Music is a very popular and controversial topic for Christians. What kind? How much? When? Where? How? Why? We all have our own, often strong, opinions on the answers to those questions. The thing about opinions is that they are very good at building up thick, strong walls between people. And that’s sad, because we shouldn’t have that reaction to diversity. “It takes all sorts to make a world; or a church. This may be even truer of a church. If grace perfects nature it must expand all our natures into the full richness of diversity when God intended when He made them, and Heaven will display far more variety than Hell.” (-C.S. Lewis)
In Romans 14, it seems like the Christians in Rome were having trouble just like us. “As for the one who is weak in faith,” says Paul. “Welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions. One person believes he may eat anything, while the weak person eats only vegetables. Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains, and let not the one abstains pass judgment on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him. Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another. It is before his own master that he stands or falls.” (Romans 14: 1-4)
Well, today the subject of clean and unclean foods is not nearly as controversial, of course, but this passage still applies to us. I don’t think Paul is just talking about food here, but the basic principle that it’s really none of our business to judge others for their opinions about things that don’t even affect their salvation. We will each stand on our own before God, and answer for our own actions and choices. “The kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit....So then let us pursue what makes for peace and mutual upbuilding.” (Romans 14: 17; 19) It’s much more important to be walking in love with your brothers and sisters of the faith, than to nitpick at their personal preferences.
That said, however, it is fine, and right and good to have our own opinions about things. Just so long as we don’t condemn others for not sharing these opinions.
In my opinion it is very important to listen to beautiful music. And it is very important to pay careful attention to what truly beautiful music is. The purpose of music goes beyond enjoyment and includes the formation of character. Music can quite change who you are. For better, or for worse. “Music is never neutral; it has an effect on us that reaches into the very depths of our being.” (Rich Lusk, The Psalms.) The influence of music makes it vitally important that we carefully consider the songs that enter our ears and come out of our mouths. “...whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” (Phillipians 4:8.)
But here we run into yet another dispute. What is beautiful? Is the “beauty in the eye of the beholder”? Or is beauty something more than that.
Beauty is objective. Its standards remain the same, because God set them in place. It’s not relative, or something that is true for some and not for others.
We find the standards of beauty all around us: in God’s creation. Since we are made in God’s image, we, like Him, love to create things. We are born with the desire to create ingrafted in us. Sometimes this creative longing goes wrong. Sometimes, we decide to rebel against the beauty in the creation around us, and come up with our own definitions of beauty. But, we are told to “...be imitators of God, as beloved children.” (Ephesians 5:1) We are to mirror his creation in our little creations. Of course our art compared to God’s art is only like a candle compared to the sun, but, still, candles can be pleasant. Especially in a very dark room.