I’d like to have a brief talk with you about your dating life. I know—you haven’t started dating yet. But I know that you want to, so now is probably the best time for us to have this discussion. Before we start, you should know that I think it is okay that you are not dating right now—I don’t want you to get the impression that you have to be dating at this stage in your life. Yet, you want to enjoy marriage someday, and dating is obviously the first step in that direction.
From talks that we’ve had before, I know that you would like to have your own family “when you get older.” Scripture says that this is a good goal for you to have (Genesis 2:24, Proverbs 18:22, Psalm 127:3). As you know, this is a very serious goal—one that that has to be approached in the right way (2 Corinthians 6:14). So, I hope that you are putting in some real thought in to approaching this in the right way. A lot of people your age have a difficult time knowing when to start seriously thinking about and pursuing this type of goal. Maybe you feel that you are not old enough to begin planning and preparing for something like marriage, which seems like it will take place far into the future.
There are a couple of things that we can say here. First, hopefully you understand that you have already been preparing for marriage for many years. Yes, really, you have. You have heard many sermons about marriage relationships (such as how the Lord provided a wife for Isaac in Genesis 24, or how Ephesians 5 describes marriage as a picture of the relationship between Christ and the church), you have been instructed about important principles of marriage during your catechism training (for instance, the applications associated with Lord’s Day 41), and during your personal worship you have been praying that God will lead you in your life according to His will. Now it is time for you to begin using the knowledge and wisdom that you have gained from these past experiences to begin pursuing your goal of marriage.
Second, you have already made confession of faith, and by that you have proclaimed before God and men that you understand and subscribe to the Reformed faith. By your public confession you have shown that, by God’s grace, you possess a certain level of maturity. That’s right—your public confession of faith is evidence that you are mature enough to understand important aspects of life like dating. That is why we did not let you date before your confession of faith. I know—many of your friends have been dating for years before they made their confession of faith, and some of some of them still haven’t stood up to confess Christ and the Reformed faith. And yes, I understand how you think this has put you at a disadvantage in your dating life. While some of your peers have been dating for years and have become really comfortable with the dating process, you had to sit on the sidelines. Now, you feel that you are jumping into the dating arena late, after many others have gained lots of dating experience. But I still do believe that until you had both the understanding and maturity publicly to confess Christ and the Reformed faith, that you did not have the proper understanding and maturity to seriously date. The purpose of dating is to find a spouse. The relationship between spouses is one that reflects the relationship of Christ and the church. How could we let you participate in a dating relationship if you were not yet mature enough to publicly confess that you understood and believed what the ultimate purpose of dating is? You are now a young man now who has confessed Christ. Now it is time for you to be a man in your understanding of dating. Put away the childish idea that dating is something you do in high school for fun. Use your Christian maturity along with the wisdom and knowledge you have gained about marriage to guide you as you think about dating—put your faith into practice in this respect!
So, what are some of the ways that you can put your faith into practice as you look towards dating? I know we already said that you have a certain level of maturity, but let’s talk about that a little bit more. There is at least one way you should be looking to gain additional maturity. Don’t ever pause in your own personal devotional and worship life. As a man, you know that you will be required to lead in the worship life of your marriage as you pray and study the Holy Scriptures together. Because this is such an important aspect of marriage, you should definitely be praying and searching God’s word with the young woman that you date. So, you need to prepare yourself for this role now, before you start dating. Search the Scriptures now with an eye towards those passages that you think would be good to study during your dating life. For example, you can study the book of James for practical advice on living a sanctified life with the young woman that you date, or as your relationship matures you can study the many Scriptural passages that give direct advice on marriage itself. Pray for wisdom and confidence in this respect—it is a great responsibility and one that is necessary for a healthy dating relationship.
Let’s move on to another way that you can put your faith into practice in your future dating life. As we’ve said a couple of times already: you have a godly desire to have a marriage and family of your own. This means that, at some point, you are going to have to approach a young woman and discuss this with her! This will take a certain amount of confidence on your part. So, you need to be confident in the type of young woman that you want to date. Obviously, you want to date a young woman, who, like you, has made it clear that she loves the Lord and is committed to the same faith as you are. You’ve heard this said many times before, so I won’t dwell on it other than to say that this is actually pretty important. You really do need to find a young woman who is both not afraid to demonstrate her love of God and who has united herself with the same Reformed faith as you have. The young woman that exhibits these characteristics is likely mature enough to date and is likely spiritually compatible with you. Remember, when you begin to date, you are not just out to have a good time; you are instead out to enjoy a relationship with someone and at the same time find out if they are compatible with you for marriage. This means that you should look to date a young woman who you have a certain level of confidence regarding what type of wife and mother she would be. Make sure you evaluate these things as you consider young women that you might consider dating. Finding this type of relationship will make the dating experience extremely enjoyable! Having said all of this, having confidence in the type of girl you want to date isn’t necessarily going to take away all of the anxiety associated with asking a girl out. If you are like me, there is really no way to completely get around that anxiety. But remember, the Holy Spirit speaks many times in the Scriptures about anxiety (Philippians 4:6-7, I Peter 5:6-8, Matthew 11:28-30, Psalm 55:22). Go to your heavenly Father in prayer and cast your anxieties about approaching a girl on him. You will find help through searching the Scriptures and in prayer—even for nervousness about dating!
