Being a Christian in a heavy metal band

  • Question from TR, USA

    I listen to a lot of metal and hardcore music. I’m in a metal band with a couple of my friends. They aren’t the most religious people in the world, but they’re decent people. They don’t drink, smoke, or do drugs. I’m an all around music guy. I’ve been playing piano for 10 years now, I love classical music, and I love jazz etc. I’ve been singing at church since I was 8. But I would like to ask, is it ok for me to play metal? Is there anything saying that listening to metal with a bad message is a sin or whatever? Since my lead singer in the band isn’t very religious he doesn’t care as much about writing lyrics that may be a little edgy. But since I am not writing that, does that make me a bad person? I love playing metal, and I enjoy playing shows and I do not want to quit the band that I’ve developed a personal relationship with. Does God care since I am basically a very good person on the inside? There’s a quote by St. Paul saying something along the lines of “Whether you drink or whether you eat, whatever you do, do it for God’s glory.” I’m not necessarily doing that with metal, but I’m not going to let my singer say “God is bad Satan 666” or whatever the stereotypical thing is. So what I am asking is if you would give me something close to a general Christian standpoint on metal music etc. Please help me out, as you see I am very concerned.

    There are of course many Christians with very firm opinions that metal (or any rock or pop music) is Satanic in influence and will place the listener’s soul in mortal danger. However, it should be pointed out that many of the scare stories perpetuated in contemporary Christian culture, including ‘backmasked’ Satanist messages hidden on records, or that rock and roll borrows rhythms from pagan or animist religions, are little more than urban legends. Often it appears that personal preference for particular types of music leads to certain sounds being labelled as ‘Satanic’.

    However, there are genuine reasons for Christians to be concerned about some of the imagery and language used in modern music, not just metal. Sexual immorality, violence and nihilism are present in most types of music. Listening to these sentiments seems to go against the instruction of the apostle Paul to the Philippians that: “Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about these things.” (Philippians chapter 4, verse 8)

    However, it is still possible to admire the instrumentalist’s skill, lyrical deftness, or the overall musical ability of musicians who would not define themselves as Christian. Music itself is a neutral thing; the only way it is morally ‘bad’ is if it is used to convey negative emotions. In that way ‘music’ becomes the means by which sin is promoted and transmitted, but only because it has been ‘charged’ that way by the musician. In itself it is not inherently evil.

    In this situation, however, being part of a group that is promoting a particular world-view does make a Christian accountable. One of the main thrusts of Christianity is that it insists that human beings are responsible for their actions. So by being a member of an ‘edgy’ metal band there is in some sense a shared responsibility for that ‘edginess’ regardless of how involved a member is in the songwriting process. It is perfectly possible that any unease felt by a Christian in that situation was the prompting of the Holy Spirit, activating their conscience about their involvement.

    However, Christians are called to live as ‘salt and light’ in the world (see Matthew chapter 5, verses 13-16), with the idea that like salt they are spread throughout the world to bring flavour, cleansing or healing. (Salt in New Testament times was frequently used for medicinal and cleansing purposes, as well as for preserving and flavouring food.) There is no doubt that being friends with non-Christian metallers may be challenging for Christians, but it does provide an opportunity for reaching a hard-to-reach sub-culture with the good news of Jesus Christ. Living out faith in such a circle of friends may cause tension, but it may also provide the perfect arena for a Christian to glorify God through a positive use of musical giftings.

    Thanks for your question TR.

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