WHAT ROCK MUSIC DID FOR ME: A PERSONAL TESTIMONY
Updated March 4, 2004 (first published August 20, 2000) (David Cloud, Fundamental Baptist Information Service, P.O. Box 610368, Port Huron, MI 48061, 866-295-4143, firstname.lastname@example.org) -
Before conversion, I was very much a child of my times. I was born in 1949 and graduated from high school in 1967. The Beatles were at the height of their power; America’s military involvement in Southeast Asia was at its peak. Eastern religions were becoming popular. Long-haired hippies became almost as common in small towns as in the cities, and communes covered the land. Bob Dylan was singing, “The times, they are a changing”; and since I was not committed to the Lord Jesus Christ and had nothing to anchor and protect me spiritually and philosophically, I was adrift on those dangerous, changing times.
In 1969 I was drafted into the Army. Desiring to have some control over the type of duty I would have, I joined for an extra year. Since I was a good typist, they made me a clerk. Somehow, though, I got sidetracked as a general’s driver at the Army Record Center in St. Louis, Missouri. When my orders came for Vietnam, the general got me a job as company clerk for a military police unit based in Tan Son Nhut air base near Saigon. By 1970 I was flying across the Pacific on my way to what would be a year and a half of duty in Vietnam, and it was there that I become involved with drugs. Upon discharge from the Army I carried my love for drugs home with me. I learned that a great many of my high school friends were involved with drugs to various degrees, and I was quickly immersed in the pervasive U.S. hippie culture. I began to “get high with the help of my friends,” as the old rock song put it. Many new experiences awaited. I learned that the marijuana we were getting in the States was weak, compared to the Southeast Asian variety. And in the ever increasing search for the better high, inhibitions dissolved and I began taking practically everything I could get my foolish hands on.
Looking back, I am amazed at how quickly natural inhibitions fell away after the decision was made to try marijuana. Before Vietnam, I had many opportunities to use drugs, but as freewheeling and foolish as I was, I was still afraid of drugs before I went to Vietnam.
How disastrous, then, was that first curious step, when, after only a few weeks in Vietnam, I agreed to try a “joint” of marijuana that was offered to me by a military policeman in our unit. Within a year and a half of that fateful mistake, my inhibitions were so dulled that I would try practically anything.
THE INTIMATE CONNECTION BETWEEN ROCK, DRUGS, REBELLION AND ESTRANGEMENT FROM TRUTH
What do drugs have to do with rock and roll? Much! During the entire drug experience, I ate, slept, and breathed rock and roll. While in Vietnam, like many GIs, I purchased expensive stereo equipment and recorded hundreds of rock albums. The barracks, bars, and clubs were equipped with rock and roll. Sadly, the anthem for the American soldier in Vietnam was rock music. It was the same back in the States. The stereo equipment purchased by the tons in Southeast Asia found its way into hippie apartments in every nook and cranny of America. And in those cozy dens, with the atmosphere controlled by our filthy rock and roll kings, thousands upon thousands upon thousands of young people destroyed their minds and lives with drugs. Drugs and rock; rock and drugs. The two are as intimately connected as Siamese twins, and through these mediums demonic powers enter into and destroy lives.
Rock music began breaking down moral and psychological inhibitions as soon as I began listening to it in the early ’60s in junior high school. And when I finally did enter the drug world, I was amazed at how the rock literally came alive! Why? Because rock is created by drug abusers.
“Rock musicians use drugs frequently and openly, and their compositions are riddled with references to drugs, from the Beatles’ ‘I Get High With a Little Help From My Friends’ to the Jefferson Airplane’s ‘White Rabbit’ ... Grace Slick of the Jefferson Airplane told Cavalier in June of 1968, ‘We all use drugs and condone the judicious use of drugs by everyone. Kids are going to blow their minds somehow, and this is a better way to do it than racking up their car against the wall. Let them groove, do their own thing.’ Frank Zappa of the Mothers of Invention told Life that society’s major hangups could be cured by a drug and sexual openness” (David A. Noebel, The Marxist Minstrels, p. 72).
This was written many years ago but the statements are even truer today. The drug epidemic is increasing with frightful speed; rock music is even more popular, more vile than ever. The two worlds are one: The rock world is the drug world; the drug world is the rock world. Rock helped break down inhibitions and lead me to drug abuse (and rebellion and immorality). Drug abuse led me to rock. The fact that there are people who enjoy rock music and do not use drugs does not disprove the natural and intimate connection between the two.