Please know that your mother and I are praying for you in this respect. We pray that you will remember those things that you have been taught about marriage as you look ahead towards dating. We pray that you will have the confidence necessary to find and approach a godly young woman. We pray that you will find much enjoyment in your future dating life. And we also pray that you will come to us and ask us for advice if and when you need it.
Now that you have been dating for a while, I thought now would be a good time to remind you of some of the discussions we’ve had on this topic. Before you started dating, remember all of those important things we talked about? Remember how we even read in God’s word that part of my responsibility in training you be a Christian young man is to help you in your dating life, and to ensure that you are going about this whole dating thing properly (Prov. 9:9 and 22:6)? So let’s take this opportunity to go over some things.
At your age, it can be hard to keep the ultimate goal of dating clearly in your sights. Marriage. I can tell by the look you’re giving me that you and your girlfriend are not exactly ready to start sending out wedding invitations. That’s okay. Really, it is. Dating can be an exciting experience, and it’s good to enjoy it. Dating is getting to know someone new; it’s the potential to get to know someone at a deeper level than other friends; it’s engaging in fun activities like going out to eat or going to the beach. Of course it’s enjoyable—it should be! But, remember, all of these activities are for a purpose: for both of you to get to know each other well enough to decide if you are compatible for marriage.
Yeah, I know—some of your friends’ parents let them date just for fun. They don’t have to think about marriage when they ask a girl out. But remember what we decided when we talked about this last time? Approaching dating with a casual attitude can be fraught with difficulties. No, I’m not saying that all of your friends are sinning when they date “for fun”. But we can’t deny that there is a world of temptations that accompany dating, and that these temptations are difficult enough to handle when dating is approached with the seriousness that it deserves. To pick just one example, you know that all Christians are called to remain chaste (Ex. 20:14, Romans 13:13, 1 Cor. 6:18–20, Eph. 5:3, 1 Thess. 4:3, and many others), and that this becomes especially important for dating couples. I’m sure you can agree that starting a dating relationship with the attitude that it is “just for fun” is not the wisest way for sanctified young people to remain chaste. Note this too: I can see what kind of world we live in right now. There is an incredible pressure on guys your age to not grow up,but instead to continue having fun and living a carefree and casual life well into your 20s. Obviously this particular pressure plays right into the idea of “casual dating”. As a Christian young man, you are called to mature—to grow up (1 Cor. 13:11, Eph. 4:13–15, 2 Tim. 2:22). I understand that it must be very hard to say no to that type of lifestyle, and instead start to grow up and mature right now at your age. Realize this though: if you start dating without taking it seriously, you will inevitably develop certain habits and a mindset that can be harmful when you begin a serious dating relationship. However, if, at the beginning of your dating life, you start with a sanctified attitude that looks towards marriage and the seriousness that it entails, you will have a certain amount of help against the temptations inherent in dating (2 Tim. 2:212, 1 Thess. 4:3–5).
So, are you dating with an attitude toward marriage, and specifically, marrying in the Lord? I know… you’re right. It is easy for old married people like me to throw out ideas like “attitude toward marriage” and “marrying in the Lord” without really telling you what they mean or giving some practical advice about how to do it. Let’s take “marrying in the Lord” first, because I think you probably already have a good idea what that means. Marrying in the Lord can be thought of as making the Lord the absolute center of your marriage relationship (Eph. 5:22-–33). Yes, the fact that you are dating a girl who openly and faithfully attends a good church is evidence that you started in the right place. In order have a relationship centered on Christ, both individuals in the relationship obviously have to be committed to the Christian faith (2 Cor. 6:14). However, finding a confessing Christian to date is really only the beginning. Ensuring that Christ will be the center of your future marriage relationship requires that you engage in certain activities and have a certain attitude while you date—an attitude toward marrying in the Lord.
If Christ is going to be the center of your marriage, it is probably a good idea to make him the center of your dating relationship. Yes, I know that sounds very serious! But think about it. If, through dating, you build a relationship with a girl, and that relationship is not centered on Christ, do you really think that when you decide to get married that you will easily be able to change the center of your relationship to one rooted in Christ? No, probably not. Develop the Christ-centered relationship now, before it is too late!
