About the author


Jane Gibb

Jane and her husband Steve ministered at Trinity Baptist Church in Cairns, Australia for fourteen years before moving to serve as missionaries in Port Vila, Vanuatu. Jane has a bachelor of education. Jane is active in ministry in Vanuatu as well as being a busy mother of six.


  1. avatar


    Thanks Jane

    Is this a hypothetical story or actual quotes?

  2. avatar

    Jane Gibb

    This is a true story, heard first-hand by my husband. The names were changed to protect our friends’ privacy. Of course, the quotes are adapted since we didn’t record the actual words. But the essence is completely true.

  3. avatar


    Thanks Jane, a very thought provoking post.

    I guess I wonder about the condition of the 15 year old’s heart if he is rebelling against his father’s rules. The Scripture clearly calls children to obey and honour their parents. I remember when I was about 15 resenting some of my father’s rules, but most of the time I would say something like this to him, “I don’t agree with you, but I will obey you because you are my father.”

    I’m not certain shifting the house rules to accommodate a rebellious son is necessarily a good thing. Our Heavenly Father never changes the rules for us. God’s grace is not about changing the rules or dropping the standard.

    How would you square the father’s actions in the story with Paul’s injunction in Galatians 5:10 – “For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.”

    Is ‘risking grace’ in that manner in which you’ve described possibly getting close to using grace as an opportunity to ‘sow to the flesh’?

    I think the flesh vs. Spirit contest within the Believer is often forgotten in these kinds of questions over music.

  4. avatar

    Jane Gibb

    PJ, I think the dad’s caveat that the son choose music that builds him up spiritually addresses your concern that we should not use liberty as an occasion for the flesh. Have you read or listened to any of the lyrics being written by Sovereign Grace Music, Stuart Townend, and Casting Crowns–to name a few? Much of the “new contemporary” in Christian music today is deeply concerned with theological depth and heart-hitting issues. It’s not the fluff that we heard Evie Tornquist singing twenty (or more) years ago (“I’m only four feet eleven but I’m goin’ to heaven . . .”) Much of the newer music challenges Christians to walk in the Spirit and not gratify the lusts of the flesh, and it is packaged in language and style that our young people can identify with. Of course, this is not a blanket endorsement of all CCM. Discernment should never be laid aside when we are selecting food for our souls no matter what our “packaging” preference.

    The dad’s second exhortation for his son to be respectful in the way he plays his music addresses the last part of the verse: “by love serve one another.” He is encouraging Jared not to force his musical taste on the whole family. In the same way, Dan is serving his son in love when he is not forcing his own musical preferences on him. Could we be honest enough to say that some of our rules and standards are merely the imposition of our personal preferences on others?

    I agree with you that grace is not about dropping the standard or changing the rules–unless the rules and standards are only artificial fences that actually keep us from the real issues of life–doing justly, loving mercy and walking humbly with our God. The conflict created in families by unreasonable rules is a devilish distraction from humbly growing together in grace. Sometimes our extra-biblical boundaries have been erected by fear or by misinformation, not by grace and truth. With those rules in place, we manage to avoid certain kinds of conflicts while at the same time suppressing other issues that must be discussed if we are to be authentic in our faith.

    What Dan did in removing the music barrier was open the way for honest discussion with his son about what really moves us closer to God. Standards and rules do not have the power to sanctify us. No longer does Jared have to hide his real feelings from his parents in fear of being rebuked. Those rebukes have felt unjust to him when the contemporary music he likes is actually nourishing his soul. Giving Jared grace to think through and act on decisions about music (and other things) is giving him room to grow and make mistakes if necessary. But I think his dad will be nearby to support him out when he falls or gets in a rut. That’s why grace is riskier than rules. It doesn’t guarantee an error-free path. But it does give us the freedom to come back when we fall. Breaking rules usually carries with it censure and judgment.

