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What about our children and grandchildren?

Is there hope?  Yes!

It makes no difference if we’re talking about music, the Christian faith, etiquette, speech, or clothing.  We teach our children best by equipping them to contrast what is good and right with what is not.

In his new book, Surprised by Beauty: A Listener’s Guide to the Recovery of Modern Music, Robert Reilly writes:

“I employed a very simple teaching method with my children.  I regularly showed them beautiful things and great movies and played for them some of the finest music.  I didn’t preach about these things; I simply let them experience them.  They gained an intuitive appreciation for beauty and were automatically repelled by ugliness.  I then let them explain to me what was wrong with it.  When my oldest son was still in grade school, he came back from seeing a movie with one of his classmates.  The father driving the car played only acid rock on the car radio.  My son returned very agitated about the music.  I asked him what was wrong with it.  He replied, “It is irritating to the mind.”  I then knew that what I was doing worked.”

Quote from an interview with Robert Reilly
by Michael Cook, MercatorNet, 5/26/17.

 

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This mother of sons and grandmother of grandsons has concerns about what some are calling the feminization of Christian worship.

The Barna Research Group reports that American churches are two-thirds female and one-third male.   There is strong evidence to support that music may be one explanation.  Instead of asking, “What music do people want to hear?,” we should be asking, “What music is appropriate and pleasing to God?”

Men like my pastor, Rev. Paul Beisel; Rev. Todd Wilken (host of Issues, Etc.); author Douglas Bond (Fathers and Sons Stand Fast in the Way of Truth); and author David Murrow (Why Men Hate Going to Church) have articulated what I am discovering to be true.   Contemporary worship leans toward the emotions and perceived needs of women and, perhaps, some “sensitive” men.  But, what about men who tend to think and act like, well, like men?  Do they have to put their masculinity aside in order to “meet Jesus”?

In contemporary worship, women may comfortably sway with the music, close eyes or be “moved” to tears, and show other visible signs of emotion.  But, what does God tell us about men?  He created male and female to be equal, but different.  God did not create man and woman at the same time, in the same way, or for the same purpose.  Non-Christian therapists might not phrase it the way I just did (using Genesis), but years ago, I read a helpful secular book entitled Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus in which the author repeatedly illustrated that men and women do not communicate, think, love, feel or respond in the same way.  It makes sense, then, that contemporary worship and music might be one reason why our churches are filled with two-thirds women but only one-third men.

Church growth folks say we need to appeal to a contemporary public.  This public flocks (like sheep) to loud, energized, and high-tech amusements where celebrities say things that make us “feel good.”  Rather than being different, are Christian churches shapeshifting as if to say, “See!  We’re as good as the world”?  Is it a good idea to imitate “the nations” around us (2 Kings 17:15) in order to be evangelical?   I’m aware that I ask this question a lot but, really, does Jesus wrap Himself around the ways of the world?

I have been told by other Christians that any kind of music — loud, rock, rap or polka — can become gospel.  But, in his book Stand Fast, Douglas Bond reminds me of two things.  In the Screwtape Letters, C.S. Lewis describes heaven as a region of music and silence.  The demon Screwtape is frustrated by this reality: ‘Music and silence — how I detest them both!'”  Screwtape, the diabolical demon, boasts: “We will make the whole universe a noise in the end.”  Later, Bond writes, “Beware.  If entertainment-evangelism advocates can convince you that music is amoral, merely a matter of taste, then the discussion ends — and so does discernment.  Wise young men, however, will be suspicious of conclusions that sweep away moral judgment.”  He also writes, “. . . [L]oud entertainment music . . . conveys its own  message.  Certainly it makes people clap and feel exhilarated, but it’s not conducive to careful thinking about the whole counsel of God.”

Some Christians say, “Traditional (liturgical) worship is too difficult,”  but, what other important things in life are difficult?

Bond continues, “Though the Bible is clear that Christ is ‘a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense’ (1 Peter 2:8 NKJV, quoting Isaiah 8:14), we’re still afraid to offend the world.  The Spirit of God removes the offense only through the objective truths of the Word of God — the very thing that postmodern Christians are watering down in their music.  Little wonder, then, that the church looks and sounds and acts like the world — instead of the reverse.”

Until recently I, too, believed I needed a little more contemporary music albeit in a traditional worship environment.  But, as a mother of sons and grandmother of grandsons, I’m being re-directed away from my “feelings” to understand what the Divine Service really is and why I need it.  Why my family needs it.

So, here’s where I stand.  The Creator of male and female gives us not what we want, but what He knows we need.    We may want to “feel good” singing love songs to Jesus, but we need to be equipped for battle against powers and principalities.  The Psalmist and other great male hymn writers knew this.  In his hymn, “A Mighty Fortress,” Luther wrote,

And though this world, with devils filled, should threaten to undo us, We will not fear, for God hath willed His truth to triumph through us.  The prince of darkness grim, we tremble not for him; his rage we can endure, for lo!  his doom is sure; one little word shall fell him.”

My grandsons are spellbound by the battles between good and evil in C.S. Lewis’ land of Narnia.  In this present culture war, my grandsons need the armor for battle — and the songs that inspire them to fight the good fight.

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