The task before us is always to think like Christians, and live like Christians, in everything we do. In more than just a few instances, this means swimming against the tide. Now having a Christian worldview does not mean sitting in your recliner while thinking great thoughts about high spiritual truths. Everything must come down to application. Now one of the great factors which shapes the thinking (or more often, the lack of it) in young people today is the entertainment they ingest. Virtually all Christian parents have to make decisions about social media, movies, music, and so on. But how will they make such decisions? By what standard?
“Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy— meditate on these things” (Phil. 4:8).
“And many who had believed came confessing and telling their deeds. Also, many of those who had practiced magic brought their books together and burned them in the sight of all. And they counted up the value of them, and it totaled fifty thousand pieces of silver. So the word of the Lord grew mightily and prevailed” (Acts 19:18-20).
“But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil” (Heb. 4:14).
In order to avoid this whole topic being a bad business from start to finish, there are certain things you must have.
Character—God has given you authority in the home. This was not done so that you would nervously avoid using it. When you make decisions for the household, it should be done without apology. If it requires apology, then why are you doing it? A submissive spirit toward God means that you must make authoritative decisions. You must have the character to wield submissive authority.
Courage—In many profound ways, we as Christians are at war with modernity, postmodernity, and their ratty little brood. This does not mean rejection of every feature of modem life, but it does mean taking a stand against all our idolatries. Doing this can be costly, and you will need the grace of God to strengthen you. “What will people think?” and all the rest of it.
Confidence—When you come to make these decisions, you must shake loose of the world’s propaganda about this, which is that parents are terminally unhip, and therefore unfit to pass judgment on such things. But parents know far more about the world than their kids do. The concept of cool is nothing but some sleight of hand propaganda designed to make parents ashamed of what they know.
Comprehensiveness—Your responsibility as a parent involves everything that is going on. Do not just ask if the item in question has any “bad words” in it. Do not be afraid to include aesthetic judgments, judgments about your child’s maturity, moral judgments about the protagonist, and so forth.
TEST CASE APPLICATIONS:
As mentioned above, everything must come down to application. This question of music is simply one area among many which calls for Christian parents to think. The other situations which come up must be dealt with in like fashion. Learn in one area, and then reason to others by analogy.
Avoid dumb distractions—the Christian world has no shortage of bogus information on this topic of rock and roll. For some, the backbeat is a matter of major concern. A generation ago there was great concern about what messages are being recorded backwards into the music. Leave it to Christians to be more concerned about gibberish backwards than wickedness frontwards.
Avoid legalisms—if you take a stand on something for reasons of piety, and the only reason you can give for it is “just because,” then you are teaching legalism. Legalism is rulemaking detached from the Word of God, regardless of your intentions. And a word to the young people—legalism is not to be defined as your parents making a decision that you are not wise enough to understand yet.
Avoid ignorance—do not make your decisions blind. If you take the trouble to sit down and go over the lyrics of the songs, the debate is frequently over at that point. “We will decide this question by asking your visiting grandmother to read the lyrics aloud to the family tonight at the dinner table.” Dissensions often occur because parents express vague doubts based on insufficient knowledge. They ask foggy questions instead of actually checking it out.
Avoid parental worldliness—there are sadly situations where parents are trying to live out a vicarious cool through their kids. This is deadly.
Avoid sanitized imitations—the evangelical subculture has no shortage of cheap imitations of whatever the world is currently doing. This problem is not solved by knock- offs. But don’t think this is unique to evangelicals. The secular world is full of knock-offs also.
Avoid reflex contempt for Christian contributions—Christian artists, writers, producers, and so on are often world class. Never turn up your nose just because someone is
fulfilling Phil. 4:8. Not all Christian work is dorky. But even if it is, you don’t have the option of falling into immoral to avoid the dorky. Who do you think you are?
TEACH YOUR CHILDREN WELL:
Teach your kids. If music is part of your family’s life, and it should be, then it should be part of your conversation. Talk about the world in the light of Scripture, and do so regularly. Do it when you rise up, when you walk along the road, when you sit down to dinner. And as you do this, hold your kids accountable to learn. You do not want your kids to be arguing, “It is not that bad because . . .” Nor can you tolerate them saying something like, “Well, musical taste is up to the individual . . .” When something is manifestly wrong, if your kids cannot tell you what is wrong with it, that means they are unprotected. If you send them out into the woods for lunch, they should know what mushrooms to stay away from. Parents should insist on clarity of thought from them, and not excuses, rationalizations, or misty relativism.