    By the time children are in their mid-teens, parents need to let go of some of the boundaries they have put in place to protect them as younger children so that the young people can learn and make mistakes in the loving environment of the family where they can be coached and guided, not forced. The time for unquestioning obedience morphs into a time of inviting questions and exploring reasons for the spiritual decisions that we make within the framework of familial respect and honour.

    I’ve written far more answer than I intended, PJ, but my hope is that with the backdrop of Dan’s true story in place, it will be food for thought and–by God’s grace–change.

  5. avatar


    The law is only a school master to bring us to God. Grace is how we live under God.

  6. avatar


    Wow. Thanks Jane for such a generous response.

    Just three points –

    1) I come from a position that music is much more than the lyrics. So the artists you mention may have the most theologically rich lyrics but they’re music may still not be beneficial for a Believer’s spiritual life. Its the old ‘church in the pub’ kind of argument.

    In the case of music – the vehicle that carries the lyrics is as important as the lyrics. The music communicates a message or at least effects the message of the lyrics. The lyrics do not sanctify the music – even if they’re the very words of Scripture.

    2)You seem to assume that Jared’s music is nourishing his soul. Just because Jared thought it was nourishing his soul doesn’t necessarily mean it was. How would you measure that? Just because he might be getting on better with his father is not necessarily an indication of that. Any child who gets his way is going to be more agreeable (for a time).

    3) You are also seem to be making assumptions about the father’s original standards about music – that they were ‘unreasonable rules’ and ‘preferences’. He may have had sound Biblical/theological reasons for having those standards. As the God-ordained authority in the home why shouldn’t the father ensure that in his home a certain standard is applied?

    I am yet to be convinced that the answer to the problems of rebellious kids is to lower the standard and give them what they want – there seems to be much deeper heart issues with authority at play in your example.

  7. avatar



    I would like to ask you some more questions about your above points.

    1. Why do you believe that music (apart from the lyrics) has intrinsic value? (e.g. sound is evil or good)

    2. How could you measure that ‘Casting Crowns’ is hurting his soul?

    3. Could the father have not build his standards on extra biblical ideas?

    4. Taking this account at face value, how has this boy been rebellious?

    I am interested in your thoughts on these.

  8. avatar


    I’ve seen the first part of this scenerio played out many many times in my life. In my humble opinion, I think some teens respond so strongly in rebellion to their parents’ strict music standards because they see a inconsistency in other areas of their parents’ lives.

    If a parent insists on a standard being kept but dismisses disobedience in their own lives to a black and white command in Scripture, their children – and especially teenagers – will quickly pick up on the hypocrisy. A father who insists on a very conservative type of music or dress in his children’s lives but who willingly covers up abuse in their home life is going to leave his children confused and struggling and that could very easily start to show as rebellion in their lives.

    This is, of course, not always the case. Some rebels are just rebels and setting some standards at home is not a bad thing. But I think a child is likely to grow frustrated at not being able to listen to music of their choice if their parents are busy enforcing rules on music, but slack on Bible truth, marital faithfulness, pursuit of godliness, ect. Many of these types of standards are built more on personal preference than solid Scripture so it is a dangerous line to draw in the sand with your teen if you are not willing to maintain a consistency to more important issues in Scripture. IMO

    FWIW. =)

  9. avatar


    @ Jeremy – thanks for the questions…some thoughts in response, not as polished as I’d like, but anyway…

    1) I don’t believe music has intrinsic value but I do believe it produces emotional and physical effects in us and in so doing it communicates messages. As such it has an effect on the overall message of a song. The lyrics might be saying one thing, but the music is making me feel things different or even at odds with those lyrics. Therefore, not all music is an appropriate vehicle for lyrics intended to worship God or spiritually edify.

    It’s an extreme example, but I think we’d all agree that Psalm 23 set to death-metal music would not be appropriate, spiritually edifying or God-glorifying. The music/sound matters.

