YouTube Comments, and Christians Singing Secular Songs

If you’ve ever uploaded anything to YouTube that happened to get more than a couple views, you know that people love to express their dislike in the comments. My most viewed video is a cover of “Slow Dancing in a Burning Room” by John Mayer, and wow – I’ve heard about 300 times over how pitchy my vocals are.

Allow me to illustrate a recent conversation on one of my videos. The video is an original song of mine called “I Have A Plan For You”, and the words come from Jeremiah 29.

Before we go – a bit of a disclaimer. I don’t think it’s good for people to drag negativity and bickering out in public, and most of these types of conversations that happen in blogs/twitter/youtube/etc should happen in private. Having said that – this person made it a point to publicly say these things, so here we go…

The YouTube Comment Conversation

It starts like this: A simple comment (which I really appreciate!):

damn , it’s so good …. really

My response:

Thanks!

So far this isn’t very scadalous. YouTube puts the original comment and my response to it at the top of the comments list because I am the author of the video – sort of like a “featured comment” or something. If you upload youtube videos, you know how this works.

The next person who comments, however, doesn’t understand this…

YouTube user hemet92544:

you put someones comment at the top using the word DAMN in a Jesus video?,,,,,,um,,,,,,

My reponse:

I didn’t write the comment, and I didn’t choose to put it up top. I just replied and thanked the person for watching and commenting – YouTube put it up top. Now the word is listed up here twice. 🙂 Thanks for watching!

YouTube user hemet92544 retorts:

ohhhh you are evil as i suspected, not only is that’s a flat lie, but you also like worldly singers, like John Mayer, when the bible is clear, do not love the world or anything in it, and John loves the world and sings about its worldly love, which is of the devil. Anything not of God is of the devil, and don’t even try pulling the thou shalt not judge card on me, Paul said to call you people out, are you a worship leader for the JOB? your parents raised you Christian?

This particular person also posted this message on my YouTube wall earlier in the day (before the nasty comment above):

dude your a great performer, but singing songs about the Lord and also the World, Mayer and Bon Jovi, is living luke warm, its not judging, its fact, based on the word

I get the feeling the John Acuff has a post about scenarios like this. 😀

So, here are some thoughts:

Should Christian Artists Sing Secular Songs?

I believe that art reflects life. Let’s take the two artists he calls into question.

“I’ll Be There For You” tells the story of a guy who’s girl (doesn’t say wife or girlfriend – doesn’t really matter) is about to leave him for good. He’s heartbroken and obviously loves her. So, in an effort to express to her how he feels, he tells her that he’ll be there for her – even to the point of dying for her. Interestingly, Christ made similar statements, and, in fact did die for us – and did so knowing that some of us would forsake him for good. I’d say that you could argue that Bon Jovi’s “I’ll Be There For You” has some Christ-like qualities to it.

So, because Bon Jovi is not a “Christian artist” does that mean his song is evil? I don’t think so.

Furthermore, John Bon Jovi himself has set, in my opinion, an incredible example in his life. While his colleagues spent most of the 80’s and 90’s addicted to sex, drugs, etc, he stayed clean. He has remained faithful to his first and only wife. These are godly things, whether or not Bon Jovi himself is a Christian.

This one very eloquently tells the story of a couple who are ignoring the fact that their relationship is falling apart. Mayer is saying that we should know by now that something should be done, but we’re not doing anything.

I’ve seen couples go through this – it’s not pretty. John Mayer’s art is reflecting that. Does that make it evil? I say no. Now, Mayer does swear in the song, which I don’t like. In my cover, I didn’t say the word.

What about Christian artists who sing songs that aren’t about Christ or God?

Lots of these out there – myself included! A prominent artist I can think of is Mark Schultz. He writes love songs to his wife. Some of them aren’t necessarily about God or Christ. Are they evil? Most would certainly say they are not.

Yet, Bon Jovi writes a love song to his wife or girlfriend, and some would say it is evil. What, exactly is the difference? They’re describing the same emotions. A Mark Schultz love song to his wife and a Bon Jovi love song to his wife are both examples of art reflecting life. And reflecting a very good thing about life, too – love.

What about “Secular” artists who sing Christian songs?

U2 is my favorite band in the world. Listen to “Grace” or “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For”. They even have a song called “40” that is straight from Psalm 40. Are their songs evil? I sure hope not. That would be calling the Bible evil.

But what about Matthew 12:30?

Matthew 12:30 says this (the words of Christ):

“Anyone who isn’t with me opposes me, and anyone who isn’t working with me is actually working against me.”

There are other verses in the Bible that convey a similar meaning, but I’m assuming this is what the YouTube commenter above is referring to when he says that I am evil for singing Bon Jovi and John Mayer songs. In a nutshell – I disagree with his interpretation of this/these verses.

I don’t think Jesus is saying that we should draw this imaginary line and shun anything “secular”. In my opinion, it does not mean that Christians shouldn’t listen to non-Christian music or watch non-Christian movies or TV. It’s deeper than that. It’s more significant.

I think it’s about worship, and it’s about what we pursue.

