Joseph Herrin (09-22-2015)
In recent weeks I have posted a few writings on the subject of music.
Crossing the Music Minefield
When I was younger, music had a large role in my life. I have never been musically talented, but I have enjoyed music tremendously, sometimes for the wrong reasons. In my youth I was not aware that music appealed to man on the various levels of his being: flesh, soul, and spirit. Consequently, I at times reveled in music that was appealing to the flesh and/or soul, but which did not elevate me spiritually.
For the past ten years I have largely been on a music fast. I have come to enjoy quiet and solitude, finding them conducive to a reflective and meditative lifestyle and to the performance of my responsibilities as a writer and teacher. Music has a definite place in the kingdom of God, and it is a significant one. The Scriptures are filled with references to music and the central book of the Bible is the book of Psalms, this also being the book with by far the most chapters. It is certain that Yahweh desires that His people have an informed understanding of music and its place in their lives. He does not desire that men employ music in a carnal manner, to stir up fleshly passions and to promote godless and unrighteous messages. Neither is it His will that His people abstain from all music.
I sense that the Father, in drawing my attention back to music at this time, serves a larger purpose than reintroducing music to my life. The very act of trying to find music that speaks to me, elevates me spiritually, and fulfills the functions Yahweh designed it for, has revealed to me the terrible state of music in the church and in the world today. Satan has laid tremendous emphasis upon using music to spread spiritual darkness and a spirit of rebellion toward God among mankind. The effect of this Satanic activity is rampant sexual immorality, drug abuse, selfishness, idolatry, deception, violence, hatred, and all forms of moral decadence. Satan’s employment of music to transform the mind and character of entire societies, indeed the entire world, reveals the power inherent in it.
The church at large has neither comprehended the proper role and employment of music in the kingdom of God, nor have they produced music that is divinely inspired and infused with a heavenly power to promote holiness, pure worship, and the spirit, soul, and body health of the individual. Most “Christian” music imitates the sounds of the world, songs which are devilishly inspired and demonically influenced. Few Christians have developed the discernment to divide between soul and spirit. They do not know how to judge music. They are unable to define what form of music is acceptable and approved in the mind of the Creator.
Some would protest that the Contemporary Christian Music produced today is not evil, yet one way to judge is to look at the lives of those who are producing and performing it. Are they spiritual men and women? Do their lives show forth the holiness of Yahweh? Are they walking in the fear of God? Do they lead lives of self-control, moral purity, and spiritual excellence? Yahshua said:
“You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes, nor figs from thistles, are they? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit; but the bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit.”
Can you go to men and women who are leading dissipated, immoral, sensual lives and expect to find them producing music that Yahweh declares to be “good”? If a man or woman is a friend to the world and a slave to fleshly passions, it does not matter how skillful a musician they are, or how talented they are as a singer; their music will not be spiritually elevating. Music produced by such individuals may excite the soul. It may produce goose-bumps, elation, or good feelings, but it cannot avoid revealing its deficiency by failing to produce spiritual life.
In one of the recent blog posts on the subject of music I asked readers to send in recommendations for spiritually uplifting and skillfully performed songs. I mentioned that I was particularly fond of Scripture songs. At the very least, one avoids the possibility of godless lyrics if the words of a song are taken from the Scriptures. A number of readers responded by recommending to me the group Sons of Korah, and I myself gave a recommendation of the group in a follow-up post. I ordered all 8 of their albums, and my initial response to their music was quite favorable, though in the back of my mind I had some concerns.
My first concern arose when I read of the groups emphasis on purchasing their music through their own website so that they could receive the highest possible compensation.
Our music is available in digital format directly from our own online store – 5ive. By purchasing through our site you maximise the return to the band and therefore the funds available for future recordings.
The music was not inexpensive, either. The group’s prices are significantly higher than industry standards. They charge $25 for a CD (plus shipping costs), and $20 for an album download. It costs nothing to distribute albums through the Internet, so the money collected is all profit. Some niggling thought arose in my mind that something was not right about this emphasis on pecuniary reward, but I considered that there are expenses involved in producing albums and putting a band together. I did not want to be overly critical if they chose a worldly pattern of music sales to support themselves, rather than embracing a pattern of faith and giving. There are very few musicians or groups today who have adopted what I would define as a Kingdom form of music distribution.
“Give, and it will be given to you; good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, they will pour into your lap.”
II Corinthians 9:6-8
Now this I say, he who sows sparingly shall also reap sparingly; and he who sows bountifully shall also reap bountifully. Let each one do just as he has purposed in his heart; not grudgingly or under compulsion; for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed…
There is one who scatters, yet increases all the more, and there is one who withholds what is justly due, but it results only in want. The generous man will be prosperous, and he who waters will himself be watered.
