3 thoughts on the Satan sneakers. Last week rapper Lil Nas-X (please don’t ask me to pronounce that), released a limited line of sneakers. They were part of the marketing campaign for his new song “Montero”. So what made these shoes so controversial?
The so called “Satan Shoes” were modified Nike sneakers. 666 pairs were released, and they featured a drop of human blood in the soul of each shoe. To be clear, Nike had no knowledge of or involvement in the production of the specialized shoes. In fact, they won a court case in which they demanded that Lil Nas-X cease production of the sneakers. The case was somewhat moot, as the shoes sold out within minutes of being released.
So what should Christians take away from this, one of the most bizarre marketing campaigns in recent memory?
Take A Deep Breath
First, take a deep breath. While hearing things like this can get our blood boiling, keep in mind this is exactly what Lil Nas-X was hoping would happen. This is a marketing campaign, meant to draw attention. In this, Lil Nas-X has succeeded spectacularly. The controversy surrounding the shoe did exactly what the makers had hoped. It drew attention to the artist in a way that was predictable.
In the music video for “Montero”, Lil Nas-X is seen sliding down a stripper pole into hell. He then proceeds to give Satan a lap dance. This again is done to get a reaction. I have to say, these things just no longer shock or anger me. We should not expect non-Christians to behave as Christians. I get much more upset when a Christian fails morally than when non-Christian acts out in this way.
It’s important to understand that things like this, while annoying, are not serious threats to the Christian worldview. There is no challenge per se. An “In your face” type of attitude, but not a well-thought-out challenge.
Outrage? What Outrage
Lil Nas-X was banking on Christians being offended and outraged. While that may have happened, I’m not seeing a whole lot about this in the Christian community. I don’t really think this was on anyone’s radar. And I don’t think Christian at large took this very seriously.
It reminds me of the Starbucks Christmas cup controversy a few years ago. Starbucks changed their Christmas cups to just a plain red cup. Christians were outraged! Well, actually, no we weren’t. The media reported that Christians were outraged, but most of us really didn’t care what Starbucks did with their cups. I think the same thing is going on here. There is a presumed outrage. But not an actual outrage.
There Is Real Pain Here
Lil Nas-X is a homosexual and has apparently had some very negative interactions with Christians. This is tragic. While we cannot back away from the truth of our convictions, we can share them in a loving and kind way.
I was not a Christian when the AIDS epidemic first appeared on the scene in the 1980’s. But I do think that the response from the Christian community completely missed the mark. We took the opportunity to beat up on people that were hurting. We had an opportunity to make a difference in people’s lives, and we chose the most uncaring response possible. And Lil Nas-X has chosen to use this response as justification for his marketing campaign.
Christians have done amazing things in advancing women’s rights throughout history. We have helped orphans from the earliest days of the movement. Christians have cared for leppers when no one else would be around them. And we continue to advocate for the unborn, the weakest and most vulnerable among us. Imagine what could have been if we had applied that same help and care to the LGBTQ community.
I’m not saying we have to agree with or affirm lifestyles that run counter to God’s Word. But I am saying that every human being is made in the image of God, and is therefore deserving of dignity and respect.
So should we be upset by the Satan sneakers? Upset may be the wrong word. We should feel sadness at the brokenness of the world. And it should serve as a reminder as to how we do evangelism. Are we doing so from a place of love, or a place of superiority? Christian evangelism has been rightly described by Frank Turek as “One beggar showing another beggar where the food is”. So have a thick skin, be kind and keep spreading the Gospel to a world that desperately needs it right now!
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