For anyone that hasn't already heard the news, Tim Lambesis, the singer of Grammy-nominated, and my personal favorite band, As I Lay Dying, has been arrested. He was arrested late Tuesday night for allegedly attempting to hire a hitman to murder his estranged wife. To say that I was shocked was an incredible understatement. It was a very surreal moment for me, and I'm still trying to process it all. I haven't been in this much shock since Dimebag was killed in 2004.
For those who don't know, As I Lay Dying is a Christian-metal band. I first discovered them in 2006 when I saw the video for their song "Confined." At the time, I had heard of them but never heard them, and I had no idea that they were Christians. The moment I watched that video, my life was changed. I've been a metalhead for pretty much my entire life, since 1994 to be precise, when I first heard Pantera. Metal, up to that point, had always been a way for me to get out my aggression without physically harming myself or others. From the age of about 17-24, I was a very depressed and angry person, so metal was right up my alley. Despite hearing AILD at the age of 21, and starting the transition towards more and more Christian metal bands (at this point it's pretty much all I listen to), at the time my top bands were Lamb of God, Chimaira, Machine Head, Slipknot, etc. As I Lay Dying was different, their lyrics weren't about being angry and depressed, they were about using adversity to produce something positive. Overcoming tragedy and moving forward. Relying on God to see you through your trials. Now, As I Lay Dying has stated numerous times that they want to be judged on their music and not their faith. They certainly weren't like bands like For Today and Sleeping Giant who are very open about their faith in their music. In 2006, that was what I needed, I wasn't ready for what I considered "religious" music. As I Lay Dying sort of eased me into it, and I would start listening to more metalcore Christian bands like Haste the Day and August Burns Red. And then over the years, as I grew in my faith, I gravitated towards the aforementioned For Today and Sleeping Giant, as well as bands like Wolves at the Gate and Oh, Sleeper, who are more open with what they believe.
Tim Lambesis became a man that I admired, as he was the first man who showed me that you don't have to be the cookie-cutter version of what society perceives as a "Christian" in order to be a follower of Jesus Christ. His lyrics inspired me, and he became an idol of mine. This morning, when I heard the news, I didn't know what to do. I had a momentary freakout and called my wife immediately. The news was very hard for me to take. How could a man who was a contributing factor in helping me find my faith have done something like this? Can I still trust the other people that had that same effect on my life? After speaking with my wife, I came to the realization that I had been putting Tim Lambesis on a pedestal. Like I said, he was an idol. It wasn't Tim Lambesis that helped my faith, it was God speaking through As I Lay Dying. I was giving Tim the credit all these years when I should have been giving it to God.
The purpose of this article is not to defend Tim Lambesis, nor to condemn him. Judgment is not my job. Unfortunately, as Christians, we're constantly under a microscope. If this were someone from a non-Christian band, it would just be a story about a guy trying to hire a hitman to kill his wife. Since Tim is Christian, it very well may cause a religious uproar. Comments that I read on a metal website consisted of several people denouncing Christianity. Like I said, we're under a microscope. People seem to think that just because we follow Jesus that we don't deal with the same demons that non-Christians do. I've already written previously about what I've dealt with in my life, and if you listen to AILD lyrics, it's obvious that Tim has dealt with some pretty heavy stuff as well. This doesn't at all justify what he has allegedly done, though. I don't know all the details surrounding the situation, or what things Tim has dealt with, previously or currently.
I can speak from personal experience that when you start your walk with God, it doesn't mean that the Devil isn't still coming after you. It doesn't mean that your problems suddenly disappear and you become untouchable, but it seems most people perceive Christianity to be that way. If a non-Christian and a Christian man both cheat on their wives, it's the Christian man who receives the greater amount of scrutiny. Over the past few weeks, my past has been trying to get a foothold back into my life. It was really bothering me. After speaking about it with the amazing Terry and Paula Planck, I felt much better, as they were able to put it into a spiritual context for me. The following week, it continued to happen, and this time it was happening more often and more vividly. I started praying and asked God "Why am I having these dreams?" God gave me an answer. It wasn't because I was doing anything wrong, it was because I was doing something right! God wasn't loosening his grip on my life, he was tightening it! The Devil realized that I wasn't as easily influenced as I was before, he realized that his old tricks didn't work anymore, and he was trying harder and harder to get to me. Being a Christian becomes more and more difficult the closer your relationship with God becomes. It was Jesus Christ himself who said "People will hate you for following me." I experienced that firsthand at the starting line of my walk with God.
So what do I do now? What do I do with all the As I Lay Dying t-shirts in my closet? What should I do with the ticket stubs from their concerts? The CDs in my car? I saw them live this past March and purchased a jacket at the show, today was the first day since I bought it that I didn't wear it. Can I still listen to them? How could I listen to those lyrics and not immediately feel like everything Tim is saying is something he doesn't really believe in? Even if Tim is acquitted, can I look at him in the same light that I did before? These are difficult questions. Questions I don't have the answers to at the moment. Lately, the phrase that keeps kicking around in my head is "Hate the sin, love the sinner." This is one of those cases where I really need to practice what I preach. I feel closer to this situation than a regular Tim Lambesis fan because I feel God used Tim to put me on the right path, and that will always be true, regardless of what Tim did or didn't do. I don't know what came over him and caused him to do something like this, and a part of me still can't believe it. This is the first time that I've felt let down by someone that has helped me spiritually, and I'm still struggling to understand it. However, it did help me to realize that I was placing too much reliance on a celebrity. Instead of giving God everything, and laying it all before Him, I had been giving credit where credit wasn't due.
This has been a terrible, unfortunate situation. I pray that justice is served, even if it means a man I look up to goes to prison. Thankfully, tragedy was avoided and no one was hurt. I can't say that Tim isn't a Christian because of this. I've read interviews he's done, and he obviously has read and understands the Bible to the point that it has had a profound effect on his life. He certainly didn't represent Jesus correctly in this situation, that much is obvious. It goes to show that regardless of what you believe, or who you are, you never know what people deal with in their personal lives. Tim, of course, is innocent until proven guilty. As both a fan and a Man of God, I pray that God is with Tim and his family during these tragic events.
It's like the band Gideon says in their song "Gutter": If I walk away with one thing from all of this, it's to never again put my faith in man.