So this is a question that has come up for me a lot as I have come to embrace a Roman Catholic faith. If some song makes an allusion, however explicitly, to being sexually involved with someone, do we automatically assume in charity that the artist is singing about morally acceptable marital sexual relations? What if we happen to know that, as a matter of fact, the artist was involved in a non- marital sexual relationship with someone at the time that the song was written? Should we still assume that, despite this, he/ she was probably singing about some fictional marital relationship? Another way to pose the question is this: just how much do we grant an artist in charity when interpreting the lyrics of a song? Does it need to be made absolutely sparklingly explicit that the song is about non- marital relations in order for us to conclude that the song is morally evil, at least with respect to its sexual aspects?
Further, I am also interested in the question about what the responsibility of the listener is once he/ she has detected possibly or even explicitly evil attitudes expressed in song. What if the song is beautiful except with respect to one evil line? What if the line admits of various interpretations such that, even if we know that the intentions of the artist were bad, we might sing the exact same thing “along with him” without endorsing the evil attitude?
These issues are of relevance to me since I am a musician and play mainly American folk- influenced music, but am often bothered by what seems to me to be a disregard for sexual morality in such music. So my relationship to much folk music is ambivalent and conflicted.
I’ve asked a lot of questions, so of course I don’t expect anyone to answer all of them. Thanks for any help!