Punk Rock

I have always had this problem with music. I like to listen to a variety of things, but there’s always this moral difficulty. There’s an artist I like, but there are some objectionable lyrics that allude to something offensive or simply promote a lifestyle contrary to Christian living.

I recently grew a new liking to punk. It started with Descendents. I used to really like underground, independent rock with intricate songs and obscurity. I still do, but I also like punk because there is no formality or attempt to become a great technical musician. It is simple, fast, and very honest. They employ a lot of humor, such as their 23-second song called “I like food.”

However, their songs aren’t always in good fun. They have one called “My Dad Sucks” and “pervert.” Another band I would listen to often, Operation Ivy usually have a political bent to their lyrics. However, I stopped listening to them for a while because of their song “Missionary.” Being weak in temptation, I started listening to them again because I told myself it wasn’t directly anti-Christian. But I mean, who knows?
Should I stop listening to a band entirely because of some of their songs?
They’re honest about how they feel. A lot of punk is counter to mainstream pop and hiphop, where the meanings are about sex, the glorification of sex, and nightlife.

On Sunday I went to a concert where the Descendents were headlining. The population was mostly heavily tattooed adults (they could have been my parents’ age) and some high schoolers. No college-aged people like me. The bands playing before the headliners were anything but holy. For one song, another band held out a puppet that was in a very phallic shape. Honestly, the event itself was not holy whatsoever. There was LOTS of pushing and shoving just because that was the nature of a punk show. However, I was happy to see the Descendents come out. Being able to scream the lyrics along with an audience that also have an affinity for the band for such a long time was a unique experience.

Even when I bought the ticket I had to debate with myself whether or not this was morally okay. What was I supporting? I was much more sensitive in my early teens, and definitely would not go to something like this.
I convinced myself that I was going to regret not going, and I was still going to stay grounded in my faith.

My dad is going to Confession today, and he offered to go together but I told my parents I already confession last Monday before the Lady of Guadalupe Feast Day mass. I was wondering, was going to the concert something I should have confessed? If anything, I should confess being a hypocrite. At this last confession, I mentioned buying the tickets. If I was truly repentant, I wouldn’t have gone. But I did it “just in case it was really a sin,” which is a terrible way to approach a confession.

I know very well that the goal of each Catholic should be to become a saint. It feels like the older I become, the harder it is to really sticking to this aspiration. That or I’m just making excuses (I’m only nineteen, so I’m probably just copping out). Is the music I listen to bringing me farther away from this goal?

Operation Ivy’s one of my favorite bands (they’re not around anymore - some of them went on to form Rancid.) They did a cover of “These Boots Are Made For Walking,” which is mis-labeled on the CD as “One Of These Days.” I also like their song “Unity,” which is about…well, unity.

The Descendants, as you may know (no relation to the movie with George Clooney), went on to form All.

As you get older, you’ll discover lots of new bands - not just “punk,” but all sorts of music.

When I was a kid in the UK I listened to a lot of punk bands - they were new then - and went to a number of punk and new wave concerts.

I was attracted to the energy and the rebellion in the music and the raw animal power of the crowd in the concerts.

In some ways I had to rebel and then find my own way back to God so I knew it was my walk, not just me following what my parents wanted.

I think I was looking for passion and energy in my life, and didn’t find it in religion at the time. But I did keep searching for God and found this quote by St. Augustine:

Late have I loved you, O Beauty ever ancient, ever new, late have I loved you! You were within me, but I was outside, and it was there that I searched for you. In my unloveliness I plunged into the lovely things which you created. You were with me, but I was not with you. Created things kept me from you; yet if they had not been in you they would have not been at all. You called, you shouted, and you broke through my deafness. You flashed, you shone, and you dispelled my blindness. You breathed you fragrance on me; I drew in breath and now I pant for you. I have tasted you, now I hunger and thirst for more. You touched me, and I burned for your peace


God is the ultimate musician, artist, dancer!

Not long after that I was in a religious order for 6 years!

It’s unfortunate how so much of today’s (last 40 years) entertainment (music, movies, tv) is geared towards drawing us away from Jesus, or just pre-occupying us with nonsense. I stopped listening to music for some time because of the struggle you are going through.

I started looking into Christian alternative music when my son starting taking interest. My intent was to provide a path that was different than what I grew up with in the 70s and 80s.

While its not punk, we were able to find alternative/rock bands with Christian lyrics. Some of it is pretty heavy and I often wonder if Jesus might be offended by it as well. He’s in college now himself and seems to still have a preference for the Christian-based music. I too ask him to come with me to confession (I guess that’s a dad thing).

