Colorful vegetation covers the screen as rapper Lil Nas X calmly sits in the Garden of Eden, only to be approached and seduced by a treacherous snake. A quick transition shows Lil Nas X chained and taken to a court in heaven where angels cast stones and condemn him.
As he free falls, the blue-sky changes to blood red with a black pole ascending for him to latch onto. Lil Nas X fluidly descends into hell – in style – where he meets and performs a lap dance for Satan. After seducing the devil, Lil Nas kills him and crowns himself as the Prince of Darkness.
Lil Nas X released his latest single, “Montero (Call Me By Your Name),” on March 26 with the music video described above, which sparked severe controversy from conservative Christians.
Lil Nas X blew onto the scene with his popular hit “Old Town Road,” in 2019, which became hugely popular among children. In a series of now deleted tweets, rapper Joyner Lucas criticized Lil Nas for not considering the child audience he has gained. In response, Lil Nas X tweeted to Lucas, “I literally sing about lean & adultery in ‘Old Town Road,’ … U decided to let your children listen. Blame yourself.”
Lil Nas X trolled conservatives Christians online who condemned his actions as sinful and reckless for his audience. With bombastic responses, he used this backlash as an opportunity to openly discuss his struggles with confronting his true sexuality.
Brian Oliveras, senior business major at Texas A&M San Antonio, stated he was “puzzled” with the controversy because the “hip hop and pop music has always been a ‘shock factor’ industry,” with men and women talking about drugs and sex in intimate, vulgar detail.
“[Christians] were unaware of his message to everyone, not just [to] Christians or religion,” he said. “It was to show himself and his audience who happen to be in the LGBTQ+ community that it’s okay to be yourself and have these feelings and or attractions to the same sex.”
Lil Nas X and MSCHF collaborated to release a modified Nike Air Max 97s – decorated with a pentagram pendant, a reference to Luke 10:18 and a drop of human blood – called the “Satan Shoes,” on March 29. The verse is about Satan’s fall from heaven with Jesus further discussing how guaranteeing the sanctity of heaven is more important than performing miracles.
Nike delivered a restricting and trademark infringement order against MSCHF to produce more shoes, but the order comes too late, as the 666 produced shoes were already shipped out. The same company released a pair of “Jesus Shoes,” which contained holy water in the soles.
With a heated biblical debate of “satanic worship” and idolization, how can the Christian community mold this “controversy” into a biblical lesson about reflection of identity and integration of love?
Oliveras, who stated he strayed away from the faith, believes this backlash emphasized Christianity as a community who “excludes anybody that doesn’t fit their ‘criteria.’” Moreover, he remarked the controversy demonstrated the Christian community’s “true feelings” about the LGBTQ+ community still being ingrained in the church and not feeling accepted for the sexuality he, and others, have.
Karis Trippe, senior electrical engineering at John Brown University, said, “We choose what we feed our minds and our hearts.”
According to Romans 8:39, nothing can separate people from the love of God in Christ Jesus, which can include LGBTQ+ individuals. In 1 Corinthians 12:12-13, the apostle Paul describes the church composed of different parts that “have all been baptized into one body by one Spirit, and we all share the same Spirit.”
In the case of Lil Nas X, Christians appeared to be unloving toward his actions and conveyed the idea that certain sins weigh more than others. Although his satanic imagery is not biblical to practice, how can Christians be loving and biblical when approaching this topic?
“Christians can support the LGBTQ+ community by easily accepting who we are and that love is love, no matter who you love or who you are,” Oliveras said. “If God was all loving and Jesus was reaching to different audiences, why wouldn’t they accept different genders, different couples and same sex couples?”
Trippe admits it is hard to identify any action to take to solve this issue, but “it is more of a mindset or the way you see people.” She stated to be Christ-like could be trying to understand the other person and our response to controversy should be inviting them to our home and befriending them.
“As you pray, as you walk in your faith, as you see to help people and as you have the resources, opening up those resources and [begin] interacting with them,” she said.
The backlash against Lil Nas X’s music video and shoes portrayed Christianity as an unloving faith that despises our LGBTQ+ brothers, sisters and others.
Trippe stated she despises Christians who publicly condemn others for their actions or beliefs, but their sins are equally condemnable as the actions Lil Nas X took.
Photo courtesy of The Guardian