If you know me, you should know one thing; I love music. I mean, I LOVE music as in I could easily listen to over 60 hours of music a week. I enjoy almost every kind of music, from hip-hop/ rap, rock, country to punk/Emo rock, rock, dubstep/trance. It won’t take you long to realize that none of my music is the “edited version”. Because of this, several times the remark has been made “Christians shouldn’t be listening to music with swear words in it? You know there is the edited version right?”
Yes, I am aware that edited versions exist but I purposely choose not to listen to the edited versions of songs. Why? Well here are several reasons…
First, as music is an art form and as someone who appreciates art, I feel it is unfair to the artist to listen to a version of their song without how they intended it to sound. It just like going to see the edited version of Michelangelo’s David, or the edited version of the Sistine Chapel. If the original version of the artwork is really that bad, we shouldn’t be observing or listening to it. There are songs out there that are so raunchy and completely disgusting, but I have seen people listening to them—just because it’s the edited version. (Trust me, if its just a song with a bunch of raunchy imagery and cuss words I skip right over it).
Many artist incorporate swear words to emphasize an extreme emotion or pain that they have experienced in the past or are going through. This should not be edited out, because when it is, we lose the angst and intensity that the artist wants to portray to the listeners. To me using swear words appropriately in a song, is in itself, an art.
Second, we live in a society where “Political Correctness” runs rampant without harness. I personally hate being PC, it’s just not who I am…apparently that makes me “rough around the edges” but that’s ok 🙂 The music scene is the last place that we have in our culture, that has not been completely corrupted by the “political correctness” leech…it still has pockets of rawness and legitimateness that other parts of our society have abandoned and lost. Artists are still able to express their emotions freely in a unprejudiced way…it’s still real. We need to realize that in our society we all desire realness. We are immersed in so much fakeness in our daily lives, that finding something real and untarnished is hard. Thats probably why I listen to so much music 🙂
Third, what should be our “Christian response”? It may surprise you but the Bible we read should have the “PARENTAL ADVISORY EXPLICIT CONTENT” warning on it. I could list a bunch of things that would make you super uncomfortable…like the two sisters who got their dad drunk so they could rape him and get pregnant…or the two families who agreed to swap their sons to eat for dinner because of the famine…or the person that God told to marry a prostitute…not to mention Songs of Solomon and all the gruesome murders that have been toned down for our 20th century religious readers…even the harsh language that Paul and Jesus used in the New Testament has been changed up. But yet we encourage our children to read it…just saying, this is more disturbing to me than a couple curse words in a song, unless we really don’t intend for our children to actually read it?
While at Moody, we had a pretty heated debate between those who thought like me and the more self righteous people…and toward the end of the discussion our Professor (who was also the dean) said something that really left a mark on my stance on this discussion. He said
“there are appropriate times to use swear words. The Bible does not say we are not to use swear words…when it talks about “swearing” its talking about making a vow or taking an oath. But we shouldn’t just go around using those words freely without care since we will be held accountable for every word we speak, but we should learn how to use them in the right context. As followers of Christ we need to use these words carefully, never to curse another, but use them to express intense emotion or to convey something more clearly”.
He then proceeded to tell us of a story of when he used a swear word during a church board meeting (and yes he did say “shit” in class at a Bible School).
I still remember back when I was in my early High School years there was an interview with Jon Foreman the lead man of the band Switchfoot, back when they were considered “edgy” for the Christian market and there always was this debate about who was a “Christian Band” and who wasn’t, and he said something very profound. He said,
“In order for us to understand our true spiritual condition we need to understand the F-word. We need to stop watering down and pretending that we are “ok” without Jesus…because the truth is without Jesus we are truly fucked. We aren’t screwed or at a disadvantage…we are fucked”.
Oh how true.
So, if this is the intent of swear words in music (to better convey an idea or the intensity of an emotion), then there is nothing wrong with musicians who use these words appropriately.
…my question is when will the “Christian Music Scene” start reclaiming swear words and start using them in their lyrics to express our desperate need for Jesus? (sorry if I just gave you a heart attack). Talk about a way to bridge into the lives of lost people real fast. Unless we are too concerned about our own self-righteousness to risk our reputation to save souls..