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I am asking this question because I don't know if I'm being correct or too legalistic.

I don't have a problem listening to secular music without sinful lyrics, for example: "She loves you" by the Beatles. However, I don't feel comfortable listening to music where a man says to his wife "I can't live without you" or "You are my everything". Every time that I listen to those lyrics, it comes to my mind that God is our everything and we cannot live without him (instead of a person).

All the Christians that I asked told me that those lyrics will be sinful only if I live by its standards, but I think that God won't be happy if He sees his son/daughter listening a song where a person is giving the position of God to another person.

Do any denominations have a standard when it comes to listening to (modern) secular music?

I hope am not too legalistic in regards to this question?

  • Legalism is born of seeking to appear in a higher position. Godliness is striving to best live out what you are being shown. Above all things, guard your heart. Christianity is a life of intent. – Mike Borden Aug 2 at 20:11
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    Carlos, welcome to the site. I made an edit to your question, in order to improve the English, as well as to make it more on topic. If this edit is not in line with your intention, you can always rollback the edit. – Ken Graham Aug 2 at 22:26
  • If you get a chance, check out the movie Sister Act. Granted, it's meant as a comedy/drama, but they do something neat with the story of a group of nuns and it involves songs - popular songs sung by the nuns with a certain style that points to Jesus. There is a really neat rendering of "I will follow him? (a 60's pop song) performed with the connotation of "Him" being Jesus. It's a really neat way to interpret a secular song into an ode of reverence for Christ. (The movie isn't brilliant, but it's not a bad one) – KorvinStarmast Aug 3 at 12:34
  • Rather than watch the movie, here's just the song – KorvinStarmast Aug 3 at 12:38
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Philippians 4:8 is an excellent guide when considering whether the lyrics in a song, or the words in a book, or a television programme, are appropriate for a Christian to read/see:

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

It is the lyrics that determine whether a song is “acceptable” for a Christian to listen to. If anything leads you to think about or get involved in something that does not glorify God, it should be avoided. Source: https://www.gotquestions.org/secular-music.html

Songs that ask us to imagine there’s no heaven, and that there is no God (for example) fail to focus our minds on things from above and are dishonouring to God. However, within the bounds of Christian liberty it is up to individuals to exercise their conscience in such matters. Nobody has any right to tell you what you should, or should not listen to, read or watch. If your conscience troubles you, then act accordingly.

Having said that, this sort of question is likely to be closed because Christianity Stack Exchange is not in the business of giving pastoral advice. Please take our tour to find out what sort of questions are allowed, and how to avoid asking questions that will attract opinions (which is what I’ve done – oops!) https://christianity.stackexchange.com/tour

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    I would like to add that Paul, in Romans 14, lays out a principle of intent and non-judgementalism against others that should encourage us into more consistent prayer and study of the word. – Mike Borden Aug 2 at 20:03
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    "!magine there’s no heaven' is fine if the next line is 'wouldn't that be terrible!'. Of course, in the song we're all thinking of, it takes another direction... – Laurence Payne Aug 3 at 0:39
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    I think Philippians 4 is very helpful here, as is @MikeBorden comment on Romans 14. I might add 1 Cor. 10:23-33, in that we also need to consider how we might be leading others astray, even if we ourselves are happy with the lyrics. That said, the question is denomination-survey, not biblical-basis, which means I feel I can't upvote this answer. – Korosia Aug 3 at 9:44
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    The point about "lyrics" is somewhat interesting because I mostly prefer listening to instrumental versions/covers of many songs and got introduced by them first. It's not rare that I know and like a song before knowing its lyric. – Andrew T. Aug 3 at 17:19
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Secular Music and Christian Standards?

If you do not mind I would like to answer your question from a Catholic perspective (which I think would be appropriate to some degree to other Christian denominations).

For the most part this question will depend on the lyrics. The tempo and beat are are of less importance to some degree, but should not be entirely overlooked.

Can you violate Catholic morality by listening to music?

Yes

What are appropriate genres of music? Should any genre be condemned?

•The Answer is no.

•Any genre of music is permitted if it:

•Does not go against the teachings of Catholic Morality (order of creation)

•Correctly discerns the purpose of its creation.

Proper context for contemporary Music

•Worship outside of church**

•Youth Groups

•Music

•Worship through your favourite genres of music is not condemned by church teaching.

•It is beneficial for teens and young adults to live a Catholic life by incorporating Christian values into their every day lives, including music.

Chastity

•"any man who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart," (Matthew 5:28)

•Sin does not begin with our actions, but rather in the mind. Unchaste thoughts are considered a violation against chastity.

"Sin is a desire contrary to the eternal law,“ - St. Thomas Aquinas

Statistics

•There is a direct correlation between the amount of media with sexually explicit material and an increased rate of teenage pregnancy.

• Does Watching Sex on Television Predict Teen Pregnancy? , Anita Chandra,PHD,

•Teens who watch a lot of sexually explicit media are at double the risk of early pregnancy than those who do not watch sexual content. -Sex on TV Increases Teen Pregnancy. Time Magazine.

Substance abuse

•Many contemporary music contains explicit lyrics encouraging drug and alcohol abuse.

•This is very common in Music videos

Kesha – Tik Tok

•Lyrics: ….Before I leave, brush my teeth with a bottle of Jack …. Ain’t got a care in world, but got plenty of beer

Why shouldn’t we listen to music with explicit content?

•In scripture: “let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs” (Colossians 3:16 ).

Can you Listen to music with explicit music without going against its Purpose?

•No.

•One cannot worship and listen to music that clearly violates Laws set in motion by the Creator.

•Natural law

What is the purpose of music? (Natural law)

•God’s purpose for music: The purpose of music is to glorify God and bring us closer to God.

•Make a joyful noise unto God, all ye lands: Sing forth the honour of his name: make his praise glorious. (Psalms 66:1-2)

•Rejoice in the LORD, O ye righteous: for praise is comely for the upright. Praise the LORD with harp: sing unto him with the psaltery and an instrument of ten strings. Sing unto him a new song; play skilfully with a loud noise. For the word of the LORD is right; and all his works are done in truth. (Psalms 33:1-4)

What about secular music with appropriate content? (Natural Law)

•1)Secular music can realise the full potential of its purpose.

•2) The One and the Same God is both Creator and Revealer.

•3) Therefore the Will of God is reflected in both the "Order of Creation" (the way things are put together) willed by God, and the "Revelation of Scripture" willed by God.

•4) When human reasoning correctly discerns the "order of creation" it cannot contradict the "revelation of Scripture," correctly interpreted.

•5) The Catholic Church's commitment to Education and openness to all forms of learning (including the physical and social sciences) is rooted in the conviction that truthful, valid reasoning about reality brings us closer to the Mind and Will of God. -Dr. Brodie (Gilbrodie.ca) - Catholic Church and Contemporary Music

The following articles may be of interest:

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  • Your answer is detailed, but maybe doctrinally dubious, in particular when you talk about "drug and alcohol abuse". See for example 1 Tim 5:23, John 2:10, Deut 12:32, etc. But I'm all for hearing your point of view ☺ – OmarL Aug 3 at 13:32
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    @OmarL There is a difference between having a little wine for one’s stomach or other legit moment in one’s life and abusing alcohol or other drugs in order to simply get drunk or high for example. The example quoted could be stronger! In any case, the response is not dubious. – Ken Graham Aug 3 at 13:40

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