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Rock Music is Evil and Will Land You in Hell

bob gray jacksonville florida preaching against elvis
Baptist pastor Bob Gray preaching against Elvis, 1956. Gray would later be accused of decades-long sexual misconduct. Gray was a serial pedophile. He died before his trial.

Rock music has always been a problem for Evangelicals. Rock music is generally considered worldly, sinful, and Satanic, and parents are told to keep their children away from its influences. Rock music is considered a gateway to a world filled with illicit sex, drugs, and Satanism. Several years ago, a homeschooling mom by the name of Leslie published an article on her blog titled, The Truth About Rock Music. Here is some of what Leslie had to say:

Rock music has always had a satanic influence. It does not really take all that much research to figure that out. Just google the Beatles and Hinduism and you will see it almost immediately. They were very open about their Hindu activity and even secular websites confirm this. But, as wild as the 60s were, the society wasn’t quite ready for outright false religion and songs promoting open sex and drug use and so many of their song lyrics had double meanings and hidden agendas.

Of course, all the changes in the last 50 years have made hidden agendas and double meanings unnecessary. This has happened through a very systematic hardening of our consciences. And so evil and ungodly lyrics have been eagerly accepted by a fan base that doesn’t pay any attention at all to what they are filling their brains with.

….

I then moved on to the artists themselves. Who were these people that were coming into our homes and cars on a regular basis through their music?

With the 80s influences of Madonna and Micheal (sic) Jackson– who were perhaps some of the first openly satanic artists to be played on the radio– the way was paved for many more to come. Recent rock stars such as Beyonce, Kesha, Katy Perry, Lady Gaga, Jay Z, Eminem, and Nicky (sic) Manaj (sic) (just to name a few), have filled the American culture with an abundance of ungodly, crude, and sexual lyrics and, even worse, very graphic music videos. This, of course, I suspected before I started doing my research. What rather stunned me however was the plethora of satanic symbols and images. As I studied, I found that many of these artists claim to have sold their soul to the devil or to be possessed by demons. This was by their own admission, recorded on video or found in reputable sources.

….

I write it here because I think most of us are absolutely clueless regarding the danger this music presents to our spiritual health. We just allow this music to play in our homes and in our cars and in the ears of our kids–never giving it a second thought. The tunes are catchy and for some reason that seems to be all we need for it to get our seal of approval.

….

But fast forward my life to just a few weeks ago when I found myself up to my eyeballs in the lewd depravity of the rock music industry. I just can’t even begin to describe how awful it all is. And maybe worst of all–how precious and beautiful young girls and boys, many of them Disney stars as youngsters, are morphed into larger-than-life rock musicians that promote everything God abhors and how so many of their fans–usually tweens and teens– just follow them down into the dark pit.

….

If this music is something that beckons you or someone you love, may I encourage you to do your own research? I think you will be more than a little alarmed and shocked at what you will find out. And may we pray for deliverance of ourselves and our families from the evil influence of this demonic music.

Leslie seems shocked to find out that rock music is filled with references to sex, drugs, and darkness. These elements have always been central themes of rock music. Leslie goes on to say that rock music is Satanic and many musicians have sold their souls to the Devil or are possessed by demons. For people such as Leslie, such things are frightening. However, if there is no Devil or demons, then the only thing that matters is the lyrics. While I agree with Leslie about the lyrical content of many rock songs, I think she greatly exaggerates the effect these lyrics have on people. While it is certainly appropriate to regulate what younger children see and hear, by the time children reach their teenage years they should be able to handle the lyrics Leslie finds so objectionable.

Those of us raised in the Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) church movement vividly remember sermons about the evils of rock music. Sermons on sex, drugs, and rock and roll were common. Many IFB preachers would recite lyrics from popular songs, showing, in their minds, anyway, the Satanic origin of rock music. Some preachers would warn parishioners of the dangers of the mesmerizing “jungle beat” in rock music. Laden with subtle racist overtones, these preachers told teenagers and parents that rock music had a hypnotizing effect. Once under its influence, people would do horrible, vile things.

bob larson rock music

In the 1960s and 1970s, men such as Bob Larson traveled the country giving seminars on the evils of rock music. Larson purportedly had been a rock musician. He wrote several books about the evils of rock music: Rock and Roll: The Devil’s Diversion, Hippies, Hindus, and Rock & Roll, The Day the Music Died, Larson’s Book of Rock. In his 1972 book, The Day the Music Died, Larson had this to say about rock music and its effect on listeners:

The basic rock rhythm is syncopation. …. this explains the erotic body movements of dancers to the accompaniment of the syncopated or pulsating rock beat. (page 15)

The origin of this Negro influence was, of course Africa.. These innovations were connected with heathen tribal and voodoo rites. The native dances to incessant, pulsating, syncopated rhythms until he enters a state of hypnotic monotony and loses active control over his conscious mind. The throb of the beat from the drums brings his mind to a state when the voodoo, which Christian missionaries know to be a demon, can enter him. This power then takes control of the dancer, usually resulting in sexual atrocities. Is there a legitimate connection between theses religious rites and today’s modern dances? (page 179)

I was aware of the connection between demons and dancing even before my conversion. I speak from experience as to the effect rock rhythms have on the mind. …As a minister, I know what it is like to feel the unction of the Holy Spirit. As a rock musician, I knew what it meant to feel the counterfeit anointing of Satan. I am not alone in my experimental knowledge of the influence of demonic powers present in rock music. (Page 181)

In his 1967 book, Rock and Roll: The Devil’s Diversion, Larson wrote:

