First and foremost, it is important to remember that regardless of what movement or sub-culture someone associates themselves with, we are called to love and respect them. While the Goth / Emo subcultures definitely have elements and ties to things that are not honoring to God, not every person who claims "gothic" or "emo" interests is completely in line with the stereotypes.
At its core, both the Goth / Emo subcultures have a focus on the darker side of the life coin. This interest can show itself through a certain type of book preference or style choice, which is one of the reasons it's easy to label someone as goth just because they wear dark clothes, have a lip piercing, or carry around a copy of the Complete Works of Edgar Allen Poe.
Sometimes we see someone wearing black and our knee-jerk reaction is whether or not that deep, dark color reflects the state of their soul. But here's the thing: it usually doesn't. Black is just a color, and some people prefer to wear it over other colors. Preferring one color over another does not automatically make a person holier or a worshiper of darkness. If someone loves gothic literature, that doesn't make them part of a Satanic cult or a dabbler in black magic.
"Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things." —Philippians 4:8
Rememeber, each person is different. There are some who view darkness as a way to highlight hope. It's harder to see a candle of true hope in a really, really bright room, and you can't have a silver lining without the cloud. Some people will use the darkness of a topic or a piece of writing or artwork to be reminded of how bright the good and pure things truly do shine. For a lot of Goths/Emos it is the aesthetic of darkness they're attracted to, not actually a brand of evil.
That said, it is still extremely important to always know our motives for why we are drawn to certain things. If our interests align with some "goth" things, such as a love of Edgar Allen Poe or macabre artwork, that is not inherently bad. As Christians, we have the freedom to make our own choices, but those choices do need to align with a motive to glorify God (1 Corinthians 10:31).
There are people in God's Kingdom who take their interest and attraction to darker, heavier topics and use them as part of their ministry for God. There is a plethora of Christian musicians that will sing on topics previously labeled as "emo" and "stupid." Self-injury, depression, and feelings of isolation are often thought to be "too dark" for Christian artists to touch. But that doesn't mean these topics are unimportant or do not need to be addressed from a Christian perspective. These musicians are speaking light into the lives of many people who are struggling in dark places.
Some people are able to thrive and shine in these sort of environments, but not everyone is equipped to do that. And that's okay! Everyone is different, and God has created each of us with different passions and desires and empowered us to be a light in different areas. Something that is a stumbling block with one person may not be a problem for another.
Even so, here are some things to keep in mind. Although not all factions of Goth subculture align with the occult, there is still a not-insignificant level of Wiccan presence throughout a lot of things tagged as "gothic." While some might not have a problem sifting through paintings of witches and pagan symbolism, other people might find these images present a stumbling block or stimulates an unhealthy interest in witchcraft.
Similarly, while the Emo subculture has a reputation for being "sad," it is also closely tied to the very real problem of self-injury. While Goths tend to fall on the side of a more active approach to dealing with life's darkness, Emos fall on the passive, more depressive end of it. While, again, not everyone who wears their hair across their black-lined eyes or listens to emo pop music is going to be struggling with self-injury or depression, it is a theme throughout the subculture to be aware of before poking your nose in that direction.
AS A SIDE NOTE: Cutting jokes? Not cool. Self-injury is a very real thing and an incredibly painful and difficult struggle for many people. While some involved in Emo subculture might be just thinking depression is cool and "faking" it, it's really not glamorous at all. It's painful and lonely.
The scathing mockery directed at "Emos" hurts many people who get caught in the crossfire between cliques and who are really just trying to work through their issues. Don't make it harder for them.
"All things are lawful, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful, but not all things edify. Let no one seek his own good, but that of his neighbor. Eat anything that is sold in the meat market without asking questions for conscience's sake; for the Earth is the Lord's, and all it contains. If one of the unbelievers invites you and you want to go, eat anything that is set before you without asking questions for conscience's sake.
"But if anyone says to you, 'This is meat sacrificed to idols,' do not eat it, for the sake of the one who informed you, and for conscience's sake; I mean not your own conscience, but the other man's; for why is my freedom judged by another man's conscience? If I partake with thankfulness, why am I slandered concerning that which I give thanks?
"Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. Give no offense either to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God; just as I also please all men in all things, not seeking my own profit but the profit of the many, so that they may be saved." —1 Corinthians 10:23-31
Are you concerned for a friend who is involved in Goth / Emo subculture? Why? Is it just because it's strange? Or is it because you see something in their life that's going against the Bible? Is their spiritual walk suffering? Be careful not to condemn a person just because of how they dress and for their interests, because to judge by appearance is sin (John 3:17; John 7:24).
Are YOU interested in Goth / Emo subculture? Why? Can you honestly answer the question whether or not this would be beneficial for you as an individual? Is there anyone else in your life who might stumble if they saw you dabbling in these subcultures?
Gentle. God searches the heart (1 Chronicles 28:9), and the heart is what we should seek to understand before judging someone by how they choose to dress or by the interests they choose to nurture. Both "Goth" and "Emo" are just labels meant to describe a set of interests, and just because a person might match one or two stereotypes, that doesn't automatically prove their level of spiritual maturity or state of salvation.
Each person has been created in God's image, and each person is important to Him. He gives everyone differing interests and passions. Thank goodness too! How boring would the world be if we were all the same?
Regardless of what sub-culture someone associates themselves with, we are called to love and respect them. While the Goth / Emo subcultures definitely have elements of things that are not honoring to God, not every person who claims "gothic" or "emo" interests is completely in line with the stereotypes. God searches the heart (1 Chronicles 28:9), so should we before judging someone by how they dress or their interests. Both "Goth" and "Emo" are just labels meant to describe a set of interests, and just because a person might match one or two stereotypes, that doesn't automatically prove their level of spiritual maturity or state of salvation.
September is an avid film nerd from growing up on weekend trips to Universal Studios Hollywood. She is passionate about the intersections of Christian spirituality, faith, and storytelling in popular culture. Outside of 412teens and digging up obscure horror flicks from the 2000s, she works as a freelance developmental editor and acquisitions consultant while comforting her clingy feline floof, Faust, from the anxiety of existence.