A little while ago I was going through some bible studies and I felt convicted about the kind of media I was consuming. A particular verse was sticking in my mind – Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things. Philippians 4:8.
I began to think about what I had been feeding my mind and imagination – a lot of it wasn’t good. The media that I feel has the largest impact on me is music – it sticks really well in my head and I can find it very emotionally compelling. I loved music and how it made me feel – I kind of worshipped it in some ways. I decided to do a little experiment – I would clean up my music consumption and see what changes that made to my life. I was expecting it to be quite a miserable experience honestly, guilt-riddled and joy-sapping.
So first I just turned on explicit filters and didn’t listen to music with swearwords. In all fairness, this removed a lot of music from my usual rotation. And as I suspected, whenever I found an explicit song stuck in my head, I would get frustrated and feel like I was failing.
Even with this big change, I still didn’t feel that I was giving this a fair go. So I cut out all music other than worship songs. I made a worship playlist on Spotify and turned the radio off in my car when secular music began playing. My life became pretty quiet. Obviously I couldn’t avoid all secular music; it played in shops and other places where I didn’t control the music. In these cases I just resolved not to sing along. The biggest change I found was that I got used to driving without music – my car doesn’t have Bluetooth so I couldn’t hook up spotify to the stereo.
Slowly, the songs that rattled around in my brain began to shift. As I listened to more worship songs, that was the kind of music I began to hum absent-mindedly. If a secular or explicit song came into my head, I didn’t sing it freely as I had in the past. Sometimes I’d replace the thought with worship music and sometimes I’d just be silent and ignore it.
I’m not so strict on all of my music consumption now, but I haven’t returned to secular radio or singing explicit lyrics. I keep the explicit filter on my spotify, but if I play a CD I don’t sing any curse words. I consider the messages and content of lyrics and frequently skip things I find inappropriate, but I have also learnt to simply tune out when this is not possible.
I don’t miss worldly music as much as I feared, and I’ve learnt more about what living as Christian means. It was practice for me – to deny myself in a low-stakes case so that I am more prepared to forego other, more serious things later on.
I’m not saying all secular music is evil or that it is sinful to enjoy any music other than worship songs. But I would recommend you all examine your media consumption, whether in music, tv, movies, videogames or art. Are the themes and content strengthening your relationship with God? Does it make no difference at all, or does it actually create more distance?
As always, stay safe,