Matthew 14 and Mark 6 record an appalling incident in the life of Herod the tetrarch. A close look at this incident points to a very serious matter that churches need to consider.
The Preceding Wickedness of Herod
Herod had married Herodias, his brother’s wife (Mark 6:17). John the Baptist continually rebuked him for doing so, charging him that what he was doing was unlawful (Matt. 14:4). Herod hated John for doing so and wanted to kill him (Matt. 14:5). He had John imprisoned (Mark 6:17), even though he knew that John was a just and holy man (Mark 6:20).
The Role of Entertainment in Furthering Herod’s Wickedness
On his birthday, Herod and his many esteemed guests feasted (Mark 6:21). As part of their entertainment on this occasion, the daughter of Herodias, Herod’s wife, danced in front of Herod and his guests (Mark 6:21).
They were all pleased with her dancing (Matt. 14:6; Mark 6:22). In fact, Herod was so taken with her dancing that he publicly offered to grant her whatever she might ask him (Matt. 14:7), as long as it was not more than half of his kingdom (Mark 6:23).
In consultation with her mother (Mark 6:24), she asked that John be beheaded immediately (Mark 6:25) and his head brought to her in a charger (Matt. 14:8). In spite of his intense sorrow about the situation that he was now in (Matt. 14:9; Mark 6:26), Herod consented and ordered that John be executed (Matt. 14:9; Mark 6:27). Jesus’ disciples heard of John’s tragic death, obtained his body, and buried it (Mark 6:29). They informed Jesus about what had happened to John (Mark 6:30).
The Unstated Yet Plainly Sensual Nature of the Entertainment That Contributed to Herod’s Killing John
Scripture does not explicitly say (in either of the two accounts of this horrible incident) that the dancing of Herodias’ daughter that so pleased Herod and his guests was sensual. Any non-naive and honest reader of the accounts, however, unmistakably knows that her dancing was pleasing to him precisely because it intensely appealed to his sexual lust.
The Holy Spirit did not deem it at all necessary to specify that her dancing was sensual—He expects rightly that the reader will understand exactly what its nature was from the information that He chose to provide. In this way, He instructs believers about a crucial point of how to interpret Scripture—God can clearly communicate truth about the essential character of an activity without ever having to explicitly specify that truth.
How Herod’s Enslavement to His Fleshly Lusts Was Intensified Through Sensual Entertainment in spite of His Previous Encounters with God’s Truth from a Faithful Man of God
Herod used to love to hear John speak to him (Mark 6:20). John was a faithful prophet of God who undoubtedly proclaimed God’s truth faithfully to Herod. In spite of hearing that truth on repeated occasions, Herod was yet living in gross sin.
Because of his sinful living, Herod was a man who was enslaved to his sexual lust. Tragically, hearing God’s truth faithfully proclaimed to him by a superb man of God did not profit him savingly.
Instead, enslavement to his fleshly lusts and the intense stoking of that lust through the sensual entertainment that he experienced on this crucial occasion led him not only not to be saved but also to destroy the very man of God whom he had liked hearing on many occasions. Instead of heeding the gospel that had been given to him previously by John, Herod, faced with sensual entertainment that intensified his already strongly being consumed with his lusts, increased greatly in his wickedness by murdering him.
The Grave Danger That the Sensuality of CCM in Churches Poses for Herod-Like People Who Attend Their Services
Many people who attend services in Christian churches are enslaved to their sexual lusts. This is especially true for many of the younger people in our churches who are incessantly bombarded with sensuality in virtually every context outside of their churches.
Tragically, when they come to a contemporary service in a church that plays sensual Christian music, they are put in a situation similar to the one Herod encountered when the daughter of Herodias danced sensually before him. At the same time that they hear various gospel truths about God, just as Herod had, they are put in a situation of continuing to feed their sensual lusts through music that is sensual.
Barring a gracious and miraculous work of intervention by God, they will become more enslaved to their fleshly lusts even while they are hearing some grand truths about the gospel of God. Even if God does mercifully save them in spite of the CCM, the sensuality-laden music will hinder their becoming disciples of Christ who mortify the lusts of their flesh (Col. 3:5) in order to follow Christ fully for His sake and for the sake of the gospel.
An Earnest Plea to All Brethren to Forsake the Use of CCM in Christian Ministry
Many who believe in the propriety of using of CCM in Christian ministry argue that the Bible never says that music itself can be sensual or that such and such styles are sensual. Applying what Matthew 14 and Mark 6 reveal to us about dancing that is sensual even though there is not anything said explicitly in either passage about it being sensual, the Holy Spirit teaches us that God does not have to state explicitly that something is sensual in order to communicate to us that it is.
Even though Scripture does not say anything directly about specific styles of music (such as CCM that uses rock music) being sensual, we still are not justified in concluding that we cannot say that such music is inherently sensual. A sound application of Matthew 14 and Mark 6 to the CCM issue shows us that God expects us to learn from statements such as “sing as an harlot” (Isaiah 23:15) and others (cf. Ezek. 33:31-32; Amos 6:4-6) that there is music that inherently appeals to fleshly lusts.
We must shun completely the use of sensual music in our churches. I earnestly appeal to all believers not to endanger themselves and others gravely through using CCM in their churches.