I became depressed, defeated, lonely, and empty. Ambitions disappeared. When I was discharged from the military, even though I had used drugs steadily for a couple of years, I still had some goals and clear plans. I got a job at a children’s psychiatric hospital in southern Florida and made plans to continue my education at a local college; yet within a few months, this ambition was dissolved in a world of drugs. I quit that job and sold drugs for awhile. After I was arrested and briefly jailed for drug possession and public drunkenness, I began living almost like a bum for awhile. I was so restless! I would keep a job only for days or weeks at the most. I drifted from place to place, job to job, philosophy to philosophy. By then the pleasure from drugs had dissipated and a dark, persistent depression had settled in. I would go to bed depressed and wake up depressed. Even in a friendly crowd I felt separated, alone. I had no peace, no joy, no satisfaction. And what was worse and most frightful, I believe, was the gradual loss even of the hope of change. I wanted out but couldn’t find the door.
How I praise God that He loved me and in His grace was patiently drawing me. Though I did not then appreciate it, there was one treasure which I still possessed. In my period of drifting I had sold practically everything of value I had owned, but unknowingly I still had a treasure which was, quite literally, priceless—the inestimable treasure of having grown up in a Christian home, of having learned Bible verses as a child, of the tears and prayers of a godly grandmother, of the love of a mother and father who took me to church every time the doors were open. In the summer of 1973 God brought the right man into my life to confront me with the Word of God.
I met this Christian man while traveling. By then I had become intrigued by westernized Hinduism, particularly the Self-Realization Fellowship Society. While hitchhiking from California to Florida I was given a ride by some young people from India, and through their testimonies and literature I became convinced that reincarnation was true. After devouring several books they had given me, including The Autobiography of a Yogi by guru Paramahansa Yogananda, founder of the Self-Realization Fellowship Society, I made a pilgrimage from Florida to Los Angeles, California, to visit the headquarters of that organization On the way there I won roughly $70 in a slot machine in Las Vegas and I thought it was an answer to my prayers! After a brief stay in California, I was back in southern Florida. After working a short while as a tow motor operator in a lumber yard, I quit and decided to drive to my hometown in central Florida.
It was a weekend when I pulled onto the highway near Fort Lauderdale with the goal of driving the roughly 200 miles to my hometown. A few miles down the road, I saw a man on a touring bicycle traveling alongside the highway, and though I passed by him, I had a powerful urge to turn back and find out where he was going, which I did. After talking a few minutes beside the road, I invited him to ride with me as far as my hometown. He agreed and when we had stored his bicycle and gear in the trunk of the car, we pulled back onto the highway and headed north.
If I remember correctly, I was the first to broach the subject of God and religion. I was still interested in reincarnation, and even had some books with me. When asked if he believed in God, the stranger acknowledged that he did and pulled a Bible from one of his pockets. His name was Ron Walker, and he was headed to Mexico to preach in a coastal area he had visited earlier. I learned one more thing very quickly: He was very skillful in the use of that little Bible.
A CHRISTIAN WHO KNEW HOW TO USE THE BIBLE
As I began asking questions about life and religion, the thing that impressed me most deeply about Ron was his knowledge of the Book he professed to believe. He could actually show me passages which gave clear answers to my questions and plain contradictions to my philosophies. I had not before realized that the Bible was this practical. I was so intrigued with this and with the discussions we were having that I decided to go to Mexico with Ron, which is exactly what we did. I didn’t even stop in my hometown.
For two days we drove from southern Florida to Brownsville, Texas, where there is a border crossing into Mexico. As we traveled, I told Ron what I thought about life and religion, and he patiently showed me what the Bible said.
I admit the discussions became less and less enjoyable as I discovered that the Bible contradicted practically everything I believed! For example, I believed in reincarnation, but the Bible says “it is appointed to men ONCE to die and after death the judgment.” I believed that men should follow their hearts, but the Bible says that “the heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked, who can know it.” I believed there were many ways to God; the Bible says that “there is one Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.” I was convinced a man could not go too far wrong as long as he was sincere; but the Bible declares, “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man but the end thereof are the ways of death.” I think you can see what I mean by being contradicted by the Bible!
THE POWER OF THE SCRIPTURES
I praise God that Ron knew the Scriptures well and could answer my questions and give direct, precise answers. He didn’t know anything about the myriad of New Age-tinged things I was studying, and he was far removed from the lifestyle I was living. He was not practicing “contextualization,” in other words, trying to reach hippies by looking like one! He was simply striving to live a godly Christian life and to patiently teach the Bible to those who would listen. It is the Bible which is “quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” It is the simple gospel of Jesus Christ which is “the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.”
