Why I don’t listen to secular music

13 Aug

Some find it quite shocking that I don’t listen to mainstream music, as though I’m an alien or outsider for choosing not to do so. Don’t believe me? Try telling a total stranger at your next get together that you don’t listen to secular music and watch their face. The general public thinks its a foreign concept…or that I live on an island because I wouldn’t willingly listen to mainstream music.

So the question comes…”Why?”. First I wonder what the asker is really asking. Are they asking that question to really understand my reasoning, as though I hold some greater meaning to life than they do? Are they asking to see what, in their eyes, is wrong with me? Are they asking to be polite? All of these are possibilities and typically my response is geared toward what I personally know of the person. For example, I won’t go into a deep spiritual reasoning to a person that is obviously asking just to be polite (such as at a party with people I don’t know). They are more than likely only half paying attention anyway, so my reasoning won’t be as detailed as, say, this posting.

The polite answer is that I really don’t care for it. Generally speaking, secular/mainstream music tends to be focused on what’s wrong with the artist’s life or a focus on love toward an individual. Sometimes, very harsh lyrics are used (so bad that they have to be bleeped on the radio in keeping with FCC regulations.). This last part has me up in arms because I don’t think foul language should ever be on anyone’s lips, Christian or not.

Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.  Ephesians 4:29 ESV

Let’s be honest: music is addicting. Once you get a song in your head, it’s tough to forget it.

Cover of

The Ron Clark Story

In the movie, The Ron Clark Story, Matthew Perry’s character used music to help teach his students the Presidents of the United States. It’s a great idea for learning good things. I remember that as a kid my Mom would play these cassettes (for those that aren’t aware, before there were MP3s, there were CD’s and before there were CD’s, there were cassettes) of G.T. and the Halo Express which would put scripture verses to music so that children could more easily memorize scripture. It worked…I still remember a bunch of these songs. Unfortunately music can also be used for bad as well. If a song is verbally abusive, how long will it take before the words in the song become your own?

Lyrics are, by far, the main reason that I choose not to listen to secular/mainstream music. The genres of music that is played rarely offends me (except opera and country) as my personal preferences typically depend on other things that have happened to me on that particular day. For example, rock songs can energize me during long runs, while mellow songs can sooth my worries away duing a root canal.

A few weeks ago, a man came and preached at our church. We’ve heard him preach before, but the topics he’s chosen haven’t really peaked my interest. This time around, his sermon did…and while he wasn’t preaching about secular music, I believe we can apply what was talked about to this subject matter (as well as other topics that aren’t specifically commanded not to do…such as smoking, drinking alcohol, etc.). I know it’s hard, but try to move past the accent…and listen to this message:

Scripturaly, I can’t justify the giving of my time to something that is so different from God’s ideal. While not specifically outlawed (murder, lie, etc), I believe we can pull this from principles laid out in verses like 1 John 1:5-7: (ESV)

This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and rthe blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.

Or Psalm 1:1-2: (ESV)

Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.

The verses above also help answer the question “What about crossover artists?” or “What about artists that don’t have Jesus in the forefront, but subtly hint at a relationship with him (such as (I’ve heard) U2, Owl City & Lifehouse)?”. Crossover artists, or (as I define them) those that are Christian artists that have such a popular song that the secular radio market has no choice but to air it, are, in my opinion, similar to missionaries: bringing a message of hope to the lost. The 2nd question gets an answer that is tougher to swallow by those that enjoy these artists. I avoid these artists as though they are secular artists. Why? The verses above clearly state that

If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.

What place do you think God wants in our lives? 1st? 2nd? 3rd? As an artist, if your songs are written for other reasons than to honor & glorify God, what priority are you making Him? Better still, if you’re an artist that claims to have a relationship with Jesus Christ & has a secular label running the show for a tour, can you really tell me that the other artist’s music doesn’t disturb you? Does it create a heavy burden for those Christians that came out to the concert and have to sit through filth? Here’s the thing: knowing Jesus isn’t a switch that you can turn on and off whenever it’s convenient for you.

Lastly, and I believe most importantly, I don’t listen to secular music because of my focus on the future. What do I mean exactly? I mean that I don’t believe that secular music will be sung in Heaven because God won’t allow anything but Himself to be praised & worshipped. This is clearly portrayed in Revelation 19:10 as well as a few more times in Revelation if I remember correctly. John was in so much awe that he fell down to worship and the angel that was showing him what was to come told him to worship God, not him. Remember, God is a jealous God (Exodus 20)…He doesn’t like it when praise that is due to him is directed towards something or someone other than Him. For this reason, it’s tough to justify the singing of secular songs in the presence of God. Do they give Him praise? Do they lift up the name of Jesus? Would God be jealous of you listening to a song that draws you away from Him & His presence?

Ultimately, this is a personal choice…but it’s one that you’ll be judged on.

