Christian Rock is EVIL!! Really?


The debate over appropriate Christian music has been going on since David danced to the Lord in his tighty whiteys.   Today music in the church is not just political, it often can lead to some downright nasty infighting.   Being a Deacon, I see it firsthand.   As a church with a broad demographic we have the young crowd that like drums and electric guitars ( and God bless em’! ), the over 60’s that prefer the classic hymns, and the over 80’s that prefer acapella.   Oh yes…everyone is also convinced they are right and everyone else’s musical tastes are an abomination.

Well, almost everyone.

I come from a common Generation X background.   Born and raised on the two-handed tapping of Eddie Van Halen, the soulful lyrics of U2 and the whimsical satire of “Weird Al” Yankovic.

Which brings me to Christian Rock.

Do a Google search of “Christian Rock Evil” and wow, the wing-nuts really start flying out the hardware store.  So much so that I have to wonder, “have these people even listened to any?”.  I’m immediately reminded of John Lithgow’s character in Footloose who felt every evil impulse in the young was the fault of the “devil’s music”.

Much like Southern Gospel is a spin on country music, Christian Rock borrows lock-stock-and-barrel the rhythmic vibes of its secular counterpart.   Guitars are electric, beats move faster than the seniors home hymns, and there is absolutely a high energy vibe to the whole genre.

The question then is simple: Is this actually a bad thing? And if so, why?

Anyone who’s older than 30 probably remembers Petra.  Petra was to Christian rock what Van Halen was to secular rock. Their message and lyrics were unmistakably based on the gospel with popular songs such as Creed, Beyond Belief, and Fired Up. And the Christian kids loved it.

The Christian parents however, hated it.

The reasons have been plentiful. It’s rebellion. It’s unholy. It uses drums. It’s conformity. It’s…well…different.

Different musical taste is not in itself and act of rebellion.   The young have always tried to distinguish themselves from the generation preceding them and music is just the most available way to do it.   Sure, the older generation doesn’t like it, but that’s just their payback for torturing their own parents with the Beatles.

Allow me to use my aging self as an example. I’m almost 40. My days of any musical rebellion are long…long past me. In fact, my teenage “rebellion” by most standards was pitiful.   When I was seventeen I ran a stop sign at 3am when nobody was looking and have been living a life of guilt and pain ever since.  But rock and roll to me was never about rebelling against my parents or anyone else. I just liked the sound. Trust me, when you’re 40 and playing “Mr. Roboto” in your minivan as you make a quick trip to the store to buy an emergency pack of diapers…you are most certainly not a rebel.

So whose music is most “Christian”?  Guess what, it’s always ours.  Not mine in particular, but whoever is reading this now.  The 15 year old teen has no time for 1800’s hymns.  The 70 year old has no tolerance for the dial going over 3 and the squeels of distortion.  And the person from an entirely different culture has no appreciation for either!  But isn’t that the way it has always been?    Trust me, when your own mother was passing out from the ecstasy of watching Elvis Presley shake his hips, her parents were convinced the AntiChrist had come.  But everyone survived, their kids in turn became parents and in turn hated their kids music.  The circle of life goes on, and it has been this way long, long before rock and roll ever showed up.

Music is like an old sweater.  It’s broken in, cozy and there’s no way we want to trade it in for a new scratchy one off the rack.   While we all have our preferences, it is rather egocentric to conclude that our music is the only appropriate expression of glory to our creator.   Sometimes people just want to buy a new sweater.   Hey, I sometimes like a quiet hymn too. But I sometimes like to grab my Stratocaster and crank out some Lincoln Brewster with the volume turned up to 11.

If loud beats and dancing are the signs of evil then we better dig up King David, roundhouse kick his remains and throw him back in the hole. The King of Rock had nothing on the King of Israel.   The energy and beat of middle-eastern music can make a Nirvana mosh-pit look like an evening playing Dutch Blitz with your grandma.   David danced with a towel around his waist in the streets with such energy that his own wife was disgusted at him.   You know what, David sounded like quite the rebel.  He worshiped in the way he was drawn to and didn’t really concern himself with what others thought.   Kind of sounds familiar doesn’t it?

Some people just want to follow David’s example.   Much like King James Onlyism, we can easily run the risk of associating one style of music with holiness and condemning the expression of the next generation simply because we equate our personal comfort level as a seal of approval from God.  For the sake of the greater body of believers we need to accept that not everyone can run at the same speed.

Otherwise our churches will be populated by an ever decreasing number of the young who have every right to fight for change.   Without the young the church becomes stagnant water.  Without the experience of the old, postmodernism flourishes.  To their shock, the existence of the Emergent movement is actually the creation of the “Old Guard” due to rejecting the opinions of the young.

The gift of music is one of the most amazing that our creator has given us. When God gave music he didn’t intend for it to be monotonous and unchanging.  Music is diverse, it’s creative, and it’s exciting.  God has given us different gifts for different instruments and different types of music that we can use to give him glory.

In between writing and podcasting, the Dysfunctional Parrot can be found poking a stick at the forces of darkness with the soul-saving  jam of his Stratocaster “Mary Ann”.

© 2011 – 2015, John Paul Parrot. All rights reserved.

About Author

John Paul Parrot ( aka. The Dysfunctional Parrot ) is a disgruntled Systems Analyst who wanders the Canadian wastelands saving small villages with the power of Kung Fu.  His chair is also a little too close to the twenty year old microwave.  As you can well imagine, this has had certain side effects.

