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Question

Is it wrong to listen to certain types of music? What about when others around you listen to this music? I don't like the music my family listens to.

Answer

Thank you for your excellent question. One of the great challenges of being a Christian is how to relate to others in the world around us.

Many Christians are familiar with the phrase "In the world but not of the world". It comes from Jesus' final prayer for his disciples before he is crucified. He says to God the Father:

"I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world". (John 17:14-16)

We are in the world, because Jesus didn't pray to take us out of it. However, we are not of the world, just like Jesus is not of it. Let's look at the individual parts of this phrase:

IN THE WORLD

Jesus doesn't want his people to be separate from other people. Paul says a similar thing to the Corinthians.

I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— not at all meaning the sexually immoral of this world, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world (1 Corinthians 5:9-10).

It is impossible for the Christian to separate themselves from every sinner, otherwise they'd have to leave the world! Paul is simply saying that Christians shouldn't treat sexually immoral people as if they were Christians. We must befriend people who do sinful things so that we can witness to them about Christ.

NOT OF THE WORLD

However, whilst we are in the world, we need to make sure we are not affected by it. Jesus tells us, "You are the light of the world" (Matthew 5:14). It is interesting that he says this because Jesus calls himself the light of the world (John 8:12). We are to represent Jesus to others. That means we mustn't take part in the sinful things the world does.

Balancing the two aspects causes great difficulty. Christians tend to fall one way or the other. Some separate themselves from their non-Christian friends so much they cannot show them the love of God. Others compromise so much they look no different.

I sense that you feel this battle with the people in your family. Not knowing the full details of it, I cannot give you a definitive answer. With modern problems, God's Word often gives general principles, rather than specific advice. However, here are some things to bear in mind.

1. Is this music tempting you to sin?

Many Christians believe that certain movies or music make them sin. However, nothing can force sin upon you. Jewish people thought various Jews could defile you but Jesus corrects this belief:

"Then are you also without understanding? Do you not see that whatever goes into a person from outside cannot defile him, since it enters not his heart but his stomach, and is expelled?" (Thus he declared all foods clean.) And he said, "What comes out of a person is what defiles him. For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person" (Mark 7:18-23)

Nothing from the outside forces us to sin. Sin is something that comes from our heart

Having said that, we do have a responsibility to avoid things that tempt us to sin. The thing is, different things tempt different people. Paul says in the issue of eating food, whoever has doubts is condemned if he eats, because the eating is not from faith. For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin. (Romans 14:23). For some people, eating certain foods would be a problem, so they should avoid it, even though eating isn't sinful in itself.

Let us take the example of music. For a certain type of person, they might hear sexually explicit lyrics and instantly start think of sinful actions of their past. But for another person, whilst they wouldn't choose to listen to this music, being in the room as someone else listening to it isn't going to tempt them. Only you can figure out which is true of you.

2. Is raising this issue with non-Christian family members the biggest priority?

There are certain things more important to tell non-Christian friends and family about. Paul talks about what was of first importance for him that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. (1 Corinthians 15:3-5). The first thing we need to tell non-Christians about is Jesus.

Often Christians can cause confusion toward the Gospel by focusing on other things first. It may be useful at some point in their life to be challenged about their music. But we need to be careful. If we try to force them to do Godly things before they trust in Jesus, we can give the impression that we are saved by works, not grace. Of course we need to show them they are a sinner needing to repent, but there are probably bigger sins to confront than the music they listen to.

Perhaps your family are clear on the gospel and know you believe a person is saved by grace. But it might be that focusing on music makes it seem that we are saved by works.

All these things are difficult and there are many grey areas. That is why I can't say for certain what you should or should not do. But using these biblical principles, I hope you can make an informed decision.

In summary, "You are the light of the world" (Matthew 5:14) so make sure you remember that as you relate to your family, whether that means you have to separate yourself from a certain sin, or whether that means spending more time so you can show Christ's love.

Here are some more Bible Verses for your further consideration:

  • John 17
  • Romans 14

I hope this answer helps you to find peace with God through Jesus Christ. If you want to know more about what Jesus has done for you please watch the video on the main part of our site: Watch the video

I encourage you to attend a local Bible believing church and speak to the leader about your question. If you want to find a local church, our Church Finder may help you: Find a Church

Please feel free to submit a question to us or to read our answer database: Ask a Question

*All Scripture references are taken From The English Standard Version of the Holy Bible unless stated otherwise

*If anything in this answer affects you directly, then please feel free to call our confidential prayer line in the UK on 0845 4567729, where trained Christian volunteers will take your call and pray both for you and with you. If you are outside of the UK then you may submit your request for prayer on line at www.ucb.co.uk/prayerline


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