Crumbling Maidens

One of the first things a lot of Christians will ask about questionable content or activities is, "Does it glorify God?" As I discussed in my last post, this is problematic in that it does injustice to both God and his glory. But the rhetoric doesn't end there.

A good friend pointed out that many Christians are concerned about whether or not their activities are edifying. And that's a valid point. As much as I refuse to say that any heavy metal is innately evil, that doesn't necessarily mean that it's beneficial to one's relationship with Jesus. After all, this should be a goal of ours, right? That we engage only in things that prosper our spiritual life. I might agree with that if the people saying it understood what edification meant.
All things are lawful, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful, but not all things edify. 1 Corinthians 10:23
photo credit: roger g1 via photopin cc
Enter the oft-quoted verse on the subject. And like most "quoted" verses, notice the lack of context surrounding it. Seriously, most Christians are about as biblically literate as Americans are good at math. To understand this verse, we need to travel TWO CHAPTERS backwards! Gotta love those arbitrary chapter and verse divisions on which so many people rely.

Beginning in chapter 8, we find a discussion about eating meat that was sacrificed to idols (a common ancient practice). In fact, it was a huge stumbling block for the early church as non-Jewish Christians attempted to integrate with Jewish gatherings (see Acts 15). And right away in this passage, Paul draws a distinction between the knowledge that idols are nothing (i.e. my last post), and the love that edifies (v 1). Yes, we know better; but some people don't. And we need to look out for their benefit. It's the "weaker brother" principle that Paul develops more fully in Romans 14.
So then we pursue the things which make for peace and the building up of one another. Do not tear down the work of God for the sake of food. All things indeed are clean, but they are evil for the man who eats and gives offense (vv 19-20).
Note the important phrase there: "the building up of one another." Neither this passage nor the one in 1 Corinthians is talking about edification as it relates to personal holiness. It's talking about interpersonal relationships within the church.

Would listening to Carcass around my grandmother offend her? Of course it would! She has no context for this style of music and, consequently, no appreciation of it. Why would I subject her conscience to the whims of the media's sensationalism and hyperbole? Even popular culture has yet to accept heavy metal as valuable or even credible. So, I can't expect her to understand something that culture, as a whole, has rejected.

This is love. And this is how we pursue the things that are edifying. Because according to those passages, it has nothing to do with personal holiness. And personally, I find heavy metal very Eddie-fying.


  1. Alex, I know you just said you don't like "Christian" music, but but but but, have you heard Project 86? You probably have but...

    1. I used to listen to them many, many years ago. "Drawing Black Lines" was one of my favorite records growing up. Can't really listen to them anymore. But as far as Christian metal goes, I'd still say Extol's "Undeceived" stacks up very well against most secular metal. It's just so hard to top Opeth's "Blackwater Park."


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