5 Prophetic Warnings about Music
Our Duties Regarding Music & Entertainment
Church Approved Music
Know the Background
Seek & Stand in Holy Places
Prepare for Zion
Excuses aren’t Valid: You Knew
God is Charming
Seek & Find
Separating the Art from The Artist: A Virtue and A Vice
“Contend Against No Church Save It Be the Church of the Devil”
Emotional Regulation Therapy in Various Genres
Retaining Control of Yourself
Judge the Cover
Music for Workouts or other Intense Moments
Using Music to Study
Joel Skousen on Bad Music
5 Prophetic Warnings about Music
Here are 5 compelling quotations of modern prophets giving poignant insight regarding our choices of music. These words may be difficult to hear for some but hearing them will help you grow into the character of Christ. Remember, the prophets are simply the mouthpiece of Christ. When we meet Christ, we can expect him measure our conduct based on the teachings we had received from his messengers, the prophets. We should not be surprised that music is one of the choice mediums of the adversary to slowly and gently lead us to hell.
- President Boyd K Packer of the Quorum of the 12 Apostles said this in a 2008 address titled “Lehi’s Dream and You” where he speaks of entertainment standards: “You live in a time of war, the spiritual war that will never end. War itself now dominates the affairs of mankind. Your world at war has lost its innocence. There is nothing, however crude or unworthy, that is not deemed acceptable for movies or plays or music or conversation. The world seems to be turned upside down (see 2 Peter 2:1–22). Formality, respect for authority, dignity, and nobility are mocked. Modesty and neatness yield to slouchiness and shabbiness in dress and grooming. The rules of honesty and integrity and basic morality are now ignored. Conversation is laced with profanity. You see that in art and literature, in drama and entertainment. Instead of being refined, they become coarse (see 1 Timothy 4:1–3; 2 Timothy 3:1–9). You have decisions almost every day as to whether you will follow those trends. You have many tests ahead. … Largely because of television, instead of looking over into that spacious building, we are, in effect, living inside of it. That is your fate in this generation. You are living in that great and spacious building. You will be safe if you look like and groom like and act like an ordinary Latter-day Saint … The mist of darkness will cover you at times so much that you will not be able to see your way even a short distance ahead. You will not be able to see clearly. But you can feel your way. With the gift of the Holy Ghost, you can feel your way ahead through life.”
- Elder Oaks taught that there are 2 lines of communication: the priesthood line and the personal line. If our personal line (our feeling) tells us something is okay, but the priesthood line (our priesthood leaders, especially the Apostles) say that something is not okay, we must not do it. Our choices must always be kept within the bounds which the Lord has set.
- President Ezra Taft Benson in an address titled Satan’s Thrustgiven December 1971 gave this specific warning against rock music. Surely this council can apply to any genre that is based in rebellion, rage, lust, and other debased characteristics: “It has been well said that “there comes a time when the general defilement of a society becomes so great that the rising generation is put under undue pressure and cannot be said to have a fair choice between the Way of Light and the Way of Darkness.” (Hugh Nibley, An Approach to the Book of Mormon,1957.) …The devil-inspired destructive forces are present in our literature, in our art, in the movies, on the radio, in our dress, in our dances, on the TV screen, and even in our modern, so-called popular music. Satan uses many tools to weaken and destroy the home and familyand especially our young people. Today, as never before, it seems the devil’s thrust is directed at our youth. A letter from a concerned father about the evil effects of some popular music is one of many. I quote from this well-informed teacher of youth: “Music creates atmosphere. Atmosphere creates environment. Environment influences behavior. What are the mechanics of this process? Rhythm is the most physical element in music. It is the only element in music that can exist in bodily movement without benefit of sound. A mind dulled by drugs or alcohol can still respond to the beat. Loudness adds to muddling the mind. Sound magnified to the threshold of pain is of such physical violence as to block the higher processes of thought and reason. (And turning down the volume of this destructive music does not remove the other evils.) … Repetition to the extreme is another primitive rock device. …Gyrations, a twin to rock rhythm, are such that even clean hands and a pure heart cannot misinterpret their insinuations Darkness [and dimmed lights] is another facet of the rock scene. It is a black mass that deadens the conscience in a mask of anonymity. Identity lost in darkness shrinks from the normal feelings of responsibility. Strobe lights split the darkness in blinding shafts that reduce resistance like the lights of an interrogator’s third degree or the swinging pendulum of the hypnotist who would control your behavior. …The whole psychedelic design [this father continues] is a swinging door to drugs, sex, rebellion, and Godlessness. Combined with the screaming obscenities of the lyrics, this mesmerizing music has borne the fruit of filth. Leaders of the rock society readily proclaim their degeneracy. …And the most diabolical deceit of this infamy is that it denies evil to be an absolute. Our religion is one of absolutes and cannot be rationalized into a relativistic philosophy of the ‘liberal Mormons.’ We cannot safely rationalize away righteousness. “What could be more misguided than fear that ‘if rock music were not endorsed by our leaders, we may lose many young people.’ (MIA music committee.) Even now we are losing them to the songs of Satan, drugs, sex, riot, and apostasy. We could be well reminded by a message from the Mormon Miracle pageant: ‘Moroni knew that you cannot compromise with evil. If you do, evil always wins.’” (Richard Nibley, excerpts from letter.) “The hedonist, who proclaims “Do your thing,” who lives for sinful, so-called pleasure, is never happy. Behind his mask of mock gaiety lurks the inevitable tragedy of eternal death. Haunted by its black shadow, he trades the useful, happy life for the bleak forgetfulness of drugs, alcohol, sex, and rock.” (END OF BENSON QUOTATION)
- In “Worthy Music, Worthy Thoughts” by President Boyd K Packer (General Conference in October 1973, and reprinted in the New Era magazine in 2008 see https://www.lds.org/new-era/2008/04/worthy-music-worthy-thoughts?lang=eng): “Probably the greatest challenge and the most difficult thing you will face in mortal life is to learn to control your thoughts. In the Bibleit says, as a man “thinketh in his heart, so is he” (Proverbs 23:7). Those who can control their thoughts have conquered themselves… Have you noticed that shady little thoughts may creep in from the wings and attract your attention in the middle of almost any performance and without any real intent on your part? These delinquent thoughts will try to upstage everybody. If you permit them to go on, all thoughts of any virtue will leave the stage. You will be left, because you consented to it, to the influence of unrighteous thoughts. If you yield to them, they will enact for you on the stage of your mind anything to the limits of your toleration. They may enact themes of bitterness, jealousy, or hatred. They may be vulgar, immoral, even depraved. When they have the stage, if you let them, they will devise the most clever persuasions to hold your attention. They can make it interesting all right, even convince you that they are innocent, for they are but thoughts… If you can say that a song is spiritually inspiring or that it urges you to see yourself in a more noble perspective, the music is worthwhile. If it merely entertains or lifts your spirits, then it also has a useful place. But if it makes you want to respond in a carnal, sensual way or to consider unrighteous desires, then that music should be avoided. It is not worthy… A wise man once said, “Music is one of the most forceful instruments for governing the mind.” Whether it governs in a positive way or a negative way is determined by what it brings onto the stage of your mind. If you can say that a song is spiritually inspiring or that it urges you to see yourself in a more noble perspective, the music is worthwhile. If it merely entertains or lifts your spirits, then it also has a useful place. But if it makes you want to respond in a carnal, sensual way or to consider unrighteous desires, then that music should be avoided. It is not worthy. There have always been those who take the beautiful things and corrupt them. It’s happened with nature; it’s happened with literature, drama, art; and it certainly has happened with music. For centuries it has been obvious that when the wrong kind of words are set to appealing music, songs can lead men astray. And music itself, by the way it is played, by its beat, by its intensity, can dull the spiritual sensitivity. We are living at a time when society is undergoing a subtle, but powerful, change. It is becoming more and more permissive in what it will accept in its entertainment. As a result, much of the music being performed by popular entertainers today seems to be more intended to agitate than to pacify, more to excite than to calm. Some musicians appear to openly promote unrighteous thoughts and action. Young people, you cannot afford to fill your minds with the unworthy music of our day. It is NOT HARMLESS. It can welcome onto the stage of your mind unworthy thoughts and set a tempo to which they dance and to which you may act. You degrade yourself when you identify with those things that at times surround extremes in music—the shabbiness, the irreverence, the immorality, the addictions. Such