by The Mad Preacher, Rod Davis
We all know that God is ultimately responsible for giving us music. According to The Bible, what man is considered the father of music? Genesis 21:4 says“… Jubal; he was the father of all who play the harp and flute.” His name is where we get the word “Jubilation.”
The average teen listens to three to four hours of music a day. The Denver Nugget reported, “Music is the most powerful, and presently, the most destructive, force we have today. Who is a young person more likely to be influenced by concerning drugs, the President, a religious leader, or a rock star with ten platinum albums?”
When you listen to Christian radio station, like J103 the CCM station here in Chattanooga, you may notice that there’s something unique about their music. Yes, it has a contemporary sound, a good beat, some catchy tunes and phrases much like other music that you’ve heard. However there’s still something different about it. The difference lies in the lyrical content. It’s the message that makes J103’s music so different—so alive.
“You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround
me with songs of deliverance.” (Psalm 32:7 NIV)
If we can be surrounded with songs of deliverance it stands to reason that we can be surrounded with songs of captivity. What determines whether what you’re listening to are songs of deliverance or songs of captivity? It’s not the type or beat of the music. It’s the message that the song carries.
Every song that we listen to has a message. Whether it’s rock, country, jazz or even classical it all has a message. And its message has the ability to tear down or build up. Whoever said, “Sticks and stone may break my bones but words will never harm me.” was full of baloney! Now, there’s some good secular music that has a positive message about love and friendship. However, too much of what you hear over the airwaves, on your stereo, or your MP3 player is anything but positive. All too often it offers messages promoting everything from drug and alcohol abuse, violence and illicit sex, to delving into deep depression over broken-heartedness over a lost love and offers little hope about dealing with the struggle and pain associated with these situations.
Let’s face it. Much of secular music is some pretty depressing stuff. I remember an experience I had some years ago that perfectly illustrates this point. I was going through a devastating divorce and the influence of the music I was listening to nearly cost me my life. I would sit in a darkened room desperately hurting and feeling very sorry for myself, which was quite understandable. But to make matters worse, I would listen to some mournful country song or rock ballad. Eventually, I became so depressed that I got a gun, sat on the side of my bed and tried to get the nerve to shoot myself.
You see, every song I listened to was telling me how worthless my life was because of my lost love. These singers were saying things like, “you can’t go on,” “there’s nothing to live for now,” and “your life is over because she said ‘Goodbye.’” These songs were all big hits, which would indicate that many people were listening to them. When I look back on that awful time in my life I can’t help but wonder how many people, who go through heartache like I experienced, don’t pull out of the depression. How many give-in to a message of hopelessness, then follow through and actually end their life.
I could have been one of them. I didn’t know at the time that I was being programmed, and this programming almost killed me. God intervened, though, and now I’m a living testimony to the power that music has over the lives of its listeners either to the good or to the bad. Indeed, programming is the name of the game if you’re going to sell music CD’s. A prominent New York record promoter once said “I can make the kids of this country like anything I want them to, and they don’t have a thing to say about it.”
Considering my experience with music’s programming, it’s little wonder that the number two cause of death among teens is suicide, followed closely by violent death. In fact, according to the National Center for Health Statistics, between 1970 and 1990 the suicide death rate for youths ages 15 through 19 nearly doubled. Why would young people with their entire lives ahead of them kill themselves?
Societal pressures as well as the influence of TV and movies are contributing factors. However, there’s a much more sinister influence involved. It’s found mainly in the music to which we listen.
The tongue has the power of life and death. (Proverbs 18:21)
The programming I received from those depressing songs nearly drove me to suicide. Experts will tell you that our minds are much like a computers, and like computers, they can be programmed. Indeed, our minds are being programmed daily. Not only by the obvious depraved music such as trash lyrics that are spewed out over the airwaves in the form of gangster rap, shock rock, death metal and full-blown satanic music. I don’t think I’ll get an argument from any rational thinking person when I say that this so-called “music” promotes hate, violence and even attempts to rob the listener of faith in themselves and in God.
The American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry makes this statement. “A concern to many interested in the development and growth of teenagers is a serious deterioration in the messages of some rock music, including best-selling albums promoted by major record companies. The following troublesome themes are prominent:
• Advocating and glamorizing abuse of drugs and alcohol
• Pictures and explicit lyrics presenting suicide as an “alternative” or “solution.”
• Graphic violence
• Preoccupation with the occult; songs about Satanism and human sacrifice, and the apparent enactment of these rituals in concerts.