There is no difference between the repetitive movements of witch doctors and tribal dancers and the dances of American teenagers. The same coarse bodily motions which lead such dancers into a state of uncontrollable frenzy are present in modern dances. It is only logical, then, that here must also be a correlation in the potentiality of demons gaining possessive control of a person through the medium of the beat. This is not entirely my own theory. It is the message that missionaries have urged me to bring to the American public. (Page 182)

On Friday and Saturday nights across America the devil is gaining demonic control over thousands of teenage lives. It is possible that any person who has danced for substantial lengths of time may have come under the oppressive, obsessive, or possessive influence of demons. Knowing this, churches and clergymen need to shed their cloak of compromise and firmly denounce rock dances. Dancing is no longer an artistic form of expression ( if it ever was) but a subtle instrument of Satan to morally and spiritually destroy youth. (page 184)

Evangelical preachers also began alerting church members about the subliminal messages (backmasking) rock groups were putting on their albums. Supposedly, if rock records were played backward, people would hear Satanic messages. Led Zepplin’s Stairway to Heaven was supposedly one such song. When played forward the song said:

If there’s a bustle in your hedgerow
Don’t be alarmed now
It’s just a spring clean for the May Queen
Yes there are two paths you can go by
but in the long run
There’s still time to change the road you’re on

Backwards, the words above were supposedly turned into:

Oh here’s to my sweet Satan.
The one whose little path would make me sad, whose power is Satan.
He will give those with him 666.
There was a little toolshed where he made us suffer, sad Satan.

According to Wikipedia:

In a January 1982 television program on the Trinity Broadcasting Network hosted by Paul Crouch, it was claimed that hidden messages were contained in many popular rock songs through a technique called backward masking. One example of such hidden messages that was prominently cited was in “Stairway to Heaven…

Following the claims made in the television program, California assemblyman Phil Wyman proposed a state law that would require warning labels on records containing backward masking. In April 1982, the Consumer Protection and Toxic Materials Committee of the California State Assembly held a hearing on backward masking in popular music, during which “Stairway to Heaven” was played backward. During the hearing, William Yarroll, a self-described “neuroscientific researcher,” claimed that backward messages could be deciphered by the human brain.

As with the Satanic ritual abuse hysteria years later, the backmasking scare quickly faded into the pages of history. The last preacher I remember saying something about backmasking told church members that if you played the theme song of the TV show Mr. Ed backwards it contained a Satanic message.

Leslie, the homeschooling mom I quoted above, will learn, as did the preachers of my youth, that all the preaching in the world won’t keep teenagers from listening to the popular music of the day. While parents might be able to keep them from listening to rock music at home, once they go to school they will be exposed to the music of their non-Evangelical peers. Once teenagers start driving or riding in automobiles with friends, the radio will be tuned to the local rock station. Unless parents are willing to lock their teenagers in their rooms, allow them no internet access, and remove radios from their automobiles, it is impossible to keep teenagers from listening to rock music.

Polly and I grew up in homes where rock music was verboten. Despite these prohibitions, we somehow learned the lyrics of the popular songs of our day. In the mid-1970s, we attended Midwestern Baptist College, a strict Fundamentalist institution that banned students from listening to ANY secular music (except classical). Students were not permitted to play anything other than religious music in their dorm rooms. However, once in the safety of their automobiles, students turned on radios and listened to the rock, pop, and country music of the day.

One spring day, Polly was sitting in the Midwestern parking lot listening to the radio. I walked from the dormitory out to her car to see what she was up to. Playing on the radio was Afternoon Delight, by Starland Vocal Band. Polly was singing away without a care in the world. I laughed and then I asked her if she knew what the song was about. She gave me an innocent (and clueless) interpretation of the lyrics. When I told her what the song was really about, she didn’t believe me. To this day, we joke about this story. Such is life in the IFB bubble. My favorite song, by the way, was December 1963 (Oh What a Night) by the Four Seasons.

Video Link

These days, many Evangelicals have taken a different approach to combating the evils of secular rock music. Instead of outright banning rock music — an approach that has proved to be a dismal failure — Evangelicals promote what is called the replacement theory. If church teenagers are drawn to secular bands that have what Evangelicals consider bad, immoral, or Satanic lyrics, churches and parents suggest that they listen to a Christian alternative. This approach has, for the most part, also failed to keep Evangelical teenagers from listening to secular rock music. First, many of the Christian alternatives are cheap rip-offs of secular bands. Bad music is bad music regardless of the lyrics. Second, many Evangelical teenagers quickly embraced what is now called contemporary Christian music (CCM). However, instead of abandoning their secular favorites, teenagers just added the CCM artists to the mix. Some Christian bands, such as P.O.D.Skillet, and Switchfoot, have been huge successes, both in the secular rock market and the CCM market.

Here is a video by Skillet.

Video Link

Some Evangelical churches have given up trying to keep church teenagers from listening to rock music. This is understandable, in part, because many Evangelical churches are now using rock music in their worship services. In the 1960s, few churches had drums. But today? Many churches have full-blown bands, complete with percussion sections.

If you are not familiar with what is going on with music in many Evangelical churches, I think the following video clip from a Hillsong New York worship service will prove instructive.

Video Link

Evangelicals, to some degree or the other, have been waging war against rock music for over sixty years. Based on the videos above, I think I can safely say that rock music has won the war. Like all battles waged against popular culture, prohibition only makes what has been deemed sinful more enticing and popular. Teenagers will always be drawn to that which parents, pastors, and other authority figures say they can’t have. Teenagers are built to try the forbidden and test boundaries. We all did it, and here is the lesson that adults need to learn: we survived. Instead of treating teenagers like toddlers, how about teaching them to make responsible choices? Surely, by now, we have learned that telling teenagers to Just Say No doesn’t work. It is far better to equip them with the requisite skills necessary to navigate the world. Yes, there are real dangers they will face, but rock music is not one of them. I seriously doubt that there are many teenagers whose lives are destroyed because they listened to songs that have sexual or substance abuse references. I am sure there are some who take the lyrics to heart and make bad decisions, but most teenagers, as sixty years of history shows, can listen to rock music without being adversely affected.

