Singer and rapper Montero Lamar Hill, who goes by the name ‘Lil Nas X,’ announced that he was selling 666 pairs of “Satan Shoes” at $1,098 a pair. The shoes sold out in under a minute, with many being re-sold on eBay at a hefty markup.

Each pair of black Nike shoes had been designed by Lil Nas X and the online company MSCHF, and featured a pentagram charm, an upside-down cross, and a drop of blood mixed with red ink, that filled one of the shoes air bubbles. Luke 10:18 is written on the side of the shoe, and the pentagram charm has Jesus’ words from that verse, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.”

Nike distanced itself from the shoes, telling NBC News, “We do not have a relationship with Little Nas X or MSCHF (pronounced “mischief”). Nike did not design or release these shoes and we do not endorse them.”

A late-breaking story from The New York Times said that Nike was suing MSCHF, asserting that “unauthorized Satan Shoes are likely to cause confusion and dilution and create an erroneous association between MSCHF’s products and Nike.”

The company said it owns the “swoosh” logo, and “decisions about what products to put the ‘swoosh’ on belong to Nike, not to third parties like MSCHF.” 

MSCHF also sold Nike shoes that it modified as “Jesus Shoes,” for $4,899 a pair. Those shoes have Matthew 14:25 written on the side, a reference to Jesus walking on the Sea of Galilee, and have water inside an air bubble from the River Jordan. They also have a crucifix attached and red insoles ant “INRI” written on the back, the Latin initials for, “Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews.”

The release of the satanic shoes followed the Lil Nas X’ release on March 25 of a song and new video on YouTube titled “Montero (Call Me By Your Name).” The YouTube video already has almost 36 million views – in just four days. The title references a movie where a teenage boy is romantically and sexually involved with an adult male.

Rolling Stone magazine said the video “has everything: “alien sex, snake-licking, pastel Marie Antoinette wigs, [and] Greek references to Plato’s Symposium that a grand total of three people watching the video will be able to read and understand.”

The video then shows Lil Nas X, who came out as gay in June 2019, sliding down a pole to hell, seducing Satan, then killing him and taking his horns. Rolling Stone quoted a press release from Lil Nas X that said the dethroning of Satan was a means of “dismantling the throne of judgment and punishment that has kept many of us from embracing our true selves out of fear.” The singer was evidently responding to those who told him where he would end up for identifying as gay.

Lil Nas X wrote a letter on Twitter to his younger self at age 14, explaining some of what the song was about: his gay identity and people’s responses to it, “i [sic] know we promised to die with the secret, but this will open doors for many other queer people to simply exist.” He said his agenda was to make people stay “out of other people’s lives and stop dictating who they should be.”

Lil Nas X had a hit song in 2019 with Billy Ray Cyrus, “Old Town Road,” which topped Billboard’s charts for a record breaking 19 weeks. Plugged In’s review said the song was like many country songs, showcasing drinking and drug use, infidelity, embrace of the high life, and big spending.

Children and teens were fans of the singer’s first song, with its more country vibe. NBA guard Nick Young tweeted, “My kids will never play Old Town road again.”

Lil Nas X tweeted, “i made the decision to create the music video. i am an adult. i am not gonna spend my entire career trying to cater to your children. that is your job.”

The music industry, the entertainment world, and big tech companies like YouTube certainly aren’t looking out for children. The rapper’s latest video goes beyond an R-rating. But it’s just the latest in a long line of examples that demonstrate how vigilant parents must be with what their children, tweens and teens view online. The Plugged In “Parent’s Guide to Today’s Technology” gives guidance for dealing with inappropriate online material.

The satanic music video was released right before Palm Sunday, the beginning of Holy Week. The video and shoes highlight the evil age we live in and the darkness for which Jesus came and died. That darkness and sin were in each of us, until we came to forgiveness, salvation, grace and healing in Christ.

Two thousand years ago, Christ entered a pagan, debauched world – much like our broken, decadent culture today. As Jesus was moving toward Calvary, he stopped at Caesarea Philippi, a pagan, idolatrous city, and he told his disciples He would build His church “and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” Matthew 16:13-18 (ESV)

Christianity changed the pagan world. As we’re bombarded by ugly stories like this, let’s remember three things:

  • The church has been here before: It’s nothing new for the church to be surrounded by pagan activity – Jesus sent out the disciples with good news to that pagan world.
  • The church has prevailed: Throughout our Christian history, from the early church transforming the Greco-Roman world, to a wide variety of places and times throughout history, the church has brought life and transformation to a broken and hurting world.
  • The church will prevail: The church, built upon the foundation of Christ, the work of the Apostles, and with the power of the Holy Spirit, is transforming individuals and our world today. It will until Christ returns.

And while we’re thinking on these things, let’s also remember to pray for Lil Nas X, and the many like him, who are held captive by sin and shame.

Related articles and resources:

Christianity and Cultural Change:

  • The Dignity and Value of Life
  • Sanctity of Life and Advocacy for Children
  • Transforming Sexuality and Marriage

Plugged In: “Old Town Road”

Plugged In Parent’s Guide to Today’s Technology

Photo from MSCHF