Cast your bread on the surface of the waters, for you will find it after many days.
In giving my endorsement of this group I violated an admonition that I frequently share in my communications with others.
I Timothy 5:22
Do not lay hands upon anyone too hastily and thus share responsibility for the sins of others; keep yourself free from sin.
The laying on of hands is a form of endorsement. It is giving one’s approval to another in a public manner. The apostle Paul cautioned to not give such endorsements hastily. The character of a man’s life and actions should be proven first. I was careless, however, for I reasoned, “What could be wrong with a group that sings almost exclusively the Psalms found in the Bible?” I listened to their music, and although I did not like all of it, there was a significant amount that I enjoyed. As I listened to the group’s albums, I did think that the music failed to match the message being conveyed in the Psalms on a number of their titles, but I did not scrutinize them with the patience the matter deserved.
A brother in Christ who looked at the band a little more carefully than I did, noticed one of the band members wearing what appeared to be a Maori ornament around his neck. Such ornaments often have an idolatrous origin. In trying to identify the ornament, and the spiritual character of the band member, I stumbled upon some information that was, to put it mildly, disappointing.
The lead guitarist for the group is Bruce Lee Walker. A search led to his Twitter account. I figured looking at a person’s Twitter comments is a good way to get an idea about a person’s spirituality. I was quite startled to find that a fair percentage of Bruce Lee Walker’s tweets, or more correctly re-retweets, consisted of sending out comments, images, and links of scantily clad women. The links led to pages where the women posted photos where they were in varying states of undress. Such images are what people often refer to as NSFW (Not Safe For Work). They are not something you would want to have pulled up on your work computer when your boss walks in. It extrapolates out that they are also images you would not want to have to explain to the Father on that day when we must all give an account.
Under Bruce Lee Walker’s name on his Twitter page he has the words “Christ follower, God worshipper, son of korah.” What this confession does, when combined with his unabashed sharing of risque images of women, is to promote the idea that it is not contradictory to call oneself a Christian and a God worshiper, or be a leading member of a Christian band, while publicly failing to rein in the lust of the flesh. Bruce’s Twitter account includes comments to and from his teenage daughters and his wife, which leads one to consider what his sharing of images of scantily clad, sexually provocative women are communicating to his wife and daughters. Are they not being informed by a spiritual leader in their life that it is desirable to present oneself as an object of sexual lust to others? What is a Christian man doing posting links to HustleBootyTempTats and HumpDayHottie followed by the declaration “Extraordinaire!”?
On the same Twitter page Bruce Lee Walker has retweeted a link to Kendra Lust’s LustArmy, and updates on the tours of the Sons of Korah group.
Bruce Lee Walker retweeted Kendra Lust
I apologize if some of this is troubling for male readers who struggle with sexually impure thoughts. I believe the subject is important enough that it needs to be discussed. I want to demonstrate the incongruity of Christians getting on stage and leading others in song while they are acting in publicly godless ways while off-stage. Following are two tweets by Bruce Walker that he seems to have forgotten.
What seeds are being planted by this man? It is a contradiction to stand as a public figure, performing the Psalms of Scripture set to music, and on your Twitter page that fans of the group will surely be drawn to, to promote sexual lust. I am reminded of the following Scripture.
As a ring of gold in a swine’s snout, so is a beautiful woman who lacks discretion.
The same could be said for a talented man who lacks discretion. For the sake of substantiating every claim, and providing a means for readers to test what is being shared, I am providing the link to Bruce Lee Walker’s Twitter page.
One thought that came to mind when I discovered the material on this page is “Why have the leaders of the Sons of Korah group not objected to a member advertising that he is affiliated with them while posting images that are unworthy of a Christian?” When I saw that two other members of the group are mentioned on this man’s Twitter page, and Spike Lee Avery, the bass player and drummer for the group also has a Twitter page linked to Bruce’s, it became untenable to imagine that the other group members were unaware of the content of his page. There are also troubling posts on Spike Lee Avery’s Twitter page.
“Judgment is a terrible evangelism strategy. People don’t line up to be judged.”
“Fear of gay people doesn’t just arise because we don’t know or understand them, it also comes from the harmful attitudes we have absorbed from centuries of negativity and discrimination. Historically speaking, gay people have rarely been given a good rap. In fact quite the opposite: they have been stigmatized, set apart for ridicule and prejudice, often beaten up, sometimes involving serious crimes. It’s only really been in the last few decades, along with our increased understanding of homosexuality, that societal attitudes have begun changing. The only tragedy about this is that it hasn’t been the church leading the way.”
