Sold for a Song

September 14, 2012

I read the following quote in a book on technology.

Twentieth-century pop music transformed sexual attitudes on a global basis. Trying to summarize the power of music leaves you breathless.

The author wasn’t trying to argue the case in the sense of marshaling a series of facts as proof. He assumed the reader would agree. The author also did not appear to be a Christian, and he did not necessarily view the change in sexual attitudes as a bad thing. It is for him simply a matter of this is the way it is.

I’m a little leery of one factor analysis. I suspect that we could broaden the quote to include the influence of our entertainment culture adding movies and television. But that a change has occurred is without doubt.

  • The percent of births to unmarried women in 1940 was 3.8%, but it was 41.0% in 2009.
  • More than 2/3 of married couples today say they lived together prior to marriage; the number of couples living together increased 10 times from 1960 to 2000.
  • The divorce rate for first time marriages is between 40 and 50% twice what it was in 1960.

This has all happened during a time when the majority of Americans would identify themselves as Christian. That percentage in 1948 was 91%, and according to Gallop, the percentage is 78% as of 2011. Weekly church attendance, however, is only around 43%. Of course, we can’t help but notice a downward trend.

What happened? The merchants of music and entertainment did not hold the same values as the rest of our culture. They did not share the same moral agenda, and they used their position to influence the culture. The consumers of this culture did so uncritically. It is possible to like a tune, a harmony or great bass guitar riff without agreeing with the lyrics of song. But this takes thought. We could have voted economically with our dollars spent on things that upheld our values rather than undermined them.

We must awaken to the reality of the past few decades and think Christianly about our consumer society. We have a message of good news to share. Regrettably, Christian values were sold for a song.