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May 14

Dave Matthews Band and My Moral Dilemmas

Posted on Friday, May 14, 2010 in Uncategorized

My friend Rachel challenged me to think today. Do you think about right and wrong? How do you decide what’s right and wrong? Specifically, how do you decide if a movie or a song is appropriate for you? Not the style of music or movie, the content.

Wow, have I had to battle with myself about this question!


1 – I choose not to casually listen to “worship” music as background music because I don’t want to trivialize worship.

2 – I honestly do not know if I can quote a single worship song or Dave Matthews Band song start to finish. I do not hear lyrics easily. It’s a blessing and a curse. I miss out on the bad and the good in songs.

3 – I choose to listen to music that I can listen to without sinning. Much like I watch TV or movies.


– I can watch PG13 or R-rated movies which feature action-violence but not sex or nudity because I am not tempted to be violent but I am tempted to lust. In the same way, I cannot watch Girls Gone Wild or Victoria Secret commercials [or catalogs] for obvious reasons.

I do not watch movies with women in it I feel attracted to because I do not want to disrespect my wife. I do not watch movies in which criminals are the “heroes” because I have been a criminal and I do not want to feel tempted.

If something comes on that might tempt me I [usually] discipline myself and look away.

– I can listen to PG13-rated music which may may feature drugs, alcohol or sexual references but not the ones that tempt me. I admit it’s a “gray rule” but I once broke 300 records [pre-CDs] because I wanted a break from my past. Years later I added some of the music back into my life.

I can listen to Dave Matthews sing Lover Lay Down & Crash, both sexual songs, but I cannot listen to Say Goodbye because he sings about cheating. I don’t even want the thought to enter my mind. I do not want to disrespect my wife.

I can also listen to Crush & Bartender despite talking about drinking or using drugs because I am not tempted by those songs.

I have lots of Ben Harper music, but when he was straying from God he wrote Burn One Down and I cannot listen to that. I like reggae but I do not have Bob Marley drug songs.


I restricted my kids on the music they listened to when they were pre-teens. As they got older I challenged them to pay attention to the lyrics and see if they wanted those words in their head.

Eventually, I taught my kids to be honest with themselves: “Does this bother you? Are you tempted to sin? Are you tempted to think what you know is a sin isn’t so bad or harmful?”


Black and white rules are convenient for some people. There is nothing wrong with that it keeps the opportunities for sin minimized.

God gave us a book of rules that, for our generation, gives us a lot of freedom and responsibility to ask God how we should apply them.

I would challenge you to respect one another. It’s always more respectful to say “no” to protect the other person even though you feel you have freedom to say yes.

Other Thoughts:

I do not want to be as sad, miserable, lustful, or ignorant as many musicians — many say nothing worthwhile.

Therefore, I love lyric-free electronica music but I cannot go to raves because I would be tempted to use new things I haven’t tried. I went to a STS9 concert last year for my birthday. I was around more pot in 2 hours than I have been around in the last twenty years combined.

I actually had to choose not to breathe deeply. I could not be a regular or I would begin to feel more temptation.


I am learning not to justify sin because I pay a price, but I do not make up rules where there is no rule nor temptation.

One more thing:

I really liked this article written by Walt Mueller about DMB.

Bring on the comments

  1. Scott, that article by Walt Mueller is intriguing. As a fan of DMB, I must say it’s not ever been about the lyrics, but in some ways they do draw me in. Bless you for creating boundaries that protect who you are and want to be. We all need to realize what our triggers are, and then be aware of when we’re being tripped. Lord, lead us NOT into temptation, but deliver us from evil. With His divine help, we all can continue to strive and be who we are meant to be in and with Christ.

  2. Thanks Julia. I like to paraphrase that, “Lord, lead us NOT into temptation, but deliver me from my impulsiveness.”

  3. […] there are several reasons not to like Dave Matthews’ music, but I still love most of his songs.  I and Paul Thyren, a […]

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