CON Contact Us DON Donate
Our History General Assembly Worldwide Outreach Ministries Standards Resources

Question and Answer

Is rock or rap music that alludes to Christianity acceptable?

Question:

Is rock and rap music that contains lyrics and allusions to Biblical beliefs and/or praises to God acceptable in a Christian's life? Or, should all rock and rap music be avoided? God's Word says to stay away from all appearance of evil; so, would that also include music, even if the lyrics give praise to God?

Answer:

Thanks so much for your question about the ethical nature of rock and rap music. As you have noted in your question, it is important to distinguish between the lyrics and the music of a song. Lyrics can be obviously sinful in the message that they convey. Even the tone of lyrics can be sinful (I think immediately of much of the rage-filled screaming and yelling of metal bands). But we are hard-pressed as believers to claim that a certain style/genre of music is sinful in and of itself. To say that certain music sounds evil has several problems (we are not talking about lyrics here, just music). The first is that the Scriptures never lay out for us what evil sounds like in music. Therefore, when we label certain sounds or instruments as evil, we say more than the Scriptures say. Also, this argument against certain genres of music has been used as an excuse by many who simply refuse to engage varying musical genres. Such a response does not encourage intelligent discussion and engagement. This is not to say that certain music is not technically better in quality than other music, and it's not to say that music can't be used for evil purposes. Many musicians, in fact, seek to use music for evil ends. But it's probably best to see music as a tool. Just like a hammer is not good or evil, but can be used for evil (or good) purposes, so it is with music. When we label particular sounds, rhythms, or instruments as evil or good we are basing that judgment on our own preferences and cultural biases and not upon the authority of Scripture.

With that said, varying musical genres must be used wisely by Christians. While Christian rock or rap might be appropriate in a concert or informal setting, it is not appropriate in the public worship of God, which emphasizes the corporate nature of worship. Rock and rap, by nature, focus on individual expression.

More recently, there have been rap songs that rap through one of the great confessions of the church—the Heidelberg Catechism. Simply google "rapping the Heidelberg Catechism" and you'll find more than you need to see how the genre of rap can be used to glorify God.

One more thing needs to be said. Whenever a musical medium becomes more important for a Christian musician that the truth it seeks to communicate, it ceases to be useful. And so those involved in Christian rock or rap must be in constant prayer that the medium of music used not become more important than the truth they are seeking to communicate.

This is a long way of saying that rock and rap music that contains lyrics that seek the glory and praise of God are acceptable in a Christian's life, but must always be used in the Christian life with great care and discernment.


About Q&A

"Questions and Answers" is a weekly feature of the OPC website. At least one new question is posted each week, so there should always be something new here for you to read. (For those who would like to look at previous questions and answers, they will continue to be available as well.)

The questions come from individuals like yourself. If you have questions about biblical and theological matters, you are invited to send them by e-mail by using the "Pose a Question" link on the OPC home page or by clicking here.

The purpose of the OPC website's "Questions and Answers" is to respond to biblical and theological questions. Matters of church discipline, disputes, or debates go beyond the scope of our work. We recommend that you present your concerns in these areas to the appropriate judicatory. In most cases this will be to a local pastor, elder, or session. We do not want the website to replace personal involvement in, or commitment to, the local, visible church.

While we will respond to every serious questioner, we are not bound to give a substantive answer to every question, should we deem the question to be beyond the scope of our purpose or our own ability to answer.

You will receive an answer by email. Please be patient as many of our respondents are busy pastors. The response to your question may take up to two weeks. Some of the questions submitted will be chosen to be posted here, along with the corresponding answers.

The answers come from individual ministers in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church expressing their own convictions and do not necessarily represent an "official" position of the Church, especially in areas where the Standards of the Church (the Scriptures and the Westminster Confession of Faith and Catechisms) are silent.

Note that the "Questions and Answers" posted on the site have been edited—all personal references are removed, Scripture references may be added, and sometimes portions are expanded—to make the questions and answers more useful to a larger audience.

OPC
© 2014 The Orthodox Presbyterian Church
o

Search OPC.org

MINISTRIES

Chaplains and Military Personnel

Diaconal Ministries

Historian

Inter-Church Relations

Pensions

Planned Giving

Short-Term Missions

RESOURCES

Church Directory

Daily Devotional

Audio Sermons

Trinity Hymnal

Camps & Conferences

Gospel Tracts

Book Reviews

Publications

Newsletter

Presbyterian Guardian