The landscape of contemporary Christian music has changed drastically in the last decade. The newest contender in this every growing genre is Christian hip-hop.
Some have questioned whether or not hip-hop is an acceptable form of Christian music. Can it really be called Christian with such a bad reputation? After all, isn’t hip-hop connected with drugs, illicit sex and deviant behavior?
The real issue here isn’t whether or not hip-hop has gotten a bad name. The fact is a name isn’t always the most telling sign of character. The real question is whether or not hip-hop can make the jump to the Christian realm.
The Arguments Inspected
The Bible has much to say about music. In fact, Psalms, the largest book of the Bible, is a kind of “ancient hymnbook” so to speak. There’s no doubt God has a love for music, but does hip-hop qualify as biblical music?
Some say no. They cite bad reputation, strong beat and cultural associations as reasons for this view. The true test, however, is what the Bible says about hip-hop.
Do a quick search for the word “hip-hop” and you find nothing. No shocker there. The fact is the Bible says nothing to condemn any kind of music genre. Many arguments against hip-hop involve vague ideas and generalizations that really say nothing.
The Difficulty of Definition
The fact is when any Christian tries to step outside the bounds of specific biblical principles, there’s always the chance that he will see what he wants. The only boundaries are his imagination. This opens biblical texts up to all kinds of fanciful interpretations that ignore concrete concepts.
Unfortunately, hip-hop has fallen to such thinking. The Bible doesn’t say anything specific regarding musical genre. Therefore, how can anyone honestly say any specific kind of music should or shouldn’t be defined as Christian?
The simple answer is they can’t, not without citing vague blanket principles that could be interpreted a plethora of ways. The overriding question then becomes whether or not hip-hop fits into a biblical framework that cannot be manipulated by subjective interpretations.
The Final Answer
The Apostle Paul gives us a small glimpse into the answer in I Corinthians 10:31: ” Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” 1 Paul makes it clear that even the simplest actions can result in God’s glory. Could this not also include singing?
For sake of argument, let’s say hip-hop’s reputation has made it unsuitable for worshiping God. Is God not bigger than a bad reputation?
Paul says this in Colossians 1:19-20 : ” For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell, and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross.” 2
On the cross Jesus truly reconciled every part of creation to Himself. If this is true then music of all kinds must be included. God is in the business of redeeming everything. Surely He can redeem hip-hop so that it brings glory to Him .
1 The New King James Version. (1982). (1 Co 10:31). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.
2 Ibid., (Col 1:19-20).