Why Do Christian Artists Need To Lie?

Tim Lambesis of As I Lay Dying

[Word count: 577. Approximate read time: 2-3 minutes]

Billboard reports that Timothy Lambesis, lead singer of Grammy-nominated Christian metal band As I Lay Dying, now admits his band faked Christianity to sell records. Lambesis, who became agnostic while in college, says the ruse is not uncommon. “In 12 years of touring with As I Lay Dying, I would say maybe one in 10 Christian bands we toured with were actually Christian bands.”

How did no one notice? I suspect a familiar naïveté helped this to happen. Worship leader Michael Gungor described it in a viral blog post:

We really want the people on the stage…to have it together more than we do. Because we are messed up, we need them to be a sort of savior and hope for us. The result of this is…the people who are really good at pretending that they have it all together…make it to the stage and the book or album cover and the radio stations…

Rather than just being honest about where we are at and what we all struggle with…we look to our gatekeepers to…live morally vicariously for us.”

If you were to ask why Christian artists need to lie, the answer would be because Christians require it. When a believer asks you if you believe too, a plaintive puppy-dog-eyed “please say you do” is always implied.

The What Not To Say section of SuicideIsPreventable.org warns you not to ask questions in a way that indicates which answer you want to hear. It nearly invites dishonesty to say, “You’re not thinking about committing suicide, are you?” You might as well say, “This is what I want to hear. Please don’t tell me anything else, even if it’s true.” These are the things we like Christian artists to say…

We never argue with our spouses. Our husbands don’t find other women attractive. Our kids have pledged to stay pure until marriage. The choir director isn’t gay since God delivered him. It wasn’t domestic abuse; we’re working out our differences privately. That penis snapshot is not mine. I love my wife just as Christ loved the church.

“There’s nothing unseemly going on, is there?”

No. No, everything’s okay.

Sometimes we know there’s a problem, but we want to leave room for faith that things will get better. Sometimes we take it too far and “don’t care what the situation looks like” as we believe with our eyes tightly, tightly shut. Sometimes we’re just afraid the truth may topple everything we love.

“And sometimes we lie right into the mirror and our reflections try to let it slide, because it’s easier.” —Lalah Hathaway, “Wrong Way”

The truth is that we are a broken people. Hearing of our brokenness and staring nakedly into its evidence will never be easy. But the longer we pretend we’re not broken, the farther we are kept from healing. It would behoove us all to make room for people who want to answer an honest, “No, I don’t believe.” That becomes a present opportunity to ask them why, and from there, maybe pray a relevant prayer, and even meet a need that demonstrates the Christianity we desperately want them to claim.

Jodi Picoult wrote, “It takes two people to make a lie work: the person who tells it, and the one who believes it.” I can’t whitewash Lambesis’s trouble, but we would do ourselves a disservice not to take a moment and ask… “Have they been trying to tell us what we don’t want to hear?”


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5 thoughts on “Why Do Christian Artists Need To Lie?

  1. I’ve always been careful to answer the question. I’ve realized that responding with a pause, a chuckle, and a “uhm, not really” has encouraged conversation which I find somewhat helpful…for me to flesh this belief thing out more for myself. The way I see it, each time I answer honestly is another chance for me to.

  2. Pingback: The best of last week, today – duncalfe.com

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