For more articles than you will ever want to read on the evils of rock music, please check out the Jesus is Savior website, operated by a rabid disciple of the late Jack Hyles.

bruce-gerencser-headshot

Bruce Gerencser, 64, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 43 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

Your comments are welcome and appreciated. All first-time comments are moderated. Please read the commenting rules before commenting.

Christians Say the Darnedest Things: Is it a Sin for Married Couples to Have Sex During Menstruation?

john piper

What follows is a reminder of the lengths Evangelicals go to justify or condemn certain behaviors using the inspired, inerrant, infallible Protestant Bible.

I would say that the prohibitions of sexual relations during menstruation (Leviticus 18:19; 20:18; Ezekiel 18:6; 22:10) are not demanded of us as Christians. I think that’s the implication of Romans 7:4–6, which I quoted a minute ago. [Oh, how convenient, but what God says about homosexuality in the same Old Testament is still valid and in force. Hypocrites!]

So, the question becomes: If we don’t have an absolute prohibition, what should guide us in this matter? I’ll suggest two considerations for a husband and a wife to think and pray about. One is the roots of the prohibition in the Old Testament, and the other is the path of love between a husband and wife.

Now, think with me about the roots of this Old Testament prohibition of sex during menstruation. Here are two verses.

You shall not approach a woman to uncover her nakedness while she is in her menstrual uncleanness. (Leviticus 18:19)

If a man lies with a woman during her menstrual period and uncovers her nakedness, he has made naked her fountain, and she has uncovered the fountain of her blood. (Leviticus 20:18)

Two issues, it seems, then, lie behind the prohibition: (1) uncleanness and (2) the exposure of the fountain of blood — whatever that means.

Ritual Uncleanness

Now, the term uncleanness, very importantly, does not refer to sinful impurity. We know this because no sacrifice was required in Leviticus because of this, but only washing with water (Leviticus 15:19–24). In other words, there’s no sin involved in her menstrual flow. That’s not what the uncleanness refers to. It’s not sexual or sinful impurity.

The issue was ritual purity rooted in real cleanliness. Before the more modern ways of dealing with the menstrual flow, for countless generations, menstrual bleeding was a perennial problem for women (indeed, for men too) of cleanliness. Menstrual rags were metaphorical in the Bible for filthiness. This was the word used in Isaiah 64:6: “All our righteous deeds are like [filthy menstrual rags].” It was a tremendous burden for women to have to deal with. And very likely, the issue of sexual relations was simply considered extremely unsanitary and made the whole challenge of a woman’s cleanliness even more difficult if there were sexual intercourse involved.

So, that’s my reckoning with that first word unclean and its roots. It’s the roots of the simple burden of, How do we maintain appropriate cleanliness in the community?

Fountain of Life

Here’s the second one: uncovering her fountain. This is something different than the problem of cleanliness. This is probably a reference to something sacred and profound.

The woman’s monthly cycle is a constant testimony of a woman’s glory of bearing and nurturing life in her womb. She has that potential. It shows up and manifests itself every month. Every month, she is reminded that she has the incredible potential. The welcome of life is signified every month by the building up of blood. And life is in the blood (Leviticus 17:11). Life is in the blood. It is a life-giving spring or fountain. And during the menstrual flow of blood, there is the reminder that a life did not happen this month, though it might have. That’s how much potential resides in that fountain.

And my guess is that this entire process, with all of its profound potential as the fountain of life, was simply not to be casually observed. It was not to be intruded upon. It was to be concealed. It was an indictment, when Leviticus 20:18 says, “He has made naked her fountain.” This is not a matter of cleanliness. This is a matter of sacrilege in the Old Testament. The fountain in its sacred flow is to be protected.

This is where the principle of love that I mentioned a moment ago is going to work its miracle. Here’s the guideline from 1 Corinthians 7:4: “The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. Likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does.”

Which means that he has authority to have sexual intercourse with his wife during menstruation. And she has authority not to have sexual intercourse with her husband during menstruation. Which means this issue is not going to be resolved by authority [In other words, ignore the Bible.]; it’s a draw. It’s going to be resolved by love. And love will discern the deep things of the heart and the body. And if she finds sexual relations during menstruation offensive (or he does), his inclination will be to exercise self-control and love for her sacrificially, like Christ — for her sake, and really, thus, for his. And if she finds his desire for her to be very strong, she may give him that gift, or she may surprise him with some other pleasure. [of the language Evangelicals use for hand jobs and blow jobs.]

But I would say, especially to husbands: as the leader, you should take the lead in exercising self-control, which is a “fruit of the Spirit” (Galatians 5:22–23), and so bless her and win her affections, which I don’t doubt will pay dividends in the rest of the month.

— John Piper Desiring God, Is Sex During Menstruation Sinful?, August 6, 2021

bruce-gerencser-headshot

Bruce Gerencser, 64, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 43 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

Your comments are welcome and appreciated. All first-time comments are moderated. Please read the commenting rules before commenting.

Let’s Play the Evangelical Never, Ever Game

game show

Several years ago, The Foundations of Morality blog posted an article by “Dr.” David Brown that gives seven reasons why Christians should NEVER, EVER drink alcoholic beverages (links have been removed due to the malware they serve up):

  • Drinking leads to drunkenness
  • The Bible condemns strong drink
  • In Bible times what Christians drank was sub-alcoholic, basically purified water
  • It will call others to stumble
  • It harms our bodies which are the Lord’s
  • Alcohol is addictive
  • Believers are kings and priests separated unto God

Are you ready, contestants? It’s time to play The Evangelical Never, Ever Game.

