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I’ve been terrified to post this for a while – but it feels like it’s time for me to be honest. I hope this is not the end of the conversation, but the beginning. I hope this is encouraging to people who might feel the same but are as afraid to speak as I am. I want to be open. I want to be transparent with you all – and also open to having my heart changed in the future. I am not looking for a debate at all – just a chance to share my story in the hopes some good can come from it. I love you all.
Steingard said that he had been terrified to write the post for a while, but he wanted to be transparent. He also explained that he didn’t want to debate with anyone, but encourage others who felt that their faith was waning.
According to a comment on Hawk Nelson’s website, Steingard’s bandmates knew that he had been struggling for a while:
As some of you know Jon and Jess embarked on the family life this year with the addition of Lil G, aka Grey. He’s the bomb diggity, but after no sleep and lots of adjusting, I saw it take a toll on Jon personally. I knew family was more important than this album, so I asked him to put it all on hold. Maybe forever, maybe until it was right. These guys I get to share this band with, are family. And family should always come first. It made me question just how hard we should be pushing to “make” this album … But Jon blew me away, again, as he does each and every album. He doubled down. We and you and all got deep into prayer and asked for help.
Steingard Joined Hawk Nelson In 2004
According to Steingard, he was a pastor’s child and grew up with Christianity having a major influence in his life since childhood. Steingard was the oldest of three children and he started learning how to play the guitar when he was nine years old, according to News Release Today.
Steingard became the lead singer of the punk-pop Christian band Hawk Nelson in 2004, News Release Today reported. He was 20 years old, he said in his post, and the band didn’t start out overtly Christian, but eventually became that way. The band had actually started in 2000 when lead singer Jason Dunn, guitarist Davin Clark and drummer Matt Paige started a group called SWISH, according to Tidal. In 2002, Daniel Biro became the group’s new bass player and the group changed its name. In 2004, Steingard — also a guitarist — replaced David Clark and he became the lead vocalist when Jason Dunn left the group in 2012.
Steingard married Jessica Hubbard in March of 2007 and they lived in Nashville, Tennessee, according to News Release Today. The couple moved to San Diego, California where they currently live. Steingard is also a filmmaker and director at Steingard Creative.
Steingard Said His Doubts Began In His Youth
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Steingard said his family was always about the church and grew up with a shared belief so “central to everything, you simply adopt it.” Steingard said that he was an ardent follower of Christianity, praying for signs and participating in church, youth groups, conferences and ministry. However, even then, he said he was disturbed by some of the things he saw:
Praying in public always felt like some kind of weird performance art. Emotional cries such as “Holy Spirit come fill this place” always felt clunky and awkward leaving my lips. A youth conference I attended encouraged every teen to sign a pledge that they would “date Jesus” for a year. It felt manipulative and unsettling to me. I didn’t sign it.
Steingard said he reflexively ignored his doubts and thought he was overthinking it. However, he said he eventually started questioning the problem of evil and specifically, “natural evil” — hurricanes, disease, etc.
He said he became disturbed by how God’s change in demeanor from the Old Testament to the New Testament as well as how much killing he realized was a part of the Bible. He also said he was disturbed about contradictions he found in the Bible and was dissatisfied with the answers he got.
I was asking about a verse in 1 Timothy that seems really oppressive of women. It indicates that women shouldn’t be in church leadership, shouldn’t teach men and shouldn’t wear their hair in braids. To me, that seemed less like the message of the loving God that most Christians believe in now, and more like the ideas that would have been present in the culture at the time … a male-dominated society where women were treated less like equals and more like property.
Steingard said his father-in-law, also a pastor, told him to read the Bible in its original Greek. But Steingard said the thought that the Bible was imperfect sent him spiraling into a depression.
Once I found that I didn’t believe the Bible was the perfect Word of God — it didn’t take long to realize that I was no longer sure he was there at all. That thought terrified me. It sent me into a tailspin … Over the past year I’ve occasionally mentioned publicly my struggles with depression. This is what really kicked that off.
He said questions about his faith, and especially what he should teach his children, “led me into a very dark place for a while.”
Steingard Said His Belief In Christianity Slowly Faded Overtime
In his post, Steingard said he could no longer hide the struggle he was having with his faith and felt like it would be disingenuous to withhold it, describing it as a sweater that unraveled over the years:
The process of getting to that sentence has been several years in the making. It didn’t happen overnight or all of a sudden. It’s been more like pulling on the threads of a sweater, and one day discovering that there was no more sweater left.
He also said that he was “stunned” by how many other Christians he knew who felt the same. Steingard noted that with the band being less productive, he had less to lose — “… we’ve all found other work and careers to focus on for the time being. In order to make sure I’m able to keep providing for my family, that had to be the case before I could be totally honest — and that fact is one of the issues I have with the church and Christian culture in general.”
Steingard also said that he was not lying during his career in Christian music, but eventually, the threads of doubt that he was experiencing became too much for him.
Steingard said that he knows his family is grieving because of his decision, but have still shown him “incredible love and support.”
Steingard said that he was open to the idea that God was there, but if he was there, he believes that he is different from what he was taught. He said that he and his wife felt like Christianity was more of an obligation than a calling.
We didn’t enjoy going to church. We didn’t enjoy reading the Bible. We didn’t enjoy praying. We didn’t enjoy worship. It all felt like obligation, and our lack of enthusiasm about those things always made us feel like something was wrong with us. Now I don’t believe anything was wrong with us. We simply didn’t believe — and we were too afraid to admit that to ourselves. So in that sense, we have a tremendous sense of relief now.