When people hear the word “Goth”, they think of pale figures clad in black, drinking blood, worshipping Satan and fantasizing about death. “Goth is a cultural phenomenon rather than a religious one, though many beliefs are found among Goths, ranging from agnostic to Wiccan to Christian beliefs (Montenegro)” Many also see Goth as being a violent subculture, but “Goths lean toward the artistic and peaceful, not the violent or vengeful; Goths reject culture, but are not in active rebellion against it (Montenegro)”. “Gothic in its general essence is expression of a dark aesthetic through various medium including Art, Music, Literature, Architecture, Lifestyle, Attitude and Outlook (”.

There is a strong sense of romanticism in goth. The Awakening captured a sense of the essence of goth in their song title “Dark Romantics”. A Dictionary of Philosophy states that “[a] reaction against the rationalism and empiricism of the period of the Enlightenment, romanticism is best characterized by its idealist celebration of the self, by its respect for the transcendental, and by its conviction of the power of the imagination and of the supreme value of art.” The goth notions and principles have been in existence for a long time before it became a subculture. Some of the poems of Christina Rossetti, Charlotte Brontë can be seen as gothic in tone. Dame Edith Sitwell wore only black and wrote some amazing poems (of which “Metamorphosis” is one of my favourite poems of all time). Certain Psalms and books like Job or Ecclesiastes can even fit into a goth genre (and as any biblical scholar will know, these books aren’t all doom and gloom, but rather reflective on the reality that does not correspond to the easy answers of Proverbs). Literature like Bram Stoker’s Dracula and Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein are not only iconic classics, but also fall into the category of gothic novels. Montenegro sees an “identification with Victorian gothic novels and sentiments found in the writings of Edgar Allan Poe, Mary Shelley, John Keats, Lord Byron, and others who lamented the pains of lost love and the inner wounds inflicted by a cruel society”. Goth can be seen as arising from 1970’s punk. The term goth was only in general use in 1983.

It is difficult to give one definition of goth, since goths are by no means a monolithic group. In the shortest definition it is a subculture that evolved from a musical scene to encompass art, literature, fashion and a shared dark aesthetic. Under the broader genre of goth and music goths listen to there are various different subgenres: electro (e.g. Diorama, Assemblage 23), industrial (Unter Art, Grendel, In Strict Confidence), even Victorian-industrial (Emilie Autumn), and others. Goth music isn’t all just depressive, but spans a whole spectrum of emotions and themes. There are some beautiful love songs (e.g. Advance by Diorama). There are songs about the status quo and evils in society (e.g. Monument by ANKST, Chrome by VNV Nation). For those who think goths are all suicidal and pro-suicide and tragedy, there are the tracks by Assemblage 23 (Disappoint) and Suicide Commando (Cause of Death) that actually speak out against it. The perceived paradox of Christian and goth also come together on the musical front with bands like The Awakening, Saviour Machine and E Nomine (a German band which falls more under the industrial category). Some of my personal favourite goth bands are Diorama, ANKST (from Durban), Diary of Dreams, Gothminister, L’ Âme Immortelle, Merry Thoughts and Emilie Autumn.

Just like in goth music, the dress aesthetic of goth is varied. The styles range from period clothing (Victorian being the most popular); romantic goth with lace, velvet and flowing silhouettes; fetish goth with pvc, spikes, leather and fishnet; cyber goth with fluffy boot covers, futuristic elements, neon accents and tutus; and many styles in between all with individual details.

Goth’s aren’t all devil-worshipping goat-slayers. Goth doesn’t have anything to do with religion. I know christian goths, pagan goths, atheist goths, agnostic goths, spiritual goths and even a couple who are Messianic Jews. Personally I have never met anyone in the goth and metal culture that is a Satanist (whether it be LaVeyan or otherwise). Most goths I know love animals and many are actively involved in finding homes for strays and a few are vegetarians because they don’t want to eat animals.

At goth clubs the mood isn’t just dark and gloomy. People chat, dance and enjoy themselves. I’d even say that the music and friends aside, I’d choose a goth club over any mainstream place (e.g. Presley’s, Drop Zone), because the people are nicer, the girls generally have more clothes on, the guys generally don’t undress you with their eyes, the dancing is more expressively beautiful and less I-need-sex-movements, there are hardly any fights and you don’t get offered drugs by every second person. In fact, on the rare occasion that there are fights at goth and metal clubs, it is because of some mainstream person who can’t behave himself with the ladies or who wants to start a fight.

