We recently got a question from someone asking if it was OK to listen to Twenty One Pilots. We get a lot of questions like that—from teens wondering if a certain band, musician, or genre of music is OK for them to listen to. Is it all right if you love Lady Gaga? Is it wrong to rock out to Metallica? Is all rap bad or should you only listen to Toby Mac and Lecrae because they’re Christians? You have to admit, there’s a lot of good music out there and not all of it is CCM (Contemporary Christian Music).
Although a certain artist’s or band’s music may contain allusions to Christian theology and have messages (even if implied) about God and even have members who are professing Christians, they may not be considered a “Christian” band, such as is the case with Twenty One Pilots. And this is totally fine! There are plenty of bands comprised of Christian members who do not sell their music to typical Christian markets. According to Twenty One Pilots, their purpose for making music is “to make people think”, as well as encourage them to find joy in what they come to believe in life [source]. There is nothing ungodly about that.
When it comes to whether or not you should be listening to any given song or band, it is a matter of personal conviction. While some themes may be perfectly fine for one person, they may cause problems for another—even if their album can be found in the Christian music section. Granted, if your parents have said “no” to any given thing, then it’s a no-brainer—avoid that thing (Ephesians 6:1). But if they have given you the freedom to decide for yourself, then it becomes a matter between you and God (James 1:5).
Different people resonate with different styles, and that is a reflection of the fact that God made us uniquely, which includes having unique tastes in what we like to hear. Some people enjoy hard rock bands like Red, some enjoy classical Mozart, some enjoy heavy metal bands like Demon Hunter, some enjoy CCM artists like Steven Curtis Chapman. It’s a matter of taste.
God gave humankind a creative heart, so there is no music that has not stemmed from that initial gift. In fact, there ARE actually screamo bands that are composed of all Christians, and they sing songs that speak light into a dark world. It’s pretty amazing! God can use anything to display His glory.
Of course, like so many things, sin has a way of twisting things that were originally meant to be beautiful and turning them into something evil. The question about what music is OK to listen to or not comes down to the purpose of the music and how it affects you personally, which can be determined most easily in the lyrics. Figuring out if an artist or band is OK for you personally really has nothing to do with whether or not they are labeled as “Christian.”
I personally like a lot of different types of music—both Christian and non-Christian. But there are some songs that I know will affect me negatively, so I keep away from listening to those ones. That said, one song that affects me badly may not affect another person at all. So it really is a case-by-case basis. There is no “blanket” rule about which styles of music or which bands/musicians are OK or not. It depends on each song and each person.
While there is nothing wrong with Twenty One Pilots, Lady Gaga, or rap, country, pop, heavy metal, techo, or any other style, in and of itself, the effects of certain songs may or may not be pleasing to God and/or may cause a negative reaction in your heart and life. But the style or section of the music store you can find it in has nothing to do with that; it has more to do with the intention of the artist who created the song and how it may either improve or harm your spirit.
We are free to enjoy different kinds of music as long as we are making thoughtful, wise, and discerning decisions about what plays on our speakers. Feel free then, friends, to go forth and rock your hearts out.
Catiana Nak Kheiyn is the webmaster and editor of 412teens.org and writes novellas with local young writers at her workshops. She also contributes at GotQuestions.org, Blogos.org, and GQkidz.org. When Catiana is not writing or hanging out with teens, she loves spending time with her two kids, five socially awkward cats, and her amazing friend-amily that gets together every Saturday for various shenanigans.