Is hip hop inherently evil?
Again, my long time friend, @Remixznflow82, has inspired another post. Saturday, he hit me with this tweet:
— J.J. (@Remixznflow82) July 21, 2012
If you have 39 minutes and 33 seconds, you should watch it. This post will make more sense if you do. If you don’t have time to watch it, I’ll give you a super brief synopsis. I’m not sure who this guy is, but he’s made this video to speak out against certain music cultures in the church. He talks specifically about hip hop, goth, rock, and tattoos (which I realize is not a music culture, but that’s how he categorized it). He talks about specific artists known in Christian hip hop circles as well as Kirk Franklin, calling them lovers of the world and idolaters. Throughout the video he uses scripture in an attempt to back up his claims. He’s not alone in his views. There are others (who I won’t name here) who make videos like this and base their ministries on condemning these individuals… That was my attempt at a “non-partisan” synopsis. To get a real feel, you’ll have to watch the video.
*steps onto soap box*
I have some really strong feelings about some of the claims this guy makes. Before I start, let me just say that I don’t hate what this guy has done. He’s passionate about serving the Lord, and he’s trying to lead others to do the same. My problem is that he’s attacking other Christians and labeling them as “enemies of God”. That’s a strong statement. A statement that must be backed up with evidence. I don’t think he did that with any of the claims he made. Let’s break some of them down:
He assumes that hip hop is inherently evil. He claims over and over that hip hop artists, even if they are Christian, are lovers of the world because the music sounds similar. Then he uses scripture to show that lovers of the world are not pleasing to God… He’s absolutely correct as far as the scriptures are concerned. But to claim that hip hop is evil just because it originated outside of the church is a bit unfounded. He’s using YouTube and the internet to spread his message. Both were created outside the church. Is YouTube inherently evil? Is the internet? If he’s using them, does that make him a lover of the world?
He claims that Christian lyrics don’t outweigh worldly rhythms. First question: what is a worldly rhythm? What makes a beat non-Christian? How can you claim that lyrics don’t matter when lives are being changed by these ministries that he’s condemning? He makes the statement that “if you don’t listen to hip hop, you can’t even grasp the lyrics”… Word? I can’t always understand John P. Kee, but I don’t think that makes him an enemy of God. He claims that because the rhythms sound like what may be heard on a secular song, it’s worldly… I’m not sure if he realizes this but secular songs and gospel songs are created using the same notes and same instruments. There is no difference. If the argument is that Christians need only listen to old timey gospel, then I vehemently disagree. You can wade in the water and listen to all the old Negro spirituals you want, but I don’t feel like I have to listen to Mahalia Jackson morning, noon, and night to be saved. You’re on your own, bro.
He states that tattoos are demonic. This one is probably the most debatable. Personally, I don’t see a problem with tattoos; I have two of them. Most people who argue against them use Leviticus 19:28 as their reasoning. Most people also don’t realize that in Leviticus 19:27, the men are given instructions not to shave or cut their hair a certain way. These instructions were given to separate God’s people from people who were marking themselves up in reverence to their idols… In my opinion, my tattoos don’t fall into that category and neither does my beard.
He claims that these artists portray a worldly image and worldly dress. Then he goes on to say that you should be able to tell whether a person is a Christian or not by his/her dress. Then he points to his own T-shirt and says that because it glorifies Jesus, it’s okay. At another point he condemns Kirk Franklin because he’s dressed in the trendy nerd look, saying that he is “conforming w/ the trends of time, which is idolatry”. He then says that “nobody should be able to look at you and identify you w/ a fallen culture”… Here’s the problem. My clothes aren’t called to glorify God; I am. My life is supposed to be the light in a dark place, regardless of what I’m wearing. To claim that clothing trends represent idolatry is ridiculous. I can’t argue with what the Bible says about idolatry, but I absolutely can argue with what this guy is considering to be idolatry. Again, he uses scripture to show that idolatry is bad, but never shows how clothing trends are idolatry.
He makes it seem as though Christians should only wear clothes that tell the world that they are Christians. This makes no sense. Does that mean that we can only wear Christian T-shirts? What makes a shirt Christian? If the message on the shirt is Christian, but it was created by a non-Christian to make money, is it still a Christian T-shirt?
He condemns people for taking pictures with people who are not known to be professing Christians. This one bothered me to no end. He shows pictures of Rick Warren (author of The Purpose Driven Life) posing with Usher, Kirk Franklin posing with Steve Harvey, and Lecrae and Tedashii (of Reach Records, a Christian recording label) at the Grammy’s (“a show that rewards the ungodly”). He quotes scriptures about being unequally yoked, and goes on to condemn these individuals for being seen with people who are “of the world”… Here’s my problem: THIS WAS JESUS’S WHOLE MINISTRY! That’s EXACTLY what He did over and over again. He went to eat with the tax collectors, who were known criminals. He talked with people who were outcasts of society. He showed compassion for the people no one else seemed to care about. And while He did these things, the Pharisees came out and told him that he had no business co-mingling with people who weren’t considered to be “good”… I’m not going to draw the parallel explicitly, because I’m sure you see it already.
I could honestly write volumes about all my thoughts on this video, but I’ll stop here. I just don’t believe that God has to be wrapped in a specific type of box for me to recognize him as God. If He speaks through Yolanda Adams, I’ll recognize Him. If He speaks through Lecrae, I’ll recognize Him. If He speaks through Will Ferrell, I’ll recognize Him. It’s short-sighted and close-minded to think that Christians have to be bound by these churchy standards. I didn’t become a Christian so that I could be bound, I became a Christian to be loosed from my binds and to be made free.
We have to be careful not to over-spiritualize everything. Everything is not so deep. We get ourselves in trouble when we fail to realize that some things are really much simpler than we give them credit. We get ourselves into more trouble when our over-spiritualizing takes us to a point of making enemies of others even though we all (those of us who actively aim to be Christ-like) play for the same team.
*steps off soap box*
Until next time…