You might be surprised to find out that profanity has been a thing in Christian music for about ten years. What should not surprise you are its defenders and the reasons they employ. You will find the same kind of people wherever there is a compromise to be made, whenever holding up a standard is hard or exposes them to ridicule. They are the jellyfish swimming with the banner, “When in doubt, sell out.”
First, they shout about context. I wasn’t aware that there was a context that allows what Colossians 3:8 describes as “obscene talk from your mouth”. So, the argument from context is null and void.
Second, they claim that profanity is not cursing, and so it doesn’t count. This is a disingenuous point, for Scripture tells us to avoid both. For the former, again, we must not employ “obscene talk from your mouth.”
Third, you have the general principle – “the love of Christ constrains us”. Fundamentally, making Christian music is not about looking cool, being on stage, having skills, or anything else. It is about Christ. Therefore, He is preeminent and guides what we say and what we do. If you are a Christian and you make music, you are under the same sovereignty as any other Christian. You don’t get a golden ticket or a lanyard with a badge that gives you the right to speak like the sewer, sleep around, hate people, or do other ungodly things. I think here is where it really hits home. Musicians are not above other believers. They are not an exempt class of special people. No, you have to walk by the Spirit like the rest of us. You don’t have get to gratify your flesh because you have the gift of music.
Fourth is the argument that “this is against legalism”. One of the greatest teachers against legalism is Christ Himself, and look at the moral standard he set. Yes, none of us can live up to it unaided, but the idea that truth and behavior can be severed is one that He forever laid in the dust. He died for us and he sent the Holy Spirit – our strengthener and helper – to guide us into all truth. We are called to be holy. We are called to discard even the garment that is stained with the flesh (Jude 2:23). So, to be against legalism is to be as Christ – holy.
Before anyone accuses me of legalism, yes, I believe in mercy and forgiveness especially for those who are learning. Yes, we need to give encouragement and not condemnation our brothers and sisters. However, we are never called to abandon holiness to fit in with the dying. I see a lot of surrender of standards for the sake of popularity, for the sake of relevance, for the sake of impact – all of which reveal a fundamental failure of faith. Who steers the king’s heart where he wishes? Who knew us before we were born? Who put the stars in their paths and set the wells of the deep? God is in control; not us. It’s not upon us to be popular or to make it happen. We have to be faithful and He will work it out.
So we should be faithful and raise the standard high, and not adopt the moral standards of those who do not know God. If we do that, what separates us from the world? How does the world know we are different? Sacrificing our witness in order to be heard robs us of anything worth saying. This whole debacle is just another example of Christian music being too much about music and too little about Jesus.