The Christian metal community has been shaken by the story of As I Lay Dying frontman Tim Lambesis, his criminal charges, and his comments about the Christian music scene. Host of Life FM's Underground Show Jayraj Unka weighs in on the whole thing.
Over the past couple of days I have read the articles that have been kindly shared on the Parachute Facebook page. Some of these I have read before, but what has gotten me all riled up are the comments that people have been making. It’s got me thinking about a whole bunch of things, so I thought I would take to writing. These are my own thoughts, not the thoughts of Parachute Music or anyone else. They are my own thoughts, based on my own experiences and from stories I have heard from people close to me.
This whole Tim Lambesis, (As I Lay Dying) saga and the comments around it have disturbed me. Here is a broken man, who has seen his life get flushed down the toilet; through no one’s doing but his own. He has lost his family and band. He has been through the court process and has been found guilty, yet here we are as so-called Christians willing to tear more strips off him.
Yes, he has done something wrong. He will do his time for this. He needs to deal with the consequences of his actions. But lets’ leave it at that. Let’s not judge him anymore. Don't throw away his CDs or burn your T-Shirts. That’s not going to help anyone. We should be praying for him. Praying that some amazing people gather around him and help him through this tough time.
From what I have seen, at least two people that have been to Parachute Festival, Chad Johnson & Brain Welch, have been close to Tim, supporting him personally. We need to do the same, whether he has a faith or not. In fact, in an interview Brian Welch said that the only difference between himself and Lambesis is that he got "good advice" at the final moment when he was considering an equally dark decision.
As for his comments about being an Atheist, again, don't throw away your CD’s, burn the t-shirts or rip the posters off the wall. There is no need for a tantrum. He hasn't deceived anyone. I think you will find that many bands with Christian members have this same problem. They start playing shows; get a reputation, the Christian fraternity claims them and they get put on a pedestal. Most of the people in these bands start out very young and do a lot of their late teenage/early 20’s becoming the next big thing in "Christian" music. The problem is, as they are growing in popularity as band they discover, like a lot of youth, life’s other “pleasures”.
All of a sudden, they get a reputation for heading out on tours with secular bands, and big secular bands; people who are not the perfect picture of faith. 10 years down the track they realise they don't believe in God anymore. And this is not strictly a "Metal" thing. What’s to say that some of our favourite Christian artists aren't doing the same?
We, as Christians, pick up on these bands, claim them, put them on a pedestal, and when they fall (which happens a more than we care to admit) we chastise them in Jesus name. (This is my problem with calling things "Christian" and "Secular" but that’s another blog.)
We almost set them up to fail.
I’m not saying that this behavior is right. I would hope that I would not do this if I ever made it big as a musician, but I cannot guarantee this and I say that not because I am weak, but because I know I am human.
I think it’s our responsibility as Christians to support and pray for these musicians at all times, whether they are involved in metal, jazz, hardcore or pop. We need to create a culture that doesn't condemn these musicians once they fall, but walks with them at all times, and if we are close enough for them to call us a friend, be able to be just that, a friend with an ear to listen and hopefully be an example to follow while their "working world" is chaos. This is community. This is church!
And maybe we as the church are partly to blame for Tim Lambesis walking away from his faith. Maybe it’s our fault for not walking with him, not praying with him, holding him accountable, talking with him, or listening to him. I don't know if there were people that were doing this throughout his career before all this drama, and if there were I am sorry if you read this and are offended, that was not my intention, I’m just trying to make a point.
Finally, I want to address the people who say that there is no way all this “Screaming angry music” is of the Lord. In response to that, my first thought is that I could go to many mega churches and wannabe mega churches any given Sunday and find Pastors screaming more false statements from the pulpit than the lead singers of some of these bands. Just saying.
I understand that metal, hardcore, punk music are genres of music that are hard to engage with for those that are uneducated in them. You can't hear the words, the drums are too loud, the guitars make your ears bleed etc etc. “How can God be in that?” You ask.
Well He can be. I have experienced it first-hand. Without these styles of music I would not be a Christian. Our God delights in our creativity. These styles of music are just forms of His creativity. He has placed in the makers of this music a desire to worship Him in spirit and in truth, through heavy breakdowns, guitar solos, ridiculous drumbeats and blood-curdling screams.
I have seen hundreds fall to their knees watching Sleeping Giant at Parachute Festival, I have heard many stories about how Saving Grace’s music and lyrics have stopped people from killing themselves and how many have met God through their music. I myself have fallen to my knees in tears listening to some of these bands. I have had moments with God that have helped shape me as a person. For me, this kind of music expresses the passion and heart inside these people. For the most part, it’s not an angry heart, in fact, it’s almost as if whatever is happening inside these people is so overwhelming, all they can do is scream! If we took time to read the lyrics you would find some very honest worshipful words! You would find broken people’s heartsongs. You would find a lot of truth.
For me, these types of music will be far more real and truthful to me than the standard pop driven Christian artists we all know have influenced our churches and culture over the last 20 years. The creativity in these types of music draws me in far more than the standard three-chord, verse-chorus-verse-chorus-bridge-chorus-chorus songs that saturate the Christian market.
Metal, hardcore, punk music often reaches the unchurched in ways that the majority of our modern day worship music does not. Our people are prophetic people. We need to be pushing the boundaries creatively, musically, and lyrically all the time. We cannot be stuck rehashing things of the past, or trying to recreate a Christian version of what the secular scene is already doing, we need to be allowing God to move through us to create new, fresh ideas.
Some of those ideas may be full of screaming, heavy breakdowns, and may induce a plethora of youth to fight a bunch of invisible ninjas while listening.
In conclusion, do not judge, it’s not worth it. Instead, let’s be a people that gather around the broken (and "fixed") and be there for them.
Let’s be people that realise that everyone is human, that we all fall and stumble in our own ways, including those that we idolise.
God can move in any arena, we cannot put God in a box. Let’s celebrate other people’s creativity even if we do not understand it. If it’s bringing truth, hope, love and Jesus into people’s lives and environments, then it’s got to be good.
Lastly, find the music, art, thing that allows you to worship God in your own way and build that with Him.