Let’s discuss some of the practical activities that you should be doing that will help develop this attitude. Prayer and searching the scriptures really have to form the basis of your “attitude towards marriage” activities. You’re right—that shouldn’t be a big surprise. Start with prayer and scripture reading by yourself. You need wisdom to make the right decisions about your behavior while you are dating, about whether the girl you are dating is the right kind of girl for you, and ultimately about whether a marriage between you and your girlfriend is right. Pray for wisdom pertaining to these things (James 1:5), pray for it with the understanding that this wisdom is not going to come like a flash of inspiration in your mind. You need to pray that you will appropriately apply the wisdom contained in God’s word with respect to these things. Proverbs is full of wisdom for the time in your life when you are dating. So is Ephesians. Read these books and meditate on God’s word found there. Think about the girl you are dating and your conduct while you are with her, and apply the words and ideas found in Proverbs. Also pray for yourself that you will be able to be a strong spiritual leader in your relationship. You know this is the role that you will have in marriage, so start praying about it now. Search out the wisdom contained in Scripture for how to be this type of person. If you think that you are mature enough to date a girl, you had better be mature enough to be the spiritual leader in the relationship. No, right now you don’t have to have the spiritual maturity and leadership qualities that a veteran of marriage has, but you definitely need to realize what your role is and take the initiative to begin developing that role.
But, don’t just keep these spiritual exercises to yourself. Pray with your girlfriend. Pray that Christ will be the center of your relationship. Pray that your relationship at this point in your dating life is glorifying to God in all aspects. Read scripture with your girlfriend. Discuss and mediate on Scripture with your girlfriend. And don’t just pack these activities into the few minutes at the end of the date. Engage in conversations about your faith while you are with each other. Talk about points in sermons that you particularly enjoyed or that you didn’t understand. Discuss religious books or articles that you have read. In this way you will build the strong foundations that are so critical for a godly, happy marriage. If you aren’t engaging in these spiritual activities, that is good evidence that you are not currently interested in marrying in the Lord. As we said before, marrying in the Lord doesn’t start at some point in the future while you are in premarital counselling right before your wedding; it starts right now while you are dating. Listen to this too: if you are not engaging in these spiritual activities with your girlfriend, and your girlfriend does not seem at all concerned about your lack of spiritual activities, that is a good sign that she does not have the proper concern for marrying in the Lord either. You need to be a leader in this respect, and if she is simply not aware of these things that we are discussing, you need patiently and prayerfully to lead her into an understanding of their critical importance.
There is one more thing that I, from my perspective as a father, recommend that you do. Get to know her parents, and get to know them at a level that is deeper than casual pleasant conversation. Don’t be afraid to have real, meaningful conversations with them. Discuss religion and your faith with them as opportunities present themselves. I can promise you that any parents who are truly concerned for their daughter’s spiritual wellbeing will be thrilled to have these conversations with you.
Son, I’m thrilled that you are dating, and that things seem to be going well. There is really nothing in this life that can compare to developing Christ-centered relationships and marrying in the Lord.
Readers of the Beacon Lights are sinner saints living in a fallen world. As such, we constantly encounter philosophies and ideas that are contrary to the truths revealed to us in Scripture. And as saints who have consciously aligned ourselves with a church that confesses historic, Reformed Christianity, we must be aware of these worldviews that inform and influence both religious and secular thought. We must have a firm grasp of the truth that has been revealed to us in the word of God, and we must use this truth to test continually the concepts and thinking that we encounter through the media, our co-workers, and college textbooks and instructors. In this way we will be discerning saints who intentionally and carefully ensure that our thinking is not improperly influenced by un-Scriptural notions.
One worldview that currently enjoys considerable influence within the spheres of both secular and religious thought is that of evolutionism. While the term evolutionism is not used by secular institutions or media outlets, those of us within the ranks of conservative Christianity understand this term to denote a materialistic, naturalistic, secular worldview that teaches that all physical existence and history can be correctly understood in the absence of supernatural or spiritual explanations. This is a worldview that is directly antithetical to our biblical, Reformed worldview. Closely related to evolutionism, and one of the driving forces behind this worldview, is the theory of evolution. There are many ideas and definitions that are contained within the term evolution. Reformed believers can agree with some of these aspects, such as the fact that the genetic information in living creatures can change in their generations as they adapt to their environment, and that these changes in their genetic information can result in changes to their physical appearance (all of this sovereignly controlled by the Creator, of course). There are also aspects contained within the term evolution with which the Reformed believer cannot agree, such as the belief that all life on earth developed from one common ancestor over vast periods of time (more than 3.5 billion years). This aspect of evolution (the earth’s having existed for immense amounts of time) permeates the curricula of most college science courses and is well-known to most individuals, whether they have taken these college courses or not. This notion is not new to our modern society, but has been proposed and accepted within human culture for thousands of years. Further, many Christians have accepted this view of a very old earth by incorporating varying schemes of theistic evolution into their understanding of the creation history in Genesis.
There are several resources that our Father has graciously provided to us, which we may and should use in our efforts to maintain the truth of Scripture as we interact with the various aspects of the theory of evolution. These include the preaching that we receive from week to week, as well as advice from parents, pastors, elders, and fellow saints in our churches. All of these individuals have likely had to interact with the theory of evolution at some point in their lives and so are able to offer valuable insight to us. Other resources that we should not ignore are the Reformers of centuries past, whom God used to re-establish an orthodox understanding of his word, as well as the creeds and confessions that they and their spiritual descendants formulated and that we confess to be accurate reflections of Scriptural truths.