music is not worthy of you. Be selective in what you listen to and produce. It becomes part of you. It controls your thoughts and influences the lives of others as well. I would recommend that you go through your music and throw away that which promotes degrading thoughts. Such music ought not to belong to young people concerned with spiritual development. I don’t mean by this that all of today’s music produces unworthy thoughts. There is music today that builds understanding of people; music that inspires courage; music that awakens feelings of spirituality, reverence, happiness, and awareness of beauty… Let me say to you young leaders, pay careful attention to the music you plan for your activities… the breach between the Church and the world, with the extremes of its music, is wider in our day than ever in generations past….You must stand firm and not compromise with what you know is right and good; you must have the courage to turn the lights up and the music down when they don’t contribute to the kind of atmosphere that produces worthy thoughts; and YOU MUST INSIST ON HIGH STANDARDS OF DRESS AND PERFORMANCE FROM THOSE WHO ENTERTAIN as well as those who attend… The Lord Himself was prepared for His greatest test through the influence of music, for the scripture records, “And when they had sung an hymn, they went out into the mount of Olives” (Mark 14:26)… As you young people involve yourselves with righteous and worthwhile things, keep your minds filled with worthy thoughts, for as a man thinketh so is he, and you will have the ability to accomplish those things that will bring fulfillment to your lives.”
- From the “For the Strength of Youth” church manual on entertainment: “Take care that your use of media does not dull your sensitivity to the Spirit or interfere with your personal relationships with others…If you are not sure whether something is appropriate to watch or listen to, talk to your parents and other adult leaders. The Holy Ghost will give you strength to make correct choices.”
And from the same on music/dance: “Choose carefully the music you listen to. Pay attention to how you feel when you are listening. Some music can carry evil and destructive messages. Do not listen to music that encourages immorality or glorifies violence through its lyrics, beat, or intensity. Do not listen to music that uses vulgar or offensive language or promotes evil practices. Such music can dull your spiritual sensitivity….Learn and sing the hymns. Hymns can lift your spirit, move you to righteous action, and help you withstand the temptations of the adversary…. Remember that the Spirit speaks with a still, small voice. If you listen to music constantly, you may not have the quiet time you need for thinking, feeling, and receiving spiritual guidance. Dancing can be fun and can provide an opportunity to meet new people. However, it too can be misused. When dancing, avoid full body contact with your partner. Do not use positions or moves that are suggestive of sexual or violent behavior or are otherwise inappropriate. Attend only those dances where dress, grooming, lighting, lyrics, music, and entertainment contribute to a wholesome atmosphere where the Spirit may be present.”
Our Duties Regarding Music & Entertainment
I love music! Songs can help us express emotions of joy and love. They can help us process through emotions of depression despair or rage. They can help us heal, endure, and understand. They can help us be brave and push through trials valiantly. They bring needed relief to muster faith to keep going and enjoy the journey. I also adore the power of music to bring people together. Truly the mass availability of music today is one of the great blessings and greatest tests of our faith of our time. Use music in a positive way to enrich life and bless the next generation.
Music is not something to be taken lightly. Isaiah speaks of the Devil being cast into the pit with his musical instruments, which suggests music is a key tool of the Devil. In Hebrew 5:13-15 we read that we must be spiritually mature and discern between good and evil: “13 For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe.14 But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.”
Church Approved Music
We can enjoy a variety of music. I once asked a friend what kind of music they like. Their response was puzzling, that they only like “Church approved music”. Well, I too don’t want to listen to music that would offend God, and I greatly commend the attitude of this person to remain devoted to God’s laws, but there’s actually no “church approved music list.”
Elder Richard G Scott taught that if we only read or participate in church made things, we will be living a life less rich and happy than what God intended. Further, President Spencer W Kimball believed that many of the great authors etc. can be viewed as “miniature prophets” whom have much to offer to humanity despite their not being in the church. May we be “anxiously engaged in a good cause” without being “commanded in all things”.