There are two spirits that live within us – our evil spirit, and the Holy spirit of God. The evil spirit destroys. The Holy Spirit restores. With every choice we make, we choose to allow one of those spirits to work. We choose to destroy or we choose to restore. Sometimes, others choose to destroy, and without meaning to, other people create consequences that negatively affect our lives. This is why bad things happen to good people.

Jesus is saying that if we choose to allow the Holy Spirit that lives in us to do its work, we are working with Him. If we choose to let the evil spirit do its work, we are working against Him. I do not believe that singing a song about love is allowing an evil spirit to destroy.

Some final thoughts

Still with me? Wow – this a long post.

It’s incredibly difficult to describe the Holy Sprit, and I’ve tried to do that here. I’m not claiming to be right on or anything – this is just my journey of understanding.

To the guy who publicly called me  a liar and evil, as well as implying that me being a worship leader is a joke – I welcome your contribution to this conversation. I don’t appreciate the tone you’ve taken, but I’m not angry or anything.

There are lots of angry Christians out there. Especially at other Christians. Jesus said to be slow to anger – I think we all should follow suit.

Finally – I do agree with one thing the guy said. I am evil. We all are. That’s why God sent Jesus to this earth to die for the evil that we are. I believe this with all my heart, which means that I am saved. Hallelujah.

  • http://Www.birdsandcoffeedesign.com Anna Burrell-Chorost

    There are many great Christians that sing secular music. Have any of these haters heard of a little group called U2? Enough said! Brian, what matters is the condition of mans heart. Only people manipulated by religiousness would make such awful comments about you singing “secular” music. Jesus came to break the religiousness! The people trying to point out some splinter in your eye need to see the plank in their own eyes. It sounds like you are free to me and the people complaining are bound up in religion. I think it’s great you sing secular music- what a great way to really show the love of God.

    • http://www.brianwahlmusic.com Brian

      Hi Anna!

      Thanks so much for the encouragement. I agree with you 100%.

      In a totally unrelated note – I clicked on your website, and my wife really likes your birds and coffee logo. Best of luck to you with the new business! (I’m assuming it’s a new business for you).

  • Sonia

    Hi Sonia,

    To be sincere, this issue of Christians singing secular music has really been very confusing to me and I pray God gives me full understanding. I believe that saying that Christians should not sing or listen to ‘secular’ songs about wholesome relationships or inspiration is like saying one should not use an Iphone or an Ipad because they were not developed by a Christian. Or that one cannot work in a bank because it is not a church. This is just my opinion though.

    • Sonia

      I meant Hi Brian, not Sonia…lol… 🙂

      • http://www.brianwahlmusic.com Brian

        Ha – I fixed it for you 🙂

    • http://www.brianwahlmusic.com Brian

      Hey Brian,

      Thanks for contributing to the conversation here. I agree with you, and I really like your illustration of using the iPhone. I think that hits home.

      It seems to me that there is truth and there is falsehood. There is dark and there is light. Everything that’s ever been created falls into one of those categories, regardless of whether it’s labeled “Christian” or not.

      I realize that’s a pretty vague blanket statement, but I think there is some validity in it.

  • SusanCoffeyThomas

    Brian,  
    I believe the Bible references God speaking through many things/people that were not necessarily sacred to begin with…or allowing the noncommunicative to speak when it served his purpose; donkeys ( NM 22), bushes, 
    perhaps Saul…Turning what Satan would plan to be ugly into beauty is one of His favorite pastimes… Just as Satan tap dances with joy when he can damage Christian unity over details like which songs honor God. Don’t let the small stuff create discord, but keep your focus on those most important commandments. Great job handling the Christian Critic du jour. We all take our turns unfortunately judging when we shouldn’t…keeps us humble when we figure it out, I guess.      May the stones themselves keep singing if we do not.      

    • http://www.brianwahlmusic.com/ brianwahl

       @SusanCoffeyThomas Well said, Susan! I totally agree with you. Thank you for commenting.

  • http://daveherring.me/ Dave Herring

    Music is music. Songs are songs. We need to stop getting hung up on petty things of the faith and get more concerned with being a light to the world. ALL music (except worship music) is entertainment. Third Day and Third Eye Blind both entertain. Music does not make disciples. The goal of a christian should be to make disciples.

    • http://daveherring.me/ Dave Herring

      Start @ 3:20 – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vQnFU5JvuWY

      • http://www.brianwahlmusic.com/ brianwahl

        Thanks for posting that – I enjoyed his monologue there. He’s also really, really, really, ridiculously tan in that video.

  • pastorhudson

    First off Brian I gotta say this post sounded pitchy 😉 lol
    There is an entire book of the Bible that is an explicit song about sex between a man and his wife. So singing about your woman apparently is ok with God. However I only believe Christians should sing secular songs if they’re comfortable with secular sports, secular math, secular food, secular hygiene products, and secular medicine. All truth is Gods truth. Whatsoever things are true think on these things. Just because an unbeliever stumbles upon Gods truth, and discovers something Beautiful that God has created doesn’t mean that thing is not Godly. It may very well be the Holy Spirits way of opening the dialog with that person.

    • http://www.brianwahlmusic.com/ brianwahl

       @pastorhudson Well said! I suppose that if you don’t want secular food, you could get your pre blessed: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j9JUqS4Q2A0