Relient K drama AKA Why did Matt Thiessen and his fiance break up AKA Why did he cheat on her?

I don't like most pop rock bands. Relient K has been an exception for me, despite being a darling of the Contemporary Christian industry, the RIAA, Christian corporate radio, and mainstream radio. To me those are all negatives. I give the band a pass because they seem sincere, because their lyrics are insightful plus often brilliant, and because their three chord songs are catchy. Despite liking their later stuff, I haven't bought any of their music since Two Lefts because I'm boycotting the RIAA, but that's me. People still think, "hey he should listen to less creepy Christian metal and I know he likes Relient K," and get me new RK albums for birthdays and whatnot. Yeah. Big list of reasons I shouldn't care aside, this interests me. And despite my protesting too much, I have a shelf upon which sits almost every Relient K album, so I'm going to dive in.

The story goes
So Matt Thiessen, lead singer of Relient K, and his fiance, Shannon Murphy broke up in December of 2008. No big deal. It happens.

At the time Shannon posted a nice, "the engagement is off" neutral message on Gotee Record's website.
From December 29, 2008: I'll make this short (And as sweet as I can): For those of you who missed my announcement on the show a few days ago, I am no longer engaged. I called it off after learning a few things about Matt that I simply just could not handle. He's a wonderful person with an amazingly huge heart, and I love him more than anything. But ... No more wedding bells. I'm leaving it at that, and I hope you will, too. I need a lot of privacy, a lot of support and a lot of inspiration as I begin the "healing process."

People, of course, are being typical celebrity chasers and are not leaving it at that. Everyone's trying to figure out what went down, and why, hoping to find out just how bad of a boy Matt was.

The Saga decides to not die and instead kicks it up a notch
July 31, 2009 new details emerged. A story appeared on They'd found that Shannon Murphy had emerged as a new co-host of a talk radio program in Detroit. The key bit is this:
While calling into the show, Murphy revealed three tidbits:

• She turned down a shot to compete on ABC's "The Bachelor" to co-host on 95.5.

• She co-hosted the 1991 Thanksgiving parade, anchored by WDIV news legends Mort Crim and Carmen Harlan, and that her family watches it every Thanksgiving.

• She was once engaged to someone she described as "unfaithful." Murphy declined to go into detail.

After doing some muckraking, mlive put two and two together and determined a Christian Rock singer potentially cheated on his girlfriend. Nice find. Ooh, juicy drama! Sigh.

Soon Matt Thiessen got clued in via Google and apparently texted Shannon he wasn't happy about what was going public on mlive. Apparently she shared that with her new coworkers. Then the talk show and it's new co-host got in on the act on the air. From the excerpt in the story, it sounds like mostly the two sleazy sounding male co-hosts led the charge, repeatedly trying to milk the story into drama and further goad their female companion into escalating the situation. However, Shannon wisely says very little in the way of specifics, and, again, is very careful to avoid actually saying Matt cheated on her. The closest she gets is advising a caller that someone who does such a thing shows a lack of respect to the other person, not necessarily a lack of love.

The rumor mill is now in overdrive
Instead of that quieting everything down, people took the above respect comment as de facto proof that Matt cheated on his ex-fiance.

I wasn't looking for any of this, by the way. Until today I knew nothing. Now I'm surprised about Relient K's Wikipedia page having nothing, as related Youtube and lyrics site sections are all talking about this and little else. Allegedly most of Relient K's just-released album, Forget and Not Slow Down, including the title song deals with this subject matter.
i wouldnt be surprised if it was the concourse in ATL airport since this whole album is about him and his fiancee who broke up.
its probably something he heard alot on his trips to visit her.

Interesting, but just speculation.
"I know matt. and he did not cheat on shannon! Evadently she got the wrong impresson when matt said that those songs were not about her anymore and he kept talking about another girl, which i can tell you truthfully who she is. She is the girl who god realy wants matt to be with in the future. But the thing is that they have not even met yet, ok! So how could he be cheating on her with someone he has not met? Shannon hearing him sing curl up and die and talking about a possible breakup. evedently she thought that he was cheating on her with “the girl” so she broke up with him. everthing is just one big misunderstanding mess."

