What should be the attitude of the child of God toward what is called “rock music”? More specifically stated, what should be the attitude of the child of God of Reformed persuasion toward “rock music”? And more specifically still, what should be the attitude of the child of God of Reformed persuasion who holds both in principle and practice to the truth of the antithesis toward “rock music”?

Perhaps you are asking, “Why make that the subject of an editorial in The Standard Bearer? Is that really a question among us? Is it a debatable subject? Is it necessary to discuss this and to point out the reasons why ‘rock’ is wrong, contraband, for the child of God?”

Obviously, my answer to these questions is affirmative. Perhaps I could put it this way: it shouldnot be necessary to discuss this, but it is necessary. And I believe this answer is realistic. No, I have not taken a survey or a poll to determine to what extent “rock” is indulged in by Protestant Reformed people of various age groups. However, in the first place, I know by experience, both as one who was once a young man himself and as a former parent of covenant youth, the carnal appeal and the temptation which the world’s music holds and which it seems to hold especially for young people; and I have no reason to believe that is any different today than in yesteryear. The only difference is in the particularkind of worldly music and in the degree of the temptation. In my day the world’s music went by different names than it does today. And in my day, perhaps it could be said, the world’s songs, both with respect to their lyrics and their music, were not always as blatantly worldly and as crassly carnal and perverted as they are today. That, however, only points us to the fact that there is development in sin; it does not point to a principal difference. And, in fact, this only means that the temptation of today’s music is greater and that its carnal and sensual and lewd appeal is stronger. If you don’t believe it, or if you don’t allow rock music openly in your home, then I suggest that you unexpectedly ask to listen in upon occasion to what is coming through the headphones of your son’s or daughter’s portable cassette player or radio, or that you turn on the car radio sometime after your young people have been out with the car. You might be in for a shock.

Add to this, in the second place, the tremendous advances in the media in our day. The daily newspaper in many instances promotes rock music and even publishes a separate section of news concerning rock stars and rock groups and reviews the latest gold platter winners, etc. Many a magazine does the same thing, and there are even magazines readily available in any supermarket which are devoted in their entirety to rock stars, rock groups, and their music. Radio stations abound with it, and there are stations devoted solely to the broadcasting of rock music. Records and cassette tapes are readily available on the market, and the equipment to play them is highly refined and easily available. More recently, rock has had a larger place in television shows and in network productions. And if you happen to have a video cassette player, you can readily obtain cassettes which enable you to watch the perverted musicians with their perverted attire and makeup and their lewd actions while you listen to their carnal music. The temptation, from the viewpoint of sheer availability, is great.

In the third place, I am told that the inroads which rock music has made among our families is probably greater than I imagine. As I said, I have not taken a poll. Besides, in my non-pastoral ministry I am not in a position which affords me much direct contact with our people or opportunity to observe their lifestyle. Moreover, I am not making a blanket indictment of our people on this score. In fact, far be it from me to make any indictment at all; I only wish to sound an earnest warning and to furnish pertinent grounds for that warning. But I am told by some who are in a better position to know and to observe than I am that addiction to “rock” is not uncommon among our young people. I am also told that there are homes where it is not guarded against, or is even allowed and endorsed. I am told that there are even homes in which parents themselves freely indulge in listening to rock music.

This, I think, offers sufficient justification for my addressing the subject editorially. Hence, with some apology to the older generation (who, if they are like me, cringe when they come across some blaring rock while they are tuning the radio for some news), I shall proceed. As I do so, I make a special appeal to our readers to urge their young people also to read this editorial.

There is more than one way to approach this subject.

Frequently the subject is approached from the point of view of the question: what is wrong about rock music?

Now I am not saying that it is altogether wrong to ask this question. In fact, I intend to face this question in the course of this discussion and to comment on some of the evils of rock, as well as to comment on the fundamental evil of it. It is another question altogether, however, whether this question as to the wrong, or evil, of rock should constitute our fundamental approach.

For one thing, it is quite possible to focus upon a good many aspects of rock music which are wrong, unquestionably wrong, morally corrupt, and yet not to touch upon the fundamental evil of rock. For another, in many instances the very form of the question is defensive and already puts the questioner by implication in the position of defending rock, implying at the same time that unless someone is able to tear down his position and point out conclusively the evils of rock, the questioner will feel free to go on listening. Strange, is it not, that the questioner never seems to ask the question: what is right about rock; that is, right in the sight of God, right as far as my calling as a Christian is concerned, right as far as my calling to walk in the light is concerned?

In recent weeks I have made it my business t pay attention to what is said about this subject in both the secular and the religious press. I even made it a point to listen to some of the cassettes on this subject by Bob Larson Ministries; in fact, I have on my desk at the moment a cassette entitled “Rock Update III,” dated August, 1985.

The secular press has recently been full of the controversy about what is called “sexually explicit” rock music—in distinction, of course, from “sexually implicit” rock. And it was supposed to be some sort of victory when a certain group of influential persons succeeded in getting concessions from producers of records and cassettes so that they would put warnings on the labels stating that a recording contains “sexually explicit material.” The words “sexually explicit” are, of course, a euphemism, a so-called buzz word. What they mean (but do not state) is explicit fornication, filthiness, and perversion that cannot even be mentioned among Gods people. Now no Christian can be in favor of such “sexually explicit” material, to be sure. But the implication is, of course, that as long as such corrupt and filthy material is onlyimplicit, even brazenly implicit, it need not bear a label, and, of course, is fit to be heard. Meanwhile, the fundamental evil of rock is not attacked.

In a way, the same kind of approach is adopted by the religious press frequently. There can be a lengthy recital of the evils of rock and of “heavy metal” without much reference to principle. And then, of course, the next subject becomes that of so-called Christian rock or gospel rock—the implication being that rock is possibly all right, provided it has some kind of Christian sugar-coating and gospel flavor.

The Bob Larson cassettes take the approach of reciting the evils of rock by quoting the lyrics of many rock hits or by quoting the language of various rock stars, by telling about their perverted dress and makeup and lifestyle. And make no mistake about it: Bob Larson pulls no punches in this regard. What he quotes is frequently so explicit that he leaves blanks where the language is so evil and filthy that he will not repeat it. What he tells in documented form concerning the filthy and perverted lifestyle, the blatant profanity, the Satanism, the perversion in the lyrics—all this is horrifying. In fact, it becomes so nauseating that one is moved to turn off the cassette player. Yet, while there is some value in materials of this kind in the line of concrete evidence, it seems to me that it does not address the basic question.

About this next time.