Is that song Christian?

Christians are musical archeologists. When we hear a new song that we like, we like to dig in into the lyrics to ascertain if it may or may not be Christian.

We search through metaphors, brushing off the dust of the melody to see if we can hear a glimmer of “I love Jesus” somewhere in there.

Mumford & Sons is an obvious example. U2 doesn’t count because Bono has clearly and explicitly spelled out the nature of his faith in Christ. (Let’s see if we can start a fight with that sentence!) But I will never forget the funniest time I played the “Christian song game” while waiting for church to begin.

One Sunday, my wife and I were at church sitting in our seats as the service slowly started.  As people walked to their seats, they played a song over the speakers by the band, Our Lady Peace. They’re not a Christian band, but their song, “Somewhere Out There” kind of sounds like a God song. I mean this part does:

 Down here in the atmosphere, garbage and city lights, you gotta save your tired soul, you gotta save our lives.

That’s great. We’re down, which means you’re UP in heaven. And garbage could mean another word for sin. But then, in the middle of church, with thousands of other people, I hear the singer say this:

Hope you remember me, When youre homesick and need a change. I miss your purple hair,

OK, I think to myself, that’s a little weird. I’m not sure Jesus had purple hair but you know, when the sun is setting just right over the Dead Sea maybe it was kind of purple. The old testament mentions pomegranates a lot. Maybe they died their hair. I was willing to let that one go until the next line:

I miss the way you taste.

I had a hard time tying that directly to Jesus or God. End scene.

Question:
Have you ever wondered if a song is Christian? Which song?

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Comments

  1. Patrick says

    Have you ever wondered if a song is Christian? – Heaps of songs from “Creed” & “Nickleback”
    For bonus points…… try this blast from the past…
    Mercy River Boys – Would They Love Him Down In Shreveport

  2. Carly says

    I can think of a lot of worship songs that I wonder if they are Christian…”I want to touch you, I want to see your face, I want to know you more”

  3. Karen says

    Churches play ‘Hallelujah’ all the time and that is MOST definitely NOT a Christian song. There are some messed up lyrics in the next verses. The Goo Goo Dolls’ ‘Better Days’ is pseudo Christian except for the line about any child could save the world. I think ‘Hotel California’ is about hell.

  4. Korrine says

    Ever since Sister Act, I can’t hear “My Guy” without mentally changing the lyrics to “My God.”

    This last Sunday, our (crazy talented & accomplished) church pianist played Scott Joplin’s “Maple Leaf Rag” as the postlude. Terribly impressive, but Christian? Ummmm…to the pure all things are pure?

  5. WolfKnight says

    I know I’m late to the comment party,

    When I left bible college, my old roommate had to get a new one for the following school year. He were hanging out, and talking about his new roommate, and told me he had heard him singing in the shower: “Jesus you’re lovely, Jesus you’re wonderful” over and over again to the melody of Stevie Wonder’s “Isn’t She Lovely”. I don’t know how the roommate replaced “Less than one minute old.”

  6. Eric says

    I don’t do it too much, but thats cause I listen to a very limited amount of music.

    But many songs from Lights are clearly about Christ in one way or another.

  7. says

    I’ve been doing this for a while, looking for the theological implications of songs. It’s a fun game and helps hone your discernment when listening to music.

    Here’s a fun one – try to determine the theological ramifications of NWA’s “Express Yourself”

  8. WalaY says

    Yesss! I wondered about this the first few times I heard “Kiss Me” by Sixpence non the Richer – o wait … I just googled them and the first thing I see is “Sixpence None the Richer (also known as Sixpence) is an American Christian rock/pop band …”

    *shrug*

  9. Stephanie says

    This song is not meant to be Christian, nor did Freddie Mercury write it about Jesus, but I can sing it in the car about Jesus all I want–“Best Friend” by Queen.

    “Ooh, you make me live,
    Whenever this word’s been cruel to me,
    I’ve got you to help me forgive,
    Ooh you make me live.

    You’re my best friend”

    Really?? Go ahead, do your worst. I think about Jesus and I belt it out when I drive to work. Is this traditional, organ-laden Worship? No. Does it please my Savior? I feel like He can’t help but smile at me singing to Him driving down the highway.

  10. Ali.Y says

    Im a huge Paramore fan.. (Don’t even get me started) and I know they themselves are professed Christians.. some of their music doesn’t show it but I always wondered if a few of their songs were Christian… songs like Miracle, Turn It Off, Part II, Let the Flames Begin, and even Fast In My Car- mostly because of lyrics like this-
    No one’s the same as they used to be
    Much as we try to pretend
    No one’s as innocent as could be
    We all fall short, we all sin

    Like other bands I know that profess to be Christians themselves (Owl City comes to mind) but don’t sing about it in a context to where secularists can read into it… Im wondering if Paramore does the same. This article makes a really good point.

  11. says

    I’m a little late to this party, but I do this all the time. “Beautiful With You” by Halestorm was definitely not written as a Christian song, but can be interpreted as such. Even if not, it’s a good message.

    “Fight the Good Fight” by Triumph (the Canadian power trio, not the insult dog).

  12. Daniel Bull says

    A bit late to the conversation as I was just trawling through the archives.
    I remember when I went to Bible school in 1998 we were only allowed to bring Christian music, and Classical music (figure that out!).
    At the time there was a band called the Lighthouse Family (I’m British btw, so maybe you haven’t heard of them). They had some great uplifting songs (one was called “Lifted”). I searched so heard to find out if they were Christians so i could take their cd to college guilt free. But alas I couldn’t find any proof, so they and their uplifting tunes stayed at home.
    Interestingly, through the year, the college changed there policy to allow music that wouldn’t be dishonouring the Christ – that opened the floodgates!

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