Many Born Again Christians who knew me in my teens and young adult years blamed the Marine Corps for my straying from the faith. Many but not all because some blamed music. The funny thing was the fact that there was a great deal of truth in that but not as some might imagine. See, I wasn’t turned from my faith because I began listening to Motley Crue albums, no, music played a role in my disassociation with Born Again Christianity in a different way, which I will now explain.
When I was fifteen, I worked the first of three summers at a Bible Camp based on the one mentioned in “He Was Weird.” My musical knowledge at the time was limited to AM radio and it was meeting people at the camp who had much more extensive musical knowledge who enlightened my musical experiences beyond that of mainstream radio. During the summer of 1976, I was introduced to musical artists such as Bob Dylan, Led Zeppelin, Jim Croce and even KISS. Although I knew of the Beatles, thanks to one friend, by the time the summer finished, I could practically sing the Sgt Pepper album by heart. What all of these musically wise co-workers all had in common was the fact that they were all very strong Christians. When the summer was over, I further investigated my new knowledge and began exploring musicians on my own initiative. That’s how a became a big Jefferson Starship fan. Furthermore, my musical knowledge would grow deeper when I would return to work at the camp over the next two summers.
Sure, there were those of the older generation and some younger ones who declared rock music to be of the devil. It was after the third summer when I heard someone from my local church youth group state that KISS was an anagram for Knights in Satan’s Service and I stopped listening to them. But for the most part, I listened to what I wanted without any finger pointing. In addition, when the church went roller skating, no one stopped the rink deejay from playing main stream music. So, I saw nothing wrong with listening to music.
My musical knowledge and appreciation expanded thousands fold when I joined the marines. It opened up my experiences to all sorts of music including my love for Southern Rock. Therefore, when I left the service, I had all sorts of musical knowledge and experiences to build upon and was as knowledgeable as many of my contemporaries. As for being a Born Again Christian, I still had the faith but by that time, I was using Ephesians Chapter 2 verses 8 and 9 to justify not bothering with the works. That didn’t stop one of my old friends trying to bring me ‘back to the fold.’
I went to church with my friend and even to some of his young adult evenings. I found them fun but there was no spiritual uplifting for me. Then at one such function, those Christians began talking about the evils of rock music and how it was of the devil. My friend even confessed that he was having a difficult time in destroying his record collection to which one person advised him to simply put them in the bath and turn the water on to warp them.
This is what I found confusing. I had come to love rock music through friends who were just as good Christians, maybe better, than the ones who were now denouncing music. This contradiction caused great confusion in my mind because I saw nothing spiritually wrong with most music. If anything contributed to my divorce from this form of Christianity, it was this confusion over music.
Yes, KISS was still a religious football kicked around by these Christians as an example of the evils of rock and roll but further artists were being thrown in. Michael Jackson was attacked because he was a Jehovah’s Witness and buying his records was supporting that ‘false’ faith. Then more anagrams came in. The band WASP was awarded two: We Are Satan’s People and We Are Sexual Perverts. Furthermore, female artists Stevie Nicks and Grace Slick both supposedly practiced witchcraft and a couple of years later, so did Ann and Nancy Wilson from Heart. To me, it was just getting ridiculous. Then the final straw came after Live Aid when these so called Christians condemned the artists who performed saying they should have given 10% of their money instead of twenty minutes of their time. I wonder how many of these ‘Christians’ gave that much of their money. If it wasn’t that, my final straw with Born Again Christianity would have come a year later when these persons would show up at concerts and tell us we were all going to hell for seeing a concert.
My attitudes towards music remained with me when I began investigating the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, (Mormons.) During one of the discussions, I was ready to come out and ask the missionaries teaching us if I joined their church, would I be expected to burn my AC/DC albums. Fortunately, my then wife was a bit more diplomatic and managed to steer the conversation to that vein so my question was answered. Mormonism is more of a play on the conscience. When listening to any music, one is supposed to ask themselves, “Would they feel comfortable listening to it if Jesus were listening with them?” If the answer is no, then don’t listen to it. When I was young in the faith, there were a few albums I could answer yes to. Most had swearing in the lyrics and there was one song where the singer came right out and sang “Hail Satan.” But most of what I listened to I felt okay with. So, if anyone asks, music had nothing to do with my choice to leave the faith.
Contrary to what some Born Again Christians might think, I haven’t chosen music over God. In fact, I can listen to Christian rock just as I do non-Christian rock. I do really like Stryper. Just don’t tell me that I’m worshiping Satan because I listen to music because I’ll tell you where to go.
To buy He Was Weird, go to https://www.amazon.co.uk/He-Was-Weird-Michael-Lefevre/dp/1909740942/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1484762670&sr=1-1&keywords=he+was+weird