There is a great deal wrong with the quote above. It is a common, bu deceitful ploy, of the homosexual lobby to refer to those who oppose the practice of homosexuality as “homophobes.” And what are these “harmful attitudes” that view homosexuality as “negative” and “discriminatory”? The Bible, indeed Yahweh Himself, describes homosexual behavior as “an abomination.” How then can a Christian give “gay people” (aka Sodomites and homosexuals) “a good rap.” Are Christians to speak of such practices in a favorable light? I concur with the word of God that homosexuality is a wicked practice. This does not mean I “fear gay people” anymore than I fear drunkards, or those who practice bestiality. It simply means that I agree with Yahweh’s definition of righteous and unrighteous behavior.
Mr. Avery has multiple tweets on his page which reference statements from the book Redeeming Sex: Naked Conversations About Sexuality and Spirituality by author Debra Hirsch from which the prior quotation was taken. The book also contains the following words:
“Our young people don’t need fear-based counsel that compounds the shame they already feel. This only keeps their sexuality in the dark. Suppressing sexuality doesn’t help anyone; transformation starts with acceptance and integration. In marrying sexuality to fear, shame and guilt we have not only tainted God’s gracious gift but we have imprisoned his people. All humans are profoundly sexual as well as deeply spiritual creatures—at the same time. Failing to integrate the two can cause us to live a fragmented life that operates at two contradictory levels: a disembodied spirituality that floats two inches above the earth, and a suppressed bodily sexuality that seeks to find expression in illicit relationships or in sleazy porn.”
One review of the book on Amazon provides the following information about the author.
She brings to the topic of sexuality twenty-five years of ministry experience to and with the LGBT community. The church that She and (her husband)Alan planted and led in South Melbourne had about 40% of its members come from the LGBTQ community. When Debra came to faith in Christ, she was living and identifying as a lesbian.
To say that the book is soft on sin, and particularly on homosexuality, would be an accurate statement. Although Mrs. Hirsch states that sex should be experienced within the union of a marriage and between a man and a woman, she advocates a non-confrontational approach to dealing with homosexuality. She espouses the idea that Christians should just love everyone, and let God handle the issues of sin and conviction. She has no problem with people in lesbian and homosexual relationships being active members of the church. This approach flies in the face of apostolic instruction.
I Corinthians 5:9-13
I wrote you in my letter not to associate with immoral people; I did not at all mean with the immoral people of this world, or with the covetous and swindlers, or with idolaters; for then you would have to go out of the world. But actually, I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother if he should be an immoral person, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler – not even to eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Do you not judge those who are within the church? But those who are outside, God judges. Remove the wicked man from among yourselves.
Once a person professes faith in Christ and is baptized, there must be a corresponding turning away from immorality.
I Corinthians 6:9-11
Or do you not know that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, shall inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and in the Spirit of our God.
Churches cannot take a hands-off approach when members are embracing an immoral lifestyle. Those who profess to be brothers and sisters in Christ must walk as saints of light. To allow members to continue to walk in spiritual darkness and immorality is not love. It is apostasy. As Christians we can never set truth and love against one another. They are intended to always be joined together. A proverb I frequently quote is the following.
Truth without love is tyranny.
Love without truth is apostasy.
Speak the truth in love.
The line that Spike Lee Avery has on his Twitter page, “Judgment is a terrible evangelism strategy. People don’t line up to be judged,” could well be the theme for the seeker-friendly church. It is a theme embraced by the Joel Osteens, the populist megachurch pastors, of the world. Such men seldom, if ever, speak of sin, righteousness, and judgment, but these are subjects that God Himself does not avoid.
“I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper shall not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you. And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin, and righteousness, and judgment…”
As Christ’s ambassadors, we are to be proclaiming the message He has delivered to us. Our goal is not to bring massive numbers of individuals within the folds of the church. Success in the kingdom of God is not measured by nickels and noses. The church is successful as it overcomes sin, Satan, and the world. It is successful as it functions as salt and light in a dark and putrefying world. Is Spike Lee Avery being salt and light by promoting the godless show The Simpsons on his Twitter page? Are not he and Bruce Lee Avery promoting publicly the idea that it is okay to be a friend of the world and a friend of God?
You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you think that the Scripture speaks to no purpose: “He jealously desires the Spirit which He has made to dwell in us”?
Brothers and sisters, when we begin to test the music that the church embraces, and the men and women who produce it, we will quite frequently be met with disappointment. The words of Solomon certainly apply to this subject.
For in much wisdom is much grief,
And he who increases knowledge increases sorrow.
