My boyfriend and I disagree on our music preferences. Is this a deal breaker?

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My boyfriend and I disagree on our music preferences. Is this a deal breaker?

May 12, 2008 |Candice Watters
Question

I'm in my late 20s and have been dating a great Christian man for about half a year. Things have been going pretty well for us other than some issues that we're trying to hash out. One of them in particular has to do with Contemporary Christian Music (CCM), and it's been pretty heavy on my mind. I'd like to know if this is a deal breaker.

I'm part of a contemporary Christian choir, sing and play piano on a worship team and my family is very musical. My brother is also part of a Christian band that leads worship for churches and youth rallies. Obviously music is a very big part of my life.

Where my boyfriend and I differ, is in the performance of Christian music. He doesn't think CCM with loud drums or guitar and distortion should be performed in a church, especially when there is special lighting and other stage effects. He has even said a "mosh pit" is evil, because all of it is mimicking the culture we live in. He says it's glorifying the singer and band rather than the Lord.

I think it's what's on the inside of a person's heart (their motivation) that Christ judges rather then what the music sounds like, although I do believe the lyrics should be glorifying to Christ. My boyfriend attends a church that doesn't use drums or guitar and only sings hymns or other Christian music with piano.

A lot of times now when I try to worship Christ through music, I'm wondering what my boyfriend thinks of the music rather then what God thinks. Is there anything I can say or do to change his way of thinking? I've been praying for God to give us both discernment in this area. Please let my know what you think.

Answer

Thanks for sending us this great two-part question. The first, about music, is a bit subjective. I'd have to say that while I agree with your boyfriend about mosh pits mimicking culture, I also love a lot of the new worship songs in church that happen to include electric instruments and drums.

The debate over instruments, and which ones are appropriate in the sanctuary, goes back a long way. I'm not sure you'll be able to resolve it; greater minds than ours have been unable to. But that doesn't mean you shouldn't try; you should — but not primarily because you love drums and he loves a cappella. There's something far more serious at stake in this disagreement.

Let me answer the second question by changing the subject a bit. I had two good friends, both strong Christians, who were seriously dating and even talking about getting married. They seemed like a good fit in almost ever area — every area except baptism. She believed in baptizing infants, he thought that was heresy and only adults should do it, fully aware of what they were doing.

On its face, it seemed a silly issue to let ruin their otherwise good relationship. Whether they'd baptize their own babies, should they have them, wouldn't be an issue for at least several years, maybe more. I tried to rationalize their disagreement as one of the fringe issues. But the more they talked, the more I realized that in their case, the man was unbending in his commitment to this point of doctrine, and for her part, the woman had no intention of backing down.

He was rude; she was disrespectful. And neither one had any interest in changing. At its core, the debate wasn't about immersion or sprinkling; infant or adult; it was about how they argued and how they related to one another. I kept thinking even if they resolve this baptism disagreement, another one — like worship styles — will come up. And how they disagreed was so unhealthy — so unbiblical — that it really was a symptom of a far deeper problem.

This brings me back to your question. You ask if there's anything you can do to change his way of thinking about music. Well, sort of. You can pray that God would change his mind. And you can pay attention to how he listens to what you say about CCM. Does he take you seriously and seem to understand just how important this is to you? Is he willing to pray about it, too? Is he modeling Christ-like love toward you even as you wrestle with difficult issues? And are you giving him respect with your words and actions, even as you disagree? Your answers to these questions are vital clues about the spiritual health of your relationship.

Ultimately, though, it comes down to this: Once you've stated your case, are you willing to live with what he decides? Remember, you don't have to submit to any man, just the man you marry. That's why it matters so much whom you choose to marry. If this man were to say he's considered all your impassioned pleas, and knows this is very important to you, but after praying about it, he's still convinced that drums and electric guitars, etc. are out of place in church worship, would you be able to fit in with him? Would you be able to follow his lead and attend his church? If not, then he's not someone you should continue dating. Why risk falling in love with a man you ultimately can't relate to biblically within marriage?

The Bible is straightforward in how husbands and wives are supposed to relate, whether they're getting along or in the midst of a heated debate. Paul wrote,

Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.

That's a hard word to receive, especially in our culture. But it's God's Word. And He doesn't tell wives to submit without also commanding husbands about the type of "head" they should be.

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church— for we are members of his body. "For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh" (Ephesians 5:22-31).

Again, this is why you should pay close attention to how your disagreement over CCM plays out. I think it's a blessing you have this hard test so early on; it's a providential way to gauge your boyfriend's aptitude for loving as "Christ loved the church," as well your own aptitude for submitting to him in all things.

Sincerely,
CANDICE WATTERS

Copyright 2008 Candice Watters. All rights reserved.

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