal, and which teach the listener some truth about Christ and the Gospel.

The second point isn't considered by all Christian cultures as relevant, but to those who consider it, the discussion seems to break down into the effects of the music upon the body and mood as well as the perception of order. Often when discussing rock music, this becomes a discussion of distortion and syncopation. Again, this is divided by culture, so not always consistent. However, one argument that seems to come up often is that if the music is causing the body to overpower one's thoughts, then it is a problem, and that is most often related to either issues with syncopation, certain types of harmony, or with loud bass frequencies which resonate parts of the body. Ideally, the most fundamental groups would prefer music which has the most natural tones possible, majority consonant chords, and strong, full cadences, with subtle rhythm, gentle harmony, and with a clear, easily singable melody driving the music, all of which act as a better foil to clearly lift up the didactic message being delivered in the lyrics.

Finally, there is the concern about the musicians themselves. This is generally not as much of a concern in the most liberal or contemporary groups, but it can be a large concern for more traditional groups. The consideration here is that no matter how good the song, there is some influence by the performer, if for no other reason than association or the implied condoning of associated behavior. This was a big concern some years back with Amy Grant because of, among other things, her divorce and remairage. For more fundamental groups it was considered that listening and supporting her music was similar to condoning her immoral actions to younger Christians. As is clear from record sales, these same factors are not considered by more liberal and more modern cultures.

How this applies to Rock music itself

Lyrically, Rock music can and does easily extend all the way from dark, overtly satanic into very wholesome lyrics. While Rock is known for "Sex, drugs, and Rock and Roll", the genre is far from limited. There are some bands which lyrically are not explicitly immoral. Therefore, it would seem that the conversation is forced out to the other considerations if we were to condemn it generally.

Historically, Rock music rose to prominence amid a culture that was blatantly immoral and was used to spread and popularize that immorality. For that reason, even when other elements are not present, there is at least the implication, at least amid some cultures, especially older or more traditional ones, that condoning Rock music is condoning the immorality of those cultures, or the general secularization of the current one. I believe that this is the greatest influence on held convictions. Even those who do not care about the association of individuals would likely still understand the broader cultural relevance and weigh that in the consideration.

For those who do consider the music itself, the common use of heavy distortion, along with heavy syncopation, strong, unresolved consonance, and deep bass and rhythm which tend to override the senses, compel one towards anxious action, and which muddy the clear melody, make Rock music one of the worst offenders. Nevertheless, this is only generally so, and there are many exceptions. However, unless you filled your collection selectively, you would likely find most of the music falling across the line of offense for somebody.


As I have stated, I do believe that much of the dividing line for this conversation is between cultures and not specifically denominations. In general, age will play a factor, though a denomination's teachings about Biblical separation will also play a significant role. It is even quite common to see churches which cater to both crowds by having a separate service for each while still being the same congregation.

However, some denominations will be particularly opposed to Rock music regardless of the age and other culture of the individual. For instance, any Fundamentalist denomination will likely oppose it as they believe in a strong degree of separation from secular culture and have ties to more traditional cultures, and they would rather err on the side of caution. There are also denominations which may oppose music entirely, or perhaps instruments. Those would be for different reasons.


Christians should not listen to rock music because a majority of those songs mock God in the lyrics hence sinful. It is also rumored that the inspiration for rock music is satanic as the term rock stands for "Rebels of Christ's kingdom". The rumor could be true because of how the lyrics promote hell and attack heaven and those who dwell in it.

An example of rock music known to mock God is the band Falling In Reverse and their song "It's Over When It's Over". The lyrics show that the musician is calling out God.

"God can you hear me?, God can you hear me?" and when God does not answer in the manner that he expects he concludes that with "God is missing".

This encourages the listener to believe that God is missing and hence there is no God.

He also attacks the end times prophecy where he says that "Take it back, take it back my friend (God), all the things that you said about the end (end time prophecy), this is it this is me telling you that it ain't over till it's over."

In general, the music promotes individual ability over the power of God which is not the correct spiritual recipe for any believer.

If you are not for God, you are against God, no sitting on the fence.

I have also done some research and established that the name "Falling In Reverse" may have been inspired by the manner in which the devil may have been falling after he was thrown into the bottomless pit.

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    "a majority of those songs mock God in the lyrics hence sinful." What evidence do you have for this? "It is also rumored that the inspiration between rock music is satanic as the term rock stands for Rebels of Christ's kingdom. The rumor could be true" This site isn't about rumours that could be true, but facts we can demonstrate are true.
    – curiousdannii
    Commented Oct 1, 2023 at 9:13
  • 1
    In defense of the request for evidence of rock songs mocking God: At my weekly exercise class, done to popular music, some rock tunes are included. They all have lyrics sung on the tracks. One newish one had the guy urging "my virgin child" to come upstairs; not to deny him but to let passion loose. That's been replaced. Yet even Psalm 137, By the Waters of Babylon, mocks God with cheerful bounciness. Not a rock song. Classical, operatic songs can mock God. The category is not restricted! Most worldy music defies Philippians 4:8 and so mocks God.
    – Anne
    Commented Oct 1, 2023 at 12:59
  • @Anne, I provided a sample rock music that mocks God in plain sight, should we listen from contemporary Christian gospel artists who are tattooed like Jeremy Camp? Commented Oct 1, 2023 at 13:49
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    @FewAgainstMany-Israel Indeed you did, and I agree with much that you say. I turn away from rock (and other) music because of the principle Christians are to follow as in Phil.4:8. It's not due to the appearance of the musicians, though. I also bear in mind that some of them have been won to Christ and turned around, converted, and their whole lives changed. They need to hear the gospel just as much as everyone else, I trust you would agree.
    – Anne
    Commented Oct 2, 2023 at 16:14
  • @Anne, yes I also believe that they were tattooed before they got saved, but God will give them new bodies in the resurrection which are not marked for his glory. There is a connection between the daily bread and spirituality. God seeks the father son relationship where we pray for the daily bread and he answers through opportunities Commented Oct 2, 2023 at 17:40

Because a lot of rock songs (not all of them, of course, and not just rock by any means) have a message that's contrary to the teachings of the Gospel in one way or another, and people understand the power that music can have to influence people's actions.

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    This doesn't explain the inconsistency mentioned by the OP in comments about the bias between rock and other genres which I could argue espouse worse teachings. Would you say that's just an ignorance issue or is there some specific root here somewhere?
    – Caleb
    Commented Sep 1, 2011 at 22:33

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