The ProblemRap music emerging from the culture we know as Hip-Hop is almost 30 years old. After all this time, the church at large still has not raised a voice to effectively answer the questions raised by this culture. Some churches are considered “too worldly” when they embrace the styles and artists that are celebrated by rap fans. Other churches are labeled as “judgmental” for pointing out negative effects and non-Christian themes in the music or videos. Then there are the congregations that would like to ignore and dismiss the subject matter in rap lyrics as strictly an inner-city problem. In the spirit of Cain, they ask, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” to their own dismay (see Genesis 4:9 – context Genesis 4:1-10).
Yet, there is a bigger problem than the question of how to deal with the growing influence of rap music. Millions of clergy, religious youth workers, and parents have been speaking out against the negative influences of Hip-Hop culture on youth. And yet, the kids who sit in church, synagogue, or mosque and continue to love the very art form that is condemned by their elders. Many, if not most of these youth are otherwise well-behaved young people who will never come close to the lifestyle that seems to be glorified in the music they’re addicted to.
Why do they do it? Is it a form of rebellion against authority? Is it simply that the kids don’t know or can’t see right from wrong anymore in a world that declares, “it’s all relative”? Maybe it’s just the power of corporate America squeezing the juice out of the artists and making it so attractive that everyone wants to drink the Koolaid. Or maybe it’s just Satan trying to destroy the youth with temptations of uncontrolled lust, over-the-top anger, and a general “anything goes” attitude?
As a Christian, I can see some truth in each of those answers. But what I see even more- even in myself- is the tendency to shift the blame to all the above. In my view, while all the factors mentioned in the earlier paragraph carry some weight as answers, there is a more devastating and more accurate reason. In simple terms, the Christian community has failed to communicate God’s truth in the Gospel and the Scriptures in such a way that it’s relatable to everyday life. Because I believe this to be the case, I also believe that Christians everywhere need to consider this fault before trying to correct the others.
But like I said, this is much larger than simply the question of rap lyrics and the images in rap videos. Rap isn’t the only thing being preached against in churches and it’s certainly not the only potentially negative influence on society’s youth. But if there was a way to point others to the reality of God and the relevance of His word for today, shouldn’t we all support that? The best thing that Christians can do is to show how practical the faith we profess is. This is done best when we live by God’s law and demonstrate God’s love. When we do this, we will be on the road to defeating The Problem.
What's The Answer?