This person knows!
I really don't buy that. At all. I've heard that from the fans over and over again. You know what? She caught him. More than once. It wasn't a one time thing and I seriously doubt she would throw away a long lasting relationship and engagement over a simple misunderstanding like that. If she wasn't the one for Matt and that was the central issue, I really doubt she'd get on the air and discuss, with other women going through similar situations, the fact that he cheated more than once. I may never know the full truth and most likely neither will any of you, but I'm allowed to have my doubts nonetheless. The guy's not perfect and he is capable of screwing up.

This person also knows! How can they both be right?

Oh, right, "facts" on the "internet"
I'm surprised no big media outlet has picked this story up, but someone probably will sooner or later. This has the makings of the next Evanescence-level controversy for so-called "Christian" music, whether wanted or not. That applies even if this is all eventually turns out to be a big misunderstanding. If the past is a guide, we can always count on Christian bookstores to react like Wal-Mart over things like this: a good-for-business decision will be made and then you are for them or you are against them. Depending on what happens, the band could get dropped from CCM like a hot potato or the whole thing could just be buried by skillful PR aaaaand business as usual.

If/when the story either breaks or word-of-mouths to critical mass, I think most Relient K fangirls will be crushed but then a curious thing will happen. All right, not really that curious because it's happened before with other bands and other celebrities. The fans will fiercely defend Matt Thiessen with the fervor of impossible Michael Jackson fans.
He would never do something like that...

...goes the refrain so far.

And yet there's got to be the always nagging thought in the back of the mind: but what if he did? However, even if it turns out he did, most fans will suddenly find themselves morally compromising because, hey, they still like his introspective, soul baring music. I for one still do.

To be fair this whole thing is mlive's fault, but, if not them, someone else in the rumor machine would've been snooping and discovered this information sooner or later. Heck, it's all publicly available. So really what's to blame is people's insatiable desire to put "better" people on pedestals, to create celebrities and then hound them to their graves, and, of course, to dig up the dirt, especially on anyone who dares to call themselves a "Christian."

A less obvious take on the subject
"See," (best read with a sneer on your lips) is the subtle implication, "Christians are all hypocrites." Um, yeah, which, if you know anything about Christianity, is not inconsistent whatsoever. It's kind of the point. Premise 101 is that all people are basically evil. The one difference, 1, is that Christians accept that premise but think anyone can be forgiven by Jesus. That's it. There's nothing about them not screwing up. There's even the implication that Christians could screw up more because of how aware of their hypocrisy they are. Christians aren't fixed. They are normal people who believe--hope--Jesus really was God and they'll get fixed after death. Is that enough of a mind trip?

"Give us a king," the citizens of Israel say.
"You don't want a king. I pretty much am one, anyway," replies God.
But they insist. And God relents. And Israel gets Saul. He is a natural leader and good looking. Soon, no one likes his talks on unity, his heavy taxes, or his policies on Education, or on the War, or foreign policy. But that's not the worse of it. He becomes a tyrant over time. All, in large part, because he's trusting his gut instincts and doing the best that he can.
"The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked. Who can know it?" As a human, your so-called gut feeling is lying to you more than you'd like.

Some things the rumor mill is ignoring
• I am not defending Matt Thiessen, by the way. If he's guilty of cheating, then he's guilty of cheating and should face the music consequences. I am going with innocent until proven guilty, however.

• But, regardless, we the masses don't know.
Keep in mind... there are two sides to every story.

Side 1 actually says: ?
Side 2 actually says: ?

• And we the masses don't necessarily deserve to know. It's a private matter. Caveat: Christians do place a lot of stock in holding each other the "accountable" buzzword, even more so regarding people in positions of influence. Public confession followed by repentance does hurt, but God does seem to honor it. Especially if there's genuine repentance and not something like, "I'm sorry I got caught. I promise not to get caught next time."

• From a Christian perspective, there's other ways to be "unfaithful" besides cheating. To illustrate, here are two what-ifs: maybe he was looking at porn. Maybe he was putting the band ahead of her in ways that were compromising their relationship. A lack of info is a lack of info.

I really hope this isn’t completely true. I look up to him and his music more than anything and well. . . if it’s true then I lost a huge role model. Regardless I am sorry for the loss on both sides and I hope you have both recovered a fair amount.

