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Discussion in 'General Baptist Discussions' started by Berean, Sep 20, 2015.
Is music (music not lyrics) amoral? If not, what determines whether it is moral or immoral?
I think there might be a number of response to that which could or could not be considered correct. So I don't think it is something that might be correctly answered with one of the above, though there might be some good reasons for adopting one.
I remember years ago certain preachers condemning certain forms of music because they were "off-key" and in their view this was a corruption of melody, or harmony, maybe. Jazz was a target.
There is an old saying "Music soothes the savage beast," or something like that, and personally I agree that music can have great influence over emotional response. As a former musician who played Heavy Metal, I can understand certain music "getting the blood pumping," so to speak. I can understand certain music soothing people (and no...I am not talking about Barry Manilow, lol).
You were right to exclude lyrics from the question, which can be labeled (thank you Nancy Gore, lol). But it might be argued that because of how certain music has been utilized in the past, certain music alone can elicit certain reactions or emotions, and impact the mental state of someone. This is why they invented elevator music, I think (and I think Nancy Gore was behind that as well...just kidding), lol.
Now how we might see music used morally or immorally, that, I think, poses a great question. Could make for interesting discussion.
But it might relate more to how it is used, rather than the music itself.
I guess if pushed to choose, I would say amoral.
There is no immoral form of music.
Lyrics can be immoral, but the form cannot.
Instrumental and vocal music can be both moral and immoral.
The body responds to the elements of music, and most certainly seek to impact the flesh not only physically, but emotionally, the thought processes, ...
The question then becomes is it the notes written on the page, the performance, or the performer - perhaps some combination of the three?
Then one must consider if any writing on any page is in itself inherently evil or good.
I would support that the written Word of God are inherently good and the "Satanic Bible" written by Anton Levy inherently evil.
Taking that view, then the written notes on a sheet of staff lined paper can be considered in the same manner.
Of course there will be some on this thread who would discard that such a standard should apply. I don't know why?
For 24 years, my wife and I traveled throughout Southern California singing Christ centered lyrics (ones we re- to old 50s, 60s, 70s and 1980 tunes! The ministry was so well received that we were booked Friday, Saturday and Sundays for nearly ten years straight!
We finally had to slow down, and cut back, but until age caught up with us, these retooled songs were hitting hearts, and along with my testimony, we saw thousands come forward to be saved, r to repent and turn his or her life around for Jesus!
The ministry crossed denominational boundaries, and God was truly the master of the ministry!
So, I do not think it is the genre of the music so much as it is the words of the music that make it a ministry!
Some of the songs changed for Jesus included, Chuck Berry's Johnny B. Good; Alley Oop changed to Pastor Oop; Ricky Nelsons "It's Late; the Beach Boys, Surfin' USA became Churchin' USA. And the list could go on indefinitely! About the only churches that had nothing to do with us were the more liturgical ones, like Presbyterian, Methodists, Catholics, Lutherans! They probably saw us a being amoral! And that didn't bother us. We were in all the evangelical churches, and evangelizing was the call of the ministry!
Great post, and I am sure it will draw a multitude of responses! Looking forward to reading this one through to it's end! :type:
That is righteous, dude, lol.
You have got to share the lyrics for "Pastor Oop." I can imagine that one right now, lol.
I will look for them and get them to you!
Music is the nonverbal, human communication of mood, demeanor or attitude with a set of tones existing in a specific harmonic relationship with one another arranged in a manner as to elicit a specific emotional response in the listener.
Of course it is moral, and its morality is judged the way any other action or attitude is judged.
I come to music with the opposite sort of experience of righteousdude2.
I had so many family members involved in bands, often playing in bars and clubs. And I know from watching what happened that the music, not the lyrics, can induce people to act in ways they would not normally act. The band guys were often told which instrumental to play and how to play it when one of the members wanted to bed a woman.
At one time we were blessed to be part of a church with a pastor who had come out of the playing the bars, and then did basically what righteousdude2 describes for a time.
What he found was that yes, he could use that music to motivate people to come forward and profess salvation. Problem was, it usually didn't stick. The music had moved them into a given emotional experience for sure, but that isn't the same thing as God regenerating someone.
Had a profound effect on my understanding of acceptable and unacceptable means to use in evangelizing, and way more than music.
I would say music carries with it the potential for emotional manipulation, so should be used to tell about God and to praise God, which may or may not arouse emotions, but should never be used to intentionally work at leading to any specific emotional experience within Christianity or the church.
Nothing wrong with a good rousing march for the military, a good enjoyable clean foot stomping song, etc. Just wrong to use music to move people to an emotional high and call it salvation.
I lean towards music having a morality, but not a definite one. I guess you could call me a "light moraller". :laugh:
In all reality, it depends on your definition of "moral" and "amoral". I honestly believe that much of this argument comes down to semantics.
It is scientifically proven that music over a certain beats per minute (BPM) is actually addicting. Off the top of my head, I believe that the BPM where it becomes addicting is 200. To put that into perspective, the average BPM of music is 120 (2 counts per second). Handell's "Hallelujah" was written to be played at 72 BPM, although it is generally sang a little quicker (roughly 85 BPM).
It is also proven that music can affect one's mood. There's a reason that before going on missions in Iraq and Afghanistan the soldiers play heavy metal music, instead of classical. They want to get their adrenaline up, and be in high spirits (both an emotional and physical response to music).
Music can reflect an attitude. There's a reason the funeral dirge is what it is. There's a reason wedding music is what it is. It reflects the attitude and the tone of an event or person.
With all this being said, I do believe that music has a morality. Anyone who disagrees, I just assume that they are disagreeing with me semantically. After all, the above points I made cannot be refuted. And that, to me, is a morality. The argument is whether or not it is a morality, which is semantic.
There is also a deeper level of argument which goes into the physiological effects of music with a certain rhythm pattern, emphasis on certain beats, etc. I reject most of those arguments (because most of them are guilt by association arguments) and try to stick with concrete evidence.
As the piano player plays "Just as I am" please come forward to receive Christ, say's Billy Graham and the multitudes come forward. But wait, what if there wasn't any music or singing just as I am would there still be a response ?
The BG crusade I attended was back in the early 70's and Just as I Am was pretty simply rendered. No problem, especially since the gospel had been clearly preached before it began.
Problem comes when the rendering is used intentionally to manipulate. I've also been in evangelistic services where Just as I Am is done to death over and over with the preacher saying "we aren't gonna leave til someone comes forward as I know God is moving." Problem, but with the preacher and not the music.
And then I've played keyboard in church where the pastor deliberately used music to manipulate. Telling the musicians what tempo to use where to get this or that response. Asking for "some sad song in a minor key" at certain points to get people's emotions tender before asking for a response. Problem with the music.
So I would say straight forward renderings of any hymn, gospel song, etc are fine and dandy in church. Music that uses secular culture to engender a response has no place in the church. Let's not use seductive music to get folks to come forward, or marches to get them roused up to donate to the building fund, etc.
The Holy Spirit is still on the job and doesn't need our helpful manipulating.
Oh, how people do not understand the scriptures…
I'll be returning later with a sermon on this subject which was enjoyable as a classical musician, the stingiest type.