The Reason Why We're Sacrilegious
Right now everyone is talking about Lil Nas X and his partnership with a New York design company, who together are releasing a limited run of what they call "Satan Nikes"; satanic inspired sneakers that come dressed with pentagrams and claim to contain a single drop of human blood. There will only be 666 pairs available for purchase at a little over a thousand dollars each. This promotion pairs with a new music video for his song "Montero (Call Me By Your Name)", which depicts a scene where he gives a lap dance to Satan in hell before snapping his neck and stealing Satan's horns for himself. I'm not a listener of Lil Nas X, but I appreciated the symbolism because, in many ways, I can relate to it.
For example, last year I shared a Facebook post which included a passage from the Satanic Bible condemning acts of non consensual sex (a stark contrast to the Biblical standard which allows a rapist to marry his victim for fifty shekels in Deuteronomy 22:28-29). Shortly after sharing, I was contacted by a religious family member who berated me for the post. They questioned my intentions and accused me of sharing it in an attempt to "hurt" them. Although their accusations say much more about them than they do about me, it still frustrated me to be accused of malicious intent for merely expressing myself. But this was far from the first time I'd been accused of such, and I know it will not be the last. There is an unspoken protection over Christian beliefs in our society that make them almost impossible to critique or question without being socially ostracized to some extent or another. The evangelical community feels perfectly justified in pointing their fingers at anyone who rejects their preferred way of living, but cries persecution at any mirrored actions from the opposing side.
Currently, evangelical warriors are furiously typing out their cancellations of a music artist they don't even listen to and sharing the deep-seated fears they believe are coming to fruition before their own eyes. They are terrified of the demonic forces they believe are working through Hollywood and people like Lil Nas X. They gaslight him, claiming to know that his intentions are impure (just as they've done to me and so many others alike). They accuse him of trying to brainwash and harm their children- something I have also been accused of. They hold tight to a growing list of fears, and he's just another one to add. Fear is the driving force behind Christian culture, especially in the evangelical sect. If the fear did not exist, nor would the belief. I know, because I used to be so afraid too.
But once you find a way to overcome the belief, the fear will often dissipate. And once it does, you gain a new outlook on life. You can breathe without the weight of guilt buried deep within your chest. You start to realize that you've lived so long under a dark grey dome, and the colors of existence can at last be explored without the religious chains that held you back before. You find magic in places you used to only see danger; pleasure in experiences you were once shamed into avoiding. You want to run and and exclaim freedom with passion and fervor, but almost everyone around you is still chained, and they don't like watching you run with the colors they cannot see. So you either stop running, suppress yourself and the truth you've found, and explore life's colors in secret shame; or you run even faster. You shed the coating of the shell you were shamed into. You find strength along your path and you find a way to heal.
Committing sacrilege in speech, art, or any other outlet, is a way of empowering ourselves and showing our abuser, the church, that we are no longer afraid. We've let go of the shame and the guilt we never deserved to have in the first place. We let go of the need to be accepted by a community of people that require subservience over genuineness. We live with the scars and the trauma but still we overcome. We fight for our existence, our truth and our power. We create art which destroys the fears that once kept us bound. We express ourselves in ways that help us process and heal from our trauma, but also inadvertently offends those who've yet to break their own chains- because fear still clouds their eyes. We show them what it looks like to live fearlessly and proud, and hope that it might one day inspire them to break away and do the same. We just want to heal and live our truth the best way we know how. We can play with our fears because they no longer rule us. We can give lap dances to satan and sell sneakers with pentagrams and create a mockery of everything that wanted to suppress us because that is the ultimate way to gain back what they stole and reclaim our lives. To show them that they no longer rule us.
Lil Nas X is brave in his authenticity. I admire his courage and respect his art. I hope more people can learn how to respect the healing process of those who have been through real religious trauma and appreciate how they cope and find their voice. The church is supposedly under the protection of the most powerful entity in existence. If a man dancing on a CGI pole is enough to spark fear, perhaps they just need a little more faith.
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