There may be no word in the English language that drives mainstream media narratives more than “offended.” The whole world could be on fire, but national media coverage would drop that breaking story in a heartbeat for one about a bleeding heart that was offended. Well, that is to say, as long as the offended party identified either as a member of the LGBTQ community, a racial minority or a female and the offending party is white, male and/or Christian. Combine those latter three together, and you have one of the most offensive creatures to walk the Earth right now – a white, male Christian.
Merriam-Webster defines “offend” in several ways. The first definition is in its intransitive verb form meaning “to transgress the moral or divine law: SIN.” Eight definitions later, the dictionary reaches its third transitive verb definition for the word, meaning “to cause (a person or group) to feel hurt, angry, or upset by something said or done.”
Now, in my humble opinion, that first definition of the word offend is serious business. There is nothing more serious, civilly or criminally, than breaking moral or divine law. On the other hand, that eighth definition of the word is more “sticks and stones will break my bones…” type material. Unfortunately, we find ourselves living in a country where hurting, angering or upsetting certain people and groups by something that was said is a more serious crime than rape or murder in the court of public opinion.
For most Christians, this week is one of the most sacred weeks of the year. The period from Palm Sunday last weekend to Easter Sunday this weekend is the annual pinnacle of Christian faith – a solemn reflection both on the days that led up to and the ultimate sacrifice Jesus made upon the cross for the salvation of all mankind.
Sadly, this is also the week that rapper Lil Nas X debuted his “Satan Shoes.” Partnering with a Brooklyn-based creative arts company, Lil Nas X’s shoes are Nike Air Max 97s with their visible air bladder filled with 60cc of red ink and a drop of human blood. The shoes also sport the number 666, the mark of the beast, and will have 666 pairs available for purchase at a price of $1,018.
If this wasn’t offensive enough to Christians, the “Satan Shoes” coincide with the rapper’s new music video which starts out in a Garden of Eden like setting. After the rapper makes out with a half-man/half-snake, he almost ascends to heaven, only to slide down a stripper pole into hell. There he gives the devil a lap dance, snaps his neck, and dons Satan’s crown after killing him.
I can think of nothing someone could say or do to me, whether they verbally attacked my race, gender or sexual orientation, that could be more offensive than Lil Nas X’s shoes and video. They offend me to my Christian core, not to mention desecrate this holy week in the vilest of fashions.
Fortunately for Lil Nas X, he knows that, as an openly gay black man, he is untouchable. There is no age restriction on YouTube for his video depicting violence and highly sexualized themes. There is no blow back for the rapper who has toured elementary schools, wrote a children’s book and appeared on Sesame Street in recent years. The only repercussions from this all will be towards white, male Christians like myself who dare say enough is enough.
Our society no longer cares about blasphemy or Christian persecution. Sexuality is now this country’s religion, with an altar that even our children are often encouraged to kneel at.
Just last year, rapper Cardi B released a song that degraded herself and the female gender in the most pornographic way any artist has ever attempted. She was rewarded with an interview with then presidential candidate Joe Biden, the song of the year, and heralded by NPR as a role model for young girls all across this nation.
Yet, he who calls out the shortcomings of this elevation of the bedroom into the living room will find himself labeled a bigot, a sexist, a racist or a homophobe.
Equality and mutual respect should be a two-way street for everyone in this country, not just for a select few. Otherwise, we are simply swapping the persecution of one group for another, failing to truly progress at all. I won’t hold my breath, though. I’ll just turn my cheek, wait for the blowback and say a little prayer. Afterall, it’s the Christian thing to do.