Music, T-Shirts and Bumper Stickers

I have had what I consider to be a fortunate upbringing. My parents are believers who lived out the gospel daily in front of me through both their actions and their words. You could accurately say I was raised in the church. My early years were a blessing in that I was spared much of the struggles too commonly displayed by families and friends whose lives were filled with conflict and strife.

However, I have since found there are other “dangers” that exist in the confines of a somewhat functional Christian family. For example, I grew up with what I considered to be an appropriate dichotomy between the sacred and the secular. I developed a mentality that If something was not overtly Christian then it was of little value.

I do not know from where such a notion would originate. It is my suspicion that from whoever or wherever it did develop, it was out of a sense of honest protection for my seedling faith. As a father of a rapidly growing family, I can now better understand the dilemma surrounding those who mentored my growth as a child in the church. How do we, as parents in a community of faith, equip our kids well enough to engage a culture that clearly has the power to deceive those very same children? Maybe a better question is when? Do we protect and shelter them until 8? 10? 15?

I know there is a continuum of answers to the question posed. A “sliding scale” if you will. Surely the leading answer must be our submission to God’s will in the life of our children. It is His light that guides their path, not ours. However, in the nuts and bolts of daily life, there are decisions that have to be made. Who do our children play with? What movies do we allow them to see? What books can be read? What music can they listen too? I am sure there are more seasoned parents who wish to pat me on the back in a “bless-his-little-heart-it-will-be-fine” sort of way. But, these are real issues that have lasting effects as I have experienced them in my own life.

I come from a family of singers and musicians and have always enjoyed both listening and playing music of all kinds. As a teenager, however, I thought it was only appropriate for me to listen to Christian music. Needless to say, there was some pretty terrible Christian music in the late 1980’s (i.e., Stryper) Christian music has influenced me in many ways, both positive and negative. I am still concerned that it enabled my inaccurate sense of dichotomy between the sacred and the secular. Shouldn’t I be concerned about enabling that same sense of division in my own kids? If so, then why am I planning on attending Winter Jam this Sunday night at the Staple Center with my oldest son?

Several popular Christian artists will be taking the stage this weekend to proclaim Christ through song and celebration. At the event there are also sure to be Christian vendors selling Christian CD’s, Christian bumper stickers and Christian T-shirts (I’ve already seen on the website that I can buy thermals, a hoodie, jam bandz, crews and even water-bottles). The website also has a banner proclaiming 208,052 attendees, 5,321 sponsorships and 26,122 decisions. Is there something wrong with the picture here?

This is how I have decided to approach a great opportunity to hang out with my son while he still wants to hang out with me; I am telling him we are going to a concert to have fun, listen to some music and yes, even buy a T-shirt if he wants one (no thermals). I know the music will be clean, the environment safe, and the message will be encouraging. Then, on the way home (if we still can hear each other) we will have a great opportunity to talk. I’ll tell him I had a blast hanging out with him. I might ask him if he actually thought the music was good. Then I’ll ask him if he thinks God would rather the gospel be worn on our Christian T-shirts or on the Christian heart we wear on our sleeves.

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