“Can’t you see you’re not making Christianity better, you’re just making rock n’ roll worse.” King of the Hill S08E02
My History With Rock Music
I have always liked rock music.
In elementary school, when my peers were listening to Spice Girls and Brittny Spears, I was listening to Barenaked Ladies and Lenny Kravitz.
I even sang Fly Away for elementary school talent show; hides face in embarrassment.
This love for rock music never left me even though the bands and style of music did change.
Christian Rock: How it Snuck Into My Playlist
In college, I stumbled on a band called The Letter Black. I am not sure why or how this indie Christian band was featured on a secular music review site.
Not knowing what I was getting my self into I took a listen. The song Best of Me took hold of my heart and would not let go. What stood out to me was the lyrics:
If I could find yesterday
I would take You back to where I’m coming from
Cause You can see the way
All these scars have kept me running
And chasing down the past
But I’m not done, I’m turning back
I swear, You’re the only reason I keep breathing
I swear, You keep on giving me the reason to keep believing
Finally I’m worth it, though I’m not perfect
It still feels right, and I keep on giving
Trying to make a difference, in my life
But I know another way to show
Everything I can be for You
You’re all that I’ll ever need
I’ll give you the Best of Me
If I could read tomorrow’s mind
I would know exactly where You’re taking me
If I’m going to slip away
Or if I stay and give You all my trust
You will keep me safe
I know You won’t let me fade
This blew my atheistic mind. Why?
Because I had never considered religion to bring out the best in people. Rather I always thought religion was a crutch for people to rest on.
Yet 1st John 4:19 says
19 We love because he first loved us. (RSV 2nd Catholic edition)
At the time I had a lot of scars (still do). I attempted to find my worth in being perfect. This song explicitly states that she is worth it despite her imperfections and scars.
This message brought healing to my soul.
In 2011, I was diagnosed with a herniated disc.
The news devastated me.
I had to leave school and take a leave of absence and spend 3 long months in the hospital.
For the uninitiated, there isn’t much to do in hospitals.
Thus, I listened to Christian rock music.
I need hope that secular music just could not provide.
One time, in particular, stands out.
It was the middle of the night. The nurse comes in to make me go to the bathroom. I had yet to go all day. The circumstances made the hospital staff understandably worried. They catheterized me.
Fear swirled through my head.
“What if I’ve lost my ability to go to the bathroom on my own”, I thought.
With that thought, tears came. The nurse tried to comfort me to no avail.
As the nurse left the room, I decided to turn on music.
No sleeping now, I thought as I cried.
The following song came on the radio: On The Front Lines by Light Up the Darkness
Can You comfort me when I call / Is my voice bouncing off the wall
As the weeping prophet my tears still fall
Not unlike my words upon deaf ears
I’m standing on the front lines with Jesus on my right side
I’m not defeated / I will stand tall
And my armor is fitted / And I will not fear
You held my hand / You led me here
You can defeat the enemy
I hear his cunning whispering words / I despise the enemy’s call
He tries to slay me with his lies
and I cannot compromise on the Solid Rock I stand
I don’t think that song would have the same emotional impact outside of a rock song. If it was a pop song or traditional praise song, It may have very well come across as cheesy. Yet Christianity attracted me, not through everlasting joy, but by the battle motif. Jesus is king standing on the front lines with us. He is battling the principles of darkness.
Is Screaming a Form of Praise?
The Bible talks about shouting a lot. The most famous example is the battle of Jericho.
So the people shouted, and the trumpets were blown. As soon as the people heard the sound of the trumpet, the people raised a great shout, and the wall fell down flat, so that the people went up into the city, every man straight before him, and they took the city. Joshua 6:20-6:22 (RSV 2nd Catholic edition)
Now we can read this as a historical narrative. Yet I also believe in a personal interpretation.
I believe that the walls represent obstacles in our lives. Things that keep us from our divine given purpose. Thus, screaming and shouting is a permissible form of praise. Our screams anticipate God’s intervention. Thus we can enter into eternal city of the new Jerusalem. Something is freeing about shouting out for God and watching the walls fall in our lives.
Christian rock: a Gimmick?
So does Christian rock music make actual rock music worse?
My answer would be, “it depends.” Artistic intentions play a large role in the integrity of the music choices. If the intention is to make Jesus seem cool or edgy and contrary to what Jesus is really about, then yes it is not authentic. Firstly, be a musician. Secondly, write meaningful messages about faith that can only be conveyed by rock music. Thirdly, don’t do it to try to spread the gospel to the masses or tap into the Christian market. We, Christians, have Christian Contemporary and praise music for that purpose.