During 1969 many young people gathered at rock music festivals at Woodstock in upstate New York and at Altamont in Northern California. Both events were as much about sex and violence as about music and despite the veneer of innocuous love, both had a dark undercurrent. Rapes, brutal beatings, numerous injuries and countless concussions were reported at the time. Several people died at each event. At Altamont, the Rolling Stones were singing their hit Sympathy for the Devil while eighteen year-old Meredith Hunter was being stabbed to death directly in front of the stage on which Mick Jagger was gyrating.
But this connection between revolutionary music and rejection of conventional Judeo-Christian sexual mores was not invented in 1969. A hundred and twenty years earlier, Richard Wagner, famously known as Adolf Hitler’s favorite composer, was doing the same thing. His music contemptuously called for the murder of morality. Though not intended, Wagner’s music opened the doors to terrifying barbarism.
Wagner, a socialist, lived a dissolute existence constantly betraying his wife Minna, often with the wives of men who befriended and supported him. His music, which I find brilliant though evil, celebrates sexual immorality and violence.
We might wish that renouncing rules of sexual morality would lead to lives filled with love, but instead it usually leads to disappointment and distress. The Bible gives us a glimpse into another physical appetite whose abuse we might not instinctively recognize as similarly dangerous.
Our two most powerful bodily appetites are the craving for carnality and the frenzy for food. Failure to treat these areas in a sacred manner nearly always results in decreased ability to succeed along with eventual physical damage.
Look how differently Moses reacts to various sins of the Israelites.
After the people sinned idolatrously in making the Golden Calf, Moses prayed asking God to forgive them:
On the next day, Moses said to the people,‘You have committed a great sin and now I shall ascend to God, perhaps I will win atonement for your sin.’
Amazingly, Moses makes no effort to seek forgiveness for Israel when they sinned with food and sexual depravity.
The rabble among them cultivated a craving and the children of Israel
also wept again and said, ‘Who will feed us meat?’
In verse 6 they continue to ungratefully complain—
But now….there is nothing, we have nothing to anticipate but manna.
Yet a few verses later, the verse doesn’t seem to have anything to do with food.
Moses heard the nation weeping about its families, each one at the entrance to his tent, and God became very angry and it was evil in the eyes of Moses.
Ancient Jewish wisdom explains the mysterious phrase ‘weeping about its families.’ They were really weeping about the recently received Bible’s rules defining sex within marriage as the essential key to family life. The nation resented God requiring confining of bodily appetites.
Whether in politics or in business, anyone whose appetites are out of control is heading toward destruction. That is why I emphasize that one of the great gifts of Bible culture is the set of religious rules restraining sexuality that Judaism and Christianity strive to keep alive. Similarly, a healthy attitude towards food uplifts and ennobles.
Modern music is usually composed of two parts, the lyrics and the music itself. Each of these can inspire or deprave. Destructive music cannot be casually dismissed. It is often an early symptom of impending problems for those you love or must work with.
What we allow our ears to absorb and what we permit our mouths to say, whether they are our own words or those of musical artists, affects our ability to prosper both socially and financially. In one of my audio CDs I provide practical tips and techniques for getting the most from your mouth. This period as we head towards gatherings with our families and friends, is a wonderful time to become more aware of the astonishing power of the spoken – or sung – word.