The canon of Scripture was closed and the early church fathers died almost two thousand years before Charles Darwin published On the Origin of Species, the book which unified and popularized evolutionary theory. The Reformers lived and the Reformed confessions were formulated hundreds of years before Charles Darwin’s writings took hold first of academic society, and then society as a whole. Yet Scripture, the early church, the Reformers, and the confessions all have much to say about how and when this world and all that it contains came into existence. This article can be viewed as a resource for Beacon Lights readers who are interested in understanding the stance of Scripture, the creeds, the Reformers, and the Reformed confessions (the historic, Reformed stance!) as they relate to different aspects of the theory of evolution, and specifically the aspect of an earth that is billions of years old.
A note to the reader regarding citations in this article: All citations are freely available via the internet at the websites listed at the end of the article. Take time to read some (or all!) of these citations—it warms the heart to interact with saints of old through their own writings.
Scripture: Scripture is filled with truths that instruct us as to the historical beginnings of the earth and life on earth. Genesis 1 and 2 contain the full historical account of the creation of all things, and the remainder of Genesis contains a multitude of references to the historical events that took place during those six 24-hour days. Scripture explicitly refers to God as the creator of the heavens and earth and all that they contain in over 300 verses from at least 35 books of the Bible1. In some of these books, such as the Psalms and Isaiah, one can hardly read more than a page or two without being stared in the face by a reference to God as the creator. Often these passages of Scripture not only instruct us that God is creator, but command us to recognize and worship him as such (Psalm 8:3, Psalm 95:6, Ecclesiastes 12:1,6, Colossians 1:16, and many others). In addition to the history recorded in Genesis 1 and 2, other passages teach a literal week as the time in which God created all things (for example, Exodus 20:9–11, Exodus 31:15, Exodus 31:17). This witness from Scripture will not allow us to accept the billions of years of evolution that are taught to be necessary for the development life that we observe today. Even a casual perusal of this list of Scriptures leaves us without a doubt that God created the earth and all of the life that it contains. However, it is a valuable exercise indeed to make a serious study of the list cited below.1.
Creeds and Church Fathers: Recognizing these Scriptures and flowing out of them, both the Apostles’ Creed and the Nicene Creed reflect the fact that Christians in the early centuries after Christ’s life on earth were of one mind in their confession of God as the creator of the heaven and the earth.2 The early church fathers agreed with these creeds, and believed in a creation history which occurred less than 6,000 years from the time in which they lived (see Basil,3 Ambrose,4 and Augustine,5 for example).
Reformers of the 16th Century: The doctrine of creation was not a major issue driving the Protestant Reformation of the 1500s. However, the Reformers of this time had a passion for the entire word of God, and therefore did produce a significant amount of literature on this subject, specifically on the historical, literal nature of the creation account in Genesis 1 and 2. The following is a summary of the creation views of two of the most well-known Reformers.
Martin Luther: While Martin Luther never studied evolutionary theory as we know it today, he was familiar with the theories of the origin of life that leading secular philosophers had promoted through the ages. In his commentary on Genesis, Luther discusses the views of Aristotle and Plato, who both maintained an eternal universe. Luther explicitly states that these views cannot be true because Moses instructs us that the world did not exist 6,000 years ago.6 Luther recognized the inadequacy of the human mind to comprehend fully the wonders that God spoke during the creation week, yet he argued that the events recorded in Genesis chapter 1 were “the most important,” and were to be read as a literal, historical account of the origins of the universe that took place during a stretch of six 24-hour days.7
John Calvin: Calvin followed the example of many psalms in that he places considerable emphasis on the wisdom, power, and majesty of our Creator that we can see in the creation around us and how our response to this must be to worship and praise the Creator. Calvin warns those who remove God from the creation by not acknowledging him as creator or giving him due praise when enjoying the creation that they will one day “feel the force of the expression” contained in Acts 14:17, when God says that he has not left himself without witness.8 Like Luther, Calvin was also familiar with the secular theories and philosophies that contradicted a literal reading of Genesis 1 and 2 by promoting long ages of the earth. He calls the view of an immeasurably old earth “folly” and “a common fable among heathens”. He even reprimands a Christian contemporary of his who held this view by calling it “absurd” and a “gross error.”9 Against these errors, Calvin writes that the creation account is “history on which the faith of the Church might lean without seeking any other God than Him whom Moses sets forth as the Creator and Architect of the world”1.0 It is clear that Calvin firmly believed that God created the heavens and the earth in the space of six literal 24-hour days.11,12 Often people who maintain this literal reading of Genesis 1 and 2 are accused of being anti-science. Calvin would have disputed this suggestion. He acknowledged that the science of his day had proved that Saturn was greater in size than the moon, and yet still maintained the truth of Genesis 1:16, which indicates that the sun and the moon are the greatest of the lights in the heavens. He taught that the language of Genesis was written so that “things which without instruction, all ordinary persons, endued with common sense, are able to understand.”13 He went on to say that science is not to be “reprobated” or “condemned”, but that the discipline of science is “not only pleasant, but also very useful to be known” because it “unfolds the admirable wisdom of God.”13
