Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Black or White

And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing.
Fix your thoughts on what is true, and
 honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely,
and admirable.
Think about things that are
excellent and worthy of praise.
{philippians 4:8}
It's a pretty simple formula: if you wouldn't want The Lord to return and find you there (wherever there may be), then leave.

At least it's pretty simple according the the author of the current bible study I'm taking. 

I was thinking about this concept a couple of Sundays ago as I was driving to church. Flipping the radio stations, I landed on Madonnas Like A Virgin, (I mean, this is a song from my days growing up in the 80s! Who remembers her rolling around onstage in a wedding dress??) and as I was singing along, I thought about how I'd feel if he was sitting right next to me in the car. Would He be singing along, too? Would I be embarrassed of the lyrics? Would I be in trouble with Him?

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I have a thing for music, especially hip-hop and R&B: I love the beat. I don't always love the lyrics, but typically I can overlook them or justify them so that I can enjoy the song. And I'm mostly okay with that, except there is one little part of me that feels a little bit uncomfortable when the lyrics are kind of raunchy.

As I was listening to the video teaching from Angela Thomas's bible study Stronger, she shared a verse from Hebrews 12, which goes something like this: get rid of the stuff that so quickly entangles and hinders a passionate relationship with Christ. And while I don't really like to admit that my penchant for hip-hop music might hinder, I also can say that I'd be embarrassed if Christ was sitting next to me while I listened to The Weeknds song Wicked Games--even the clean version.

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But is my conscious pricked enough to actually turn the station when a song I like comes on (I found out the hard way what XL actually means on XM radio)? Or to delete a song from my iPod that I paid good money for? That's where the black and white simplicity of walking away turns to gray for me. I can justify. I can rationalize. I can say that when the song makes references to drug use, I will ignore it because that doesn't mean that I am going to go out and do drugs. That when a song talks about rubbing big butts, one-night stands, stripper poles and adultery, it doesn't mean I am in agreement or I endorse those things. I just like the song...right?

I tell my kids that if they don't know what a certain saying or song is referencing or they don't agree with the message, then they shouldn't repeat or listen. But by listening to this music even though I don't agree, I'm being a hypocrite in front of my own children, indicating that what I say isn't as important as the 3-minute song in the radio. 

All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? My brothers and sisters, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.
{James 3: 7-12}
These verses give me reason to pause. Is it possible to have it both ways? To listen to the music I want, to watch TV and movies I like, to treat people the way I'm feeling in the moment, and then go to church on Sunday and sing praises to God seems hypocritical, yet this is the way I conduct myself many days.

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I'm not saying it's wrong to listen to the radio, to watch TV or movies or to voice your opinion at all. In fact, I'm the last person on the planet who should be judging what other people watch or listen to. This is more of a way for me to be introspective, to really investigate if what I say I believe matches up with my actions.

There are many different ways I am wrong, but here is what I know to be right:

So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do,
do it all for the glory of God.
{1 corinthians 10:31}

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