I don’t find my involvement in the goth and metal community to be in contradiction to my Christian faith or my ministry. I don’t go to clubs to get wasted, use drugs, have sex with random people (or anyone else) or something that can be frowned upon. I mention these things not to judge or condemn others, but only as examples of behaviour that would be objectionable for someone in ministry. I go to enjoy the music, spend time with friends and have a drink or two. There is nothing morally wrong with liking the colour black, wearing corsets, liking boots with buckles, dying your hair black, piercings, and being individualistically expressive. It is important to make the distinction between the darkness spoken of in the Bible and aesthetic darkness. “One MUST NOT equate dark artistic aesthetic with evil. When the Bible talks about darkness, it is NOT the same as dark artistic aesthetic (”.

For more information, see:
Montenegro, M 2006. The world according to Goth. Christian Research Journal 29/1.


23 responses to “Goth

  1. Ek het in die Beeld gelees van jou. Ek het gan google searches doen soos almal doen deesdae (cyber stalking – ha ha). Na ek alles gelees het, gesien het hoeveel aanhalings mense maak uit die Bybel, en hoe mense judge, is ek meer confused as ooit tevore.

    Ek weet feitlik niks van die Bybel af nie, maar probeer my beste om my kinders volgens die woord van God groot te maak en hulle te leer, maar ek dink hulle leer meer op die stadium van die skool af oor God as by my, want ek is so unkundig.

    Na dit alles, moet ek sê, ek voel 100 keer meer onkundig as ooit tevore, ek wil graag ook so baie van die Bybel weet dat ek kan verse uit my kop sê en tik op blog posts of my eie blog weer te begin. Na dit alles, is ek meer verward oor wat “die Bybel sê”, ek voel ek weet niks van my eie geloof, behalwe dat mens moet “glo soos ‘n kind” nie.

    Miskien as mense meer verdraagsaam is/ was, en nie so lief is daarvoor om te judge nie, sou ek lank genoeg in Sondag skool gebly het om iets te weet van my eie geloof.

    Ek weet nie eintlik waarmee ek oppad was met my reply nie. Het gevoel ek moet iets sê, maar ook stilbly. Snaaks…

    Ek hoop vanharte dat daar ‘n plek is vir jou sommer by my eie kerk waarmee ek wik en weeg om trug te gan, maar ook nie. (NG Welties).

    Ek is nie seker waar jy elke Sondag gan of kerk of so nie… Maar ek sal daarvan gehou het as daar dalk ‘n Bybel studie groep was met jou daar iewers, wat ek kon bywoon op normale mense tye (die van ons wat werk), jy weet, nie deur die oggend vir mammas met kleintjies by die huis, of huisvroue nie… Daar word net nie vir ons ge-cater nie 😦

    O, en dan… ek sou eerder dat my kinders eendag leer van Goth wees by iemand soos jy, as wat hulle dalk eendag in die verkeerde hande op eindig.


    • Jammer dat ek nou sommer so as vreemdeling hier inval, maar ek wou net vir jou sê dat jy nie by “amptelike” kerk hoef in te skakel om meer van die Bybel te leer nie… alhoewel dit goed is dat jy nou weer gaan ook. 🙂 Wat ek dink belangrik is, is om ‘n groepie mense te kry wat lief is vir die Here Jesus en bereid is om Hom in alles te volg en te gehoorsaam… en dan saam die Woord deur te werk, een boek op ‘n slag (ek sou met die Evangelie van Johannes begin, maar is dalk bietjie bevooroordeeld). Bib vir mekaar, en bestudeer God se Woord met die vaste voorneme om Hom gehoorsaam te wees, maak nie saak wat dit gaan kos nie. Vertrou gerus die Heilige Gees om julle as groep in die volle waarheid lei; Hy het dit belowe.

      Mag die Here Jesus hierdie pad van dissipelskap saam met jou stap!


  2. Pingback: Christian Compatibility with Goth Subculture | Drikus's Mind Musings

      • Altwee hierdie metodes, is dieselfde – Moses het ook so aan die Israeliete gesê: Julle kan God nie dien nie, want Hy is heilig! Net so kan niemand God dien nie. Wat sal jy trouens vir Hom kan gee? Daarom dat daar die konsep van Genade is. Teenstrydig met populêre opninie, is genade nie vry vir almal nie, maar alleen vir die wat vrygekoop is met Jesus se bloed, dies op wie God Sy genade vestig deur hulle te trek en aan Jesus te gee. Johannes 17.


