Today I bringing you a piece from Monlee. He is a Nigerian artiste, producer and sound engineer with a keen interest in music culture and christian apologetics. He writes on the misconceptions about the devil in christian music industry and role of artistry in misunderstood sub genres like christian hip hop. I’ll leave you now.
The devil in music- Monlee speaks
About 10 years ago, there was this popular documentary going round the Christian community about some genres of music that are “evil” either because of how they sound or by their “ominous” origins.
This documentary was widely accepted and praised and referred to as fact by numerous preachers. Even though it was a documentary, it did not stop at the middle ground of any opinion as every documentary should.
It did not allow the watcher/listener to further his research into music. The balance fell towards riding many Christians with guilt about the kind of music they make or listen to. The focus was on the power of music and how it’s been misused.
As a result, this threw the gospel music industry back by at least 10 years and at most 17 years – if we began counting from when genres like Hip hop and Rock had just become popular.
This also ushered in the years of deciphering subliminal messages from songs and music videos through reversing lyrics and pointing out undertones of what we perceived as “demonic” or inspired by the illuminati and other cults.
We spent more time deciphering or “discerning” music, we did not develop our own. We did not harness the power of music enough.
It’s a hit we are yet to recover from. We have more people unwilling to understand music but willing to discredit it and willing to make music regardless of that supreme repulsiveness and lack of understanding towards it. The same thing is happening across all our media.
This movie is demonic. This movie is blaspheming God’s word, we cry. True.
But are we working towards creating something that will tell God’s story correctly?
Couldn’t it be that “the devil” has used that suggestion to lead us to distracting ourselves from reaching God nature to its fullest and spreading it through music and art generally?
Isn’t this what the serpent did in the East of Eden, close to the mountain of The Lord? Clearly, God’s intention was for us to be like Him, but through Him and not through any other means.
But the devil hacked God’s intentions towards us and presented it to us. Now that it’s time to reach the fullness of God’s nature (Eph 5:) our deformed nature is working against it because it has become “contaminated”.
God nature cannot be contaminated.
The documentary did make a valid assertion; that music can be and has been used for immoral ends and gains. And it is true that there have been subliminal messages put in songs that damage culture…if – and that’s a big IF – we are allowed to become so distracted by them that we shy away from making music that spreads God, AND DOING IT SKILLFULLY, ARTFULLY AND TRUTHFULLY.
The problem the documentary had was tying immorality to Music in itself. And this is where – ten plus years later – an entire generation of music makers and listeners in the church are lost.
Once you can tie Lucifer’s story to music in general – the popular story about how the movement of his body produced music and about how he was the “minister of music” before he fell – we can justify painting Music as evil, because Lucifer rebelled.
Lucifer didn’t create music
But there is something deeper we fail to realize. And that is the fact that music was not authored by Lucifer. Music was authored by the Maker of Lucifer.
So in terms of ownership of music before the time of man, God is the owner.
Another thing is this: Music is not autonomous. Music always needs a medium. Always.
The popular assumption among us Christians is that once music passes through an “evil medium”, then music is contaminated. Nothing could be farther from the truth.
Music cannot become contaminated. Music in its ideal form is not defined by its custodian or its medium but by its Creator. If it passes through any medium, it remains music.
Therefore, even though music has passed through immoral beings, it remains music or it is an aberration of music. And an aberration of music is not music.
Abuse of art
The same goes with some sacred things that God created, such as s*x. Sex is powerful.
But because sex has been ridiculed, abused, misunderstood and then gradually generally denied expression, we have failed to harness its power even in the ways it was intended.
So because music has passed through Hip hop culture, especially today’s Hip hop culture that is hinged on profanity, immorality and violence, does not make Hip-hop invalid to pass through the Christ culture or vice versa. Music does not belong to either exclusively, it is there to be used as a tool to spread a culture through messages.
Because music has passed through “demonic” hard rock music, does not make the entire genre of hard rock music in itself invalid to be used the “holy” way.
Because music has passed through NeoSoul which people have connected with self worship, does not make Neosoul entirely invalid.
As a matter of fact, these genres are legitimate extensions of music, which is an extension/expression of God. The difference is that it is unclear whether/unlikely that Christians discovered many of these genres. So we say that the world created them, so we must not touch them.
Man’s responsibility to create
It was Jesus who said that it’s not what comes from outside that defiles a man, but what’s inside.
Ultimately, what goes on in a man’s heart makes or mars him.
If your thoughts about a song are based on a holistic classification of genres, it is very unlikely that you will be able to find God in a place he wants to be found even though that place does not have a billboard announcing that he is there.
The book also says that it is only by our desires that we are tempted. If our desire is for God, it does not matter what genre of music one loves. God will come out of it.
It’s high time we separated ourselves from holistic understanding of music and learned to explore it some more. We need to seek skill and knowledge of music! If we must do it, we must do it well!
There is no devil in music.