  • Craig

    Probably the most balanced view I've come across. I have no problem with anyone not liking a certain kind of music. But I get sick and tired of the lame and superstitious reasons used to call modern music "of the devil".

    I think the jury is still out on whether or not keytars were from Satan though.

    • Dysfunctional Parrot

      Actually, your point about superstition is very true.

      Yet somehow I doubt a demon is sitting around waiting for the sound of drums in order to be unleashed or hoping Steve Vai can crank out a harmonious riff in order to open a gateway to Zuhl. Eventually we need to see that hey…they’re just freaking musical instruments! What matters is what the song says.

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      I also agree with your last point. Keytars are almost certainly a sign of impending judgement.

  • Ann

    Here's a trick question. What is your take on secular rock where the lyrics are not offensive? This is where a lot of confusion lies.

    • Dysfunctional Parrot

      That my friend is where a whole lot of shades of grey are!

      First off, not all music has to fit the criteria of worship. Such as when you sing "Happy Birthday" for example. But we should also be mindful of what the song we like is singing about.

      I personally like many older songs from the 70's and 80's because that's just when I grew up. Many songs are perfectly fine. But many have also been given the boot from my library.

      Most music throughout time has been about one main topic: LOVE. And well, they've handled it in unique ways! It can be tasteful like "Never Tear Us Apart" from INXS or downright inappropriate like "Tube Steak Boogie" from ZZ Top!

      And then you have pathetic love songs from Michael Bolton that damn near suggest suicide in the event of a broken heart! Good luck with your positive self image after listening to that crud!

      I guess what I'm trying to say is that you have to take it on a case by case basis!

  • Hoss2626

    You've obviously never played Dutch Blitz at our family gatherings. It makes a Nirvana mosh pit look like a sleeping kitten.

    Other than that, great article. Such a waste of energy to classify a particular kind of music as evil. The message is the litmus test.

    Long time reader – first time posting.

    • Dysfunctional Parrot

      Welcome to the site!

  • The only bad thing about Christian Rock is, well….it SUCKS!

    I've seriously stopped classifying music as "Christian" or "secular". I tend to only see music as either "sacred" (music created for the purpose of liturgy, in the worship setting) or music created for entertainment purposes, and the bands that blur the line, well whatever, as long as they aren't using the label "Worship" to sell records (lots of them around!)

    • Dysfunctional Parrot

      The only bad thing about Christian Rock is, well….it SUCKS!

      It does seem like something is missing doesn't it? I tried to figure it out and I think I came up with why.

      Popular music is done mainly by artists who had to break their backs to perfect their craft. Yet contemporary Christian music almost seems like a fast-track to fame. That's why you'll almost never see Stevie-Ray or Joe Satriani levels of talent. True, that level of skill is dying out big-time in all genre's, but it never really landed on Christian music in the first place. Solo's are flat and the ballad's are boring.

      I guess that's why I like Lincoln Brewster for example, because at least he grinds out a decent guitar solo instead of a few crummy chords. But still, he's no Van Halen!

      • I think the only "Christian" band I still listen to is U2….seriously though, I really dig Starflyer 59. THAT is a hard working band. Jason Martin is a really talented songwriter.

        There was a period where "Christian" rock was freaking awesome. Mike Knott, Mike Rowe, the 77s, Lassie Foundation, etc. That was stuff that could hold its weight in "christian" and "secular" arenas.

        I figure most Christian artists are in the Christian industry because there's no way they could make it in the real music business. Seriously….who's gonna sign Carman?

        • Dysfunctional Parrot

          U2's "How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb" is probably one of the best CHRISTIAN albums made!

          Seeing as I know almost no other band you mentioned, I'm going to spend a few bucks on the iTunes music store and get myself a bit more up to date! I feel so old…old enough to remember Carmen!!

  • A lot of those bands were under the radar. I think you'd like the 77s. They did an awesome cover "Nobody's Fault but Mine" by the Zep. Starflyer is more noise/shoegazer type stuff

  • Brian Taylor

    I think it is sad that we have to label music in any category. I didn't realize that you have "spiritual" c notes and "secular" c notes. I am 51 years old and grew up in the 70's. I am a die hard music nut with a massive collection of music. I have real a love for prog and blues. I started listening to "christian rock" in the early 80's. While I admit that some lyrics put out by some bands were fluff and no meat. I have based a good deal of my decision about who to listen to by a couple of things: 1. what are they about 2. do they have talent. One thing I do remember from the 80's is "christian" bands came out of the wood work. Some sounded pretty bad. Some had talent but poor production. But one thing I do know, some had vision and a passion to minister to a hurting world. I have personally met and had time to sit with a couple of artists and they were very open about their passion for the lost and a hurting world. It is easy to slam something we don't understand. The Jesus Movement in the late 60's and 70's really caused a stir. But none the less, many were fired up about what (who) they had found and shared it their way. Through music. I'm not surprised that today the church is so ineffective. We're too busy accusing each other. Music can be pretty neutral or it can be blatantly wrong. But to categorize all rock as wrong or satanic is pretty lame. I think it is great there are younger musicians out there that not only have talent but have something to say. Us older folks better listen. God is moving through this generation. Keep rocking if that is what you are called to do. It is a gift not a curse.

  • Oh dude…Carmen totally was satanic. At least really stupid. That Witches Invitation song-he was completely arrogant. It takes a lot of balls to say, "the real comparison is the condition of your soul to mine." WHAT!? You may be talking to a warlock….but you're still an object of grace there, Carmen. Try showing some!

  • editor

    ( see also spirit in the sky by doctor and the medics)