DC Talk might be the most successful evangelical Christian group ever. Their 1995 album Jesus Freak sold two million copies in the US alone. And, if I might have a Christian rock hipster moment here, I liked them before they were famous.
Still, I was recently reminded (by an amusing list called “Top 10 Christian songs that also work as parodies of Christian songs“) of DC Talk’s all-time low point, “I Don’t Want It”.
Yo, s-e-x is a test when I’m pressed
So back up off with less of that zest
Impress this brotha with a life of virtue
The innocence that’s spent is gonna hurt you
Safe is the way they say to play, then again safe ain’t safe at all today
So, just wait for the mate that’s straight from God
and don’t have sex ’til you tie the knot
(This rap was so good they included it in the song twice)
Everyone [here meaning “all the people I grew up with”] knows [here meaning “was indoctrinated to believe”] that your ‘purity’ is the most precious gift you can give your spouse. Because they care so much about their fans, DC Talk wrote a song to help them stay pure: playing “I Don’t Want It” to a potential suitor is a foolproof way to ensure you don’t get laid.
If you’ve spent any time at all reading about creationism online, you’ll be familiar with the infuriating experience of attempting to have a reasonable conversation on the subject. Creationists are notorious for quote mining, for a seemingly wilful ability to misinterpret the clearest of arguments, for ad hominem attacks, and for repeating the same arguments after they’ve been addressed. This has been so widely observed that it’s led to the internet adage that arguing with a creationist is like playing chess with a pigeon: They’ll knock over the pieces, crap on the board, and then strut about clucking like they won.
What’s really interesting, though, is seeing creationists use these same tactics on each other. I first observed this when I was a kid, and I should have seen through the whole enterprise back then.
There’s a simple reason why Christian rock music is never going to be convincing: rock n’ roll is about rebellion, and evangelical Christianity is about obedience.
The initial fundamentalist response to rock music was to ban it entirely. In fact, that’s still the diehard fundamentalist position. One of the main differences between evangelicals and fundamentalists is that evangelicals allow Christian rock music, whereas fundamentalists say the whole style is inherently ungodly. After a while, when it became obvious that banning rock music was not going to work, some Christians started using it as a tool for evangelism.
There was a lot of fairly decent Christian rock that sounded like Journey and Bon Jovi. That makes sense because those bands are already inoffensive. It says a lot about evangelicals that there is even a market for Christianised versions of a band whose biggest hit is called “Don’t Stop Believing”.
Evangelical rock is for kids whose parents won’t let them listen normal music. It exists purely as a mechanism of control. The bands probably wouldn’t put it that way, but even the ones who claim to preach the Gospel to ‘the Lost’ actually play to Christian audiences. As a child in the early 90s, I was curious about Guns n’ Roses, Michael Jackson, and Def Leppard. Listening to them was out of the question, so instead I had Bride, Carman, and Petra. They weren’t as good, but because I almost never heard the real thing, I didn’t know that. If I listened to secular rock music, evil spirits in the music would lead me away from God and into a life of sin.
Eventually, that’s what happened, so maybe those fundy preachers knew their stuff after all. Read the rest of this entry