If you are someone who has Matt Thiessen as a role model, and are disillusioned, you don't necessarily have to drop him. Let's assume the worst case scenario: he cheated. He still has good points. Take him off the pedestal instead; recognize that he is human; and aspire to be the things he is good at. The rest is a cautionary tale. Like King David, he has a gift for praising God and, I would argue, following after God's own heart. If, like King David, he also completely screwed up with cheating, the similarities are ironic... and interesting.

Is history repeating itself? Well, God does not change. Obviously there will be consequences, as that is just the way life works.

Otherwise, if you only want perfect people to be your role models, hurry up and get rid of all your other ones. There's only one person who qualifies. Guess who it is?

• Despite some sins being really taboo these days while others just get winked at, in the Bible, all sins are equally bad. The point is, anyone who sins once is guilty, period. Secondly, everyone sins, so by extension, everyone is guilty. Thirdly, Jesus is willing to forgive everything, period, no strings attached. That's it. No one stops sinning when they become a Christian. For most people, being famous just ups the pressure.

Welcome to this truly wonderful thing we call, "grace."

Possible call and response
My final 2 cents: a good Christian response is not to disavow or attack or even defend Relient K, nor to demand to know what happened. In the same way, attacking Shannon or assuming everything is her fault does no one any good (...but neither does assuming her not-even-confirmed accusation is right on and Matt cheated.) Of course, it is also no better to sweep this under the rug and pretend none of this exists. Instead, consider praying for God's will and leaving it at that.

All the same, if you happen to hear a guy yelling, "Marco!" from a great distance, that's me.
great post
i have been a fan of rk and m@y t. since their first self-titled album. i was following matt and shannon's engagement via her blog at the time and was shocked to read of their break-up. i was one of those girls who instantly defended matt when i read that the break-up happened b/c he cheated on her. i thought no way, look at his lyrics. but after a few realizations such as he dated shannon for 3 years before proposing, he dated katy perry before that for 3 years, and was currently working with katy perry to write a song for Kelly Clarkson, i believe it may be true.

anyone might agree that a (christian) guy who dates two girls for 3 years each and never marrys either one may have some issues. matt thiessen's lyrics are brilliant, however, there is a significant difference his mention of God from then to now. His latest album is such a disappointment. It seems like he wrote it for Shannon not for God or his fans. Perhaps his last chance to get her back? Maybe this is a bold assumption. But I know God is mentioned once in his new album and the mention is b/c that is the only one left who would listen.

lastly, if one reads the entire lyrics of his latest album it is quite evident that Matt screwed up...perhaps one could even say it confesses he cheated.
one example is the last song where he sings:

I met the devil and I stared her in the eyes
Her hair had scales like silver serpents
I a statue, stood there mesmerized

I took the fire escape and made it out alive
Yeah I still burn from time to time but I've a healing hand against my side

Blisters on my feet I crawled back home
Frozen from the sleet burned sand and stones
Nourished back to life by life alone
With one shake of the mane regain the throne

the lion analogy relates to a song earlier in the album named Sahara.

all this to say, that i really enjoyed reading your entry. it was very well-written and well thought out. i need to get back to my life now and get over researching a once well respected man.
Re: great post
Thanks for the kind words.

I'm not sure what I think about the long engagements being weird. Admittedly most people have engagements that are a year or less these days, but it may just be a sign that he's a cautious person and wanted to take things slow.

Same with those lyrics. They definitely make it sound likely, but they're far too metaphorical to be a confirmation.