The more you or I investigate the Contemporary Christian Music scene, the more sorrow we will experience. I find it difficult to enjoy a song, no matter how skillfully it is performed, how pleasant the music or how Biblical the lyrics, if I know the person performing is living a life that brings disrepute to Christ. “To whom much is given, much is required.” For far too many Christian artists, music is little more than an occupation, and a form of entertainment. They may honor God with their lips, but their hearts are far from Him.
I have been communicating with two Christian brothers who are relatively new to the faith. They have been going through a process of purging, and this cleansing process has encompassed their love of music. Before they were walking with Christ, both of these men played together in bands. They had written and performed music that they had poured themselves into, but now they find that they must cast it away as that which is unworthy of Christ.
As one brother has gone through this purging process, he recently told me that he is down to 23 artists, and even the music from the bands he formerly played in has now been discarded. I asked him how many songs he started with. He replied that he began with more than 6,000. At present he is down to 474 songs and he is still testing those that remain. He wrote:
My attitude is “better safe than sorry,” with more of an inclination to get rid of something if I’m not sure. I don’t want to be exposed to any unclean influences that might sneak into my music. I find myself listening to barely any music anymore, just working on my own.
The brother who wrote these words is Jonathan Adams. I have mentioned him in previous blogs when he came to visit me and has helped me with some projects on my bus. Jonathan has been walking with the Lord, and experiencing a purging process, for about the past 2 years now. He thought that music was a part of his old life that he had to leave behind, but on his birthday this past June, the Father gave him a great gift by releasing him to begin recording music that would glorify Him and minister spiritual life to others.
This music (so far) is entirely instrumental, but there is a prophetic element to every song as Jonathan is expressing spiritual experiences through music. He has Scriptures linked to most, if not all, of his songs. You can visit Jonathan’s new blog where he has his songs posted at the following links.
You can also find all of Jonathan’s music posted in one place on his SoundCloud page.
To wrap up this blog post, I will mention that I have sensed that these separate blog posts on music are inadequate to address all that the Father wants me to share on this subject. He is calling me to a deeper examination of music and how it should be understood by those who are citizens of a heavenly kingdom. I am embarking on an in depth study of various aspects of music, including: its effects upon human physiology and human psychology; what constitutes spiritual music; when and in what ways it is appropriate for music to speak to our body and soul; what instruments and musical styles/genres are approved by God, etc.. In truth, I don’t yet know what revelations and insights I will receive to many of my questions about music, but I anticipate the Father guiding me by His Spirit that I might apprehend truth and know His mind. I have been collecting a number of books which I will be studying in order to gain insight and understanding of various aspects of music.
Some of the Books I Have Purchased to Aid My Studies
I will mention that I have not looked into the personal lives and beliefs of the other members of the group Sons of Korah. Unless they have a social media presence (Twitter, Facebook, Blog Site, etc.), it is at times difficult to discover information about a person’s life when they are not on stage. I will say that what I have shared about the two members whose information I did find is quite mild compared to the conduct of many “Christian” musicians and singers. There is gross immorality and rampant apostasy among Christian performers. These things should not be.
I would appreciate your prayers that I might be granted understanding and revelation as I proceed in this new area of study.
May you be blessed with peace and understanding in these days.
Heart4God Website: http://www.heart4god.ws
Parables Blog: www.parablesblog.blogspot.com
P.O. Box 804
Montezuma, GA 31063
The soundcloud link is now: https://soundcloud.com/simpleminstrel
Thanks Jonathan. I updated the link in the article.
Thank you for sharing this. We do indeed need to be discerning. I do wish that you had also added that we should PRAY for those that you have mentioned, and that they would receive authentic Godly counsellors in their lives to be accountable to.
Thanks for leaving your comment. I certainly would encourage Christians to pray for others as the Spirit leads them. I would mention, however, that the moral departures in these individuals' lives is not necessarily due to a lack of "authentic Godly counselors." There are many men who live sensual lives, or who embrace false doctrinal beliefs, even after receiving Godly counsel or reproof. If a man is carnal, lacks a healthy fear of God in his life, or has a deficient love of the truth, no amount of Godly counsel will restore their feet to the path of life.
We live in that hour of which Paul prophesied that the church would experience apostasy (a falling away from the truth). It is a time when men "have a form of godliness, but deny the power thereof." It is also an hour in which men "have heaped up to themselves teachers to tickle their ears, telling them the things they wish to hear," while refusing "to endure sound doctrine."
It would be great if godly counsel would cure every ill in a man's life and turn him back to righteousness and truth, but counsel cannot alter a man's desires, nor turn a prideful heart to a humble one.
May you be blessed with peace and understanding in these days,