Reformed rap, or holy hip-hop, has taken the Christian culture by storm, and with it, comes many mixed feelings. Some feel like rap represents a lifestyle of sin and debauchery, but some see Christian rap as another medium to reach the lost. Which is it? Scripture isn't even clear-cut on this issue! Here are some thoughts as you explore this question.
- We are commanded to "sing a new song" to the Lord several times. God is interested in creativity! And certainly, singing rap to and about God is a "new song." Psalm 149:1 says, "Praise the Lord! Sing to the Lord a new song, his praise in the assembly of the godly!" (Psalm 33:3, Psalm 40:3, Psalm 144:9, Isaiah 42:10)
- Admittedly, there are people who don't like rap. They just don't enjoy listening to rap. That's okay! But just because you don't enjoy or like rap doesn't mean it's wrong.
- Someone who has been redeemed from a lifestyle of sin and debauchery associated with secular rap may have trouble listening to reformed rap without the constant reminder of their former choices. So, for that person, rap is something they need to avoid. You could look at it this way: a former alcoholic who has been saved may not be able to just have a drink every now and then. It's a reminder of their former lifestyle and is a temptation to pull them back into their captivity to alcohol. But that doesn't mean that alcohol is sinful for every person! We all must recognize our weaknesses, and if that means avoiding something that isn't inherently sinful in and of itself, then we must make that choice. Quoting from Romans 13:2-4: "One person believes he may eat anything, while the weak person eats only vegetables. Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains, and let not the one who abstains pass judgement on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him. Who are you to pass judgement on the servant of another? IT is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand." And later: "So then each of us will give an account of himself to God." (verse 12) So, rap may be wrong for someone just like Facebook, Oreos, exercise, texting and Starbucks.
- God made everything good. This includes music. Genesis 1:31: "And God saw everything that He had made, and behold, it was very good." Man has corrupted what God has made. We can change our culture by redeeming all genres of music: rap, metal, electronic and rock included!
- God gave us the ability to use our hands to create art: we can use that ability in a God-glorifying way to paint a beautiful scene or to draw an obscene picture. He gave us our sexuality: we can abuse His gift outside of the beauty of marriage and shatter it, or we can exercise His gift within the protection of His plan in marriage. God gave us music: we can use it to glorify Him or to glorify lifestyles and choices that are directly in contradiction of His ways. It is the same with rap. We can use it to bring glory and honour to God and His name, what He has done through His Son and what He is continuing to do in and through His children. Or we can draw attention to ourselves, carry a message that exalts sex, drugs, abuse of women, violence and sinful lifestyles and throw dirt in the face of God.
Check out some rap songs and listen to the theology-rich lyrics.
Reformed Rap Elsewhere