How does one reconcile being a Christian yet also part of a subculture? I hope to be able to answer this question.
Since I can remember, I’ve always been attracted to all things Goth. Bats, suspenseful horror movies, Elvira, Tales From the Crypt, Victorian mansions, Gothic architecture, abandoned homes and buildings, old cemeteries, all these have been what I consider beautiful. I know it sounds strange for a Christian to say such things, but it’s true.
After being denied, by religious legalism, the freedom to be myself, in 2012 I took the steps towards loving and accepting myself as I am. I learned that I don’t have to compromise my faith even though I’m part of a subculture. I know what my limitations are: gory horror movies and heavy occult themes, music that celebrates death, these are areas that I will not allow myself to enter.
Being Goth doesn’t mean I’m evil, nor does it mean that you’re evil. We appreciate the darkness as aesthetic, and embrace that beauty. All Goths are different, and there are different styles within the subculture. There are Cybergoths, Traditional Goths, Victorian Goths, Pastel Goths. Likewise, not all Goths dress like Goths, not all Goths like the same Goth things. There are a slew of videos on YouTube where Goths give their “Un-Goth” confessions. I suppose the best way of saying this is that Goth is more a state of being, something inside us, than an outward appearance. Most of us are drawn towards the clothing style because, let’s face it, Goth clothing is gorgeous.
I think that having an appreciation for the strange and unusual is a gift. As a Christian Goth, I can go places where the “normal” Christians are afraid to go. Yes, I’m afraid it’s true. Now, this isn’t to say that ALL Christians are unwilling to go into the “undesirable” places to witness. There are those who do, and I commend them. However, it’s not enough to do that. What happens when someone from a subculture like Goth or punk walks into a church? What kind of reaction would you, as a Christian, have? Would it to be to sneer at the person? Would you give them a genuinely warm and friendly welcome, or would you refuse to go near that person?
I hope it would be to smile and give a warm welcome, being genuinely happy that person has come into church. Instead, there are knee-jerk reactions, which I believe come out of the 80’s hoopla regarding bands like KISS, AC/DC, Twisted Sister, etc. Not only that, but almost EVERYTHING then was “of the devil”. Toys like the He-Man and She-Ra action figures (I had ALL the latter), games like Dungeons & Dragons, and wearing all black were seen as Satanic. A religious fever stemming from fear swept churches across the nation, and now we have places filled with Christians wary of the Gothic subculture. Why? Because, since we wear all black, we MUST be Satanists! This fear has poisoned the minds and hearts of far too many churches and parishioners. Love is not shown to those who need it. Who knows but that “odd” person showing up in your church is looking to understand what this God thing is about.
So how should a Goth/Punk/Emo/Person of another subculture react to a Christian’s reaction to them? Believe it or not, it’s not by meeting harsh words with harsher words. I’ve gotten to a point where I have to rein in my temper, lest it be a bad witness. I have to see myself from that Christian’s point of view, and think how I should best react. I smile and let my fellow Christian know that I too am a child of God, bought with the blood of Christ, and that while I may appear evil, mean, and intimidating (thank you Resting Angry Face), I am quite the opposite. I may even suggest that a snap reaction that forms a negative opinion is detrimental to a Christian’s witness, though I can understand why I would garner that type of reaction. If the Christian is willing to listen, I am more than happy to explain when and how the Gothic subculture originated, and how not all of us dress in black and listen to The Cure while smoking clove cigarettes and hanging out in cemeteries.
Not that I’ve done that latter. Not I. Okay, maybe I have, but without the clove cigarettes.
Basically, the best reaction is to smile, be pleasant, and show that person, Christian or not, that you’re not the evil person they think you are. Even to the ones who are nasty to you, and that type is sadly bountiful, it’s best to let that negativity roll off you like water off a duck’s feathers. In some cases, however, I’ve found the Death Glare and a bit of hissing will cause said nasty to clear out of your personal space quickly. That’s only reserved for dire situations, though.
Now, how do I reconcile my Gothness with my walk with Christ? As mentioned before, I know my limitations and boundaries, and take care not to step past them. I know what will not glorify Him, and so I stay away from it. If anything gives me a bad vibe, I stay away from it. I read and study Scripture, pray daily, and ask God how I can best let His light shine through me. I am finally comfortable in knowing who I am.
I want to leave you with this passage from James 2, 1-4: My brethren, do not hold your faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ with an attitude of personal favoritism. For if a man comes into your assembly with a gold ring and dressed in fine clothes, and there also comes in a poor man in dirty clothes, and you pay special attention to the one who is wearing the fine clothes, and say, “You sit here in a good place,” and you say to the poor man, “You stand over there, or sit down by my footstool,” have you not made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil motives?
This Scripture is important in more ways than just judging by appearance. We are all equals in the eyes of God, none being holier than the others. We are all at different places in our spiritual walk, and as long as we continue to walk with Christ, to strive to love each other and love those who are not Christians, we will not become those judges with evil motives. We should all love each other with the love that God has shown us; unconditional. That means not loving someone just because they serve some purpose, or do what you want them to. It means to love in spite of an odd appearance, bad habits, poor health, and so on.
Be excellent to each other, and…party on, dudes!
If your curiosity needs further satiating, I highly recommend visiting this website, it’s one of my favorites
And this Youtube video I recorded a couple of yeas ago on this same topic