  3. Not to detract from your well written blog in defense of Goths, but just one small critisism. It’s a common misconception that Assemblage 23’s “Armour” is a love song, where in fact if you have attended one of their live shows or even read what the band itself says about the song, you’ll find it’s actually about drug addiction. It does not glorify addiction, but rather comments on the reasoning behind the use of drugs to compensate for real or perceived shortcomings.


  4. Hi daar, weer… Eks nou erger as Driekus (effortless cyber stalking)… Jou blog (met die hope dat jy iets geskryf het) en twitter page is nou deel van my daaglikse roetine…

    Wou maar net sê, dankie chick!… Ek’s te dom om private message knoppies te kry hier. (Ek het hope goed wat ek wou sê maar sal nie hier dit sê nie. Te veel ogies wat loer).

    Ek vat Sondag my kinders kerk toe, en ek self gan kerk toe, na jare en jare se afwesigheid (en dan anwesigheid vir so 2 dienste en afwesigheid vir jare, oor ek meer verskonings kry as redes). Ek het besluit dat ek nie langer gan worry oor wat ander kerk lede dink van my nie, ek gan net soos ek is. Dis ‘n groot dankie an jou, want as jou artiekel nie verskyn het nie, het ek seker nou nog verskonings gesoek hoekom ek nie kan Sondag kerk toe gan nie, en hoekom ek nie my kinders wil soontoe vat nie (en an verskonings gedink om vir hulle te gee oor hoekom hulle nie kan kerk toe gan nie).

    Ek hoop ek sien jou iewers op ‘n kansel, vroër as later!

    Groete, en baie sterkte


  5. Dit is vir my so hartseer dat mense nogsteeds in ons moderne samelewing so ‘n mentaliteit het oor ons subkultuur. Hoe maak dit ons anders? Waarom moet ek hoor ek mag nie my passies uitleef nie want ek is ‘n gevaar vir die diere en kinders?? Waarom as ek bel oor ‘n dier wat mishandel is word dit nie opgevolg nie want dis weer “the crazy satanist” ??

    Is dit nie die Christen God se plek om te judge nie? My skoonpa het my eenkeer gevra wat is my probleem met die Christen geloof. Ek het vir hom teruggeantwoord dit is nie die geloof of God wat my probleem is nie, dit is die mense. Mense wat my reguit kan vertel hoe ek in die hel kan brand, maar in die aand hulle kinders molesteer. Mense wat hul vrouens slaan. Mense wat al hul sondes op Satan kan blameer en geen verantwoordelikheid vir hul aksies wil neem nie.

    Ja, geen kultuur of geloof is onskuldig nie, elkeen het sy ‘bad apples’, maar ek is liewer deel van ‘n kultuur waar ek nie hoef te vrees vir my lewe as ek in die aand wil uitgaan nie. ‘n Kultuur waar ek my mede mens met my lewe kan vertrou as ek die dag moet. En waar niemand omgee watse geloof ek is, of wat my seksuele orientasie is nie, want ek word raakgesien vir wie ek is, die persoon, diep binne, agter die make-up en klere.


  6. Annari,

    Daar’s ander in die NGK soos jy, ek het dominees wat “skelm” by my joga doen en al gedoen het, wat ook in aspekte soos karma en reinkarnasie glo, ek dink daar is ‘n herlewing besig om plaas te vind onder sommige teoloë, ek hoop dit sprei vinnig. Ek het die NGK jare gelede die rug gekeer nadat ‘n dominee vir my gesê ek kan nie gay wees en joga doen nie en in die NGK wees nie, ek moet besluit was sy woorde, wel ek het en het die kerk eerder verlaat vir my pad op joga en ek is baie gelukkig! Seëninge vir jou op jou pad vorentoe.



  7. Pingback: Daar’s ‘n hele spul ketters in die NG Kerk… « Bileam se Donkie

  8. Pingback: Goth is not religion, it is an artistic expression | wolfshadowwhispers

  9. Pingback: Goth Week – Dag Een : Watse goed? – wolfshadowwhispers

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