It is undeniably clear that Luther and Calvin, two of the great leaders of the Protestant Reformation, both stood firm on the issue of Genesis 1 and 2 as a historic account of creation. Along with Luther and Calvin, the consensus of other Reformers, such as Theodore Beza, Zacharias Ursinus, and Philipp Melancthon, was a literal interpretation of Genesis. Those men who followed the Reformers took the same stance. The Westminster Divines, who are sometimes said to have left the matter up to each individual’s interpretation, clearly advocated a literal interpretation, as did the other British Puritans of this time. The views of all of these men are compiled in the book, Coming to Grips with Genesis, Biblical Authority and the Age of the Earth.14 This is an excellent resource for identifying what these men believed. It contains many citations of primary literature and is well worth reading for all interested in this topic. These Reformers withstood teachings that were contrary to Genesis, were aware of the perceived difficulties of reading Genesis literally (such as the sun being created after plants), and yet stood unanimously firm in their faith that Genesis 1 and 2 are historic accounts of origins. Thus they should remain a valuable resource for us as we face similar teachings today.
Reformed Confessions: Like the teachings of the men who lead the Protestant Reformation and those who followed them, the confessions of the Reformed churches are full of support for a literal interpretation of Genesis 1 and 2 as real history. The following is a list of references where the Three Forms of Unity clearly use the creation account as real history.15
Belgic Confession: Articles 2, 8, 9, 10, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 23.
Heidelberg Catechism: Questions and Answers 6, 7, 9, 19, 20, 23, 24, 26, 27, 28, 54, 92, 103.
Canons of Dordrecht: Head 1, Articles 1, 7, and Rejection of Errors 5, 8; Head 2, Article 9, and Rejection of Error 5; Heads 3/4, Articles 1, 2, 12, and Rejection of Errors 1, 2.
In addition to these references from the Three Forms of Unity, the Westminster Confession of Faith and the Larger and Shorter Catechisms include numerous references to the creation as recorded in Genesis 1 and 2 as being a literal, historical event. Clearly, the saints who fashioned these beloved documents were taking heed to the warning from Scripture and contained in Article 7 of the Belgic Confession, where we are reminded that it is forbidden “to add unto or take away anything from the Word of God”.
What can we learn from all of these resources? The testimony of Scripture demands the acknowledgement of God as creator of the heavens, the earth, and all that they contain. This can clearly be found throughout the pages of Bible. The word of God also testifies to the length of time in which all things were created, that of six literal days. The early church fathers recognized this, and taught that earth was not yet 6,000 years old during their time on earth. For those of us who would take on the name “Reformed,” we must take heed to the teachings of the Reformers and the Reformed confessions regarding the doctrine of creation. The Reformers were unanimous in their belief that Genesis 1 and 2 record the literal history of the creation of all things, and that this history occurred within the space of six 24-hour days. They clearly teach this in their writings. From these writings we find that they leave no room for incorporating billions of years into schemes of theistic evolution. The beliefs of the Reformers were also clearly maintained by the men who formulated the Reformed Confessions (both the Three Forms of Unity and the Westminster Standards), and these beliefs are reflected in these confessions, which we confess to be accurate expressions of the truths contained in Scripture. Therefore, this stance must also be the confession of all who claim to maintain historic, Reformed Christianity.
- The Confessions and the Church Order of the Protestant Reformed Churches. 2005. Protestant Reformed Churches in America. p. 8-11.
- Basil, Hexameron, in Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers Series II, Volume 8. Phillip Schaff, Henry Wace editors. Hendrickson Publishers, 1994. p. 51-107.
- Ambrose, Hexameron, in Amberose, Hexameron, Paradise and Cain and Abel. Translated by John J. Savage. Fathers of the Church, Inc., 1961. p. 3-283.
- Augustine, City of God, in Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers Series I, Volume 2. Phillip Schaff, editor. Hendrickson Publishers, 1994. p. 232.
- Martin Luther, The Creation: A Commentary on The First Five Chapters of the Book of Genesis. Translated by Henry Cole. T & T Clark, 1858. p. 24.
- Martin Luther, The Creation: A Commentary on The First Five Chapters of the Book of Genesis. Translated by Henry Cole. T & T Clark, 1858. p. 23-26.
- John Calvin, Commentaries on the First Book of Moses Called Genesis. Translated by John King. 1847. Christian Classics Ethereal Library. p. 24-25.
- John Calvin, Commentaries on the First Book of Moses Called Genesis. Translated by John King. 1847. Christian Classics Ethereal Library. p. 34.