    2) I think you’re misrepresenting me on this question – all I said was this, “the artists you mention may have the most theologically rich lyrics but they’re music may still not be beneficial for a Believer’s spiritual life.” I’ve never listened to Casting Crowns, so I can’t comment particularly on their music, but my point still stands – because the music impacts on the message of a song, great lyrics can be defaced, profaned or just miscommunicated by inappropriate music.

    3) You’re right – that is certainly possible. I guess I found the general tone of the post to be somewhat against the father, portraying his conservative music standard as baseless “preference” or something worse.

    4)“My fifteen-year-old son Jared especially is rebelling against the rules that I’ve put in place in our home. He hardly talks to me any more.”

    Does a father have the authority to make rules about music in a family or not? There are no verses in the Bible about curfew times, but we’d never argue about a father’s authority to set a curfew time for his teenage children. Why are standards about music any different? If the father made rules about music and the son didn’t like it and so stopped talking to his father, that sounds a lot like rebellion to me.


  10. avatar

    Jane Gibb

    One obvious point from the story that we haven’t discussed is the dad’s willingness to consider that his music rules were unjust. That’s why he asked advice from his friend Bill; he was unsure that his assumptions about music were airtight. Parents who are humble enough to rethink their standards in light of the Scripture (all prejudices aside) present an aspect of grace to their kids that is truly authentic.

    I have heard from fundamentalist preachers that the very fact that we like the music, that it makes us emotional, is reason enough to consider that the music is ungodly. How can that idea be supported from Scripture? Music is supposed to touch our whole being–body and soul and spirit. That’s why David danced before the Lord. In the atmosphere of the music he was worshipping God in his spirit, in his emotions and even in his body. And the person who despised him for his undignified behaviour was cursed by God with lifelong barrenness.

    Are parents right to set music standards in their home? In the story, Dan did not abandon music standards, but he approached them differently. Instead of throwing a blanket ban on anything that didn’t match the conservative styles he preferred, he set the standard where it would involve Spirit-filled, thoughtful decision making, not just “safe” artists and publishers. Applied with wisdom, this method of setting rules has great potential for growth at all levels within the family–parents and children. Suddenly, everyone must rely on God instead of preset lists when choosing music that builds them up in the faith.

    One comment on the rebellion aspect of Jared’s behaviour: Could it be said that his uncommunicative stance was provoked by his father’s unreasonable demands (Eph 6:4)?

  11. avatar


    @ Jane: I appreciate your mention of blanket ban. Growing up, we had a TV in our house, but one of my parent enforced the rule that we could only watch movies that were made before 1960. (apparently that was a good generic line in the sand to determine if a movie was ok or not). However, it was such an arbitrary standard that it became a real bone of contention. Particularly when the other parent would watch movies made after 1960. And many TV series made after 1960 were allowed to. My conclusion is that we (parents) of teach standards without principles. And that is a danger in itself.

    @ PJ: Thanks for your responses. I agree with you analysis of question 1. It is important that music style is appropriately aligned with the lyrics.

  12. avatar


    1)”Parents who are humble enough to rethink their standards in light of the Scripture (all prejudices aside) present an aspect of grace to their kids that is truly authentic.” – Agree.

    2) “I have heard from fundamentalist preachers that the very fact that we like the music, that it makes us emotional, is reason enough to consider that the music is ungodly.”

    That’s wrong and rather sad. The key is to make sure the music and the emotions it might produce are appropriate vehicles for the lyrics. I agree that some teaching in music is illogical, Biblically baseless and has done great harm.

    3) “In the story, Dan did not abandon music standards, but he approached them differently. Instead of throwing a blanket ban on anything that didn’t match the conservative styles he preferred, he set the standard where it would involve Spirit-filled, thoughtful decision making, not just “safe” artists and publishers.”

