I love listening to music. As a Christian, I enjoy listening to songs that glorify God and are Biblically-based. But there are also secular songs that have beautiful lyrics and music too. As a Christian, is it okay for me to listen to secular music?
Can Christians listen to secular music? It depends. This is not a yes or no answer. No command in the Bible says you cannot listen to secular music. Christians need to ask themselves four questions when determining if they should be listening to secular music. These questions are (1) Does it glorify God? (2) Does it draw you closer to God? (3) How does it influence your attitude? (4) Is there a redemptive truth in it? After answering these four questions, you can conclude if it’s wise to listen to secular music.
Here is a video explaining the four questions in detail regarding listening to secular music.
In this video, Ken Freire and Kenny Ortiz talk about the question, “Can Christians listen to secular music?”
But first, what is secular music?
Definition of Secular Music
Secular music is not worship or praise music that specifically glorifies Jesus Christ or talks about the gospel.
Secular music can be produced by both Christians and non-Christians. The lyrics most often are not focused on Christ and do not reflect any truths from the Bible and the gospel.
This applies to all other areas of media and entertainment as well, not just music. However, in this blog, we are specifically focusing on if Christians can listen to secular music.
Here are some questions to ask yourself when determining if you can listen to secular music.
1. Does It Glorify God?
Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.1 Corinthians 10:31 NKJV
What does it mean to glorify God?
To glorify God means to give Him praise, honor, and reverence for who He is. It also means to acknowledge God and worship Him.
Think about it this way: As a Christian, you are the temple of God. His Spirit now dwells in you. Because you are seen to be holy in God’s sight, what you put into your mind and body ought to also be holy and honoring to God.
Now consider the music you listen to. Does that music honor who God is? Does it respect the people He’s made?
Listening to secular music is not a sin, but as a follower of Christ, everything you do needs to glorify God—your lifestyle, habits, thoughts, speech, and actions. This is your responsibility in being a good witness for Christ.
Now, another question you may ask is, is it possible to listen to a secular song that does not talk about Jesus or is sung by a Christian that is not worshipful but still glorifies God?
The answer is yes.
Not all secular songs are bad. Some secular songs can honor and glorify God by not discriminating against Him and His image-bearers or enhancing sin.
However, we must still be careful about what we are listening to. There are also some worship songs today that take the focus off of God and onto ourselves in a way that does not glorify Him.
In this case, it is important to ask yourself, is there scriptural truth in the music I listen to that glorifies God? If the secular songs you are listening to are not glorifying God, then those songs should be avoided.
It is noteworthy to mention that Christians don’t have to produce Christian music. Many musicians are talented and skilled in playing an instrument and have amazing voices.
However, as a Christian, it is important to always make sure your lyrics are rooted in Biblical truths and are honoring God.
God is glorified when you use your gifting and skills in music for His glory.
2. Does It Draw You Closer To God?
The second question regarding if Christians can listen to secular music is to ask yourself if the music you are listening to is drawing you closer to God.
As a Christian, you are called to live in light of eternity and be captivated by who God is. This comes from having a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ and walking in the Holy Spirit.
If you were able to answer yes to the first question about secular music glorifying God, then you can ask yourself this second question. Does the music you listen to give you deeper knowledge and understanding of who God is? Is it drawing you closer to Him and causing you to praise Him?
Another way to answer this question is to picture Jesus sitting in your car with you while you play secular songs through your car speakers. Would He be listening to the songs that you play?
Remember Jesus is still beside you in that car even if you can’t see or feel Him.
There are definitely songs that honor and worship the Father that Jesus would listen to, but obviously, there are many other bands, albums, and songs in this world that He would not listen to because it does not respect or honor His Father.
During His time on earth, Jesus showed that He was intent on being close to His Father. He often went away to a quiet place away from all of the noise just to be with Him.
And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, He departed and went out to a desolate place, and there He prayed.Mark 1:35 ESV
Jesus gives you a great example of what it looks like to be focused on intimacy with the Father. You and I are to guard our hearts and minds well in Christ Jesus by being aware of what is coming and going from our minds.
With this in mind, you are to be very careful of the music you listen to. Your purpose in life is to glorify God and get to know and love Him.
If you are listening to songs that are against Him, then it is time to ask yourself if it is drawing you closer to God or pushing Him away.
Be careful that you do not allow music to draw you away from your relationship with God. If you truly care about your relationship with the Lord, then you will be more careful about what you listen to.
3. How Does It Influence Your Attitude?
We don’t realize how much music, media, and entertainment impacts us.
Music is powerful and can unlock elements of our brains and hearts by tying together emotional and intellectual aspects of our lives, causing us to feel and act differently.
If you were able to answer yes to the first two questions considering if you as a Christian should listen to secular music, you can move onto the third question: How does this affect or influence my attitude and behavior?
Often music can put feelings and emotions into words that we do not know how to express. Sometimes we intentionally want to feel something so we put on a song that we know will help us process through our emotions.
However, this may cause us to spiral into a place of depression, anger, or violence.
