Call-In Classic Christianity Radio – Bob George P661 (08-13-21)
Addressing Music Style, Modesty and Behavior in the Church
Common questions asked in the church are about proper behavior, music styles and modesty in the church assembly (see 1 Corinthians 6 in regard to lawsuits among believers or sexual immorality and 1 Corinthians 11:17-34 in regard to the abuse of the Lord’s Supper). A youth pastor might wonder about how to address those under his care on matters of dress code. At times, this can be a legalistic problem, and best left to the mother of her daughter to address, as addressed in a previous call-in program, in regard to skirts below the knee. As another example, a camp director was overbearing on such a matter, and forbade different sexes to be swimming together. As Bob had remarked to the camp director, that it is okay for he and his wife to sleep together in the privacy of their home but not to be swimming together in decency and modesty in a public place. As another example of legalistic behavior, that could be insisting that your church only serves the Lord’s Supper with real wine. In such a case, a pastor would be wise to serve grape juice instead, because he is making his decision based on love, to not cause a stumbling block to a person who is addicted to wine, such as an alcoholic (refer to 1 Corinthians 8:1-13 in regards to Love being your guide).
1 Timothy 2:8-10
8 Therefore I want the men everywhere to pray, lifting up holy hands without anger or disputing. 9 I also want the women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, adorning themselves, not with elaborate hairstyles or gold or pearls or expensive clothes, 10 but with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God.
In the context of the church assembly, it is the role of the pastor to address issues where it can truly become a problem, where the clothing is clearly indecent, or behavior is clearly out of line, as in the apostle Paul addressing the Corinthians obvious problems with sexual immorality and the abuse of the Lord’s Supper (1 Corinthians 6). In the case of the early church in Corinth, you have recent converts and immature believers who came out of a culture steep in immorality and idolatry. Such issues need to be addressed to help believers grow in truth, for truth is what sets you free to serve the living God.
There is proper behavior and clothing to wear, as appropriate for a place where people are to be representing the Lord Jesus Christ. In regard to modesty, a general principle is that a woman should ask herself if what she is wearing is drawing undo attention to herself, such as her body and its features, that would distract a person seeing her as a godly woman, where the focus should be on Christ, on those internal qualities that God is producing in and through her. Another question to ask is what I am wearing or doing causing a stumbling block to another believer. Recall the instruction in 1 Corinthians 8 that the apostle Paul gave to the body of Christ to help those believers who were accustomed to sacrificing meat to idols. The same principle applies in regard to modesty, where you choose to limit your freedom for the sake of another believer. In those gray or disputable matters, even though you may have the right to do something, you limit your freedom out of love for a fellow believer.
As an example of observation rather than judging, you observe a person walking into your church and then see him turning around and leaving because the church service looks like a rock concert. In such matters, you are observing improper behavior in the context of a church assembly, that is supposed to be about teaching, prayer and fellowship, learning truth so as to grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. Christian rap music, for example, is likened to Christian whiskey, and that would not be appropriate for a church gathering. That is observing, not judging, and making decisions based on love and edification for the body of Christ. You are observing a person wearing a baseball cap backwards, a girl’s shirt down to the navel or a boy’s pants hanging down below his buttocks. Such matters are to be addressed by the leadership of the church, and if it is a prevalent problem not already addressed, members of the body of Christ are to bring the matter up to the leadership to address, for the leadership to resolve the matter.
Many times in today’s modern church, the reason you even have these issues in the first place is because the church has lost its focus on Christ and with Christ being the head of the church. The leadership is more concerned about nickels and noses and is into a seeker friendly model for church growth. So the church is no longer about listening to true biblical teaching, prayer and fellowship (Acts 2:42) but about making the place of assembly attractive to the lost to come in. So what does the church become? An entertainment center with gymnasiums or pool tables or coffee shops or a concert-like atmosphere with music catered to a lost world with rap and rock music and strobe lights. So the church looks no different than the world. And before long, you have an assembly that does not even resemble a place where true believers gather but rather a place made up of mostly non-believers, and with non-believers not even hearing the gospel message.
So, as a true believer in Christ, a member of the true body of Christ, and you observe such a thing, you are to bring the matter up to the leadership of the church assembly to correct. If they are not willing to listen and make corrections, then leave that place, for that place will not be a place where you will receive teaching to grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ nor a place of fellowship with other believers, for what is in common between people of the dark and people of the light?
As far as music in the church, the issue of rock music and rap has to do with answering the question if that music is really reaching the heart of a person, as to internal attitudes of Christ Jesus living in you, in regards to knowing God in all truth, or appealing to fleshly emotions. I would say that kind of music, if it has any meaningful words that can be heard or understood at all, or has truth at all, it is just a bunch of noise. There is really no place for rock and roll and rap in a church assembly of believers.
1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God – this is your true and proper worship. 2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.
Again, what is worship according to scripture in Romans 12? Is it not making your body available to the Spirit of God living in you to live His life in and through you? Is that not your true and proper worship? Worship is what you do every day of the week among people in the world and not what you do one hour a week in what people call a worship service. Jesus said that His people worship Him in Spirit and in truth. Those are the worshippers that He seeks. (John 4:23-24)
Order from our online store: Bible Studies, Books, Witnessing Tracts, Audio Cds, DVDs and More.
Purchase and download Bible Studies, the Closer Look Series & more.