One last thought: David wrote some of the greatest Psalms after Bathsheba.
Re: great post
I thought like you, that perhaps it's that he cheated, or perhaps it's temptation in other ways? The fact that he makes the devil a 'she' would to me suggest porn or cheating. But he made it out alive.. so maybe he was close to cheating, or he did porn/cheated and now regrets and lives with faith in grace. Who knows. I agree to this site, innocent until proven guilty, and it's not our business. God's the judge.
Re: great post
Is Katy Perry a Christian? Is Shannon? These lyrics could easily be about having dated a non-Christian. Been there. Done that.
Nice post!
Hi there. Trully, I'd like to know wether Matt did that ot not. But I don't think it's just a fan thing. I don't event like to see myself as a fan. I'd like to know it cuz I really like Matt from what I know from his lyrics. Not like a "almost-god", but like a beloved brother, even if it sounds hypocrit. But if he did, as you said, I still wanna be as good as he is in so many subjects we can wonder about when we listen to his songs. The reason I wanted to comment, actually, is because I loved what you said about Christianity. It is so great, I'm thinking of translating part of it into Portuguese for my blog, mentioning you're the author, of course. All the subject of recognizing we're all imperfect and all the matter of grace is so deep. And I personally think that most of Christian people don't ever think of that or take a long time to understand it. Thank you and, if you read this, I wonder if you could let a comment on my blog saying wether you let me translate it or not into mine. You can tweet me if you prefer - @homemvoador. God bless!
Re: Nice post!
Thanks, glad it was helpful. Sure, you have permission to translate my post into Portuguese on your blog.
Hey I just wanted to say that I love your post! So many times we think that one sin is greater than another, but you're right. A sin is a sin. Nicely put!
Matt Thiessen
just because she says on a radio show that he cheated on her, it doesn't make it true. You can't always believe what you hear and she could just be paranoid because he is in a rock band and is away a lot. I'm not saying that he didn't do it or that he's perfect; but I have heard the album too, and I never once thought any of the songs sounded like he was talking about cheating. He sings about making mistakes--which he does on all of his records, with some songs about break-ups and what not; but the whole katy perry thing--he wrote that song with her or those songs with her when they were together and personally, even if he is writing songs with her now, I don't think she'd give him the time of day now that she's way more famous than he is and has totally "sold-out" to be a "star". So only God knows what he did, his heart, etc...and he sounds like he is remorseful about something in the songs but he could be wanting forgiveness from God for something he did one really knows but him and God. I just think it's messed up that people are stating it like it's a fact. If they had pictures or something concrete to back it up then I could understand. If it did happen, I hope he asks God to help him with his "problem" and doesn't break another girl's heart; but if he didn't, then it's not cool for her to say he did. No one is perfect and people will judge someone like him more because his music is Christian based music. I think he's a talented musician and I'm not going to boycott him, even though i can't stand cheaters (if he is one) because there is no telling HOW many celebrities out there do the same thing or worse and people still support them. Why should he be different? Because he claims to be a Christian? It's up to God to judge him and I'm glad that you pointed that out. I listened to the radio show with her saying that he cheated and it proves nothing. Anyone can say anything and it doesn't make it true. Sorry I tend to ramble!!! God Bless!
Hmmm...interesting, I certainly had that "sinking feeling" of seeing his (possible) faults when I had such an admiration for him. But, honestly, it's always relieving to me to see people's stuff.

The seemingly average Christian's reaction to issues like this are always disconcerting to me. Reminds me of the MuteMath lyrics:

"The crowds roll by and I'm falling in
Everyone's invincible, but it's just pretend
And we all freaked out, what a shame
When only tears know how to remind us we all break the same
We all break the same"

I'm not crying over this, but it's a reminder that no matter what station we're at in this life, we are fragile beings in need of grace. We all break the same...Matt Thiessen included.
I agree we all make mistakes and need forgiveness. The problem is that when you act in a way to "represent" the faith, you take on a heavy burden. The Bible is clear that "not many should be teachers" because the standard set for them is VERY high! I'm not suggesting Matt and RK have taken up the mantle specifically as prophets of God ... but they can't deny that they are heavily played in the Christian market, and thus bear more than a normal share of representation of the gospel.

All that being said, if Matt is guilty of some kind of sexual sin, I believe the proper thing to do would be to step out of the spotlight. I agree, we cannot condemn him without honest proof ... however, I also tend to side with those who say if Shannon knew that it was being thrown about that he cheated, and she knew he had NOT cheated, then surely she would have denied the allegation. The fact she did not is VERY telling ... that, and the fact Matt was very angry about the info coming out.

No matter - RK is my wife's favorite band, and I have not the heart to tell her about this - is it wrong to leave her ignorant?
Great article! I found it a joy to read! Although I must say that buying cds for you is more like, "well. . .I think he likes this band. . .and I'm *pretty* sure he doesn't already have this cd. . .although I'm not sure cause he has a million cds in his room. . .oh heck I guess I'll buy it and save the receipt in case he doesn't like it." =P

-Lil Bro