TMU students talk about secular music


Joel Larsen, Contributing Writer

According to Nielsen Music, Americans spend 32 hours a week listening to music.

That is 1,664 hours a year.

Billboard said 75 percent of the music on the 2017 Billboard Top 100 chart was explicit. An explicit song contains either strong language, sexual innuendo, or drug references. The pervasiveness of explicit music in today’s world presents a dilemma for college students at TMU.

“I was conflicted about the ‘Black Panther’ soundtrack, for example,” junior CIS major Josh Bertrand said. “It was a great movie. I really liked some of the beats of the music, but it was tough for me to listen to.”

Every song on the “Black Panther” soundtrack is explicit primarily due to its use of the f-word and drug references. Regardless, the movie grossed more than $700 million domestically and received rave reviews, according to Forbes Magazine.

It is difficult for some Christians to listen to such music because 1 Corinthians 10:31 tells Christians to glorify God in everything they do. Whether secular and explicit music can glorify God is up for debate.

The alternative to secular music is limited. Marketing expert Brandon Gaille says Christian music accounts for less than 4 percent of the music industry. Even so, the genre has many subgenres like: gospel, hymns, contemporary, rap, worship and rock. Due to this diversity, some students say Christian music best combines Christian principles with secular concepts of music.

“I like more upbeat Christian songs because they make me think about the qualities of God, but it sounds like a secular song,” junior biology major Nathan Leigh said.

However, many students stay away from the genre.

“The music is not musically interesting,” freshman communication major Aaron Wilson said. “I think that most Christian music attempts to create a mood of worship, but uses repetitive, meaningless lyrics. There is too much focus on the worshiper rather than God.”

For music that does not directly glorify God, and sometimes uses explicit language, the listener decides what is appropriate.

“I think it’s just people’s way of expressing themselves,” Cole Madeoy, a freshman communication major, said. “If that expression just has curse words in it, it doesn’t really bother me.”

Other students generally avoid explicit content.

“It’s just something that I don’t prefer,” sophomore CIS major Nathan Ross said. “Also, when I’m listening with other people, I don’t know what they like to listen to.”

TMU History Professor Jeffery Jensen bases his musical selection on whether a song’s lyrics align with his personal, biblical philosophy of entertainment. He plays a popular music selection, including secular titles, before each class then connects the songs with pop culture and history.

“If a song’s lyrics are consistent with glorifying God, then I don’t have a problem with it,” Jensen said. “If a song’s telling a story about life and not promoting or endorsing sinful aspects, I view that as the creative power of God displayed through the God-given talent of the artist.”

Jensen provided the example of the Taylor Swift/Ed Sheeran song “Everything Has Changed.”  He plays this song before a particular class because it deals with certain items in that day’s upcoming lecture. From Jensen’s perspective, not every Taylor Swift or Ed Sheeran song would be appropriate. Instead, he evaluates every song’s lyrical message on a case by case basis.