• Sex, which focuses on controlling sadism, incest, devaluing women, and violence toward women. 1
The Parents Music Resource Center reports that American teenagers listen to an estimated 10,500 hours of rock music between the 7th and 12th grades alone — just 500 hours less than they spend in school over twelve years. (Entertainment Monitor, December 1995)
Entertainment Monitor reported that only 10 of the top 40 popular CDs on sale during the 1995 holiday season were free of profanity, or lyrics dealing with drugs, violence and sex. (Entertainment Monitor, December 1995.)
A survey by the Recording Industry Association of America found that many parents do not know what lyrics are contained in the popular music their children listen to. (“An Unbiased Voice in the Word War,” The Washington Post, November 8, 1995.)
In September 1995, Warner Music Group bowed to public pressure and announced it was severing its 50% stake in Interscope Records, home to Nine Inch Nails and controversial rap artists Snoop Doggy Dog and Dr. Dre. Rap artists simply turned to a different distribution network and their CDs continue to hit the stores with lyrics, which glorify guns, rape, and murder. (“An Unbiased Voice in the Word War,” The Washington Post, November 8, 1995.)
Let’s take it a step further, okay? There’s a greater danger lurking behind the lyrics of some seemingly innocent music that’s not quite as obvious as some of the hardcore, in your face music. It’s very subtle in its deliverance but deadly all the same. Like what happened to me, people are also being programmed by music that carries themes of discouragement, hopelessness and misery. One example that comes to mind is a very popular song that contains the lyrics, “How Do I live without you.” It’s a lovely melody and seems innocent enough, but music is so powerful! And the message it carries does indeed have the power of life and death.
“How do I get through one night without you
if I had to live without you,
what kind of life would that be?
Oh I, I need you in my arms, need you to hold
you’re my world, my heart my soul.
If you ever leave, baby, you would take away everything
good in my life.
And tell me now. How do I live without you? I want to know.
How do I breath without you, if you ever go? How do I ever, ever … survive? How do I. how do I… oh how do I live?
Without you, there’d be no sun in my sky.
There would be no love in my life.
There’d be no one left but me.
And I, baby, I don’t know what I would do.
I’d be lost if I lost you. If you ever leave,
Baby, you would take away everything real in my life.
And tell me now, how do I live without you, I want to know
How do I breathe without you, if you ever go?
How do I ever, ever survive?
How do I…. how do I.. oh how do I live!”
(Lyrics by LeAnn Rimes.)
The message in this simple tune is clear. “There is nothing to live for. There’s no hope for me if I lose you.” Not only does this fall under what psychologist term as co-dependency, enough of this sort of programming can give an impressionable teen thoughts of just ending it all. “After all, there’s nothing to live for now. My girl broke up with me” “My boyfriend broke up with me. How can I go on living?”
I know what you thinking. “Oh come on now, Rod! Your cheese has finally slipped of its cracker. That song’s just a pretty love song! I love it. What’s so bad about it?”
“Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter.” (Isaiah 5:20)
Put some rat poison in a nice cold bottle of soda. It may taste pretty good but it will still kill you!
Now, music like you hear on Christian Radio Stations like J103 here in Chattanooga, TN offers a different message. It offers something that secular music does not. It offers hope. It offers answers. Or should I say it offers THE Answer to life’s heartaches, disappointments and problems.
Much of the Contemporary Christian Music on J103 and other CCM stations deals with many of the same issues about life that you’ll find in secular music but there’s a big difference? Christian music doesn’t just leave you wallowing there in the mist of your pain and confusion. It offers direction and points the way to the One who has the answers. It shows the way to abundant life, joy and peace, by pointing to the Giver of all these things. It directs the listener to Him who said, “I am the way, the truth and the life.” It points to Jesus Christ the Lord and Savior of all.
Now, it’s your decision. The choice is up to you. You choose what you will put in your mind. In fact, you what you chose may determine whether you walk in victory or defeat. There’s a war of conquest going on inside of you right. The Bible says that the mind is the battleground. Wherever the head goes the body will surely follow.
For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it
obedient to Christ. (2 Corinthians 10:3-5 NIV)
Finally, brothers and sisters, 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. (Philippians 4:8 NIV)
The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit
is life and peace. (Romans 8:6 NIV)
“The tongue has the power of life and death.” (Proverbs 18:21)
The next time you pick out a CD or listen to the radio, consider these profound words from the wisest man who ever lived. “It is better to heed a wise man’s rebuke than to listen to the song of fools.” (Ecclesiastes 7:5 NIV)