Because music is so powerful to influence either for good or evil, I suggest listening to planned music which you have screened beforehand rather than random radio, or listening to anything just because it is by a certain musician, or of a certain genre or era. We should not support musicians who have material which is blatantly evil. We should avoid genres of music which are saturated in evil or commonly known for evil themes. I do not advise listening to music which swears, has blatant or suggestive themes of violence, drug use, sexuality, or which mocks Jesus Christ and his teachings. If a song makes you feel evil or tempts you to set aside any of God’s commandments and councils, get away from it. Do not spend time with music that preaches false gospels of entitlement, lust, selfishness, or other damning character traits. 2 Tim. 3:2-5 tells us to turn away from evil groups.
Before you chose to label a musician as a “personal favorite”, and allow their products to more freely be a part of your life, research their corpus of music and their character to ascertain that they are not wolves in sheep’s clothing. Though we need not require a person to be our same religion to appreciate their music, we can hold them accountable to the standards of conscience which is given to every person and which condemns evil and impure practices.
If you are unable to discern weather a song be good or evil, watch the music video. The video will reveal the intent of the artist, and can be a warning sign to back off, or a welcome relief. Most songs, perhaps I should say many songs especially in certain genres, are easy to discern whether they be good or evil, so I don’t suggest being a music video junkie. Not only is it usually a waste of time, but often the artist puts in some silly useless or negative thing in their video which detracts from the simple uplifting nature of the song. If the video is very bad, reconsider whether the song is any good, as it may have subliminal messages of evil, even if the rhythm is attractive, and the artist skilled. Beware that your music choices will be passed on to your associates and more importantly to your children. The music you enjoy they may further investigate, seeing it’s videos and looking into the characters of the artists. Thus we must use discression and wisdom and not “negotiate at the table of the enemy”. We must, and the Lord warned in the Doctrine and Covenants, depart from the ungodly. We must stand in holy places and be not moved. For more on separating the art from the artist, and how such can work for good or ill, see that section.
Here is why we avoid questionable music, musicians, and genres. Looking in bad places for good stuff can be like dumpster diving for food to sustain life. We look for scraps of tasty nutritious fresh food in these questionable venues, but we can’t very well stay clean during the search! Not only is the search dangerous, but at the end of the day, there isn’t much there to be found! Most of what you find there is garbage, and what looks good there usually isn’t! There are much better places to look for food! There are buffets overflowing with wonderful foods if we can but escape the alluring attraction of the baited hooks of Lucifer, our enemy.
Even if bad music makes us temporarily feel pleasure, that pleasure will suck the life out of us, and we will have damned ourselves to a state of depravity where the doors once open for joyous exploration and exquisite participation in uplifting music have become shut. If you have indulged in evil music, you’re only hope is to call upon Jesus Christ to free you from the bad thinking patterns and beliefs which that music has infected you with. Remember always that there is so much wholesome music that we don’t need to bother with the evil!
Elder Robert E Hales speaks of how his father who worked in creating industrial designs, explained to him that there is a spiritual aspect of creation, which requires a reverent atmosphere (for more on that story see “Fathers of Fatih” by Maller et al.). So be it studying or working with the mind in any way, we need a calm environment where the spirit can teach.
Remember, Satan leads us down by degrees, not all at once. Tragically, one of the core deceptions of the Devil desensitization to evil, so we don’t even realize when it is all around us. What a better topic than music to apply this timeless poetry: “Vice is a monster of so frightful mien As to be hated needs but to be seen; Yet seen too oft, familiar with her face, We first endure, then pity, then embrace.” (Alexander Pope).
Remember that the Beetles came with their long hair and lack of respect for authority, women, etc., and see how now the hair isn’t considered long, and the manners aren’t considered rude, etc.
You must be sensitive to warning signs, red flags which suggest something isn’t right. You must act when prompted in these matters, and you must be courageous, and trust that the true messengers will come if you but hold out for them and seek them, and obey the word of the Lord.