Using David Brown’s “logic,” I can come to the following conclusion:

  • Eating food leads to gluttony
  • The Bible condemns gluttony
  • Gluttony will cause others to stumble
  • Gluttony harms our bodies
  • Eating food is addictive

Conclusion? Don’t eat food.

Wasn’t that fun? Let’s play another round.

  • Sex leads to fornication and adultery
  • The Bible condemns fornication and adultery
  • Fornication and adultery will cause others to stumble
  • Fornication and adultery harm our bodies (not really, but Christians think they do)
  • Sex is addictive

Conclusion? Don’t have sex.

Isn’t this game fun?  Feel free to continue playing the game in the comment section.

“Dr.” David Brown is the pastor of First Baptist Church of Oak Creek, Wisconsin. You can check out his blog here.  First Baptist is an Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) congregation.

bruce-gerencser-headshot

Bruce Gerencser, 64, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 43 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

Your comments are welcome and appreciated. All first-time comments are moderated. Please read the commenting rules before commenting.

Pastor Olugbenga Oladejo: Missionary Position Only or You Will Go to Hell

olugbenga oladejo
Pastor Olugbenga Oladejo

Repost from 2015-2016. Edited, updated, and corrected.

Olugbenga Oladejo is the pastor of Complete in Christ Church, an Evangelical congregation in Orton Waterville, Peterborough, England. The church’s website states, Complete in Christ Church is:

an end-time church dedicated to holiness, righteousness, prayers and deliverance ministries. We are committed to going to heaven and to minister to as many souls as are ready to go to heaven. We recognise the signs of the end as explained by our Lord Jesus Christ that the love of many shall wax cold (Matthew 24) as we can see in our days. Therefore we teach sinners to repent and children of God to be ready like the wise virgins (Matthew 25).

The Lord Jesus Christ set up this church to bring his children back to the ancient landmark which must not be removed. Proverbs 22:28. That is why in Complete in Christ Church we teach holiness and righteousness and abhor all forms of worldliness. We teach children of God to live holy life within and without. When you join us, our beginners class to discipleship class will show you biblical basis of holy living, Psalm15.

Our commitment to holy living is also extended towards outward appearance in our dressings as we discourage all forms of immoral dressings and bodily adornments among men and women.

Complete in Christ Church is a full deliverance ministries where prayers that move mountain are answered by our Lord Jesus Christ. Our services are always full of power of the Holy Spirit with apostolic signs and wonders. Holy Spirit will teach your hands to war, so that a bow of steel is broken by your arms (Psalm 18:34).

In complete in Christ Church we lift up and glorify our Lord Jesus Christ only in all we do For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power (Colosians2:9-10).

According to Pastor Oladejo, any married couple that has sex in any other position but the missionary position with the man on top will not inherit the kingdom of God. Doggie style? Hell! Masturbation? Hell! Your sex life may be hot now, but use any position but the missionary position and you will end up in hell!

Here’s some of the godly sex advice Oladejo gives to married people:

The lord told me, “look, when I asked my children to get married… on their matrimonial bed, they commit a lot of immorality.” He said I should tell them that they are not going to heaven. There is an everlasting covenant. Those who break that everlasting covenant are not going to make it into heaven.

Couples who practice the woman on top… I want to repeat this, because this is the warning he gave me….When you are with your wife, the lord has made man to be the head. Not the woman. So those men who enjoy their wife coming on top of them in the matrimonial bed, the lord says they are not coming to heaven at all...

The lord told me about those who practice like a dog. The lord did not to create you to behave like a dog on your matrimonial bed. Or like a cow. Or like a chicken.”

“If you are practicing hanging with your wife [bondage], you are inventing different styles… Don’t go and be hanging your wife. Don’t go and be hanging your husband. Do not try different styles: they do sex in different styles that are contrary to god.”

“Those who masturbate. That department [of hell] is for them. Those who give lustful pleasure to the flesh. Women who masturbate. Men who masturbate… The demons will come to them.” And while the masturbator “soul will cry,” the demons “will be laughing. And they will be happy.”

“The man should lie on top of the woman. The natural style, the one way god has given us as man and wife.”

Here’s the pastor’s video. The sex advice begins around the six-minute mark:

Let me conclude this post with a story told by Pastor Oladejo:

Humanity is lost to sin and now we are unable to see God. One day, I went to the a [sic] place called the Royal Mile in the City center of Edinburgh the capital of Scotland. I saw many people gather as a preacher was calling for repentance among men. 

One man stepped forward and identified himself as an athiest [sic] and that he does not believe in the existence of God. He told everyone that man was developed from Evolution. I saw the ignorance on the face of the man and I request to ask a question. 

My question was that if the theory of Evolution was true why did that happened only once. Why have we not seen another Ape developing to become humans again! The athiest [sic] could not answer the question but maintained that men came out of Ape.

One day you will face the Lord, even if you dont [sic] want to face him. That day is going to be fearful and terrible if you do not have Jesus in your life. It is important that you realised that ignorance will not be acceptable before God but God will judge you with only one thing, The BIBLE!! It is therefor [sic] in your best interest to go to your Bible and see what is written in it so that you can save your soul from eternal damnation.

bruce-gerencser-headshot

Bruce Gerencser, 64, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 43 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

Your comments are welcome and appreciated. All first-time comments are moderated. Please read the commenting rules before commenting.

