Stating your presuppositions clearly is of key importance when writing on such an explosive subject as the morality of music. Many times we just cruise into the writing without formulating our own presuppositions that we wish to pass on. In order to make sure that we are all on the same page regarding the logic that I use, I would like to state my presuppositions right at the beginning.
A. The Bible is the final authority.
When it comes to spirituality there is no higher place that we can go than the Bible itself. Being the inspired word of God from cover to cover in all of the words chosen, it is the final standard when it comes to living our lives in a way pleasing to God. If something is clearly Biblical, it must be applied to life and practiced. If it is clearly un-Biblical it must be set aside and not done.
B. There are “gray” areas in the Bible.
While the Bible is the final authority, God chose to not insult our intelligence (or lack thereof) by prescribing everything down to the most minute nuance. He primarily gave us principles, not prescriptions. There are some topics that the Bible is silent about and when confronted with these, it is our responsibility to form a carefully thought-through opinion or conviction based on clear Biblical principles. Convictions and opinions such as these will differ from Christian to Christian and some of the applications will differ as well, but that is the beauty of the diversity of Body life.
C. Opinions are just that and should not be forced on others.
It took me a very long time to realize that this presupposition is key to living in harmony with Godly people who think differently than I do. My younger brother is one such person. Being a highly opinionated person myself I would tend to try to force what I thought on him, only to find myself fighting with him about inconsequential minutiae that had only the effect of making us angry at each other and disturbing an otherwise fine relationship where we thought very similarly in the big picture.
While this is merely a small example of what I’m trying to get at, we need to remember that as Christians our first duty is to love one another (John 15:12), not to convince one another of our pet doctrines, the way some of us tend to want to do.
For that reason what I am stating here is mostly opinion, but I want you to see the logic behind my opinion and the Biblical basis for it. What you do with it at the end is your responsibility, not mine.
D. Every person is individually responsible for their words, actions, thoughts, tastes, etc.
While there are certain things that we are corporately responsible for, it is my conviction from Scripture that God deals with us on an individual basis. I. Corinthians 3:10-15 suggests an individual judgment of each believer before the throne of Christ.
It is our responsibility to warn a brother who is sinning and, if possible, to draw them back from it, but what if they don’t do that? Whose responsibility is that? If we’ve done our job with teaching, exhorting, and praying for that brother, we have fulfilled our responsibility towards him and so the responsibility now rests squarely on his shoulders, not ours.
E. Music is an intensely personal subject.
Every person I have met has certain types of music that resonate with them and certain types that don’t. The instant you tell them you don’t like their music they will try to defend it. This suggests to me that music is something that is deeply rooted within a human being, perhaps even as deeply rooted as their sexuality. For this reason we need to highly respect each other’s taste in music, even if we can’t agree with it.
F. Music is not moral in and of itself, but becomes moral depending on certain variables.
This will most certainly turn off some people who believe music is moral, but I hope that you will finish reading this paper and try to understand where I’m coming from. I believe that the whole debate is a lot more complicated than it is made out to be and that there are certain variables, including the listener, the musician, and the songwriter, that must be factored in to the equation before we can come to a conclusion. I will explain how I came to hold this opinion as we go on.