I have been a believer of Jesus Christ for about six years now. The question that I had when I was first introduced to God, is the same question that I have now: As a Christian, is it okay for me to listen to secular music?
This is often a hotly debated discussion in the Christian community. While I have asked several people their opinion about this topic, their answers have been varied and inconclusive. I never seem to receive responses that give me confirmation whether it is “good” or “bad.”
After speaking to older Christians, many of them conveyed to me their belief that secular music is sinful. Unquestionably, this is true regarding the content of some songs. In many pop, R&B, and rap songs today, artists encourage sex, violence, and drugs.
However, Christians should not exclude secular artists because they may have something to offer Christian music.
As a genre, Christian music has existed for centuries. However, according to Learn Religions,“the 1970’s was when things really started changing and Christian music began to become an industry within itself.” Christian music started to merge with genres like “rock and metal music” and “was [these different genres found] a home in the world of Christian music.”
In 2017, Grammy Award-Winning singer and pastor, Tasha Cobbs Leonard released a track called “I’m Getting Ready,” featuring hip-hop artist Nicki Minaj.
Although the song was successful, reaching 13 million views on Youtube, Cobbs received backlash because of it.
In an interview with The Real Cobbs stated, “You have to be sure about your relationship with God” before engaging in collaborations. As a minister, Cobbs believes that “my assignment is to be a bridge to every culture and nationality.”
Cobbs is grateful for the collaboration because people have been impacted by it. Someone shared with her that “had [she] not released that song, [they] would have never heard of [her] ministry and [they] never would have been in a place where [they are] spiritually because [they] heard of [her] through Nicki Minaj.”
Reflecting on Cobb’s interview and the impact her song had on listeners, I look to the word of God for an answer.
The scripture that stood out to me was Jeremiah 31:2-4 stating, “The Lord hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.”
In order for God to reach us, He meets us with love and kindness. In that love and kindness, he speaks to us in ways that we can relate to. Arguably, listening to rap artists like Nicki Minaj, Drake, or Kendric Lemar provides a doorway into understanding the culture outside of Christianity. This, in turn, can provide pathways to sometimes understand ourselves and help us to relate to non-believers.
Understanding the potential utility of secular music offers the possibility of helping Christian leaders develop sermons, Bible study topics, or create events catered to reaching secular people.