John  Piper Says Holding Hands with God More Pleasurable than Getting Laid 10,000 Times

john piper

John Piper, chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary, former pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church, and the father of Christian hedonism, had this to say at the 2015 Desiring God Conference for Pastors:

“Look around in your life, in your church. How many Christians do you see bent with all their powers to know God more and more — more truly, more clearly, more sweetly? Or, rather, do you see thousands fighting graduate school sins with a grammar school knowledge of God?”

Some of you might say, ‘Wait, there are as many PhDs in theology who commit adultery as less-educated people.’ To which I would say, ‘Probably more.’ Why is it that people with PhDs in theology commit adultery? They don’t know God.”

“You can read theology 10 hours a day for 40 years and not know God as beautiful and all-satisfying — as the highest treasure of your life. Who cares about knowing God the way the devil knows God? He hates everybody. His knowledge of God helps him hate people.”

“We’re talking about knowing God here in 1 Thessalonians. They don’t know God. They don’t know God for who He is — infinitely valuable, infinitely beautiful, infinitely satisfying — why your soul was made. There are more pleasures at His right hand, more eternal joys in His presence, than you could have in 10,000 sexual trysts.

“The question is, do you know that? If you know that, sin will have lost its dominion in your life,”

No commentary from me. The headline is what came to my mind as I read the news story about Piper’s sermon. I know . . . so depraved.

bruce-gerencser-headshot

Bruce Gerencser, 64, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 43 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

Your comments are welcome and appreciated. All first-time comments are moderated. Please read the commenting rules before commenting.

Praise and Worship Music: Making Love to Jesus on Sunday Morning

praise and worship music

Repost from 2015. Edited, updated, and corrected. 

Warning! Snark ahead.

When I started attending a Christian church in the late 1950s, hymns, hymns, and only hymns were the songs of the church. In the 1960s, southern gospel music started to influence what was sung on Sunday mornings. From there came the Gaither era, the contemporary Christian music era (CCM), and finally the praise and worship era. Drums, guitars, praise teams, and worship leaders are standard fare in churches now. Seniors tend to not like it, millennials think it is boring, and baby boomers say, FINALLY, rock music in the church.

Over the last eight years I spent in the ministry, the churches I pastored used a blended worship approach. We’d sing hymns, but we also sang a lot of praise and worship songs. My three oldest sons played bass and guitar, so they became the church band. At the time, I thought it was wonderful, but now that I am years removed from singing love songs to Jesus, I have a far different opinion.

Just for fun, I clicked the Praise and Worship channel on Rdio — a now defunct music streaming service. I listened to many of the songs we sang years ago, mixed in with new praise and worship songs. As I listened to the instrumentation, I couldn’t help but notice how the songs stirred my emotions. It’s the instrumentation that gives the syrupy, Jesus-is-your-boyfriend lyrics their sexual appeal. I thought, these songs are love-making songs. And that is exactly why so many Christians love them. Hymns generally appealed to the intellect. Praise and worship music makes no pretense of appealing to the intellect. The music is meant to agitate emotions, putting listeners in a frame of mind that makes it easy for Jesus to have “commune” with believers.

Many praise and worship songs are little more than aids for spiritual masturbation. Often, the lyrics are shallow and repetitive, focusing on self and not God. Some of the lyrics are so shallow that just by swapping a few words, you can change the song from a love song to Jesus to a love song to your boyfriend, girlfriend, or spouse, Take the song (Trading My Sorrows) Yes Lord by Matt Redman. The next time you are making love to your significant other, speak or sing these lyrics, changing the word Lord to the name of your partner:

We say yes lord yes lord yes yes lord
Yes lord yes lord yes yes lord
Yes lord yes lord yes yes lord amen

Make sure you sing it loudly so the neighbors will know it is your lucky night.

The draw of praise and worship music is its emotional appeal. Visit a local we are the hippest church in town and observe the effect the music has on parishioners. All around you will be people dreamily lost in the love of Jesus. Some will be so enthralled that they begin making love to Jesus, not caring a bit that they are participating in the equivalent of a YouPorn video. It’s emotional sex with your clothes on.

On one hand, the effect this music has on parishioners reflects the power of music to move our emotions. When Polly and I attended a Darius Rucker concert years ago, both of us noticed the emotional connection attendees made with the music. Both of us were stirred emotionally by Rucker’s songs. The problem with praise and worship music is that it is sold as a way to get closer to God. Countless Evangelicals go to church on Sunday to get their emotional fix. Forget the sermon. They are there to wrap their arms around Jesus and do a slow dance with the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. It is in this highly emotional state that parishioners are open to whatever their pastor is selling that day. While worship leaders will likely object and say that the music prepares believers to hear from the Lord, I am convinced the music is used, whether purposely or ignorantly, to weaken psychological defenses and make it easier for parishioners to “hear” what the pastor, uh I mean God, is trying to tell/sell them.

The music puts parishioners in an altered state. This is by design, and any pastor or worship leader who tells you differently is lying. Even with hymns, it is possible for the songs to elicit a specific emotional response. The ebb and flow of the average worship service is a highly designed and scripted affair meant to achieve a certain goal. If this is not true, why don’t churches start their services with the sermon? Instead, the music is used to open the hearts (minds) of listeners to whatever their pastors are going to say. By manipulating emotions, pastors have a greater chance to get those under the sound of their voice to do what they want them to do. Again, if this is not so, why do most pastors and worship leaders choose songs that perfectly dovetail with the sermon? Why not take requests from the floor if what song is sung doesn’t matter?