    I must take you to task here. This was Dan’s statement in the story, “I gave my children permission to listen to whatever music they like. I asked them to choose songs with edifying lyrics…” So this is either a contradiction or Dan did really abandon all standards in relation to music. Did he ‘ask’ or ‘require’ that lyrics be edifying?

    4) “One comment on the rebellion aspect of Jared’s behaviour: Could it be said that his uncommunicative stance was provoked by his father’s unreasonable demands?”

    The whole post assumes that Jared’s father’s original standard was unreasonable. The subtext of the post is that conservative music standards are merely a question of ‘preference’or worse that they are ‘unreasonable rules’ and a ‘devilish distraction’. You clearly see music standards as not a matter of justice, mercy and faith – that’s fine, but I imagine there would be many who disagree with you.

  13. avatar


    @ PJ, can you explain how music standards could be a matter of justice, mercy and faith?

    (I don’t wish to start an argument. Just very interested on your thoughts of how it might be a matter of justice, mercy and faith… =)

  14. avatar


    @Kez – thanks for the question. OK here we go…

    The music/sound that carries the lyrics of a song will impact on that song in some way. Music communicates or produces emotions/feelings, emotions/feelings effect thoughts. That’s the premise. Music/sound is not neutral. The lyrics do not sanctify the music.

    For example, I think someone who new what they were doing could take the words to Psalm 23 and put them with a very hard-edged hip-pop beat and instrumentation and communicate a very confused message, or a totally different message that the Holy Spirit intended us to receive when he gave us the 23rd Psalm. The music makes a difference.

    If we have songs where the lyrics are talking about the holiness of God and yet the music is indistinguishable from that which is used in pubs and clubs there is at the very least going to be a mixed message. I would go far as to say that the sacred lyrics can be profaned by music that in other contexts is used to promote that which God hates. The lyrics maybe great but the music sows to the flesh and we know what happens when we sow to the flesh.

    Would we hold a church service in a pub or a brothel? Probably not. We would consider those venues to harm the message we are trying to preach. To me its the same with music – there are some kinds of music that are not appropriate venues for the messages we want to communicate because of their strong appeal to the flesh.

    I struggle to see how God reverenced or honoured with songs that musically speak are no different from the popular music of today that promote many things that God hates.

    So, to me music standards are vital to preserving true worship, to keeping the flesh out of the church and out our lives as much as possible. They’re vital to preserving the message of the lyrics. This, to me makes music standards very important – they are an attempt to preserve the messages of justice, mercy and faith that we want to communicate to those in our churches and to lost.

    I would also add by way of a post-script that I believe some of the weakness we find in many of the established denominations in our country is in part due to the slide in music standards. The world and the flesh were invited into the church and they did what they always do.

  15. avatar


    sorry for all the typos…aahh

  16. avatar

    Matt L

    Enjoying the discussion … quite clearly the topic of music could have its own thread, a few times over, and I’ll steer clear of that for now, although I appreciate PJ’s clear explanation of a rationale for traditional worship …

    From all the posts above the thing that became clear to me is that the whole scenario centres around the father’s perspective on whether his musical expectations were Bible-based standards, or simply personal preferences. From the way that story panned out, one of the two following situations must be true:

    1) He actually realised that the whole issue was a matter of preference, and it was unwise (i.e. lacking grace) to enforce rules based on them, so he allowed his children liberty.
    2) He actually still believed that the his Biblical convictions were right, but for the sake of “peace” within the home he was willing to bend them and purchase and listen to music with his children that he personally felt was outside the boundaries.

    Of the two options, for the sake of his conscience, I hope that it was Option 1 that he truly believed deep down inside. To willing go against true convictions for the sake of improving relationships doesn’t sound all that Biblical to me.

    Two final thoughts:
    1) I’ve only had 18 months of parenting experience, but to me any change in standards within a home that is motivated by rebelliousness on the part of a child, regardless of the spiritual condition of the parent, sounds like it’s not sending a great message.
    2) I think Jane’s original point may have been somewhat missed in the music discussion. Maybe the principle of extending grace on matters of preference might have better been illustrated with parents who prefer their son would wear a tie to church, but are willing to allow him the freedom to make his own decision …?

