Some of the brethren who desire to take a leading part in the church work joined a brass band. They would engage in band practice during our protracted meeting, at the same hour of service. They would also practice instead of attending prayer meeting. We admonished them not to let the band interfere with their church work. They would reject the admonition, and, besides, have given a concert in which they burlesqued* the church and an elder, and one feature of the program was a dance, with banjo music. (Enclosed find their program.) The church has withdrawn from the brethren, charging them with reveling and such like, which Paul condemns in Galatians 5:21. They ignore the action of the church, and claim they will take part in our services, and we cannot keep them from it. Have we acted on scriptural grounds, and how shall we protect ourselves from imposition by them? We desire to do only what the Book teaches.
Joining a brass band or performing in it is not necessarily sinful. The habits and practices of it may lead into sin that Christians ought not to countenance and that a church ought not to tolerate in its members. It is just as lawful to cultivate music in a brass band as in any other way, if no sinful practices are encouraged or participated in. I think the custom of the bands in small towns is to lead out into things that are wrong. The program of this minstrel concert seems to me to indicate that no Christian should participate in it. “Comic songs,” a “negro sermon,” a “dance,” and a “breakdown” constitute items of it. Certainly no Christian could engage in or encourage these. Then it leads to other associations that are evil, to company that lowers the standard of morality, and to the ridicule of religion, and does not obey the admonition of the Spirit, which says: “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers” (Ephesians 4:29).
Then this seems to me very manifest revelry. Revel is defined: “To feast with loose and clamorous merriment; to carouse; to wanton.” This is condemned as unworthy of Christians. It is especially sinful, and shows a low religious feeling that will cause Christians to neglect church services and Christian worship and instruction to engage in such things. Persons following this course ought to be remonstrated with, and, if possible, saved from such courses. If not, spiritual ruin must be their portion. A man of any self-respect or Christian feeling cannot force himself on a church or claim its privileges which has excluded him. If a man has been, by the customary way, excluded from a church, he has no more right to participate in the privileges of the church than if he had never belonged to it – no more right to force himself upon it than he has to force himself upon the privileges of a private family. The civil courts would protect the church from such intrusion as readily as they would protect a private family. We mention this for the benefit of those who attempt such things. A church had better bear patiently with such intrusions than to appeal to the courts.