- John Calvin, Institutes of The Christian Religion. Translated by Henry Beveridge. WM. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company. 1994. p. 141.
- John Calvin, Commentaries on the First Book of Moses Called Genesis. Translated by John King. 1847. Christian Classics Ethereal Library. p. 40-45.
- John Calvin, Institutes of The Christian Religion. Translated by Henry Beveridge. WM. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company. 1994. p. 142.
- John Calvin, Commentaries on the First Book of Moses Called Genesis. Translated by John King. 1847. Christian Classics Ethereal Library. p. 47.
- James R. Mook, David W. Hall, in Coming to Grips with Genesis, Biblical Authority and the Age of the Earth. Terry Mortenson and Thane H. Ury, Editors. Master Books, 2008. p. 23-78.
- The Confessions and the Church Order of the Protestant Reformed Churches. 2005. Protestant Reformed Churches in America.
Websites for references
References 2, 15: http://www.prca.org/PRC_Confessions_and_Church_Order.pdf
Reference 3: http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/npnf208.pdf
Reference 4: http://ia600301.us.archive.org/11/items/fathersofthechur027571mbp/fathersofthechur027571mbp.pdf
Reference 5: http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/npnf102.pdf
References 6, 7: http://ia600301.us.archive.org/11/items/creationcommenta00luth/creationcommenta00luth.pdf
References 8, 9, 11, 13: http://www.ccel.org/ccel/calvin/calcom01.pdf
References 10, 12: http://www.ccel.org/ccel/calvin/institutes.pdf
Reference 14: http://books.google.com/books?id=VvvJPTvvDJcC
One of the most important issues in every believer’s life, one of the indicators that point to the final resting place of his soul, is the issue of what kind of music he listens to. Is he glorifying God or the devil by what he listens to? Rock music should not even be an option for any Christian because of the physically weakening and soul deadening effects it has on all of its listeners.
Rock music is a broad topic, and there are many types of rock music. But whether you listen to country, acid, punk, or heavy metal you are listening to music that is classified as rock.
Most, if not all, people who listen to rock music would say that you are crazy if you told them that rock had degrading effects on your actual physical body. However, there are some very serious effects that rock music has on the body that many people never consider. Some of these adverse effects on the body come from the noise of rock music. The limit for human ears is ninety decibels of sound, yet the average rock concert is 115 to 125 decibels (Elshout 268). You can imagine, that it has been reported that some people can not hear properly for three days after attending a rock concert. This loud noise at rock concerts is also known to cause hostility, fatigue, indigestion, high blood pressure, and hypertension (Elshout 267).
Another adverse effect of rock music on the body is caused by the bass tones and beat of the music. These bass tones and beat cause the adrenaline and the sex glands to over secrete. Consequently this is why people “head bang,” mosh, and destroy concert arenas, and feelings of lust and sensuality overcome them (Godwin 11).
Furthermore, the body has to re-balance the hormones that have been acted upon. The body draws blood sugar from the brain to re-balance everything, because of this, the brain cannot feed itself and you can lose your self control (Godwin 11).
Dr. John Diamond, a well known Australian physician, has shown another undesirable effect of rock music on its listener’s bodies. Using hundreds of people, he would have them extend their arms and then he would push it down, usually using 40 to 45 pounds of pressure to push the arm down. He would then either tap out the basic rock beat or have the person listen to rock music, when they were listening to the music or beat only 10 to 15 pounds of pressure would be needed to push the arm down. When the music or beat stopped 40 to 45 pounds of pressure would again be needed to push the arm down. More than 90% of people that he tested showed these results (Elshout 267, 268 Godwin 12).
Yet another physical effect of rock music is that of violence. Many of the heavy metal rock groups shout out messages of violence in the lyrics of their songs and perform gruesome acts of violence on stage. Many rock videos are rated extremely violent, and in a study by the American Academy of Pediatrics it was found that 56% of all music videos contained violence (Holmberg 28).
One example of violence in a video being acted out in real life is that of one video produced by a rock group Twisted Sister. In their video, a boy rebels against his father and throws him out the window. A young man in New Mexico murdered his father in a similar way, the murder being reported to have been inspired by Twisted Sister (Bender 124).
Another example of listeners following their star’s examples is when a teenager committed suicide while listening to Ozzy Osbourn’s song, “Suicide Solution” (Lawhead 17).
Accordingly, Dr. David Guttman, a professor of Psychiatry at Northwestern University says, “Rock has so often been involved in these things (violence, teen suicides) many of us in Psychiatry have had to take it more seriously” (Bender 124).
Another obvious and harmful effect of rock music on the body is drugs. It is obvious to see that drugs are an important part in rock music and its followers’ lives by all the songs that are written about drugs and by looking at how many rock stars and their fans are hooked on drugs.