But it does matter. And it is not just the music. Modern church services have turned into tightly scripted affairs. Sound, lighting, and program structure are used to set the mood; no different from me coming home and finding the lights dimmed, candles lit, rose petals on the floor, and the sweet voice of Karen Carpenter quietly wafting through the air. The former is meant to help the parishioner get lucky with Jesus. The latter is meant to remind Bruce that sometimes the ballgame doesn’t come first. 🙂

Even in Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) churches — a sect known for hating contemporary music — certain songs are used to elicit emotional responses from the congregants. The goal is the same regardless of the style of music. Through emotional manipulation, the words of pastors are more easily received. In most cases, little harm is done. But, sometimes, by manipulating the hearers’ emotions, the songs lead congregants to make decisions or do things they wouldn’t have ordinarily done. Those slobbering IFB preachers were right about secular music. Certain “Satanic” songs can lower inhibitions and pave the way for a romp in the sack with your boyfriend/girlfriend. Such evil! But what they don’t tell you is that certain “godly” songs can lower inhibitions too, and pave the way for a romp in the sack with Jesus.

bruce-gerencser-headshot

Bruce Gerencser, 64, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 43 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

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Songs of Sacrilege: Saving Myself for Jesus by Birdcloud

Warning! This song contains explicit sexual references.

This is the latest installment in the Songs of Sacrilege series. This is a series that I would like readers to help me with. If you know of a song that is irreverent towards religion, makes fun of religion, pokes fun at sincerely held religious beliefs, or challenges the firmly held religious beliefs of others, please send me an email.

Today’s Song of Sacrilege is Saving Myself for Jesus by Birdcloud ( duo Jasmin Kaset and Makenzie Green).

Video Link

Lyrics

(verse)
Honey I feel your bone I’d rather sit here all alone
Oh, honey I feel your bone I’d rather sit here all alone

(chorus)
You tell me that you love me, don’t try and corrupt me
I’m saving myself for Jesus

(verse)
You can titty fuck, tie me up dry hump me
And slap me in the face, Ill even let you call me mommy

(chorus)
He died upon the cross, let me get my point across
My hymen belongs to Jesus

(verse)Honey I’ll roll over, let you poke me in my back door
Honey I’ll roll over, I’ll let you cram it in my back door

(chorus)
I ain’t gonna be one of those Mary Magdalene whores
My pussy belongs to Jesus

(verse)

I ain’t going to hell like dem som bitch Muslims
The Catholics and the Jews and Osama bin Ladens

(chorus)
I ain’t goin to hell like ole Charlie manson,
Jimmy carter or the fuckin unibomber

(verse)
And when we get married then I’ll let you pop my cherry
And I’ll love you like the devil at our home in Shelbyville

(chorus)
And we’ll go up to heaven and we’ll meet old baby Jesus
You’ll be so glad that we waited; you’ll be so glad that we waited

Honey I feel your bone

Much Like Mutual Orgasm, God Has “Perfect” Timing

gods-timing-is-always-perfect

Imagine for a moment a passionate, uninhibited couple making love. As their naked bodies writhe in unison, they reach a point of sexual release. And in that perfectly timed moment, both simultaneously have an orgasm. Nothing better, at least to me, than such moments in life. My wife and I have been married for almost 41 years. We have made love a time or two. As any long-married couple will tell you, not every sexual encounter leads to sky rockets in flight, afternoon delight. Sometimes, the sex is just good or okay. But there are also times when the sex is magical, when it seems that everything is perfectly aligned, leading to the type of momentary experience I mentioned above.

As I was reading a comment on social media from an Evangelical talking about God’s “perfect” timing, I thought about how this notion is quite similar to a couple having a mutual orgasm. Bruce, you have a “dirty” mind, some Evangelical is sure to say. Yep, I do. Now that we have THAT out of the way . . .

Most Evangelicals believe that their God not only created the universe, but also controls every aspect of their lives. Calvinists, in particular, preach up the sovereignty of God, believing that everything that happens — past, present, and future — is ordained and decreed by God. I wonder if the recent mass shooting at a Jewish synagogue by an Orthodox Presbyterian man has Calvinists questioning God’s string pulling in their lives? I doubt it. God is God, and if Calvinists stick to their fatalistic beliefs, they must conclude that the carnage and murder wreaked by John Earnest was according to God’s inscrutable will. The same could be said for every mass shooting.

Most Evangelicals believe that their God is involved in not only life’s big things, but also what is considered minutia, the trivial things of life. According to Evangelical orthodoxy, the Triune God of the Protestant Bible is omnipotent, omnipresent, and omniscient. God is all-powerful, present everywhere, and knows everything. According to the Gospels, God cares for the fallen sparrow and knows the very number of hairs we have on our heads. He is a God of detail; a God who pays close attention to the small stuff. Years ago, I preached a sermon about the cliché, “Don’t sweat the small stuff.” I rejected this notion, telling congregants that God sweated the small stuff and so should they. A cursory reading of the Bible reveals that the Christian deity most certainly cares about our every behavior. The Bible story that illustrates this best is that of Uzzah and the Ark of Covenant. 2 Samuel 6:1-8 states:

Again, David gathered together all the chosen men of Israel, thirty thousand. And David arose, and went with all the people that were with him from Baale of Judah, to bring up from thence the ark of God, whose name is called by the name of the Lord of hosts that dwelleth between the cherubims. And they set the ark of God upon a new cart, and brought it out of the house of Abinadab that was in Gibeah: and Uzzah and Ahio, the sons of Abinadab, drave the new cart. And they brought it out of the house of Abinadab which was at Gibeah, accompanying the ark of God: and Ahio went before the ark. And David and all the house of Israel played before the Lord on all manner of instruments made of fir wood, even on harps, and on psalteries, and on timbrels, and on cornets, and on cymbals. And when they came to Nachon’s threshingfloor, Uzzah put forth his hand to the ark of God, and took hold of it; for the oxen shook it. And the anger of the Lord was kindled against Uzzah; and God smote him there for his error; and there he died by the ark of God. And David was displeased, because the Lord had made a breach upon Uzzah: and he called the name of the place Perezuzzah to this day.