Ask yourself: Will this music be played in the place I want to go, namely the celestial kingdom, in the presence of Almighty God Ahman, and his son Jehovah, the prince of peace? Yes earth is lower than heaven, but are we not seeking to make a heaven out of this earth? Are we not strangers, seeking a city whose foundations are made by God? Hope we not for the city of Enoch to return, and find a city of like citizens awaiting their citizenship? Is not the coming of our Lord neigh, even at the doors? How hardly do we even have the time of day to fool with the fotter of Babylon. To be effective, Satan’s distractions need only distract you, they don’t even need to be evil. If Satan has distracted you from your holy work for Zion, then he has succeeded, even if he bought you at the price of a catchy tune. Oh how short is this life, and oh great the tasks beset upon Israel to accomplish herein!
Excuses aren’t Valid: You Knew
We often must rely on our feelings, not just broad written law, when making choices. I’m confident that God will not tolerate an excuse of “no one told me that was bad” in the many seemingly gray areas of life. How hardly could we ignore the whisper of conscience and expect the kingdom of God. God will judge us based on not only what we did about what we knew, but what we did about how we felt. If we chose to say of questionable music, “but I felt fine about it”, then we approach a slippery slope.
God is Charming
God is joyful because he is unchanging and “cannot look upon sin with the least degree of allowance”. God isn’t an old grouch. He is youthful and charming. He has a sense of humor. He likes to relate with us. Just like our ability to become as he is, so has he has been where we are. He likes culture and custom so long as such is not promoting evil ideas and attitudes. God is happy, and wants you to be happy. You can find great joy in this life. God loves the free will offerings we bring to him. God loves all nations, and the cultures in each have uplifting forms of music which can be help us in the quest to “let your soul delight in fatness” (Jacob 9:51).
Beware that the Devil is also charming, but for the wrong reasons, and in a superfluous way. It was told in my mission that the most disobedient missionary who had been leading other missionaries into disobedience, when being sent home by the mission president was told essentially, ‘you know Elder, you are very charismatic. But you know who else is very charismatic? Lucifer.’ Truly the Devil seeks to imitate God, and seeks to make his plan appear to be another path to happiness, when in reality, there is only one way, namely Jesus Christ.
If you think I’m calling for you to be prudish and shallow in your music choices to avoid evil, you have much to learn. What I am suggesting is that we refine our tastes to find the greatest possible lasting joy in wholesome materials. Sometimes a Christian life involves setting aside things we currently enjoy so we can pursue higher causes. Like the fat man who somewhat enjoys his unhealthy food as it draws him toward disability and death, so can we leave the culture of unwholesome music and learn to love the good and the increased life that will come with it. For an article I wrote on how we’re not all expected to be the same, and are allowed personality and taste etc., see my article ‘The God of Individualized Contracts.’
The good is out there, you just have to have the faith to find it. Finding takes faith. Do not disqualify yourself from having the Holy Ghost aid you in your search by lowering your standards. Be patient as you won’t find it all at once, nor will your capacity to appreciate goodness all develop at once. Moral restraint regarding questionable entertainment during seasons where we don’t have all the answers is a core aspect of faith. Some day you will have all the answers. That day will come sooner if you exercise more righteous restraint. Our passions must be bridled as we wait upon the Lord to lead us to ‘green pastures’. Let us fix our hope on the scriptural promise that if we let the Lord be our shepherd, no want shall we know, and our cups will run over with blessings. As Elder Neil A Maxwell put it, our hearts will be “brim with joy” as we increasingly consecrate our lives to the Master.
May Jesus Christ be the central figure in our lives, and may we pay close attention to our conscience and the words of the prophets.
Eph. 5:11 says we should expose the works of darkness. For a daunting look at how Satan has infiltrated the music industry, go to GoodFight.org, or read my summary of their material as well as find links to many of their videos on YouTube by reviewing my notes on their presentation. You’ll find full length documentaries such as “They Sold Their Souls for Rock & Roll”, “Hollywood’s War on God”, and their short videos about the Satanic influence on specific music groups of various genres. Some research even suggests plants grow or wilt based on what type of music they’re exposed to.
To some extent it seems we can separate the art from the artist. Not everyone will have the same standards as you (though more than you may think actually do share your standards, in and out of the church; the community of wholesome music has a long history, and new creations of that type are still being born to this day). We praise the artist for his good work, which motivates him to create more good work and leave behind the bad. We remember David of old, the writer of the great Psalms of worship which we revere as the word of the Lord, was not without his flaws.
