Do you like music? I do! I like to listen to music when I drive, draw, and design; I like to listen to my wife and daughters play the piano; and I like when I go to a restaurant and there is soft music playing in the background. If you are a “regular teenager,” then, most likely, you love music! But here is a word of caution: as much as you may like music, you must be careful with it. “Why?” Good question! Here is why:
1. Popular music can be addictive.
Today, ease and personal access to music is very common; you may own an iPod or other MP3 device. If not properly limited, music can become like a drug that is hard to control. The truth is that the ear never gets “filled with hearing” (Ecclesiastes 1:8).
Since your time is not really “yours” (cf. Ephesians 5:16; James 4:13-16), you must use it wisely. According to some studies, teens spend about three hours per day listening to music (Hallan, 2006, p. 184). On the other hand, more than 60% of teens and young adults never open their Bibles in a single week (Gallup and Simmons, 2000).
Music can be good in its proper time (cf. Ecclesiastes 3:1), but you should make sure that it does not take your time to listen to God’s “music” in the Bible (1 Timothy 4:13). You also should not let music rob you the time to serve God and enjoy the abundant life in Christ (John 10:10).
2. Popular music can be subtle.
Music is an expression of the human heart. God created humans with the ability to make and enjoy music (Genesis 4:21). But since the time man created an instrument to compose a melody or raised his voice to sing a song, the devil has also used music to negatively influence man’s mind.
Satan’s devices are very subtle (2 Corinthians 11:3; Ephesians 4:14), and he frequently allures young people through contagious rhythm, pleasant melody, and provocative style. A great portion of today’s music is a tribute to excess, rebellion, sexual promiscuity, and other youthful passions (2 Timothy 2:22). Therefore, you should listen to popular music having in mind that the devil is usually the one “writing” the lyrics.
3. Popular music can be destructive.
Many Christian teens have spiritually died on the battlefield of ungodly music. There are music genres that are more destructive than others. For example, a study found that girls with greater exposure to gangsta rap music videos were more likely to be violent, and to engage in criminal acts, sexual relationships with multiple partners, and drug and alcohol use (from Wingood, et.al., 2007, p. 267).
Negative messages in popular songs have the potential to also literally extinguish teens’ lives. There are too many songs out there with lyrics that bluntly promote suicide or harm to others—specially in metal, rock, and rap genres. There is no need to say that no one should listen to those messages, much less those facing family problems, depression, loneliness, or disappointment.
As you listen to your favorite music, do not forget to watch your watch and watch the words. Remember that God will judge you for the way you use your time and the things you put in your mind. And finally, remember that there is a wonderful and exciting world beyond the earphones if you are willing to use your time and talents to glorify God (Matthew 5:16; Colossians 3:17).
Gallup, Alec and Wendy Simmons (2000), “Six in Ten Americans Read Bible at Least Occasionally,” Gallup, http://www.gallup.com/poll/2416/six-ten-americans-read-bible-least-occasionally.aspx.
Hallan, Susan (2006), Music Psychology in Education (London: London University).
Wingood, et.al., in See, Letha (2007), Human Behavior in the Social Environment from an African-American Perspective (New York: Haworth).