Is rock n roll a sin?
Christians love token convert celebrities. Evangelicals have Kirk Cameron, Bob Dylan, and that guy from Korn. Orthodox have some guy from a soap opera and maybe Tom Hanks. But those were already celebrities. On the other hand you have people like Nedra Talley (hottest black girl ever, by the way) who left the industry after becoming a Christian. Should a Christian seek out fame and fortune? For simplicity, we’ll go with rock star, but it could apply to being an actor, stand-up comedian, or Baptist pastor. Also, this is going to be one of those posts I’m somewhat hypocritical about.
Even if you put aside all the sex and drugs, I would still say the answer is “yes”. Or at least “sort of”.
You cannot have everything you want in life. You can either be the wandering hobo or you can be a family man. The two are inherently incompatible choices, in the same way that women must choose between devoted mother and high-powered career woman. The Christian should be a family man, and therefore spending your best years being a wandering hobo (or high-powered career woman) is a sin.
In the New Testament, there are two categories for lifestyle. Permanent celibate or married. There is no advice for people who plan to eventually get married except for “get married soon.” (I once met a man with a PhD from a Baptist seminary in Biblical Studies with a focus on Singles Ministry, and I asked him how could that possibly be a thing; he actually grew up Lebanese Orthodox, if that’s relevant.) Nor is there a category for people who want to be single so they can live life on their own terms. It’s either “forever sexless so you can give 100% to God” (ie, proto-monasticim) or “producing the next generation of Christians”. This is one reason birth control is a sin, but that’s another post.
Furthermore, the entertainer lifestyle seeks out the affirmation of complete strangers. But the Christian should only be focused on the affirmation that comes from God. (This is why some church fathers say that laughter is a sin.) Telling jokes or playing an instrument is a good way to attract a wife, because God made women want to be entertained by men, but using it to hear a crowd scream is abusing the creativity God gave you.
Almost all entertainers had a terrible childhood and were neglected by their parents. Seeking out validation from people — strangers or friends — based on some kind of talent to make them feel good — like playing guitar — instead of your personality, wisdom or virtues is not a healthy way of dealing with emotional trauma. It is kicking the problem down the road and diverting the pressure into another stream. Christianity on the other hand seeks to heal the whole person. Done properly, it reveals root causes and offers solutions to move beyond the damage done.
As a listener, you tend to always be searching out the next great album. No matter how great an album is, after a few months of it you are bored. We are never satisfied with what we already have. I have so many albums I desperately wanted but only listened to a few times, if at all.
Another problem with popular music is the lyrical content. I don’t mean foul language and sex. I mean the unrealistic life portrayed that just doesn’t exist. Almost all music is about the emotional high of being in love. But that phase in a relationship only lasts a few months at the most. Actual love is tolerating someone for a lifetime and trying to seek out their best. The love of pop music however is about what the other person can do for us. It is romantic relationships at their most one-sided and narcissistic. It is pure fantasy, but unlike Harry Potter or Star Wars, it is so similar to reality that we are unable to distinguish between the lie and the truth.
This is especially bad with music of today. In the 60s we still had love songs. Today we have lust songs, porn songs, and infatuation songs, but we have no love songs, because we are no longer able to feel vulnerability with another human being. Popular music exacerbates this, contributing to a culture where we only view each other as commercial commodities. In our society, social skills are about how others annoy us but rarely about how we annoy others.
Elvis shaking his hips may have been mostly harmless, but the fundamentalists were correct about where it would lead. We fall in love with celebrities and use them as a filter for our real relationships. Every girl who is today 18 fell in love with Justin Bieber six years ago and look at every potential husband as a potential Bieber, whether they realize it or not. And they all want to be Ariana Grande.
The purpose in sex is procreation, not recreation. But popular music is purely about seduction. The singer wants the other for her looks or personality or some quality other than children. This is the normal way God made sexual attraction to work, but what is missing beyond the three minutes of the song is the next fifty years. It is a truncated story that offers the fun in sex without the responsibility. Whatever is an ideology’s highest virtue is what it will seek out by any means necessary; for our society, a life free from consequences is our highest virtue.
White brothers, procreate. Don’t recreate. The future of the Christian ideology depends on it. If you become a permanent celibate, then you are still obligated to spiritually procreate, ideally with more effect than had you physically procreated.