  17. avatar

    Jane Gibb

    Matt L, on your point that changing standards to accommodate rebellion is “not sending a great message.”
    First, we are talking about teens here, not preschoolers. If you tell a preschooler to wear certain clothes on a given day, and he rebels because he doesn’t want to, and you change your mind and let him choose, you have taught him that a bad attitude can be rewarded with getting what he wants. But if a teen becomes uncommunicative (read:rebellious) because a rule in the house seems unjust to him, wouldn’t the most godly approach be to talk about it with him and truly listen to his ideas as well as explaining your own? Seems like forcing the rule without reasonable and loving discussion could be construed as “provoking your children to wrath.” Teens are at the stage of life where they must learn to make wise and thoughtful choices based on biblical wisdom. That’s where indiscriminate rule making can be a stumbling block rather than an aid to grace-filled parenting.

    I realised when I recounted this true story that the music issue would be a distraction, but it is integral to the actual substance of the story. The topic of music styles is MASSIVE in intergenerational conflict, and not just in independent baptist circles. We are failing to “accept one another” for the glory of God because the old arguments against contemporary music don’t hold water for the younger generation. If they heard biblical instead of cultural explanations against contemporary music, they might be willing to buy them. But the most common arguments in the arena focus on the history and culture of the origin of rock music, which arguments are ancient history and irrelevant to our teens and 20 somethings. I think that many of them really want to be teachable, but the pubs and clubs music argument sounds like a smokescreen to them since much of the current Christian contemporary music culture in their minds is far from the pubs and clubs. There is so much more that could be said, but perhaps it should be the subject of another post.

  18. avatar

    david milson

    We seem to have gotten away from the initial discussion a bit. So let me try to boil the story down to the key facts.
    The kid is rebelling against his father’s music standard.
    The father seeks counsel.
    An idea previously foreign to him is introduced, there may be a better way of dealing with it, or horror of horrors, his aproach might be entirely wrong.
    The father considers this and realises he was wrong.
    He confesses to his family and there is a marked improvement in the relationship.

    There seems to be a focus on the son’s sin and not on the father’s. Let’s put the whole thing in focus(pun intended)
    Fathers’ rules are not always right. Sons’ responses are not always right. For reconciliation to occur, one of the protagonists has to see that they are wrong first, and act on that realization. Thankfully, with the help of experience and counsel (things not as readily available to the son) the father has relinquished that which was not rightfully his and the result is more grace and less heat. They are both to be commended, I don’t know what happens next in the story, but the family is certainly in a better place to grow spiritually than it was.

  19. avatar

    Jane Gibb

    Great summary, Dave. I think you have effectively nailed the main thrust of this post. It’s not about the music; it’s about humility and how it positions us to experience grace.

  20. avatar


    @ david milson – you’ve crystallised the assumptions in Jane’s post that I struggle with – “The father considers this and realises he was wrong…the father has relinquished that which was not rightfully his.” This is the nub of the issue.

    Whether one believes the father’s stand was wrong in the beginning will determine whether one see his subsequent change as an act of grace or something else.

    Thanks for your insightful analysis.

  21. avatar

    david milson

    PJ. I am just going on the information provided. The father believed he was wrong, at least in attitude. Why can’t you agree with him? If you read carefully, I didn’t say his standard was wrong. I don’t know enough circumstances to presume much more than I have written. I think that is where debates get derailed, people judge without knowing.
    Solomon had something to say about that!

  22. avatar


    @david milson – I take you’re point, I must have misinterpreted what you meant when you said, “The father considers this and realises he was wrong.” I thought the father realised his music standard was wrong, that’s why he changed it, but I guess you’re saying he realised his ‘attitude’ or his ‘approach’ to his son was wrong, i.e. lacking grace.

