The Myth of Moral Neutrality

Just read a new post by Tim Challies. It’s a good post, but he said something in there that really irks me:

I believe that music, assembled notes and chords, is morally neutral. I don’t think there is music that is inherently good and music that is inherently evil.

I don’t think this is a Biblically-informed statement. Now I’m not knocking Challies—Tim could probably thrash me in theological debates most any day. No, this is a very common statement to make, but I believe it’s unbiblical. I’ll try to explain why, but please keep in mind that I’ve been up for about 24 hours now…

God didn’t complete His act of Creation on the sixth day and call it “neutral” — He called it “very good.” When He acknowledged the man’s need of a helpmeet, He didn’t say, “It is morally neutral that the man be alone, so I’ll flip a coin (or whatever God does) to decide whether or not to give Him a woman.” He said, “It is not good…”

The universe is God’s handiwork, and God is Good. Sin has wrecked much in the universe, and sin is evil. It’s like two sides of a coin: if you flip a coin, it could land on either heads or tails. Anyone with half a brain would acknowledge this. However, it is utter folly (or a strange application of quantum mechanics) to claim that a coin has some sort of mystical “neutral” side to it until it gets flipped.

I think we’re in danger of self-deception the moment we think in terms of moral neutrality — because if something isn’t actively (or inherently) glorifying God, then is it not morally repugnant to Him?

Music was created by God. However, music was also employed by the Prince of Lies. It’s either one or the other, folks. That something can be either good or evil does not mean it is neutral; no, regardless of its moral adaptability, everything in the universe has a moral default — and that default will either be good or evil. There is no middle ground.

So what does this have to do with rap music (or music in general)? I would say that, in light of the Fall of Man, all human employment of music is tainted with evil—to varying degrees, but tainted nonetheless. Music can be redeemed in Christ, and this doesn’t mean “only Middle-English hymns” or “only praise choruses from the 1980s.” Such definitions miss the point of music.

The purpose of music is to praise God. Fallen Man has taken this gift and spent it on his idols—whether beautiful women, drunkenness, or simply himself, man has used this worship tool to worship other things. Thus, I would say that any employment of music divorced from praise of God is evil, and any employment of music directed as praise to God is good.

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