Cris Willman of Entertainment Weekly reports that there has been a steady rise in drug related deaths and near deaths occurring in the rock world (6). When Steven Tyler of Aerosmith was asked if drugs were still a part of the music scene he replied that yes, there were, and eight out of ten rock musicians were using drugs and that “it goes with the territory” (Holmberg 32).
Just a short list of popular musicians recently dying from drug related deaths is: Kurt Cobain (Nirvana), Kristen Pfoff (Hole), Jerry Garcia (Greatful Dead), Shannon Hoon (Blind Mellon), Brad Nowell (Sublime) (William 7).
On another level, rock music also definitely influences the mind. Music has been called the language of man’s emotion: Plato saw this as he stated in three points that 1) Music could strengthen a person, 2) Cause him to lose his mental balance, 3) Cause him to lose his normal will power so that he cannot control his acts. Whether a person is affected positively or negatively depends on what types of music the person listens to (Elshout 266).
Kerry Livgen, a rock performer, admits that people do take what he and other musicians write seriously; many people worship rock bands and the music is the standards by how they live. He also admits that after a while not even the band can control their fans anymore (Bender 124).
One of the rotting effects of rock music on the mind is the lust that all rock music promotes. The way that many rock stars and their fans dress promotes sexual desires, there are also many acts performed on stage by rock musicians that resemble sexual activities. Messages of no remorse or guilt of sex before marriage and free sexual activities are brought forth in the lyrics of many rock songs (Holmberg Video).
Some examples and feelings of rock stars who wish to show sexual messages and feelings in their music are Tina Turner, whose image is that of heavy breathing and sexual lusts, and Madonna whose whole lifestyle is a gross violation of all sexual activities (Godwin 88, 99).
Another sinful effect of rock music on the mind is rebellion. Rebellion is the core of rock music, all the “great” rockers from Elvis to today’s popular rock bands have been a symbol of rebellion (Godwin 24-25).
The lyrics in almost all rock music is to tell listeners to rebel against authority. The spirit of these songs is to defy everyone else and listen and obey yourself alone (Holmberg Video).
Dr. Paul King, professor at University of Tennessee comments on this point. He says that the message of heavy metal music is that there is a higher power in control of this world, and that power is Satan (Holmberg 2930). This message is clear rebellion against God and his power over all.
Tying all of these things together, there is one thing in particular that we should be aware of, that is the effect of this music on children. Dr. L. D. Tashjan says that seven to eight-year-olds who listen to the lyrics of rock music condoning sex, bestiality, and bondage at their impressionable age can seriously warp their minds (Holmberg 28). Following this idea, Dr. Joseph Novella, psychiatrist and director of a drug treatment center in Washington D. C. reports that youngsters who are inclined to drug abuse mainly listen to heavy metal and Satanic music (Bender 124).
There is a whole different type of effect that rock music can have on people, and this is far more important and deadly. It is the spiritual effects of rock music. It is evident that music can have effects on your spiritual life. In the time of Jeremiah the prophet, the Jewish race offered their children alive to their gods while pounding on drums and playing wildly on all kinds of musical instruments (Godwin 9).
It is also clear that rock musicians want to have a spiritual effect on their listeners. In the words of Jimi Hendrix, “We’re making our music into electric church— a new kind of Bible…a Bible you carry in your hearts, one that will give you a physical feeling…. We want them to realize that our music is just as spiritual as going to church” (Godwin 17).
This is obviously not a good kind of spiritual music that Hendrix is talking about, and all through Christians can see that Satan is working in his heart.
This Satan and his religion, Satanism, is at the root of rock ‘n roll in two ways: 1) Rebellion against God and worship of Satan himself. 2) Mock Jesus and the cross and desecrate all things that stand for Christianity (Holmberg video). I have shown before the rebellious spirit of rock ‘n roll and how it evidences itself in the lyrics and lifestyles of its fans. The heavy metal bands come out clearly in their utter hate for all Christianity, especially the cross. Thousands of CD covers, posters and lyrics for songs show the hatred of the cross as they turn it upside down, burn it, break it and mock it. (Holmberg Video).
They show their dedication to Satan and hatred to God in their songs, their performances, and their lifestyles, many things so bad that I don’t dare write them down. One Slayer fan stated, “I hate your God, Jesus Christ; Satan is my Lord. I sacrifice animals to him. My God is Slayer, It’s the words of their music I believe in” (Holmberg video). That in itself is evidence of Satanism in rock music. More proof is a popular musician, Ozzy Osbourn. Some of his songs are titled, “Satan is Lord” and “I love you Devil” (Bender 124). Ozzy says that these titles are just a marketing plan, but who could write songs like that without Satan in his heart?
Heavy metal bands are not the only one to show signs of Satanism in their music. For example Jane’s Addiction has the cover of an album mocking the Trinity with a one man two women group sex situation. One of their songs tells of Jesus lying with his Marys (Holmberg 18).
