(Todd A. Smith)
People have a right to do what they want.
No one should censor artists and tell them what they can and cannot say.
However, no one should avoid accountability.
It is great to see a movement amongst rap artists to hold each other accountable for disrespectful and denigrating messages in hip-hop.
Rapper Lil Nas X is the latest to face scrutiny from his peers for his depiction of Jesus Christ in the video for his song entitled “J Christ.”
In the video, the artists who has caused controversy for same sex kisses and scenes of him giving a lap dance to the devil, shows himself strapped to a cross.
Christ was crucified on a cross before rising from the dead a couple of days later.
While other artists like Kanye West and Nas have depicted themselves on a cross or had images of the cross in their videos, Lil Nas X’s track record is the reason for the much-needed backlash.
Before West’s “Jesus Walks” video or Nas’ “Hate Me Now,” they did not have the same reputation of mocking Christian morals and values like Lil Nas X.
As a result, Lil Nas X received criticism from Christian rappers like Dee-1 and Lecrae.
But he also received similar criticism from street rappers like Boosie.
Therefore, Lil Nas issued an apology, which did not move Boosie.
In a video, Lil Nas X said, “This is not to try to get everybody on my good side or whatnot. This is more so to clear my head about my own decisions. I know I really messed up really bad this time. And I can act unbothered all I want but it’s definitely taken a mental toll on me.”
In an interview on the YouTube podcast “The Art of Dialogue,” Dee-1 complained that there are no boundaries in hip-hop.
Murder is O.K.
Oversexualizing of women is O.K.
Selling drugs is O.K.
Womanizing is O.K.
So why wouldn’t Lil Nas X think that blasphemy would not be O.K.?
When Boosie complained about Lil Nas X disrespecting the Lord in his video and possibly going to Hell, many social media users pointed out to accusations of violence against Boosie from years past.
The Baton Rouge, La. native beat murder charges years ago, which threatened to end his freedom and cut short his promising music career.
But assuming the accusations were true, which they were proven not to be, Christ is all about forgiveness when one repents from their sins, turns away from those sins and turns toward God.
The Apostle Paul was a Christian killer.
Still, God forgave him and used him to spread the gospel to the masses.
But the key to forgiveness is repentance or feeling sorry for one’s sins and turning away from them.
Sometimes, people do not even know what they are doing goes against the will of God because they have not yet been introduced to Christ.
Furthermore, too often in the current society Christians turn a blind eye to sin with the excuse that only God can judge.
While God is the only who will ultimately judge the sinner, the saint is in the wrong if he or she does not offer words of correction to that sinner.
Although Lil Nas X’s acknowledgement might be sarcastic and an attempt to get more press coverage for his album, those that have attempted to correct the young brother like Dee-1, Lecrae, Boosie and countless social media users can rest well because they have done their job as disciples of Christ.
If the person continues to commit the sin, good luck to them.
Lil Nas X added, “I didn’t mean to mock. This wasn’t a, ‘F*** you to you people. F*** you to the Christians.’ It was not that. It was ‘I’m back like Jesus.’ I’m not the first person to dress up as Jesus. I’m not the first rapper, I’m not the first artist, and I won’t be the last.”
But Lil Nas X represents a new generation of artists who seem to have no respect for God, religion or the faiths of others.
And unfortunately, it seems like Christians were the only religion that would allow the mocking of our faith.
If someone created a crazy depiction, or any depiction, of the Muslim prophet Muhammad, the criticism would be immediate.
If an artist said something antisemitic, they would have to answer for that.
Therefore, it is great for Christians, whether secular or religious artists, to call out disrespect to our Lord and Savior.
True, the Bible says that Christians will experience persecution just like Christ was persecuted and eventually crucified.
However, that does not mean that Christians should allow for a mockery to be made of Jesus and our faith.
Like it or not, the only church or Jesus that some people experience is their interaction or observation of Christians.
Therefore, if Christians take Christianity serious others might take it seriously too, even if they do not believe.
If Christians act and behave like Christ, nonbelievers might be convicted by that observation and interaction with Christians.
While many nonbelievers might not jam Christian rap or gospel, best believe they heard about the controversy surrounding Lil Nas X’s depiction of Christ.
This controversy might be enough for them to want to find out more about Him on their own.
But if the artists who spoke out against Lil Nas X had remained silent, the message of Christ might have gone unheard to a person that needs Him the most.
And that person might even be Lil Nas X.