In Defense of “Christian Music”

A few weeks back, Marc over at Bad Catholic wrote a great little piece about so-called “Christian Music” (in typical Bad Catholic form, the post is entitled, “5 Reasons to Kill Christian Music,” I certainly recommend a read).

In it, he made the point that labeling a music genre “Christian” reduces Christianity into a modifying adjective, when in fact Christianity is reality. Amen to that.

Marc’s post made a lot of good points (and I am certainly happy that more and more Christians are standing up and saying that a Gospel-themed message is no excuse for poor art).  Still…I was raised on Christian music. I grew up listening to radio stations like K-Love. So I feel somewhat compelled to write a defense of the music that so defined my adolescence, and the music I still often enjoy listening to.

It seems to me that a lot of people view the “Christian music” genre as some sort of sneaky attempt to fool people into thinking that we Christians can be just as cool as the rest of the “rock ‘n roll” scene. But this was never the way it was presented to me; or at least it was never the way that I viewed Christian music. Growing up, I listened to music that was specifically about my faith because I enjoyed celebrating my faith. I like Jesus! And goshdarnit, sometimes I enjoy singing about that fact. Specifically.

I also like eternal truths that transcend music genres. I like the theme of longing for something greater than ourselves. I like the theme of recognizing our fallen state and confessing our faults in humility. I like the theme of unconditional love. All of these are undeniably Christian themes and all of these are undeniably found in so-called “secular” music.

My point is that this doesn’t have to be a question of either Christian music or mainstream-music-with-Christian-themes. Embrace the wisdom and beauty of “both/and.” As a child, I mostly listened to music that fell within the “Christian” genre. As I grew up, I still listened to that music, but like any young adult I branched out a little as well. What I love is that I’ve often found truth and beauty in both (even though both sides have definitely had their share of awful music).

So let’s not destroy Christian music. Let’s just destroy bad music. If it’s not promoting the truth and/or it’s not beautiful, it’s not befitting of our dignity as children of God.