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Music In, Garbage Out
by Joshua Gulley

Number one on Billboard's R&B/Hip-Hop chart for the week of August 25, 2012 is a song called "No Lie" by an artist named 2 Chainz. If you were to look up the lyrics (warning: they are very explicit) you would find references to drugs, sex, fame, money and violence in the first verse. The second verse contains similar content but adds alcohol to its list of topics. Number two on the chart is "Bag of Money" by Rick Ross. This one, also containing explicit lyrics, speaks of sex, manipulation, alcohol, drugs, cars and strippers in addition to the subject in the title. Number three is "Lemme See" by Usher. You can probably guess what Usher wants to see, and let's just say it's not something we'd put on our Sunday morning power points. Number four is "Mercy" by Kanye West. There's hardly room on this page to list all the worldly, sensual, sinful things mentioned in this song, and to make it worse, the refrain roughly quotes Scripture — "It is a weeping, and a moaning, and a gnashing of teeth." They will experience a weeping, moaning and gnashing of teeth if they live the kind of lifestyle they sing about! But perhaps what makes me angriest about this song is the fact that there are now millions of people who, upon hearing the word "mercy," will no longer think about the God who demonstrated mercy on the cross, or even about the forgiving attitude the word implies, but will instead turn their mind to Kanye West, the other rappers featured in the song, and the trashy lyrics they utter.

I could go on describing the list, but you understand the pattern by now. Not all the Billboard charts have the same amount of filth as the R&B/Hip-Hop chart, but each one has more than its fair share, and several come very close. Sex, alcohol, drugs, cars, money and violence. You'd be amazed at how great a percentage of songs are either entirely or partially about one or more of these things. Because of the role music plays in society, you can make an educated guess about a nation's virtues based on a survey of its music. Though there are exceptions, our nation's music does not imply good things about our virtues. It paints us as a rather superficial lot. Scottish politician Andrew Fletcher is quoted as saying, "Let who will make the laws of a nation so long as I am permitted to make her songs" (http://www.quoteland.com/aurthor/Andrew-Fletcher-Quotes/1965/). Fletcher's point was that he could heavily influence the moral behavior of the people simply by controlling the music they listened to. Implied in his statement was a very important and biblical truth - "whatever one sows, that will he also reap" (Gal. 6:7). The things we take into our hearts and minds—including the music we listen to—influence our mindset and behavior whether we realize it or not. Jesus said in Mark 7:21-23, From within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these things come from within, and they defile a person." How could those things come from a person's heart unless that person put them there to begin with? And in our culture one has only to turn on the radio or flip the channel to MTV, VH1, BET, CMT, GAC, etc. for all that sinful garbage to be downloading into our hearts at more gigahertz than AT&T could accomplish with all the wires and satellites in the world. And as the old saying goes, "Garbage in, garbage out." How do we sow, and therefore reap, better things? Consider Phil.4:8, I Tim. 4:13 and Col. 3:1 for starters. "But what about music? I CAN'T LIVE WITHOUT MUSIC!" Paul's got an answer for that: "Be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your hearts to the Lord" (Eph. 5:18-19). "But does this mean I can't listen to music?" Of course not! Just think carefully about what you're letting into your heart and mind; and if it's not true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent or praiseworthy, turn it off. What are YOU listening to?

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