Uzzah, being a good Jew, saw the Ark shaking, and fearing the embodiment of God’s presence would fall, he put out his hand to steady it. How did God reward Uzzah for his quick save? He smote him — love the King James Bible! — and Uzzah died.

According to the Rational Christianity website:

The Ark of the Covenant was an embodiment of God’s presence with the Israelites. The atonement cover (or “mercy seat”) that covered the ark was God’s throne (2 Sam 6:2) and God’s presence was above it (Lev 16:2); it was also the place where God met Moses and gave him commands (Ex 25:22). If someone approached the ark, they would effectively be in God’s presence – a sinner standing before a holy God who does not tolerate evil (Ps 5:4-6) – and would die as a result of their sins. For this reason, God had given the Israelites many rules concerning the Ark of the Covenant. It was to be kept in the Most Holy Place in the temple, hidden from view by a curtain (Ex 26:33). Only the high priest could enter the Most Holy Place, and then only after he had undergone ceremonial cleansing, made sacrifices to atone for his sins and the nation’s sins, and burned incense to conceal the atonement cover (Lev 16). When the ark was moved, it was covered with at least 3 layers of cloth by the priests to protect others from seeing it (Num 4:5-6, 15, 18-20); the priests/Levites carried it and everyone else had to stay about a thousand yards away (Josh 3:4). These laws enforced the concept of God’s holiness: sinful people couldn’t be in his presence, not even the high priest.

Hence, when Uzzah touched the ark, he was profaning it and disobeying God; he should have grabbed the poles used for carrying the ark instead, for that was their purpose (Ex 25:14-15)

God sure made his point, didn’t he?

Another Bible story that punctuates God’s attention to triviality is found in Acts 5:5-11:

But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession, And kept back part of the price, his wife also being privy to it, and brought a certain part, and laid it at the apostles’ feet. But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back part of the price of the land? Whiles it remained, was it not thine own? and after it was sold, was it not in thine own power? why hast thou conceived this thing in thine heart? thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God. And Ananias hearing these words fell down, and gave up the ghost: and great fear came on all them that heard these things. And the young men arose, wound him up, and carried him out, and buried him. And it was about the space of three hours after, when his wife, not knowing what was done, came in. And Peter answered unto her, Tell me whether ye sold the land for so much? And she said, Yea, for so much. Then Peter said unto her, How is it that ye have agreed together to tempt the Spirit of the Lord? behold, the feet of them which have buried thy husband are at the door, and shall carry thee out. Then fell she down straightway at his feet, and yielded up the ghost: and the young men came in, and found her dead, and, carrying her forth, buried her by her husband. And great fear came upon all the church, and upon as many as heard these things.

Acts 4 details the story behind the aforementioned passage of Scripture. Recent Jewish converts were selling their lands and houses and giving the proceeds to the Apostles so they could buy a Lear jet. Verses 34 and 35 state:

Neither was there any among them that lacked: for as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold, And laid them down at the apostles’ feet: and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need.

Married converts Ananias and Sapphira want to do their part, so they sold a parcel of land, planning to donate the money to the Apostles. Being good Independent Baptists, however, Ananias and Sapphira decided to short God a few bucks so they could take a vacation to Rome. Somehow, the Apostle Peter, who just weeks before denied knowing Jesus, found out about Ananias’ and Sapphira’s greed and exposed their subterfuge. Once exposed, God rained judgment down upon their heads, killing them both. As a pastor, I said on more than one occasion that if God still killed Christians today for lying as Ananias and Sapphira did, churches would be empty. One little lie, and God struck both of them dead. Damn, Jesus, your Father sure has a temper!

It’s clear from Holy Writ that the Evangelical God cares about everything Christians do. Thus, it is not surprising that Evangelicals believe that Jesus sits in Heaven hearing their prayers, making sure that their requests align with his will. And at the exact moment a prayer lines up with the perfect will of God, the request is granted, leading the recipient to praise God’s “perfect” timing.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 says:

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.

Evangelicals believe that these verses teach that there is a time (and purpose) for everything. Evangelicals are known for divining what happens in their lives as God’s “perfect” timing. Meet a man at Starbucks you later marry? God’s “perfect” timing. Find a red Ford Fiesta at a price you can afford? God’s “perfect” timing. Need a house to rent and find one that’s just the right price? God’s “perfect” timing. Receive a call from a church wanting you to be their next pastor? God’s “perfect” timing. Leaving a church to pastor another church? God’s “perfect” timing. Having sex with your secretary in your study? God’s “perfect” timing. Okay, I am kidding about the last one. That aside, Evangelicals believe that whatever unfolds in their lives is according to some sort of divine clock God uses to determine what will and won’t happen in their lives.

Bruce, this is nonsense! Yes, it is, but this doesn’t change the fact that most Evangelicals view God as the controller of their lives (as do many Catholics, Muslims, and other religious people). In the real world, there’s no master string-puller. Luck, and not divine decree, often facilitates many of the events in our lives. Back in my college days, I believed the Evangelical God brought my wife and me together. After all, I had planned to enroll at Prairie Bible Institute in Canada, but at the last minute God — also known as a lack of money — “led” me to register for classes at Midwestern Baptist College in Pontiac, Michigan. I planned to have fun dating as many girls as I could, eventually settling on one to marry when I was a junior or a senior. God, however, had other plans for me — a beautiful, dark-haired seventeen-year-old preacher’s daughter. I dated one girl for a couple of weeks, but then I decided to ask Polly out on a date. Talk about God playing matchmaker!  Six months later, I asked Polly to marry me, and in July we will celebrate 41 years of marriage. God’s will? God’s timing? Pfft! . . . Luck, just plain luck. Two years before meeting Polly, I was wildly in love with a college girl I met while attending a Baptist church in Sierra Vista, Arizona. We talked about marriage, and for six months we had one hell of a torrid relationship — within the boundaries of no-sex-before-marriage Christianity. And then, POOF! our relationship was over and I moved back to Ohio. Years later, I would conclude that had this girl and I married, one of us would had ended up in prison for murdering the other. Both of us had similar personalities: outgoing and temperamental. Was our failed relationship God’s “perfect” timing for our lives? Of course not. We were lucky that we dodged a bullet.

