Friday, November 4, 2011

The conscious choice I made to embrace Christian music and reject hypocrisy

An old friend of mine recently made the comment to me at a wedding reception that he was surprised and caught off guard that the newest mix cd I made for friends was steered in the direction it was. He isn't, and never expected me to be, a fan of "Christian music" of which many of the songs I chose were. It didn't surprise me that it surprised him. It was a surprise to myself. Not because I am not a Christian, because I am. But because it's a genre that I'm only recently exploring over the last two years. One of the slightly intoxicated comments he innocently made was that he has always felt that Christian music is an oxymoron.

I have been chuckling about this, in small doses, ever since.

It started that I simply didn't listen to any music with profanity in it once I had children. They were always with me in the car or anywhere, and if we weren't listening to the rock-and-roll version of the ABC song, or talk radio, then it was family friendly music, of which I had a descent collection of anyway, (I've never been 'mainstream' in music) just weeded out a few cds here and there that weren't appropriate for young, precious ears. As my young daughter has approached the tender age of 5, and is growing her range of friends, I found myself analyzing things deeper. Her friends in our homeschool group and in girl scouts range in age. She has best friends who are 4, and best friends that are 5, 6, 7, 8, and even 9. She spends quality time at length with some of these older girls from our hs group, and luckily because they aren't mainstream families, I don't have to worry about them influencing her in the same way older girls of mainstream would. (They play with Barbies and My-Little-Ponies together, not blaring Hannah Montana and trying on training bras!) As she grows through her childhood, her friends will pick up more influence of her, too. My husband and I have issues with the way society tries to steal the youth of little girls. Dressing them as if they were young Britney Spears wannabes, or entire lines of clothes that are aimed at creating fashionable miniature sex objects. Six-to-eight year olds are being sent to school even in our small town with skimpy skirts, "sexy" shirts and, yes, even knee-high black boots. I don't know why some moms feel pressured or agree to allowing their young daughters to be visually prostituted in this way. Is it just like anything else people give no thought to? Do they simply go with what they find on a mainstream rack at the store because the ads and their girls tell them "it's the style" and play on their need to conform and have their children fit in? At what expense? You aren't helping that child's self esteem by making them think clothing and conforming is the way to attain it. But it expands beyond clothing. The media uses every opportunity to market to young girls in this way. That includes television, movies... and music.

Knowing you want to combat our culture and actually doing it, are two different things. Many songs, even if I'm not a fan, have catchy beats and attract attention... but as one good friend humorously pointed out, I don't need my 4-year-old daughter asking me what Lady Gaga's disco stick is.

So it started me on the path to find "cool" music that also packed a meaning. Striving to live the character model I'd like the kids to follow started me down the road to Christian music. My kids are growing up and starting to slowly notice that the world has things to offer. Someday they'll be immersed even more in the consumer-driven world, and hopefully by then we will have instilled the values they need to fully be individuals and make their own decisions. I can't control everything that they see, hear or do. But it is my God-given job to shape it, and that means living and leading by example. I'm thankful for the change in perspective, because I've made the conscious choice that listening to music that reflects your values is not just a smart moral imperative when it comes to raising kids, but even a very cool oxymoron. Yes, it may be rhetorical, even though there is no inherent contradiction, but the properties of faith and music most certainly can occur together. In fact, the irony is, I find the contradiction to be on the contrary. Kids have enough idioms in the world, and the obvious is never "needless to say". Indeed, the trap of allowing things to go unsaid or grow in assumption when it comes to little ones is, at the very least, irresponsible. It matters more the older my children become. Not that we'll "exclusively" listen to just Christian music. But doing what's in the best interest of my children has continued to shape and inspire me into a better version of myself. As with so many other outwardly choices I've made in my life as a parent to avoid dreaded hypocrisy and to show through example what matters in life, I've embraced the journey of finding music that moves me body, mind and soul, and I've grown beyond the need to disregard such inspiration simply because it's considered "cool" and "clever" to only imply and read between the lines to find the depths of revelation.

I find much more grace and revelation in dancing in the kitchen with my kids to Jamie Grace's "Hold Me," than in Gwen Stefani's "Holla-back Girl."


  1. Great post. I struggle with this myself. I love a good beat, and I've been a music fan - all genres - since receiving my first radio at the tender age of 6. I remember staying up late at night listening to all the music on the analog dial. My parents thought it was innocuous, but I had no business listening to Motley Crew and Madonna! I shudder to think of kids now having free range of the radio. It's sad when the only mention of Jesus on mainstream radio is during Christmas - er "Holiday" season.

    I loved gospel hymns but could never get into Christian pop. It sounded too over they were trying too hard. If I want to hear about God, I want it to be soulful or beautiful - not synthesized. Christian pop has come a long way since the 80's. There is a better balance of beat and message now. More and more Christian pop groups get air time on mainstream radio stations. Maybe there is hope for the world!

    I challenge Lady Gaga to produce a Christian album...I can see it now, to the tune of "Paparazzi":

    "I'm your biggest fan
    I'll follow you because You love me
    Jesu-Jesu Christi"

    A girl can dream,

  2. There are SO many options available now in Christian music. You can even find heavy metal and rap that is Christian music. I have a dear friend, Icris, who is a Christian rapper out of Ionia. He is very skilled at what he does and brings the message of the gospel to people who might not otherwise be interested in it.
    I primarily listen to Christian music, but all genres under that umbrella. I have been disappointed with the country music I used to love so much when they started putting out songs like "Tequila makes her clothes fall off". I don't want to explain that to my kids. Yikes.

    Christian music helps me throughout the day when I am getting off-track by being distracted or am getting frustrated with one of my kids, etc. I'm glad that Christian music is blessing you and your family!

  3. SO true, Kristin!! That is awesomely funny. I agree it's come a long way and that makes a huge difference. You are so right, Kristin and Megan. I love that the choice in style of Christian music has grown so much. My friend Jen was making that same remark, that it's come so far over the last 10 years. "Overproduced" is such the right description for what it had been for so long. I'm really loving Seabird, and Jon Foreman is reeeeeeally on to something soul changing!!
    P.S. Kristin, your Lady Gaga comment made me laugh water out my nose. :D

  4. I love this! I believe it was the song "What happens in Mexico stays in Mexico" by Toby Keith that made me say "What am I listening to with my babies in the car?" a few years back and convicted me to completely switch to Christian music in order to surround ourselves with reminders of the Lord. :) And Christian music has come leaps and bounds in the last 10 years...Praise the Lord! It is so much better than it used to be! And my Em would wear jumpers and Mary Janes until she's 30 if it were up to me! ;) Nathan and I do all we can to protect the innocence of our sweet little ones! I loved reading this...thank you for sharing!! :)