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  • Micah Coate

The New Christian Punk

Updated: Apr 27

“These who have turned the world upside down have come here too.” Acts 17:6

Given my ever-fading memory, I remember quite vividly the first concert that I was graciously brought to by my older brother, Abram. Being six years older than me, I was possibly introduced to the punk rock scene at a slightly younger age than most others. Regardless of age though, to any virgin eyes, especially those raised in a Christian home, an underground punk rock concert was a scene to behold.

The band was NOFX; the singer, Fat Mike. They were playing in Tucson’s downtown performance center — the DPC. The dark and rundown building on the corner of two city streets in a less-than-posh neighborhood naturally attracted young punk rockers and those without homes. In fact, only a discerning eye could detect the difference between the two. When the doors opened, there was a full bum rush of young social outcasts, most sporting shaved heads or mohawks, all donning baggy and tattered clothes, some of which were studded with metal spikes. Smoke, alcohol, sweat, moshing, and deafening punk rock “music” overwhelmed my senses. I put music in quotes because the sound quality and musicianship of punk rock never took a higher priority than swearing, having fun, destroying property, getting drunk, and offering the “horns” on one fist while extending the middle finger on the other.

Thirty years ago, the ethos of punk used to be synonymous with rebellion. It used to stand for an extreme contempt of any sort of establishment. No one was required to actually know what any corporate entity stood for, just as long as it was stood against. Although the music was fast-paced and lyrically edgy, the whole scene of dress, culture, and lifestyle was really only an expression of an internal reaction to Big Brother or anything perceived as such. Because of this, all sources of authority were mocked. If religious leaders, politicians, and law enforcement were not irreverently ridiculed in words, then they definitely were in spirit. Striving to shed all forms of authority, it’s no surprise that anarchy became a common symbol and theme of the genre. Whether overtly or secretly, seriously or in jest, punk rock culture attempted to turn the world upside down.

But today the punk rock scene, as is true with many other things, has been reversed. Punk rock didn’t overthrow the authority; ironically, it became the authority.

But should we really be too surprised?

The old Hippies of the past who just wanted to make love, not war, are many of the aging warmongers still in leadership today. Plenty of those who were against the old and crusty leaders of the establishment then are now themselves holding onto their political power. It doesn’t matter that some struggle to make coherent sentences (let alone persuasive arguments), suffer stroke-like episodes on live TV, or are being carted along in wheelchairs to vote on issues they know nothing about.

Nowadays, most people with colored Mohawks, obnoxious tattoos, face piercings, and clothing worn only to garner others’ disdain are those who largely side with Big Brother. Consequently, those who stand up to authoritarianism are the likes of Nick Sandman, a scrawny, clean-cut, high school student who looks as if he’s been homeschooled his whole life and was only allowed to listen to Bill Gaither’s greatest hits on Friday nights.

Who else is fighting governmental authority?

Mothers who care about their children’s education and dare to speak up about it are put on FBI watchlists. Those who wanted medical autonomy and freedom were fired from their jobs and demonized by the government and media propaganda. Female college athletes who don’t want to share a locker room with men are considered bigots. And citizens who think the Second Amendment is important are considered just as dangerous as Islamic terrorists.

Homemakers, masculine men, female athletes who believe in biology, and students like Nick Sandman wearing a MAGA hat; These people are the new counterculturists.

A recent video making rounds on the internet comes from a young punk rocker from New York confessing how much things have changed over the years. “You can’t really be a punk rocker and be a liberal anymore. Because that has become the establishment. So if you wanted to be a punk rocker you by definition have to be a Conservative. It’s the weirdest thing. So, good on all you Christians for being real punk rockers while the world has gone ultra establishment, ultra oppression, ultra government overreach. You can’t be big government and be a punk rocker. That makes no sense at all.”

I’d agree!

Upon further reflection, maybe the animating principles of punk rock were never really opposed to authority, just one type of authority, that which creates morality, truth, beauty, and life. Now that our culture seems to be backward in many areas, I think it's high time Christians assume the goal of the 1st-century believers and turn the world upside down - or right side up.

Christian, our only authority comes from Christ, our King. The proposition that Jesus was a renegade has some truth to it. He was put to death by the religious elites of the time because he completely bucked the Jewish and Roman systems of religion and government. He did this by claiming to be God Himself. If those who follow Him as the Lord who holds all authority in Heaven, then it might not be too surprising if the Christian is the new punk on earth.

But what do you think?

Micah Coate, President and Host of Salvation and Stuff


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