We stopped along the way somewhere in Alabama and Ron bought me a large-print King James Bible without any notes, cross references or anything—just the Scriptures. He also bought me a copy of Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance. That night we slept beside the car at a roadside park in our sleeping bags. I was already disgusted with the things Ron was teaching me from the Bible, and as I lay in my sleeping bag looking up at the stars, I had the strong impulse to get up, put Ron’s bicycle out on the ground, and drive off by myself so I wouldn’t have to hear any more of it. I fell asleep without doing that, though, and the next morning we continued driving toward the Mexican border. I believe it was late that night when we finally reached Brownsville. The next day when we were getting information about entering Mexico I was given trouble by the Mexican authorities about my long hair. There was also trouble with the U.S. authorities because I had a drug arrest record which showed up on the computer. We were strip searched, and I decided not to go any further. In fact, I was glad at this new turn of events, thinking I could now get rid of Ron. From his perspective it must have been very humiliating to have appeared to have been a close traveling companion with me, to be strip searched and all, but he made no complaint.
By that point, I had become openly antagonistic toward the Bible. Earlier that day as we were driving through southeast Texas I had asked Ron to throw his Bible out of the car, “so we could meet on common ground.” Of course, he refused, stating that without the Bible he had no wisdom.
Perhaps it was from reading about the “holy men” of the Himalayan mountains in India and Nepal, but my plan at that time was to find a mountain and settle down for awhile to meditate and figure things out on my own without the iron-clad dogmatism of the Bible to hamper me. And certainly without Ron or some other Christian! But Ron, bless his heart, had other plans. He told me he had decided to ride back to Florida with me; that he wanted to put off his trip into Mexico. I wasn’t happy with this but decided I could endure him for another couple of days. I agreed to travel with him back to Daytona Beach, Florida, where we would split up. That, in fact, is exactly what happened; but by the time we parted, it turned out I was sad to see him go, because I was a different person.
We rode back to Florida basically in silence. Ron knew I was not interested in hearing any more from the Bible at that point, and he wisely waited and prayed. When we arrived in Daytona Beach, we decided that it would be nice to sleep on a real bed for a change and also to take a shower and freshen up. Thus we got a room in a motel. After we had showered, and were each sitting on our beds, we began talking again. Ron opened his Bible and began to read. I don’t remember what he was reading, but it was something he had already gone over during our trip. And right there, very peacefully and calmly, but very definitely, I repented and believed in the Lord Jesus Christ. It was like a light had turned on in my soul. We prayed together, and there was no question in the change which had occurred. Immediately the Bible was a treasure to me; I knew that it and it alone was the Word of God, and that Jesus Christ was the only Lord and Savior. Only an hour before I had been utterly antagonistic toward these very truths.
The next morning we had breakfast together, then said good-bye. Ron rode away on his bicycle, and I have never seen nor heard from him since. I drove the 100 miles to my hometown, walked into the house, placed the big black Bible on the kitchen table, and declared to Mom and Dad that I had gotten right with the Lord! I soon got a job—and kept it! At least I kept it until I went away to attend Bible school about a year later.
GIVING UP ROCK WAS A DIFFICULT SPIRITUAL BATTLE
Giving up rock music was not a simple matter. It was a real struggle, because I absolutely loved it and had listened to it practically every waking moment for many years. I began to study the Bible zealously. Each day I would find a private place away from distraction, and read and meditate upon the blessed Word of God. I had been deceived and in bondage to Satan for many years; and now that I had received the truth, I never wanted to be deceived again. I also desired that God would purify and use my life, and one of the first things He dealt with me about was my music. God’s Word tells us that we cannot serve two masters. I cannot say I love the Lord if I love those things which the Lord’s hates. “Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God” (James 4:4).
One day as I was driving in my car with the radio tuned to a rock station (as usual), I suddenly realized that I was pouring garbage into my mind as fast as I was pouring in truth. Rock and roll was contaminating the truth and hindering the healing ministry of the Holy Spirit. I turned off the radio that day and rejoiced in what God had shown me. That was not the end of the battle, though. Often I was tempted to turn that knob and be immersed for a few moments in the beat, yet I always knew that it did not please the Lord and that it was not edifying to my Christian life.
Giving up rock and roll was one of the most difficult battles I have faced as a Christian. Giving up rock was easily as difficult as giving up cigarettes. And, as with smoking, the battle against rock music had to be fought and re-fought long after the initial victory. Why was this so if rock is harmless and unintoxicating as some claim? I realize that giving up rock in itself did not secure the many blessings I enjoy in my Christian life, but I am convinced that it was an important step in the right direction.
WHAT ROCK MUSIC DID FOR ME: A PERSONAL TESTIMONY