Worship music on your wedding night? I don’t think so, says musician and worship pastor, Samuel Nwachukwu, otherwise known as Calledout Music. Our playlists should not be explicit, vulgar or packed with filth, but music is a good gift from God, he says


Source: Ena Marinkovic

As a worship pastor and musician, the question I get asked most often by our highly excited young adult congregation is: “Can Christians listen to secular music?”

They give me this inquisitive look, which tells me that my answer may define their whole viewpoint on this matter. I never answer with a blanket statement. Instead, I prefer to delve deeper into their heart posture.

If this is your first time hearing the word ‘secular’, let me help you with a straightforward definition: ‘Secular’ music isn’t written or performed specifically to praise God or to be sung in church for personal or collective devotional time. For example, Matt Redman’s ‘10,000 Reasons’ = Christian music. Spice Girls ‘Wannabe’ = secular. Get it? Sweet.

Seriously though, the answer lies in the why. I find that often, as Christians, we are looking to see how close to the line we can get without actually crossing it. I’ve realised that, most of the time, when I am asked whether it’s ‘right’ to do something, the real question is: “Is it a sin to do it?” It’s because, sometimes, if we’re honest, we’re trying to get the pleasure of sin without the guilt of it - and music is one of those grey areas we often struggle with.

Right thinking

The Bible gives us a framework for how to view life. Romans 12 tells us not to be conformed to the patterns of this world but instead, be “transformed by the renewing of our minds”. We should change the way we think, by allowing the Bible and the Holy Spirit to give us a new framework. This includes all of our choices: how to live and love, what type of friends to have and even what music to listen to.

On the night of your wedding, Maverick City’s ‘Jireh’ might not be the mood you were aiming for

Another verse that has dramatically helped me is Philippians 4:8: “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things”.

This verse encourages us to fix our minds on pure things. Quite simply, if the songs on your playlists are vulgar, explicit, packed with filth, derogatory statements, violence or laced with sexual innuendos that incite lust, as a believer, you should not be listening to those songs - because they will not draw you closer to God.

So rather than asking if it’s a sin to do something, can I encourage you to change the question to: “Is it pure?” or “Does it please God? That way, your reason for making a certain choice will come with freedom, knowing you’re doing what’s right in God’s eyes.

Created for good

But while our faith is (and should always be) a guide for selecting music to listen to, we are also blessed with great songs written by great artists suited for all different occasions. Birthday celebrations, nights out, memorials and funerals are all moments where a broader range of music might be helpful, appropriate or fun.

Picture this. It’s the night of your wedding. You’ve just had the most incredible day, filled with joy, laughter and all the feels. Now it’s time to cosy up and set the mood for a great night. You go to your Spotify playlist and Maverick City’s ‘Jireh’ or Tim Hughes’ ‘Here I am to worship’ begins to play…Let’s just say it might not be the mood you were aiming for!

If your playlists are vulgar and explicit, those songs will not draw you closer to God

Music is a great blessing from God, who created everything for our enjoyment and benefit. But, as with everything in our fallen world, it can also be distorted and tainted by the enemy who has his own agenda. How we live our lives - and even the songs we choose to listen to - should be an example to others.

People listen to music for different reasons: for education, enjoyment, edification and worship. It goes without saying that, when listening to songs that don’t explicitly focus on God, we are to do so with wisdom, caution and a healthy spiritual filter.

So many great songs speak about love, friendship and family without being profane or explicit; we can certainly enjoy those. God wants us to enjoy music with our friends, spouses and loved ones, but never at the expense of our fellowship with him.