I’m dusting this one off and spicing it up a little.
Should there be rap and metal music in a church service? Is there a style of music that is inherently evil or worldly?
Awhile back I had a discussion with a group of brothers about the place of rap and metal music in church. Initially their comment was that there are some forms of music that are simply too pagan in origin and are not redeemable; like rap, metal, and other uncomfortable forms of music.
For full disclosure you need to know that I have a few former students that I love deeply that are in a metal band. So, I may be a little biased. But I do not believe my love for these guys clouds my judgment in this matter.
God has created us with a ton of diversity, and he is redeeming people from every tribe, tongue, nation, and language. People of different cultures have different forms of music. What may seem evil to one culture is the common expression of another culture. Deep drum beats are typical in African culture—but to someone in the Deep South it signifies gangsta rap.
My take is that certain expressions can be very helpful within a worship setting. Rap tends to make you feel like it’s subject is amazing. The beats confirm the awesomeness of the subject being rapped about. There is some Christian music that seems to use this to display how amazing they are for being Christians. Kind of like a “eat that world…see Christians are amazing”. But other rappers like Flame, Lecrae, Tedashii, Trip Lee, etc. use this genre to say that Jesus is absolutely amazing. It’s a form of worship.
Now think about metal music. Metal music (especially screamo) is a good genre for displaying angst, struggle, and explosions. It can be used to say I’m in pain. It can be used to buck the authorities. It can be used to curse God. It can be used to generate an unholy expression for anger. But it can also be a cry out to God that says, “I’m in pain God”. It can be used to say to God “I hate this sin”. It can be used by God to passionately express dedication. It can be used to musically symbolize a violent casting off of the world. It can be used to worship.
Therefore, lets embrace all styles of music provided that everything within the song (music and lyrics) are centered around exalting God and His beautiful Gospel.
A Little Kickback
One argument that can be made against using rap and metal music in a corporate worship service is that the words are often not intelligible to the vast majority of people there. That is not a hurdle that is too high to overcome but it is one that must be considered. Perhaps those that sing metal or rap music can be certain to provide words to their music.
Another argument is that many people may not be able to really sing along with rap or metal music. Fair enough. I tend to agree. Yet, how much different is this to choir specials or solos? (If given the right argument I could maybe be persuaded against these).
Lastly, you could argue that some people may have been delivered out of a rap music culture or a metal culture and they associate that music with paganism. Though one may be tempted to say, “get over it”, that is not a biblically faithful response. One is left to wonder how similar an argument like this might be to Paul in 1 Corinthians 8-10. So, while there is nothing inherently wrong with rap or metal music it may be a stumbling block to some. Of course country music is a massive stumbling block for me—mostly because I associate it with beer-drinkin’ racists that sing about loving America and a watered-down Jesus in the same sentence as having an affair. Nonetheless, this may be an argument against having rap or metal music in a worship service.
What say you?