Caution: Recall that President Packer taught that those whom we allow to entertain us should themselves groom reasonably well. We can’t ignore the effect of the culture of the singer entirely. We must choose positive role models, and favorite entertainers are certainly role models (especially as our children watch how we chose).
Some will say that we must in all cases separate art from the artist, because all people are flawed, and the complete separation is needed to enjoy any art. Perhaps however there is a continuum, and it’s those whom are particularly evil are whom we should reject, both them, and their art. We must also take caution, for the Lord warned Joseph Smith that not even Joseph can always recognize the good from the evil when it comes to people (D&C 10:37). What people wear, the words they say, the messages they support, the way they act, these are the hints which we must boldly act upon when determining what to reject, and what to support.
It will be fun to note here the Brigham Young said there is no song or dance whatsoever in hell.
Ayn Rand’s ‘Fountainhead’ speaks of the depravity of loving some uplifting someone did while knowing that the personal life of that person is a fraud, a constant bout of immorality. A sermon to ‘be ye good’ becomes nullified when spoken by the Devil or one of his angels, you know they have something up their sleeve. Does this mean imperfect people shouldn’t be admired when they do something good? No, it means we can’t set them up as someone to emulate, and that we must take utmost precautions when dealing with them, if we chose to at all.
Genres which are generally uplifting are classical, opera, choral, Celtic, and folk. Genres which are generally degrading are rock, pop, punk, rap, & techno. There are examples of beauty in many categories, but it is wise to focus the attention on cultivating that which is most rewarding. There are objective measures of excellence in music, and these are usually mastered in those genres listed here as uplifting.
There is so much beauty to be found in the uplifting genres that we have no time for the rest, generally speaking. Though genres of the various cultures of our time can at times assist us in life’s trials and to find expression as we are on the path of self-discovery, or perhaps can be employed in various missionary efforts to speak to others in the language they are familiar with, the truest expression of beauty and excellence is found in the first series of uplifting genres listed above. Taste in music may differ from culture to culture, but we should not allow any evil cultures to take residence in our character.
The Lord admonishes us to “contend against no church save it be the church of the Devil” (D&C 18:20). I chose to not listen to known devil worshippers, even if they have songs that seem innocent, I avoid those artists entirely. Other artists who aren’t open devil worshippers I can at times pause and admire some of their artwork, even when I know they have some other artwork which is more questionable, morally speaking. I am also aware that in some cases and scenarios, certain types of music which are very emotional can help people get through very emotional episodes of life. The general music we chose however, should likely focus on genres like classical, opera, tenor, soprano, folk, and other high-quality types of music whose sound and lyric reflect dignity, self-control, integrity, reverence for life, reverence for the sacred, and an overall message of goodwill toward men.
Some known devil worshippers whom I refuse to listen to or associate with in any way are the following, this list is from goodfight.org whom has conducted research into the messages and backgrounds of these groups, exposing their Satanic ways: Robert Johnson, Little Richard, Bill Haley, Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, George Harrison, The Beatles, The Beach Boys, David Crosby, David Bowie, Pink Floyd, The Grateful Dead, Jimi Hendrix, Carlos Santana, Fleetwood Mac, Hill & Oats, Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, The Eagles, Van Halen, KISS, AC/C, Sting, Iron Maiden, Prince, Metallica, Michael Jackson, Bob Dylan, Beyoncé, Queen, Ariana Grande, Lady Gaga, Adam Levine (of Maroon 5), James Franco, ACDC, Ellie Goulding, Miley Cyrus, Kesha, Katy Perry, Bruno Mars, & The Red Hot Chili Peppers.
Remember that every dollar you spend is a vote cast in favor of or against the entity to which you have spent it. In this digital age, not only dollars but page and song views also count. Take caution: Is the group that you’re supporting going to take the $ you give them and turn around to spend it on creating something evil?
