The congregation of which I am a member and serve as an one of the evangelists is located in the 'hood. And when anyone brings up the 'hood, certain images and anecdotes come to mind. One of those lingering occurrences is the number of vehicles tricked out with the usual 'hood-based, after-market additions. One of these accoutrements has been a staple for decades: the loudly-amplified car stereo system. Before you draw any conclusions, this post is not about what you think it's about. My take is not about whether a person should or shouldn't have an Alpine or Kenwood hooked up to a plywood box full of 12s and a subwoofer in the trunk. This runs far deeper. Walk with me for a minute...
Our congregation recently put on a community outreach effort at our worship facility (read: church building). Our location is next door to a 10-minute lube shop where many in the community come to get the oil changed in their cars. On this day, a young African-American male pulled up to the lube shop entrance and proceeded to wait in line inside his car with the window down. His sound system was on and the volume was turned up so loud and rattling the car so hard that I'm sure the trunk hatch hinges were ready to file a noise complaint just to get some relief. But my issue was not with volume, but content.
This cat was playing some "hot" trap music, complete with the vulgarities, misogyny, alcoholic preferences, and flaunting associated with it. It was bad enough by itself...but the fact that there wasn't even an attempt by him to turn down the music at a place of business...next door to a church holding an outdoor event attended by adults and small children....is greatly disturbing.
I need to stay in my lane on this post because the issue is much larger than I'm making it. I can definitely go there and criticize with some valid righteous indignation the regression of contemporary music...and I'm not speaking only of hip hop...with all kinds of expletives, references to sexual and substance (ab)use, lavish living funded by criminal means, and harkenings to and advertising for a hedonistic culture that basically renders God to the back page of their propaganda. The Lord MIGHT gets His - if He is "lucky" - and not before and as much as they get theirs. And God "getting His" is basically like Lazarus at the rich man's table. Sort of like, "Just waking up in the morning/gotta thank God"...and, just like the song, that's as far as it goes.
My point is about how clueless many people are, who are just like this young Black male, of how this music culture affects young minds in terms of shaping ideas of morality, decency, and common sense. And what they are not aware of is that they have become a threat to even younger lives, planting seeds in their minds before they ever have a chance to understand the principle of guarding their hearts with all diligence. Little do these "adults" know is that they are basically blind, deaf, and ignorant peddlers of unrighteousness...caught up in a viscous, vicious-cycle game of "The Whatevers" (or something more life-threatening) when someone challenges them to change or at least consider the effects their peddling has on the next generation. But I'm pretty sure that these people might be the same ones that "cuss" in front of their own children, and, to make matters worse, "cuss" at them. The commercial musical atmosphere today in my humble opinion has contributed handily to this behavior that potentially sets back future generations, throwing them off the scent of holiness.
So what has to happen now is that we have to guard the children. Guard is not equivalent to shelter. We can't afford to shelter them because to do so would leave them susceptible to being blindsided by social change agents. Sheltering is a futile operation...it could only dream to have the proverbial shelf life of a Twinkie. So we must guard, educate, and model what they need to live a modicum of a successful life that has every opportunity to truly connect with God. We need to guard them against premature exposure to sin yet expose them to the necessary realities of life to help them to eventually guard themselves. Show them where the fence is, teach them to respect its boundaries, inform them of the dangers lurking on the other side of the fence, and learn how to effectively tune out the calls from the other side to "just try it one time."
I believe that cultural anthropology has its place terms of a healthy model of contemporary Christianity. It has been said that the truly wise preacher has the Bible in one hand and the newspaper in the other. If that be the case, and the preacher is the herald, kerux, and mouthpiece for the church and its environs, then we would be well served to raise our children with that approach. It is clearly time for our children to be aware of how people in general respond and react to internal, external, and (most importantly) supernatural stimuli within and absent a Christocentric worldview. It would help to equip them to have a level of wisdom, discernment, and common sense/street-smarts that can easily translate from the Word to the world and vice versa. In other words, we are talking about actively and effectively incorporating Matthew 10.16 to our parenting, guardianship, and mentoring.
If Christ-like adults raising a new generation can do all of the above consistently or even on a periodic basis, brothas slappin' the likes of Fetty Wap and Rich Homie Quan in their whips, scrapers, buckets, or high-end vehicles around children would be one of the least of our concerns.