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Rolling Stone plucked up its stunning and brave courage two days ago to publish a foolish, though illuminating, piece about the rapper, Lil Nas X, who released a music video in which he supplants Satan. Rolling Stone thought it would be clever to go ask a “real” Satanist about it. But first, here is what they say about the video:

Watching the rapper twerk atop a swole zaddy Satan in the video is redolent with symbolism: as Lil Nas X put it in a press release, it was intended as a nod to homophobes who accuse gay people of going to hell, with the dethroning of Satan as a means of “dismantling the throne of judgment and punishment that has kept many of us from embracing our true selves out of fear.”

That is very clever–the idea that anyone could “dismantle” the throne either of Satan or of God. Observe how the word “dismantle” appears to be something that a person does inside his heart in some spiritual way, and yet, were he to try to actually go and take God off his throne, I expect he would have a very difficult time, to put it mildly. We go on:    

The video has received widespread acclaim on social media for its sumptuous, provocative imagery, as well as the expected condemnation from those on the right accusing Lil Nas X of indoctrinating innocent children into becoming….lap dancers? Classics scholars? Wig enthusiasts? It’s unclear. However, the question remains: what do actual Satanists themselves think of the video?

I like that. Those “on the right,” who accuse…I took the bait and watched this supposedly “sumptuous” video so “redolent” with deconstructionist assumptions that it doesn’t realize it is driving a large boat—sorry, ship—into a sandbank of eternal ruin until it is a touch too late and, verily verily I say unto you, I was appalled. Appalled by the idea not that a child would watch it, but that anyone would, that I had wasted those four minutes of my evening, and worse, that anyone would go through all the work to write the song, buy the costumes, set up the lighting, and then go to the trouble to turn on the camera.

So anyway, Rolling Stone wanted to know if Lil Nas X had offended the Satanist Community by appropriating their god, but fortunately for Lil Nas X, the Satanist they interviewed felt the musical effort was fine. It didn’t upset him at all:

Founded in 1966 by Anton LaVey, the Church of Satan does not actually believe in a Christian version of Satan or worship Satan as a deity. Rather, the Church of Satan is more humanistically centered, with members referring to the organization as “the world’s first carnal religion.” “Basically we worship ourselves. We refer to ourselves as I-theists,” says Harris. “We see ourselves as our own god.”

Hmm, yes, well, I would just disagree with Rolling Stone and their Satanist source. It sounds to me that they have perfectly adopted—stolen if you will—the Christian view of Satan. Indeed, one could not have more perfectly articulated the Christian view of evil than, “We see ourselves as our own god.” It’s like they read the book of Romans and then decided to make a music video.

Of course, this morning is Palm Sunday, neither I, nor anyone I know, will be toddling off to church to watch anything like that, nor to think about the devil, nor to do anything untoward or evil. And yet, as we begin our week-long walk to the cross, tracing our steps along with Christ, the heart of the thing that we will enjoin our hearts to understand, is that God—because we see ourselves as our own god—”did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”

Rather than “dethroning of Satan as a means of ‘dismantling the throne of judgment and punishment that has kept many of us from embracing our true selves out of fear,’” we will bow our spiritual knee before a heavenly throne on which our Lord sits until such a time as he comes again to judge the earth, at which time “every knee” will “bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

The great thing is that we go this morning without fear to make such a confession. We go to lay down our pride, our own tinpot, tawdry gods, to cry out with the crowd that welcomes Jesus as he comes into Jerusalem, and then to bow our heads and beat our breasts as he bows his head in death.

And what a punishment! That God would take onto himself the fullness of his own wrath against sin, that he would endure the full measure—pressed down, shaken together—of the hell that we deserve. That he would set aside the glory of his throne, the perfect communion and love of the Godhead to draw us into himself, to bring us into the very throne room of heaven to worship and adore him. That he would do all this out of love. That he would not spare himself for those he came to save.

Though Rolling Stone, and Lil Nas X, and all the lost of the world are “unclear” about what anyone might object to as they rush headlong into the ruinous idolatry of self-love, we, of all people, are most clear about what a great thing our Savior accomplished. As the curtain rips in two from top to bottom and the centurion looks up, his eyes opened to behold the Truth, we can say his words, “Surely, this man was the Son of God!”

Photo by Manuel Asturias on Unsplash

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