Musical Sounds: Moral or Amoral?

Discussion in 'Fundamental Baptist Forum' started by Luke2427, Jul 31, 2010.

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  1. Luke2427

    Luke2427
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    Does music have moral qualities without lyrics?

    Are some musical sounds evil? If so which ones, and how do you make the determination?

    Are some musical sounds holy? If so which ones, and how do you make the determination?

    This is not a question of appropriateness.

    This is not a question of whether or not music has the ability to create mood and move one emotionally.

    This is a question of whether or not certain types of music are sinful and others godly.

    Is the Bible silent on the issue? If not, where does the Bible clearly speak to the issue?
     
  2. Bob Alkire

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    I know this isn't what you are looking for, but it is the most sinful part of music that I've seen. I've read books which some say yes and others say no.

    I don't know but I've never seen anything split a church like change in music.
    I don't care if it is a change from hymns to contemporary or like one church I was at the music minister wanted to move to blue grass. I've seen it split a church and others take five or six years to work the change in and most of the time there isn't a problem, just how it is done. Keep in mind, most people do not like change are less they are the one pushing the change.
     
  3. rbell

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    A telephone can carry a message of love, or a message of obscenity.

    But it's just a phone--the conveyor of the message.
     
  4. John Toppass

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    Music can be a way to worship God. That is the reason for music in church. However if the music is not the type that the congregation cares for, it does not become a conduit of Godly worship.

    Just like a Minister who does not deliver the message in a style that does not allow the congregation to hear the message. (this is assuming that the message is scriptural) The Minister would not be a good match for that congregation but an excellent one for another.

    Music is the same and a music or worship leader who can not change and tries to cram a style that is not conducive of worship for a certain congregation needs to find another congregation.

    While the message or the worship is the same, the style and delivery makes up a large portion of it's effectiveness.

    I enjoy many different styles but do not like the "Christian rock " in service. But, that is just me and that doesn't make it right or wrong.
     
  5. ktn4eg

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    A "classical" example of this quandry about music might be found in Haydn's String Quartet Opus 76 Number 3.

    Its second movement provided the melody of what started out as the national anthem of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and eventually wound up as Germany's national anthem Deutschland Uber Alles (sp.?)[lit., "Germany Over All"]. It's been said that this was one of Nazi dictator Adolph Hitler's favorite songs.

    OTOH, that same music was used by John Newton (the person who wrote the words to "Amazing Grace") when he wrote the words to a hymn of praise to God entitled "Glorious Things of Thee Are Spoken."

    So, was Haydn's music evil or holy?
     
  6. Pastor Larry

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    With all due respect, the way you list the questions/not questions reveals you don't appear to understand what the issues are.

    Depending on what you mean by "sounds" this is irrelevant. The sound isn't the issue. It's about construction of the sounds, the way they are put together. Let's use an example: Think of Anthony Hopkin's voice to Jodie Foster in The Silence of the Lambs. It is intended to be an evil sounding voice -- a voice that comes from an evil man and creates a response of fear. It's not the words that do it; it's the sound.

    But propriety is a moral issue when it comes to Christian worship. So you can't ask the original question and then rule out a key part of it. Is it sinful to approach God inappropriately, even if you think it is okay? (Ask Uzziah or Korah for starters.)

    Again, this is a key part of morality and communication in music. You have just said that your question ("Is music moral?") is not really a question since you have just said answer cannot take into account the very issues by which these sorts of determinations are made.

    Interestingly, just like with the example above, movie producers know exactly how to use music to communicate. Again, it's so patently obvious that it makes one wonder where the questions come from. Everybody understands this, but somehow when it comes to worship we check our minds at the door and revert to legalism.

    But propriety, communication effects, etc. are part of that discussion.

    As I pointed out to you before, the Bible is very clear on principles of communication. So the Bible says loads about communication. On top of that, God has given us minds. He does not expect us to be legalists. He wants us to understand the world that we live in.

    I would urge you to take some time to browse around www.religiousaffections.org. I am not convinced by all of it, and you surely won't be either, but it will at least help you to develop the categories with which to carry on this discussion. I think the conversation here is limited because of the fact that the categories in your mind are unworkable. You are wanting to rule out talking about the very things that the discussion is about.

    Like so many things, when people who don't really understand the issues involved start asking questions, they frame the discussion in such a way that precludes any serious fact finding and interaction because right off the bat you say that you can't address certain components of the question. It's like saying you want to talk about calculus, but it's not about numbers and math equations and accuracy. It just won't work. You can't talk about it unless you are willing to talk about it.