So then each of us will give an account of himself to God.  Romans 14:12 ESV

I’m not perfect and I’m sorry if it comes across as though I think I am. This is just a strong conviction I have…similar to the strong conviction I have about abstaining from alcohol. Whether it becomes as strong a conviction for you is for you to decide. If you’d like another person’s perspective on this topic, I came across this blog post a while back. I don’t know this author personally, but I do like what she has to say.


Posted by on August 13, 2011 in blog, Music, My faith, Soapbox Saturday


Tags: , , , , ,

6 responses to “Why I don’t listen to secular music

  1. Jonny Rice

    August 13, 2011 at 12:01 pm

    Tim, while I completely respect your decision, it seems like applying your the logic above would make it very difficult to consume any mainstream media, TV and film, including the film you mentioned above, the Ron Clark story.

    “He doesn’t like it when praise that is due to him is directed towards something or someone other than Him. For this reason, it’s tough to justify the singing of secular songs in the presence of God. Do they give Him praise? Do they lift up the name of Jesus? Would God be jealous of you listening to a song that draws you away from Him & His presence?”

    Out of curiosity, do you watch secular television or movies? What makes them different, in your opinion, to secular music? Why does God honor a show like, Flashpoint, but not a positive song by U2?

    • ChicagolandTim

      August 13, 2011 at 1:09 pm


      Welcome to my blog! I’m glad you got the chance to swing by…I haven’t posted much in a while. This post, along with others, are in a category I call “Soapbox Saturday”, meaning that I’m getting on a soapbox and “preaching” (if you will) on certain convictions that I have…maybe even convicting the reader to change too.
      I can understand your statement that my viewpoint “would make it very difficult to consume any mainstream media, TV and film, including the film you mentioned above, the Ron Clark story.” Maybe I didn’t write it clearly enough to distinguish, but there’s more to music than all of the other medias out there…it gets to your very soul. Sure we can quote lines from our favorite movies or TV episodes, but the entire thing? Music, though similar in many respects, is so much more powerful than any TV show or movie and can stand the test of time over the years more (in my opinion).
      Do I watch secular TV or movies? Well, I know what you mean by this but can we agree that TV and movies don’t typically segment themselves by being called “secular” or “Christian” as much as music does? I think that “Christian” movies are starting to get a foot in the door, but they have a long way to go (in my opinion) before we have to start calling them that. TV has channels, but I assume you mean programming. The answer to your question is yes, I do. However, I have to use judgment in what I watch, as I know it can effect me, my attitude around others and ultimately the faith of others watching me. My convictions (from which I receive when I read Scripture) lead my choices.
      Every so often our pastor will talk about a balance between the freedom to do whatever we want and legalism…how both are wrong but the goal is to find a balance between the two (he explains it better and longer than I want to attempt to write here). While my conviction leads me to believe that all secular music has no place in the Christian’s life (and without question the life in Heaven), it doesn’t mean that I’m dead set against music…or the ones listening to secular music. I’d prefer it if Christians had the same convictions, thereby being one harmonious light in this world of darkness, but if that were the case I guess there wouldn’t be denominations, right?
      I often hear on TV or in passing “What is the meaning of life?” For the Christian, this is one of the easiest questions to answer…not true of the unbeliever. It’s to put Jesus above all else…giving Him the glory He so rightly deserves (putting Him at the top of our flagpole, as it were). The problem comes when we attempt to share the top with [fill in the blank]. This post was ‘filling the blank’ with secular music.

      • ChicagolandTim

        August 13, 2011 at 1:46 pm

        As a side note, I do want to let everyone know that these “Soapbox Saturday” posts take weeks, if not months for me to write…as the Lord leads me. I don’t expect everyone that reads it to agree, but I’m not trying to people please. This topic was especially hard for me to write, as there are many that are close to me that don’t have such a conviction…and it saddens me.
        Heavenly Father, please help me become the man You want me to be. May You continually be displayed in all that I do…in every act, deed and post. Give us the strength to persevere for Your name…until You come back again or until we’re taken home to be with You. These things we desperately pray in Jesus’ holy name, Amen.

  2. liz

    September 4, 2014 at 1:27 pm

    Tim, I totally agree with you and I feel the same way, and when you love God for REAL you’re willing to let go of ANYTHING for Him, it’s either black or white, no in between

  3. Mari

    July 2, 2016 at 7:24 pm

    I feel the same way about secular music. I think music is much deeper than t.v shows, and movies. Music tends to be more realistic, artists talk about their life, their feelings and thoughts. Music does get to your soul and mind. Songs will stay in your head, the beat, the lyrics. T.v does have some realistic, negative things (which we can refrain from). But it also has learning, inspiring, and emotionally positive things. So, we can choose the good stuff. And I agree that music only talks about love, sex, money, drugs, murder. I personally do not care for it at all. I would rather hear about God, his love, his mercy. And I want that to stay in my mind. I have tried to listen to secular music, just for kicks. But, I quickly go back to Christian music. Just don’t like it. I appreciate you putting this out. Nice to know other people are like me. Because people do look at me like I am weird for not liking worldly music.


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