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Pop Music Commentary

  • Published May 16, 2000
Pop Music Commentary
"Information for Christians, not just Christian information" and "The Intersection of Faith & Life" - these two slogans have been the engines that are driving, and are used to hold up our purpose. We want to continually look at people, products and issues that Christians are looking at and offer up a perspective that perhaps might not be available anywhere else. Often when we attempt to live out these mission statements, we unfortunately get criticized by people who feel we shouldn't be associating with anything "of the world." But rather, they say we should be staying focused on Christian information.

As the Music Channel, our main focus is of course, music. There's no question that millions of Christians are exposed to, and are fans of, mainstream pop music. And a lot of Christians are going out this week to buy the new CD from the Queen of Teen pop, Britney Spears. She has sold nearly ten million copies of her debut album, "Baby One More Time," and has been the focus of rumors and gossip about her personal life, nearly as often as her songs are heard on the radio airwaves.

A lot of people feel that even talking about Britney Spears or *NSYNC (see our feature on them by clicking here) is an endorsement of them and their music. This is not the case any more so than it would be for any Christian artist that we may talk about here on the Music Channel. Our goal is to provide a way for parents and young people alike to make informed decisions about their musical choices.

We want to talk about what's happening in popular culture - things that you as a Christian are exposed to - and bring up the cautions that might need to be considered, and how to best communicate intelligently on these issues.

How can Christians best move into a deeper understanding of what is going on in the popular music of today? Is it right to give a blanket acceptance to all music, or are there certain kinds of music that shouldn't be listened to? Is it enough that the music is fun? Or are the messages of the songs important enough to warrant a closer look?

One parent of three young girls we asked said that if the CD overall is wholesome, many times he will get it even if there is a trouble spot or two. He said that this gives him the opportunity to teach his girls what is wrong about it. He'll try to teach them how to make their own decisions about right and wrong.

With many of the popular artists, image is the most important factor used in their marketing. What messages are being sent to young people about looks, self-esteem, and sexuality? Perhaps parents meeting their kids on the common ground of their music will allow for discussion on some of these important topics.

With Britney specifically, what kind of responsibility does she have as a role model, knowing that millions of young girls are looking to her as a big sister, as that someone who will show them how to be a woman? Do the artistic choices she makes for her music weigh as heavy as the choices she makes about which clothes to wear? How is the imaging of Britney different than some Christian music artists?

We will get criticism from people who don't think we should even mention anything that the "world" is doing on a Christian site. There are other people who will write us talking about what a "true Christian" would do if they were a pop music star -- and how that would come out in their music if they really were.

As a Body of faith that lives based on standards given by God, which are incredibly complex and textured, don't we need to act less like we have everything figured out, and move in the direction of compassion and of seeking understanding, rather than condemnation or criticism? Only God can know exactly where Britney stands in relationship with Christ. But she is vocal about her Baptist upbringing and her daily writing in her prayer journal. She encourages people to pray to God, and to go after the dreams He gives them. You may find that there are some questionable elements to the music, photos, choreography, etc. of Britney and the like. But if all Britney hears from the Church is how she should be doing this, or not doing that, where is she going to turn when the tables turn on her or her career?

There are many Christians entering into and already living and working within mainstream culture, our role as a Body is not to dictate how they should be acting out their calling, but rather to be supportive of those who are moving into these places.

The concept of being a "Roaring Lamb" is gaining widespread attention these days. It's all about taking your faith out into the world and making a difference for the Kingdom. Who are we to dictate how God can best work through somebody who makes herself available to His plan? If I was a pop star, maybe God would want my ministry to be ONLY to the people closest to me, and not to the masses. The common person might think that I'm neglecting ministry that could be occurring on a larger scale. My prayer is to eliminate my ministry agenda from my life, and allow God's agenda to be played out, regardless of who sees it.

Mark Smeby
Senior Editor
The Music Channel

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