    I am no rabid musical conservative, but to pretend that music has no moral meaning is beyond the pale.
     
    #6 Pastor Larry, Jul 31, 2010
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  7. Pastor Larry

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    But that's not an example of this quandary necessary. It actually confuses two things: Associative meaning (which is what this is) and inherent meaning. Both exist in music.
     
  8. Berean

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    Good post, I only have an opinion and that is this; I believe music without lyrics are neither moral, amoral or immoral strictly entertaining (if you enjoy it). There are two types of sound, music and noise, music is pleasing to the ear and noise is displeasing.
     
  9. sag38

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    Some would suggest that certain beats and rhythms are evil as a way of attacking anything that doesn't sound like a hymn played on a piano or an organ. There is no scientific evidence to back up the allegations that these beats elicit some type of evil response in the mind and heart of the listener. Just because Bill Gothard says so true doesn't make it true. Too many people have taken his false teachings on music and used them to create a lot of damage.
     
    #9 sag38, Jul 31, 2010
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  10. sag38

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    I've also heard preachers suggest that Satan was heaven's choir master before he was defrocked by God. They suggested that Satan, himself, was some type of musical instrument. But, as I have studied these verses it seems that one has to do a little stretching with the scripture to make it all fit together. This is not to say that Satan can't use music to create problems in a church but to make him out to be some kind of grand evil choir master manipulating people through the evil beats of contemporary music is going way too far and giving the devil too much credit.
     
  11. Pastor Larry

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    Do you recognize that for some people who make this argument it has nothing to do with hymns played on a piano and organ?

    What are your qualifications to assert that certain beats and rhythms are not evil or do not elicit evil responses (thoughts, attitudes, actions, etc)? In other words, you go after Bill Gothard pretty good here (and he certainly deserves it in a lot of areas), but why should we believe you more than him?

    What kind of evidence would be acceptable?

    So what about those who have nothing to do with Bill Gothard who make the argument? What about non-Christians with advanced degrees in music and fine arts who make the argument? What about rock musicians who make the same argument?
     
  12. Pastor Larry

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    Can you give some idea of why you believe this? What is the basis of your belief? Why should we agree with it? If I say that I believe music is moral, what makes your belief better than mine? Why should someone believe you over me?
     
  13. abcgrad94

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    I think music is simply an arrangement of sounds, and sounds are not sinful or righteous. I look at music the way I do words. Words of themselves are not good or bad, but they can be used either way. It depends on the intent of the one communicating.

    The Bible tells us how to communicate. We're told to make a joyful noise unto the Lord, to edify one another, to praise the Lord (on a variety of instruments mentioned in Psalms) and it tells us to minister grace to the hearers. In different places in the Bible, God's communication has been described as "thunder," "trumpet," and "a still small voice." It would seem God cares about the intent of our heart more than the arrangement of the noise offered to him.

    I've heard people with severe speech problems make a joyful noise to the Lord. It wasn't MY preference of musical style, but it reflected a heart full of love for God.
     
  14. sag38

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    Do you recognize that for some people who make this argument it has nothing to do with hymns played on a piano and organ?

    Forgive me for using generalizations but I think most people get the point.

    What are your qualifications to assert that certain beats and rhythms are not evil or do not elicit evil responses (thoughts, attitudes, actions, etc)?

    The proof is in the pudding my friend. All I hear from those who use this argument is the argument itself and no real evidence to verify what they are saying. Show me the proof otherwise someone is just blowing hot air.
     
  15. Deacon

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    The note 'middle C'
    'Tis neither hot nor cold thus I will spew it from my mouth

    (my wife will testify that my singing makes her sick)

    Rob
     
  16. Pastor Larry

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    First, brother, I hope we will attempt a respectful engagement.

    Yes, I think most people get your point and that's why I question it. You make a gross overgeneralization that most people get, and therefore reject. I totally agree with your point. But it's not a relevant point. People who make certain musical arguments for the reason you gave (i.e., doesn't sound like hymns on a piano and/or organ) should be immediately evicted from the conversation because that is not the point.

    The reason why people misunderstand the issue is because they get your point, and believe it, and don't realize that it's not the point.

    So how does this answer the question of your qualifications to make assertions about the matter? This is no trifling issue. I can stand all day long and make assertions about, say, something like cancer and chemotherapy. But the reality is that I know nothing about it, and that is evident from looking at my qualifications. Therefore, my opinion should be rejected.

    So I ask your qualifications to see if your opinion should be considered seriously. If your qualifications is that you have heard people use their argument and have not heard people give evidence for verification, then we must reject your opinion just like you should reject my opinion about cancer and chemotherapy.