I pray you find music that strengthens and inspires you!

Punk Rock some are not very good sounding music, but some Punk Rocks are good sounding, like this Punk Rock- Pocket Full of Sunshine ,
it is,


There’s this deathrock band I really, really like - particularly this one song, which has a repeated curse word in there.

I just don’t feel comfortable listening to that anymore.

Natasha Bedingfield’s “Pocket Full of Sunshine” isn’t normally considered punk music…

Cool! I’ll check out that cover.

I used to be a music snob of sorts.My favorite band for a while was Radiohead, and I love the National, Sufjan Stevens, and more. I used to really like classic rock such as Queen and Led Zeppelin and I have an appreciation for classical music growing up being in band. I guess what drew me to punk was that they weren’t trying to impress anyone.
Still though, I wonder if I’m compromising my faith by listening and supporting the punk scene.

I’ll have to agree… this is very far-removed from punk.

It is not Natasha Bedingfield’s “Pocket Full of Sunshine”; that should be punk band-Molly-“Pocket Full of Sunshine”; Artist Molly’s : Pocket Full of Sunshine". I do not remember, :blush: therefor I shall never find any punk music I like.

Read this article:

Bad Music by Jimmy Akin

There really isn’t that much “punk” music anymore, so using that word as a legitimate genre is a wee bit problematic. I know most of the bands described as “punk” are in actuality indie rock bands like Death Cab For Cutie or Bon Iver or Guided By Voices or – and, GBV, in particular, I’d have no prob listening to any GBV with Jesus present (to paraphrase Jimmy Akin’s article.) He’d probably thank me for it. So, don’t be too quick to presume someone else’s idea of “bad music” necessarily presents a justifiable occasion of sin for you, because that’s not always the case.

I like the Ramones, although I really don’t listen to punk rock that often.

Sheena is… a punk rocker, Shee-na-a is… a punk rocker, Shee-na is… a punk rocker no-o-o-w.

The KKK took my baby away, my baby away… (that’s a song)

That’s a good point, punk has been redefined again and again. Bon Iver is great, but definitely not the punk I have concerns with.
The genre’s expanded a lot, so it’s hard to pinpoint. However, I mean punk at more of its roots. This is a bit later (late 80’s, here’s an example)


“sheena is a punk rocker” is one of my favorites. The Yeah Yeah Yeahs do a great cover.

I’ve seen this article! Thank you though, it’s worth another read. It makes a good point, especially on his comments with “The priest said if I wouldn’t listen to it with Jesus, Mary, my guardian angel or whoever else I want to imagine was there, I probably shouldn’t listen to.” I’ve had a lot of trouble with this philosophy growing up.

However, he ends a bit inconclusive. The thing is, some punk artists can be VERY objectionable. For example, there was another band headlining a day before at the same venue for the same event. Their symbol was a red prohibition sign with a black cross behind it. It hurt just to look at it.

I like punk because of the raw energy, simplicity, and honesty. Descendents sing about girls, coffee, food, and not wanting to grow up. On the flip side, they also sing about being annoyed with parents, not caring what others think, and other irreverent topics.

Punk could also be extreme and very anti-authority. I would be concerned with any 15-year old if all they listened to was early punk rock.

Does it show my unwillingness to become closer with God because I am unwilling to give up a whole genre of music? Am I copping out by just choosing a few artists and songs from that genre? My dress somewhat reflects this too. I wear a lot of black. However, a priest warned me not to become too rigid in my view of what a Catholic should be. Am I just making excuses by using it in this context?
I wonder sometimes, what it would be like if I cleaned up everything. The way I dress, listen to music, act, talk…

Is it just my own selfishness/sinfulness that I feel really stifled and confused when what I want and what is truly moral come into conflict?

If you’re on YouTube looking for good “punk” bands, you may want to check out Husker Du, The Minutemen, or/and The Replacements. All the bands I like inevitably can be traced back to one of them.

Bad Religion? They’re still around?

Punk also gave a lot of then-kids like me a lot of hope and reason to live when my parents couldn’t. It doesn’t mean I ever took the lyrics seriously - “Adam’s Song” by Blink 182 is not exactly the most uplifting song - but it did mean there were other kids I could relate to who still cared about me whatever hardship I was facing. As you get older, you’ll look back and forget some of those “punk” bands - perhaps still like them - a lot of old-school punks are still touring (X, Social Distortion, Agent Orange, Henry Rollins, etc.) - but you’ll also remember some of those bands quite fondly, too. Just remember: occasion of sin (and temptation) is the issue, not the music itself. (If I misstated proper Catholic teaching, then I welcome the correction.)

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.