As a believer and follower of Jesus Christ, you must be careful with what you listen to. If you listen to the same music or song over and over again, it will begin to shape your thinking and impact your beliefs.
Some people say that when they listen to secular music, they don’t listen to the lyrics but just the beat of the music. This is impossible for your brain to do. Your brain is still affected by the lyrics.
Even though you may not be consciously thinking or listening to the lyrics, it will still steep into your heart and mind.
Listening to secular music that is not God glorifying can impact how you feel and behave. It can also impact the words that come out of your mouth when you are frustrated or angry.
Music has the power to influence your worldview and what you believe.
If you believe in Jesus, then your desire should be to glorify God, grow closer to Him, and worship Him both with your attitude and actions so that you can reflect the image of Christ to others around you.
Music that talks about the gospel and is rooted in truth from God’s Word will make your attitude more Christ-honoring.
Every song, movie, and video game has a worldview to it and if you don’t think about it critically, it will influence you rather than you getting to influence it.
Parallel to this third question, another great question to ask yourself is, am I upholding the truth? What am I allowing into my life that affects my worldview and beliefs about God, humanity, the world, and eternity?
God is heartbroken over sinful things. When listening to music, or watching a movie or video on YouTube, or playing a video game, ask yourself, is God brokenhearted over this?
Recently, some kids overseas that I know made a music video where they sang the lyrics of a popular pop culture song. I was shocked at the words they were singing and my heart broke thinking about how easily influenced they are by the world.
Think about our young generation today and what is influencing them. Is God broken over the things they are believing and listening to? What you allow to occupy your mind and thoughts will eventually affect your actions and words.
This is why we must be careful about what music we listen to so that we can establish healthy thought patterns.
We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ.2 Corinthians 10:5 ESV
4. Is There Redemptive Truth In It?
It is important to think critically about what music you are listening to. Every song you listen to has a hidden worldview in it that presents what the writer of the song believes.
If you have answered yes to the first two questions and discovered that the type of music you listen to influences your behavior in a positive way, then ask yourself, what redemptive truth is in this song?
Philippians 4:8-9 talks about dwelling on things that are of the Lord. This applies to the songs you listen to.
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.
What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.Philippians 4:8-9 ESV
Not only are you to practice dwelling on the things that are honoring and pleasing to God, but in doing so, the peace of God will be with you.
It may be tempting to use the excuse, “I’m only going to listen to the song so that I know what other people are talking about”, or, “I’ll listen to the song so that I can relate to people better or minister to them.” This is dangerous because you may not know what is being communicated to you through that song.
In conclusion, some secular songs may be okay to listen to, but other secular songs are not redeemable because they are against God and everything He stands for.
Thus, you have to be extremely careful with what secular songs you listen to.
Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.
Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.Colossians 3:2-5 ESV
What About Instrumental Music?
Instrumental music can fall into both Christian and secular categories. With instrumental music, it depends on how the music makes you feel and what impact it makes on you.
In addition to the question above, here are some questions to ask yourself about secular instrumental music:
- How does it affect your mood and behavior?
- Does it trigger any emotions or thoughts that you do not need to be dwelling on?
Movie soundtracks can be triggers that remind you of certain scenes. Do you need to be dwelling on that all of the time?
Classical and jazz are usually safe to listen to, however, it still depends on if it is glorifying to God and how it impacts you.
For me, instrumental music without any words can be very emotional and make me feel many things. I love instrumental music for this reason, but I still have to be careful about what I listen to.
There is nothing in the Bible that tells us we should not listen to secular music. However, not all music is glorifying to God and honors Him and others.
If you want to love God and others well, then you may need to cut out some secular music in your life that is affecting your thinking and worldview.
If you are realizing that the music you are listening to is not honoring and glorifying to God, does not draw you closer to Him, influences your attitude and behavior negatively, and that there are no redemptive truths in it, here are some practical steps for you to take.
- Unplug. Stop listening to that music
- Find some Christian worship songs that are rooted in Scripture
- Delete or throw away the music that you were listening to
- Develop a Biblical worldview by studying God’s Word
- Find an accountability partner to help encourage you through this process and keep you accountable in glorifying God with what you listen to and watch
“Secular music often promotes immorality and violence while belittling purity and integrity. If a song glorifies what opposes God, a Christian should not listen to it. However, there are many secular songs with no mention of God that still uphold godly values such as honesty, purity, and integrity. If a love song promotes the sanctity of marriage and/or the purity of true love—even if it does not mention God or the Bible—it can still be listened to and enjoyed.”Got Questions
As a Christian, you do not want to allow anything in your life that is degrading or dishonoring toward God and others. You should be careful with anything that is not based on Biblical truth, apathetic towards the gospel and eternity, and does not show the example of Christ.
This not only applies to what music you listen to but also the movies and videos you watch or the games you play.
My encouragement to you is to be more concerned about filling your mind with truth from God’s Word and glorifying Him. Ephesians 5:19 says to use psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to encourage yourself and others in the Lord.
I hope you can find songs that are glorifying to the Lord, grow you closer to Him, bring joy into your life and have foundational redemptive truths from scripture that can strengthen and encourage you in your walk with Jesus Christ.