“Is she singing about her boy friend, or God?”
I find my self asking that very question more often than should be the case whenever I turn the dial on my car stereo away from talk radio or preaching to eavesdrop on the local contemporary Christian radio station. (And I’m not talking about how Jane Austen or Emily Dickinson might write about their love, but how a 12 year old might write about their love for Justin Bieber, or whoever happens to have slipped away from Disney to carve out their own pop career). It is the kind of lyrical discussion that is purely sensational and emotionally driven that gives the audience the impression that God is this overly emotional weird guy in love with the super beautiful girl who is uninterested. He then must go on this epic quest, using all his slick pick up lines and outlandish endeavors to get her to notice him then go out with him. He’s love sick, he’ll do whatever it takes to win the love of his life. And if you listen, you’ll find that to be the norm, not the exception! And what multiplies the creepiness of this is when the singer uses a very heavy- breathy seductive voice!
“God is spirit, and those who worship, must do this in spirit and truth” is exactly what Jesus had to say on this matter (John 4:24). The task of the Church, and those who make disciples is to impart biblical truth to others, so that they worship in truth. I’m saddened that what decides whether or not a particular selection of music qualifies as good worship music goes by the following criteria:
- Is it sung at the local seeker friendly mega church?
- Is it popular on my local radio station?
- Does it make me feel good? Does it make me cry, or raise my hands?
- Does it have a good beat?
Worship is not simply a feeling that is experienced; it must also involve
understanding and the mind.
God have mercy on us! Forgive us for divorcing scripture and music, for separating doctrine from worship. But this isn’t brand new. One of the signs of this coming theological disaster was the creation of the position in the church known as “Worship leader”. Most people understand that this means the music director, but what does this say? It says that any other part of the service is just service, but whenever this person stands up, its worship! IE, we’ll let the other parts of the service deal with biblical truth, we’ll use this part to feel good. That’s nonsense, and dangerous. Here is what happens when we make that distinction:
- We misrepresent the Gospel. We get the impression or give the impression that God needs us. God again is this needy individual who is almost creepy in his pursuit. The Gospel isn’t that God is all broken hearted and distraught at our disobedience and will stop at nothing to win us back. The truth is that we have sinned and earned God’s pure wrath, but He loves us and saves us through Christ.
- We misunderstand God. God isn’t our boyfriend or best friend. He is the Alpha and Omega, He is HOLY. When is the last time you heard that exemplified? I’d love to hear a contemporary artist sing a song about Uzzah. That would really be awesome.
- We lose respect and reverence for God. I heard a song the other day and the singer made the case, regularly that she was “about to get my worship on”. I thought about that, the thought is biblical actually. The Levites in the OT would have to “get their worship on” by stripping their old clothes off, bathing and purifying themselves, then putting on special clean garments. They got that on, because worship of the Holy is that serious. It’s not something that the participant can flippantly get into. I wonder if she had the Levites in mind when singing or is this the same thought as “I’m about to get my grub on”?
- We tame God. We speak about God much the way we speak about anyone else, who we really respect. C.S. Lewis made this point very well in The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe in a discussion Lucy had with Mr. Beaver about meeting Aslan:
“Aslan is a lion- the Lion, the great Lion." "Ooh" said Susan. "I'd thought he was a man. Is he-quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion"..."Safe?" said Mr Beaver ..."Who said anything about safe? 'Course he isn't safe. But he's good. He's the King, I tell you.”
He’s the king, I tell you