    Think about what you are saying (i.e., analyze your argument here): Your answer to my question about qualifications and knowledge is to say that all the people you have heard use this argument never give evidence.

    What have we established by that? May I suggest several things:

    1. That you haven't actually interacted with the argument; you have only heard it from others.
    2. The people you heard it from didn't give evidence for it, according to you. This may mean that (1) they didn't give evidence; (2) you left early and didn't hear the evidence they gave; (3) that you didn't think their evidence was convincing and therefore you don't consider it evidence.
    3. That you believe that the fact that the limited people you heard this from gave no evidence means that there is no evidence for it, and therefore you are justified in making a sweeping declaration about the matter based on this very limited exposure.

    Obviously, none of this testifies well to your qualifications to comment knowledgeably on this issue. Your qualifications (according to you) boils down to, "I have never heard anyone who used this argument give evidence for it."

    What about those who don't use this argument? (I have never heard anyone use the argument you give here.) Might they have some evidence?

    What about those who use this argument and have evidence for it, but whom you did not hear give evidence?

    The reality is, friend, with all due respect, that your two responses here are telling:

    First, you make a generalization and ignore the sweeping consequences of it choosing to assert that it's okay to make a bad argument because most people understand your point. I think this is very bad because you made a bad point and that is why we have the misunderstanding. The fact that people get it is part of the problem.

    Second, you want us to believe you because all the people you heard make this argument didn't give evidence. Yet how is that supposed to be convincing to us? How does that establish you as some sort of expert on the matter whose opinion should be adopted by others? It doesn't. And that's part of the problem. We spend time listening to people who do not have views that are well-formed by knowledge and critical interaction that have been tested in the exchange of ideas.

    I know we live in a world where people want easy answers, and so it is easy to say, 'It doesn't sound like hymns on a piano and organ, and therefore it's wrong." Or "Since I don't see explicit Scripture, everything's okay."

    The reality is that these are very simplistic and superficial ways to address something as serious as the worship of the Creator God. We should want more.
     
  17. Luke2427

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    Well, first off, this really isn't very respectful.
     
  18. nodak

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    I'm going to give my opinion, knowing there are those that just won't be able to hear it, and those that will hear it, not like it, and flame away.

    Many years ago my bro was in a country band playing vfw halls and bands. I was unsaved and in my early to mid teens. I got to stand around and listen to the band talk. They might usually do a song one way, but if one of the band members wanted to "get" a specific young woman warmed up, shall we say, he could ask the rest of the band to put in more slides, more growls, and to emphasize certain parts of the beat more to "heat it up." And it worked.

    Flash forward to working with small children. If we are honest we can admit that you can go in a classroom of 18-24 month old kiddies, put just the music to a stirring march on, do nothing, and pretty soon they are marching around and having fun.

    And there are certain beats, certain ways of sliding notes, etc, that will get kids, teens, and adults moving and twitching certain parts of their bodies certain ways. Some make us march, or bob our backsides, or sway, or stomp feet, or clap, etc. Some is called belt buckle polishing music.

    Now, I don't know about you, but the minute music, however pleasing I find it, takes any sort of influence or control over my actions, I figure that might be dangerous.

    I believe we are to remain in our sound minds, and to be led by the Holy Spirit.

    Can He use music? Of course He can! But the question becomes am I absolutely positively sure He is the one using it?

    If Satan cannot get us to trip up over open carnallity, I do believe he will delight in seducing us with anything that causes us to stop short of God's perfect will.

    Case in point: a pleasing little ditty I enjoy that goes "yes Lord yes Lord yes yes Lord." Now, it sounds good. And if that is the intent of my heart--to say yes to anything the Lord asks of me--fine and dandy. But do it in a crowd of people with enough drums and bass and the most hardened unrepentent sinner is often clapping and singing and enjoying the song with no intention whatsoever of saying yes to our Lord.

    And that is called "worship" rather than challenging his soul with the truth of the law, the wrath to come, and the sheer grace of God's mercy for those in Christ.

    It isn't a bad thing to do--but it wastes time that could have been better spent, and let's him go home feeling good about having "worshipped" while he is still hell bent.
     
  19. Luke2427

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    And you did not answer a single question.

    I'll tell you what- give an example of an evil musical "construction."
     
  20. Luke2427

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    I agree.

    I would add that we are not restricted to sounds we might consider "joyful". We are told to make those sounds but we are not told to NOT make any other types of sounds.

    For example, the somber, driving beat of "Oh the Deep, Deep, love of Jesus" filled with minor chords.
     
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