The “Better” Alternative

“Positive.”

“Encouraging.”

“Uplifting.”

These are some of the popular new slogans for radio stations that are otherwise known as “Christian.”  And a majority of the songs they play are merely that:  Positive.  Encouraging.  Uplifting.

I am slightly hesitant as I write this post, because I don’t want to give the wrong impression that I dislike Christian music or that I think Christian music isn’t a good thing.  On the contrary, I do like Christian music; and I do think Christian music is a good thing.  For one thing, we are called to worship the Lord in song.  Too numerous to count are the Scriptures that reference “singing to the Lord,” “making music to the Lord,” and “worshiping Him in song.”  And for another thing, we are called to watch over our hearts; and choosing Christian music over secular varieties is one way we can do that.  Proverbs 4: 23-25 says,

“Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life.  Put away from you a deceitful mouth and put devious speech far from you.  Let your eyes look directly ahead and let your gaze be fixed straight in front of you.”

We must watch over the things we hear (as well as the things we see) because they have a great effect on our hearts–the very center of who we are.  When we put into our ears and our eyes things that are holy and righteous and true (see Philippians 4:8), from our hearts will flow things that are holy and righteous and true.  Similarly, when we put into our ears and our eyes things that are dishonorable and unpure, from our hearts will flow things that are dishonorable and unpure.

“The eye is the lamp of the body; so then if your eye is clear, your whole body will be full of light.  But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness.  If then the light that is in you is darkness, how great is that darkness!” (Matthew 6:22-23)

A while back, thinking I was just mixing things up a little, I tuned my radio to a secular station and was listening to songs that were completely new to me.  Before I realized I had even heard and understood the lyrics, I found myself singing these utterly sinful words–words that were in complete opposition to a Biblical lifestyle.  As I heard this darkness coming from my very mouth, I knew that I simply couldn’t allow myself to continue listening to such music, the lyrics of which were the furthest thing from holy and righteous and true.

So, back to “the better alternative” I went:  Christian radio, “better” being the problem.  Of late, I have become a little disconcerted with contemporary Christian music because so much of it can hardly be called Christian.  The other day I was listening to our local Christian radio station and noted that only three songs in a 45-minute period even used the name God, Jesus, or Lord.  In fact, had I not known I was tuned to the “Christian” radio station, I probably wouldn’t have known I was listening to “Christian” music at all.  Nothing set it apart from secular music save the lack of blatantly offensive lyrics.  I could hardly sing along as I reflected on the fact that all I was doing was singing about feelings and not to–or even about–God.  Indeed, most of the songs were just what the station claimed they would be–positive, encouraging, uplifting–and nothing more.

How sad it is that so much of the Christian music industry has become watered down to the point that it is no longer distinctively Christian.  It is sure to be “positive,” “encouraging,” “uplifting”–and it certainly is “the better alternative”–but too much of it isn’t worthy to be called worship.

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5 Comments

  1. Angela, I so agree with you. For quite awhile now, I’ve heard artists that claim to sing Christian music. I listen and begin to wonder if I misunderstood, for what I’m hearing never mentions God. It’s just “middle of the road” music. Your dad and I listen to southern gospel quartet most of the time. I’ve always loved the old hymns we used to sing from the song books in church. I still find meaning in those lyrics but maybe it’s because I was raised on it.
    I will continue to listen to the “uplifting, encouraging and positive” music, but I sure would be happy if I could find a station that played Christian music with some Christian meat to it.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Good morning, Angela!!! I was going to write you the other day to tell you that I went to Family Christian Bookstore and bought the Selah CD you reviewed on here. I am totally in love. So worshipful and rich!!!

    I read you blog today too. I wanted to tell you about (in case you haven’t already heard) Pandora.com This is what I listen to all day. You can choose the station based on a composer/singer/group/etc. So, I have mine on Selah right now. It doesn’t mean they are Selah songs, but a similar genre. I love it!!! There are times that I choose just instrumental or choose another group depending on what I NEED to hear. Give it a try unless you already have. :) I am not a big fan of “christian” radio for similar reasons to what you mentioned. I also don’t care for some of the secular topics they choose to discuss.

  3. Amber Flinn says:

    Thanks for the post Angela. I haven’t even listened to the radio lately. I usually just listen to old music I have on my ipod if anything. But this is surprising to me. Now I want to tune in again to the local Christian stations just to hear what you are talking about.

  4. bhartz13 says:

    I didn’t have time to read others responses so forgive me if someone else has said this but I agree and disagree with you. I disagree in the fact that these song lyrics may not be praising God, but they are still praising Him. Confused? Me too. What I mean is a lot of these song are stories about some of the challenges of being a Christian. I believe these kind of songs still praise Him without saying “praise to God.”

    Here is where I agree with you. For some reason it bothers me in songs when we are suppose to be “praising” God but we say things like “praise Him”. I guess I don’t care to praise Him to others, I want to praise to Him. I wish they would replace things like “praise Him” with “praise You.” Hope this all makes sense.

    Brad Hartzog

  5. Angela says:

    Thanks to everyone for the great comments both here and on Facebook! I really appreciate your willingness to weigh in on a somewhat sensitive topic.

    What prompted me to write this post were several songs whose lyrics are so general and vague they can hardly be distinguished from secular ones. It’s not the songs themselves that aren’t good but rather the trend of secularization that seems to be more and more present in Christian music. Is the Christian music industry (in general) striving to become too much like the world, even to the point of losing what makes it distinctively Christian?…

    Thanks for reading,
    Angela