I'm singing The Prayer in a wedding soon, and even though the version I'm singing isn't exactly like the one that Celine Dion and Andrea Bocelli have made so popular, I've been listening to their version regularly as a learning aid. Yesterday, in the course of clicking through various links on youtube trying to find a clearer recording of the song, I found myself suddenly listening to another of Celine's songs.
Let me say from the beginning that I have great musical respect for Celine Dion. She has an incredible vocal range and has had more worldwide recognition that most of us could ever dream of having. She also has a history of carrying herself with class, unlike many of her contemporaries.
This particular song was catchy. It featured a sitar riff that immediately appealed to me (perhaps because of my background of growing up in India) and the melody was catchy. I found my foot tapping and my head imperceptibly nodding.
Then I locked into to the words.
There was nothing truly "bad" in the song--no overt vulgarity or profanity. In fact, we could almost call the message of being faithful to one's significant other wholesome in the face of a society where broken relationships have become "normal." But I felt somewhat "checked" at references to a "devil inside" and being told to "keep your eyes only on me." I'm supposed to keep my eyes at all times on someone, but He's not you. No big deal...it's just a song... I reached to shut it off.
The instant the music stopped, I felt like I had the air knocked out of me and everything inside of me seemed to shrink. I had a raging desire just to hear the end of the song. I switched over to a Christian music station, and immediately felt bored. Yesterday was one of those days where I felt bored with my walk with Jesus in general. The Word seemed stale and my prayers felt like lead.
The strength of my inner struggle over the Celine Dion song shocked me. I make it a practice not to listen to secular music, not out of legalistic, "religious" reasons, but just because I find myself feeling dissatisfied with my life when I do. I am desperate to have open communication with God at all times--to be able to hear from Him no matter where I am or what I'm doing. When I listen to secular music (or even a lot of "positive Christian top-20 hits"), I find that the communication pipeline gets clogged.
However, I sometimes listen through a secular song on youtube that I've heard on a movie or when I'm walking through a store because I like the musical arrangement of it. I've never really thought much about it, justifying myself by thinking, I don't listen to it all the time. The struggle I had to pull out of it yesterday makes me believe that I may need to up my standards even higher, at least for this season of my life.
I realize this is a sensitive, highly personal subject, and that everybody has their own list of what they will and will not allow themselves to hear (much like the list of profanity deemed "acceptable" in movies....personally, I never understood how one curse word could be more offensive than another). I would challenge you, though, to examine your standards on a regular basis. The spirit behind a song will manifest itself whenever and wherever that song is played, and small compromises lead to huge concessions. We are to guard our hearts with extreme diligence, giving no chance for vulnerability, because our enemy does not rest seeking after our hearts.
May God strengthen you all with power in your inner man!