    I agree we’re not to judge, but would you agree that Jane’s piece makes a judgement about the way the father handled the whole situation? She judges his actions positively?

  23. avatar

    david milson

    PJ. We are not to judge stuff about which we know little.

    You must remember that with the exception of the last paragraph, Jane is only relaying a happening. You seem to be reading a whole lot more into those last four sentences than is stated or even implied. The only thing that I think she is implying is that a gracious humble thoughtful approach will produce light and not heat. Why don’t you ask her? I imagine the answer may be a while lot more simple than you presume.

  24. avatar

    Matt L

    @david milson While I agree with you that Jane is simply “relaying a happening” to make a larger point, the fact that she shares this example and points to a positive outcome in some ways infers agreement with the specific moral of the story. If I was trying to make a point about the importance of personal evangelism and shared an illustrative story about a man whose life was changed by a tract, you could probably infer that I’m in approval of the use of the tract as a tool of evangelism.

    As I mentioned earlier, if the matter of contention had been wearing a tie to church meetings, or what the son’s curfew was, then I think the priciple at hand would have been more clear as the specific ramifications of morale standards vs preferences, etc. would not have come into the discussion.

    One thing that stands out to me in this whole discussion and has actually been a topic of discussion amongst family recently, is the danger of imposing a blanket rule in the name of upholding a principle.

    It’s understandable that with young children, sometimes specific rules are made that may not have a strong Biblical base, but they are guides to teach wider principles. For example, my daughter is not permitted to empty the contents of my work bag. If she likely to be hurt if she does? Not really. Is she likely to damage something in the process? Depends how well she can hack a laptop. But that particular rule is teaching her about self control and boundaries and the property of others.

    However, the difficulty comes when parents, maybe through immaturity, or simplicity, or other motivations, in the name of upholding a particular principle, make a blanket rule with older children that cannot be adequately supported.

    An example cited above was about not watching movies made post-1960 because of the morale content; or in an example I know of, not watching any TV on Sunday because it is the Lord’s day; or banning daughters from wearing legged pants due to modesty while at the same time they could wear immodest women’s clothes.

    In each case you can see that the parents were trying to provide a practical outworking of a principle, but there were a lot of holes in the reasoning and implementation.

    Yes it’s easier to implement a blanket rule but unless it’s clearly supported by Biblical principles or explicitly stated, it can lead to confusion and conflict. In each of the cases above, would it not have been better to discuss the principles of wise decision making about watching TV, and respect for the Lord’s Day and choice of modest apparel rather than go for the “easy” option of rash bans?

  25. avatar

    david milson

    Matt L, you are obviously way more intelligent than I, could you simplify your point?

  26. avatar

    Matt L

    @david milson … I assume you are referring to the first point? BTW, don’t make any assumptions about intelligence! :) I’ve found your discussion stimulating …

    My point simply was that, in general, if you are writing or presenting something, and you choose to illustrate / demonstrate a principle, unless you say otherwise, it could be assumed that you are condoning / supporting the morale of the example.

    Maybe a different illustration … if I was doing a presentation about the existence of alternate energy sources and I chose to quote an example about a country using nuclear power initiatives, although I may not say explicitly that I support nuclear energy, you could assume that, by the fact that I chose it over other possible examples, I am comfortable with it. Generally when you’re trying to prove a point, you don’t bring into the discussion content that, even though it proves your point, you are not morally comfortable with.

    Anyway, enough said.

  27. avatar

    david milson

    Matt L, so you COUNTRY MUSIC? Now that’s a whole nother subject…………….

  28. avatar

    Matt L

    @david milson … You’ve lost me … COUNTRY MUSIC? Where?

  29. avatar

    david milson

    Sorry, strange sense of humour and a typo = complete gobbldegook. It was funny, but I guess the moment is gone. Good for my humility anyway!


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