When someone has proven to be openly evil in full rebellion, we blacklist, or so to speak, excommunicate them, from our association. We don’t hear their music, not even their “good” ones. We don’t get close to them. We don’t expose our children to them in a positive light, because they aren’t a positive light. They are a tree of abomination, and partaking thereof, though it may seem sweet in the mouth, will in the stomach, be bitter, as Isaiah taught. They are wolves in sheep’s clothing, and the sheep have no business associating with them, no matter how cunning wise or charming the sheep believes itself to be. Hugh Nibley wisely teaches that we aren’t to resist evil, rather we are to stay clear away from it! The D&C also instructs us to depart from the ungodly. What about missionary work and fellowship and building bridges? We don’t need bridges to Babylon, we need to flee from it. We do befriend others, but we don’t worship at their alters. We do love sinners, but we don’t worship their Gods. We do embrace multiculturalism, but we don’t embrace idolatry, fornication, lasciviousness, and filth. Satan is the father of lies, the father of filth, and those who have sworn allegiance to him cannot be reasoned with, and they especially cannot be used as sources of entertainment. They are not fountains of truth from which we can drink joy, fulfillment, and satiation, the things which good musicians can bring. I repeat that I’m not saying entertainers need to be perfect to offer wholesome entertainment which can move and rejuvenate our souls. Read my other sections on music philosophy to become familiar with other aspects in that regard. I am saying that there is a line, and when it is crossed, supporting that artist or their creations in any way becomes inappropriate.
We recall Brigham Young’s statement that there is no song or dance in hell. Therefore we can say that ‘bad’ music & dance, doesn’t really qualify for the titles of music and dance, but something fallen, despicable, and renounceable entirely. Something that won’t last when Babylon the great falls.
Some songs have personal meaning to us as they bring back fond memories of spending time with friends, and the series of emotions and questions we dealt with in life.
I’ve said before, in the spirit of Paul’s statement about being all things to all people, that saviors on mount Zion have the privilege of “time travel”. What I meant by this was that it was their opportunity to adopt the cultures of those whom are around them, including those of their age, those younger, and those older. This means a person can, for the sake of teens, be like a teen sometimes, etc., enjoying with them their sports and wholesome music in genres which they enjoy. Some genres have little if anything to offer when it comes to wholesome music, and we would do well to steer youth in a different direction where possible.
Music which speaks of “going crazy” and “losing [ones] mind” often refers to evil, and things connected with evil, such as giving in to moral pressure to be unchaste, or resignation in general. The mind along with the gut are connectors to the soul and spirit. Satan wishes to take over minds so he can get souls. This is why we don’t practice hypnotism or certain forms of yoga which involve “letting go” of one’s mind, of one’s consciousness, will, control, etc. Demons are real and can possess people. Be firm and do not allow things into your mind which don’t belong there. Keep a firm resolve. Dancing to the extent that one feels to “loose their mind” is not good dancing. Dancing can be good, Brigham Young was known to dance late into the night at parties. But tones lyrics and contortions which lead one to be overpowered and not in control are not of the Lord.
If an album cover features explicit images or suggestive postures (connotating drug use, sex, violence, or general rudeness), this is a significant warning sign. An album cover is designed to be an embodiment of the themes which can be found in the album. Sex is not bad, but when people make it a public thing that is bad, and they’re usually suggesting it be used outside of marriage.
Further, when a song slips in blatant or even hidden references to bad things or bad language, it shows that the musician is seeking to please not the Lord, but the world. Beware the spirit of the masses which condemn evil, then run to the theaters when a suggestive film is being presented. A theatre is a dark place where one feels they are in private. Also earbuds or the privacy of a vehicle suggest privacy. But no one can hide from God, and for that matter, from their ancestors which indeed watch their lives.
Be careful with electronic sounds which cannot be produced naturally, or which cannot be produced at the speeds they are being played on naturally. Some electronic music can be uplifting, but much precaution is needed in this area.
Remember the days of dancing around the camp fire, remember the times of smiling in the pure joy of modest fun, where all participants cover their bodies handsomely without showing their skin or their form. Brigham Young chastised the sisters in Zion, telling them that it made them look uncomely to show their form, drawing their dresses tightly around their bodies as was the fashion in Babylon. He called upon the saints to make their own clothes, fashions, and culture all together. They succeeded at this for a long time, now it is up to us to create again a culture of Holiness to the Lord! Often the ways of the world simply aren’t the ways of the Lord.
