The Redemption of Kat Von D
Tattoo artist and former occultist Katherine von Drachenberg, also known as Kat Von D, went viral on social media in recent weeks after she posted a video of her baptism at a small church in Indiana. Video of the church service showed the former television personality and recording artist immersed in the waters of baptism, with her pastor commending her profession of faith in the Triune God and pronouncing her a faithful sister in Christ.
The development in the faith of Kat Von D comes one year after she discarded her tarot cards, magic books, and other occult items. Like the first generation of saints in the city of Ephesus who had publicly “brought their books together and burned them” (Acts 19:19) after hearing the message shared by Paul, the tattoo artist posted piles of tomes about witchcraft that she was preparing to discard. “In the last few years I’ve come to some pretty meaningful realizations, many of them revolving around the fact that I got a lot of things wrong in my past,” she wrote on social media last summer. “It’s never been more clear to me that there is a spiritual battle taking place, and I want to surround myself and my family with love and light.”
To start with an obvious disclaimer: celebrity conversion accounts are often unreliable, as the evangelical world has learned with individuals such as Kanye West. Yet I am told by at least one individual, who is a friend of a friend of Kat Von D, that her conversion is indeed very real. In any case, one may not think that an occult tattoo artist would be a likely convert to the Christian faith, but with the facts publicly available, the conversion of Kat Von D is a remarkable testament to the grace of God and his willingness to save sinners who repent and trust in Christ.
The apparent conversion of Kat Von D, however, entirely upends the narrative about gospel advancement offered to the American church by the mainstream evangelical movement. These “last few years” in the life of Kat Von D, as she reflected, have indeed been ones of monumental change that seem to have introduced circumstances that prompted her to more carefully consider her standing with the Lord. Yet all of these circumstances are ones that evangelical elites have discipled American Christians to disregard or deemphasize to various degrees.
Kat Von D Embraced Motherhood
Kat Von D, who is forty-one years old, was married five years ago and had a son later that year. As many parents will attest, bearing children increases the urgency with which they consider spiritual matters. Paul even says that women are “saved through childbearing” (1 Timothy 2:15) in that they experience tremendous spiritual benefit by pursuing their normative roles in the family and society as mothers. The same can be said for fathers as they are newly expected to provide for the spiritual and physical wellbeing of their children: the ones who do not are told that they have “denied the faith” and are “worse than an unbeliever” (1 Timothy 5:8). Scripture is filled with reminders that “children are a heritage from the Lord” (Psalm 127:3), and nature itself teaches that women are oriented toward the conception and cultivation of life.
Contrast these evident realities with the doctrine of the evangelical elites, who have raised singleness to the level of a spiritual gift and even caricatured marriage as an idol, managing to do so even as fatherlessness and births out of wedlock abound in our society. Tim Keller, who hardly discussed childrearing in his bestselling volume The Meaning of Marriage, was a particularly egregious proponent of this trend: months after his death, the website for Redeemer Church in New York City continues to boast that “the majority” of their attendees over the past twenty-five years “have been single,” noting that there are “thousands of singles at our church.”
Encouraging thousands of young people to discard the responsibilities of marriage and children often leads to less spiritual maturity rather than more spiritual maturity. For most men and women, and especially for most Christians, marriage and children will be central to their lives, as well as the primary means by which God will sanctify them and crucify their selfishness. These realities are true in a unique sense for mothers, and believers should never fear upholding motherhood as the ultimate vocation for the typical woman.
Kat Von D Rejected Neutrality
Kat Von D posted last year that her decision to discard the occult artifacts was motivated by her recognition of spiritual warfare in the world. “I’ve always found beauty in the macabre, but at this point, I just had to ask myself what is my relationship with this content?” she continued in her social media post last year. “And the truth is, I just don’t want to invite any of these things into our family’s lives, even if it comes disguised in beautiful covers, collecting dust on my shelves.”
The assumption of evangelicals in recent decades has meanwhile been the myth of neutrality: that the government and other components of our national life are truly neutral ground rather than territory claimed by the risen and ascended Lord Jesus, and that the Christian faith should be largely sequestered to morning quiet times and Sunday worship services. The typical American Christian agrees that pursuing the Lord on a personal basis is an essential component of the faith, yet fails to grasp the “all of Christ for all of life” ethos which led to the ascendance of the Protestant world. There is indeed a Christian way to be an electrician, a soldier, an accountant, a state legislator, a homemaker, or even a tattoo artist.
Many like Kat Von D, who hails from California, have been shaken from the mindset of neutrality by government crackdowns on liberty through public health mandates in recent years, as well as the ascendant paganism dominating our institutions. We have seen that we will have a dominant national religion and that the question is merely which religion will dominate.
Secularism is meanwhile akin to the “house empty, swept, and put in order” (Matthew 12:44) after the unclean spirit is removed. We are currently witnessing the “seven other spirits more evil than itself” (Matthew 12:45) taking advantage of Christian abdication and thereby submitting our nation to false worship. As many unbelievers more clearly see these realities, Christians must show them that the world is immersed in spiritual warfare. Jesus said, after all, that “whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters” (Matthew 12:30).
Kat Von D Touched Grass
Kat Von D moved with her family from Los Angeles, California, where she had spent most of her life, to a very small town called Vevay, Indiana, following the harsh lockdowns and mandates in her home state. In other words, she practiced fight-by-flight and moved her family to a place where they could more easily prosper and experience freedom.
Christians have nevertheless been told by evangelical elites that reaching large cities is the zenith of Christian faithfulness: that planting a church in Manhattan or the Bay Area, followed by packaging the faith for presentation to overwhelmingly leftist finance and technology elites, is the need of the hour for American Christians. Individuals such as Christianity Today editor-in-chief Russell Moore explicitly bid “good riddance” to the cultural Christianity that still prevails in many parts of the nation, contending that a more stark divide between the faithful and faithless is a necessary precondition for a more rapid advance of the gospel.
Yet we discover that those who reside in rural areas in the South and Midwest, who may not be influential but have retained at least a cultural sense of Christian virtue, are often more welcoming to the Christian faith. Areas with cultural Christianity, despite the unique challenges that come with ministry in these places, often prove themselves to be fertile ground for gospel advancement, as well as excellent outposts for Christians who simply want to provide for their families but find themselves in rapidly paganizing states and cities.
Kat Von D Noticed Aesthetics
The church that Kat Von D attends, as shown in the viral video, has a sanctuary with pews, wood trimming, and artwork depicting scenes from the natural world. The small church worships by means of a simple choir in which Kat Von D appears to regularly sing.
As a tattoo artist, Kat Von D clearly has an eye for aesthetics, but evangelical churches are far too often constructed like modern concert halls or warehouses, even when they have the funds to build a more aesthetically mindful venue. Legitimate and godly churches, of course, can meet in middle school gymnasiums just as easily as cathedrals: the only requirements for true worship are “Spirit and truth” (John 4:24). Yet when evangelical churches possess the means to construct buildings for their assembly, they unfortunately pay little mind to objective beauty and neglect the history of Christians using architecture to reflect the weightiness of true worship.
In other cases, evangelicals place little investment into their physical worship spaces while asserting that they must instead devote resources toward missions or charity. Yet even Jesus commends Mary, the sister of Lazarus, for pouring expensive ointment on him in an act of extravagant worship: “[F]or the poor you always have with you, but you do not always have me” (John 12:8). American Christians ought to unashamedly reclaim our heritage of building and maintaining magnificent places of worship, for ourselves and the generations which follow.
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