Also in the realm of spirituality, the music itself comes from evil spiritual activities. The rhythms of rock do the same thing to you as the drumming of Sateria and voodoo, says David Byrne of Rolling Stones (Holmberg 43). We see this to be true in one stunning example. An American missionary took his family to Africa. While they were there his teenage kids played some of their rock music on the radio. Natives came running over to the missionary when they heard this and asked him why he allowed his kids to play voodoo music to call up demons during rituals (Godwin 17).
There is also a Greek god named Pan who has the horns, legs, and ears of a goat and the body of a human. An occultist describes Pan as a principality of Satan appearing at witch coven meetings (Godwin 2-3). Many bands—not always hard rock bands—have Pan as a main theme in their music showing the relationship between rock and the occult. One of the founding members of the Rolling Stones, Brian Jones, went to Morocco, Africa to attend an occult festival dedicated to Pan. Drugs and music were used to summon up demons being worshipped. When Jones came back he had the festival recorded and released on an album called “Brian Jones Presents the Pipes of Pan” (Godwin 3).
Looking at all the evil effects of rock music and the seriousness of the sins against God in rock music you would think that God would have something to say to us about it in His Word. There are many passages in the scripture that warn us about the evils of rock music. We should look at the passages and take heed to them.
Matthew 15: 18 – 19 warns us that all that comes out of our mouths (Talking or singing) is what is really in our hearts as we read, “But these things which precede out of the mouth come from the heart, and they defile a man. For out of the heart proceeds evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witnesses, blasphemies.” This passage states all the basic parts that make up rock ‘n roll and tells us that they are evil.
I Timothy 2:16 follows this by warning us to “Shun profane and vain babbling: for they will increase unto more ungodliness.”
Furthermore we are also warned in the Bible about lust, which rock music so openly promotes. Proverbs 6:32 warns, “But whoso committeth adultery with a women lacketh understanding; he that doeth it destroyeth his own soul.” In the New Testament Jesus tells us that whoever looketh on a woman to lust after her committeth adultery, so you can be assured that the Devil is using rock music to get us to lust and therefore to destroy our own souls.
The Bible also warns us about the rebellious attitude in rock music. Isaiah tells us that Satan was thrown out of Heaven for rebellion against God (14:12-20), and now he is using rock music to get us to rebel. Accordingly, the Bible warns us against rebellion as Jeremiah tells that those who rebel against the Lord will be cast off the face of the earth (28:16).
The word of God also gives a reason why many rock groups mock Christianity and the cross. I Corinthians 1:18 says, “For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness.” This explains why they mock the cross—to the reprobate who will perish, the cross is foolish.
Finally I Timothy 4:1 says, “Sons shall depart from the faith giving heed to doctrines of the devils.” This warns us that if we continue to listen to the doctrines of the devils in rock music without repenting we will depart from the faith and perish.
Now knowing that there is a great danger in listening to rock music, we should make sure that we and our children and young people especially, don’t listen to it. The first thing that we have to do is look at ourselves. We have to make sure that we are not listening to any type of rock music ourselves. After we do that then we can look at others.
The next thing that we should do (as parents) is to find out if there is a problem of the children listening to rock music. We have to check the stations that their radios are on, look at their CD’s and tapes. We can’t just assume that they are good kids who would never be drawn to rock music. Ephesians 6:4 give the parents the right to look through their kids belongings. It says there that the parents have to nurture children in the admonition of the Lord.
We also have to pray for guidance not to listen to rock music. Prayer is the key in the battle against rock music. Both Ephesians 6:12 and II Corinthians 10:3-6 tell us that all the battles that we fight are spiritual, and we cannot battle in the flesh but we have to battle through prayer.
Another step that we should take in prevention of rock music is to have a heart to heart talk with children about rock music. We can also do this in Sunday School or in Young People’s meetings. We should educate our young people about the evils of rock music and the consequences of it.
Finally, if our children do not listen to our warnings, we have to set punishments for them. We have to make sure that they know that it is a serious offense against God to listen to rock music, and that it has soul damming effects.
Looking at all this, we see all the serious and dangerous effects that rock music has on people physically and spiritually. I pray that all Christians take this to heart and seriously reconsider what they are doing if they have fallen into the sin of listening to rock music. Matthew 3 says that every tree that does not bring forth good fruit is thrown into the fire, let us not bring forth evil fruit and be thrown into everlasting fire by listening to rock music.
Bender, David and Leone. The Mass Media Opposing Viewpoints. Greenhaven Press, St. Paul MN, 1988.
Elshout, B. “Rock Music: Innocent Entertainment of Deadly Poison?” The Banner of Sovereign Grace Truth December 1995: 266-268.
Godwin, Jeff. Dancing with Demons 1988.
Holmberg, Eric. Hells Bells Reel to Real Ministries.
Holmberg, Eric. (Video) Hells Bells Reel to Real Ministries.
Lawhead, Steve. Rock of This Age. InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, IL, 1987
Willman, Cris. “Rock Jund Bond.” Entertainment Weekly 14 June 1996: 6-7.
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