Elder Bednar gives “an Apostolic warning” about getting too into avatars, virtual realities, and certain cyberspace interactions in an address titled “Things As They Really Are”. In that address, Elder Bednar says “a simulation or model can lead to spiritual impairment and danger if the fidelity is high and the purposes are bad—such as experimenting with actions contrary to God’s commandments or enticing us to think or do things we would not otherwise think or do “because it is only a game.” I raise an apostolic voice of warning about the potentially stifling, suffocating, suppressing, and constraining impact of some kinds of cyberspace interactions and experiences upon our souls. The concerns I raise are not new; they apply equally to other types of media, such as television, movies, and music. But in a cyber world, these challenges are more pervasive and intense. I plead with you to beware of the sense-dulling and spiritually destructive influence of cyberspace technologies that are used to produce high fidelity and that promote degrading and evil purposes. If the adversary cannot entice us to misuse our physical bodies, then one of his most potent tactics is to beguile you and me as embodied spirits to disconnect gradually and physically from things as they really are. In essence, he encourages us to think and act as if we were in our premortal, unembodied state. And, if we let him, he can cunningly employ some aspects of modern technology to accomplish his purposes. Please be careful of becoming so immersed and engrossed in pixels, texting, earbuds, twittering, online social networking, and potentially addictive uses of media and the Internet that you fail to recognize the importance of your physical body and miss the richness of person-to-person communication. Beware of digital displays and data in many forms of computer-mediated interaction that can displace the full range of physical capacity and experience.” (June 2010- Ensign, https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/ensign/2010/06/things-as-they-really-are?lang=eng).
It is not uncommon to see people using much more wild music for their workouts, claiming that such helps them to be enthusiastic. Even for intensive training and workouts, we don’t need thrashy trashy music. We can “get pumped” with compelling and rhythmical classical and vocal songs not involving overly repetitive and dulling tones or lyrics.
A case could be made for using music with stronger beats in intense moments, but beware that the spirit needs a reverent atmosphere to inspire the creative process.
Many athletes will attest to the importance of focus during practice and performance, some even refrain from using any music for this reason. The most skilled in body and mind often require reverent quiet in their training where they can more easily access the creative spirit of God in their work. Our minds must be fully focused on the task at hand. Wild music can lead someone to push themselves further than they should, resulting in unnecessary injury.
Athletes used to train to intense/invigorating piano music. They would meet in a gym and there would be a pianist playing music.
For some reason we think classical music is only for background while doing other things. In reality, for something like high concentration study, it often hinders the process. Music is complex, yes, even music without words. We can plan an outing of just listening to a symphony. We are overstimulated in our society, and would do well to simplify, and stop trying to multitask. Music is best absorbed when you’re paying full attention to it. In Ayn Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged”, one of the great freedom novels, the main character hero known for her great work ethic, would go to work, and when coming home, would sit and listen to classical music as her recreation. The music would have distracted her if she listened at work, she had to give full concentration to her business to make it what it needed to be. Her work was important to her, she gave her best self to it, she was innovative, and not just punching a time clock. In other words, what she did each day was about leading not following. She used her mind. Then when it was time to rest, the music assisted. The music was majestic, and deserved attention when it was played.
Ben Carson the famous neurosurgeon was known for listening to Handel’s Messiah while he studied, and it can differ person to person on how music helps or hinders the focus and concentration needed to study. Some with anxiety can use music to calm them down, and then cancel the music outright once they’re in a calm mood. Others listen during study, and various genres. The nature of some of the work we must do can sometimes be aided by music.
Joel Skousen on Bad Music
Here is an excerpt from a lecture on conscience which Joel Skousen sent to me regarding bad music:
I define bad music as erratic, jarring, and unstable—with a lack of melodious underpinning. I always feel uncomfortable around bad music, no matter whether it is part of rock, classical, country, spiritual or jazz. Every form of music, except the specific offshoots of hard rock, are capable of producing pleasant feelings. Some forms are more generally suited to emotionally stable music (classical and hymns). But you should feel nervous around any type of music that is destabilizing and not uplifting. Worse, yet, if you actually like hard, acid rock or wildly erratic classical show-off pieces or wild jazz, your conscience is in bad shape. Nothing dulls the feeling sense of conscience more than bad music—unless it is sexual sin.