As I look back over my life, I can see luck playing out time and time again. Not always, of course. Sometimes, I can see that things happened because of decisions I made or decisions that were made by others. Who is absent in this survey of my life, however, is the Christian God.

The next time you are having an awesome roll in sheets with your lover, I hope when you achieve that mutual orgasm, you will be reminded of God’s “perfect” timing. 🙂 Or at the very least, how lucky you are to have had such a wonderful experience.

About Bruce Gerencser

Bruce Gerencser, 62, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 41 years. He and his wife have six grown children and twelve grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist. For more information about Bruce, please read the About page.

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Burning In The Cathedral And Benedict’s Imagination

notre dame cathedral fireGuest post by MJ Lisbeth

Within the past forty-eight hours, two news items related to the Catholic Church caught my attention. One saddened me; the other left me furious but not surprised.

Les francaises sont tres choqués wrote a friend of mine who lives just outside the City of Light. Tout le monde est tres choqué, I responded. Indeed, the French were shocked at the Notre Dame Cathedral fire, and so was the world. I have divorced myself from the Catholicism in which I was raised, and my friend is a non-believer of Jewish heritage. But we both love art, architecture, history and Paris itself, so we feared the loss of one of the monuments Sir Kenneth Clark all but defined as civilization itself. Even in a country that prides itself on laïcité, the Notre Dame is the very epicenter of the nation: distances between Paris and other points in France are measured from the Cathedral.

It seems, thankfully, that the main structure of the Cathedral, and its iconic rose windows, were spared. But as the spire burned away, a leader of the Roman Church was igniting controversy—and re-inflaming old wounds some of us have suffered at the hands of the church’s entrusted servants.

I am referring to a letter from Benedict XVI, the Pope Emeritus. He’d written it several days before the Notre Dame conflagration, but it was going viral right around the time when les pompiers were expressing uncertainty as to whether the 850-year-old house of worship could be saved. Even in an age defined by an American President whose explanation of “the crisis at the border” might be confused with a porn movie script that was rejected because its plot was too unbelievable, Benedict’s explication of the origins of sexual abuse by priests would be seen as disingenuous or simply dishonest if it weren’t so bizarre and discombobulated. Not surprisingly, he blames an “egregious event”: the “collapse” of “previously normative standards regarding sexuality” in the 1960s:

The matter begins with the state-prescribed and supported introduction of children and youths into the nature of sexuality…

Sexual and pornographic movies then became a common occurrence, to the point that they were screened at newsreel theaters [Bahnhofskinos]…

Among the freedoms that the Revolution of 1968 sought to fight for was this all-out sexual freedom, one which no longer conceded any norms.

So far, nothing is surprising. Benedict is simply employing what seems to be the Church’s “go-to” explanation: Sexual permissiveness is to blameand it started in the ‘60s. Francis himself has said as much. But, from there, Benedict seems to be taking his cues in critical thinking from our Porn Connoisseur-In-Chief:

The mental collapse was also linked to a propensity for violence. That is why sex films were no longer allowed on airplanes, because violence would break out among the small community of passengers. And since the clothing of that time equally provoked aggression, school principals also made attempts at introducing school uniforms with a view to facilitating a climate of learning.

Part of the physiognomy of the Revolution of ‘68 was that pedophilia was then also diagnosed as allowed and appropriate.

Now, maybe I haven’t flown enough, but I never knew that “sex films” were shown during flights. Sure, I’ve been on transatlantic flights where the likes of Léon the Professional and La Femme Nikita were shown. And, yes, Europeans are less squeamish than Americans or other people are about seeing some skin in their movies, but I would hardly label those two films, or any other airline cinematic offerings, as “sex films.” Moreover, while there has been some violence among passengers, I don’t recall hearing of any that was provoked by the showing of anything on an airborne screen.

Some school principals indeed made “attempts at introducing school uniforms.” But, as far as I can tell, any “aggression” provoked by students’ attire wasn’t a result of its sexual provocativeness; rather, it was a result of kids trying to impress each other with designer labels or being enraged by seeing the colors of a rival gang.

And, I’m no expert in the field, but to my knowledge, nowhere has pedophilia been “diagnosed” as “allowed and appropriate” except, perhaps, in NAMBLA literature. Certainly, no one approves of it: Almost any time a teacher, priest or someone else is accused of inappropriate contact, the cries for his or her removal are all but unanimous among parents and others in the community.

So, the former Pope is either seriously deluded about the phenomenon of priests taking advantage of the young people entrusted to them—or he, like too many other church officials, is trying to deflect blame away from those who deserve it: the perpetrators and those who enable and, worse, fail to penalize them.

While the original look and “feel” of the Notre Dame’s spire cannot be replicated, and artworks and artifacts lost in the blaze cannot be replaced, at least most of the cathedral’s grandeur can be saved and/or restored. The same cannot be said for the trust and faith many people had in their priests and church as long as the likes of Benedict offer up explanations for the real crisis in his church that are no more credible for than the ones the American President offers for the Trumped-up “crisis at the border.”

Bruce Gerencser