Be Separate

Be Separate

February 6, 2023 Alignment Controversial Issues Media 0


During the 2023 Recording Academy of the United States awards show (Grammys), a pop duo performed a song called Unholy. What made headlines the next day, however, was the costuming, set design and overall aesthetic of the performance. The short version is, according to all sources I found, one performer donned a red top hat with devil horns, a red unbuttoned shirt, red tights and red stilettos. The other performer was “scantily clad,” also wearing all red. The performance included pyrotechnics, a group of dancers (also dressed in red) and various “dance” moves consistent with the current state of the genre.

The thing is, there were Christian artists in attendance awaiting their portion of the awards ceremony. I can only imagine what may have been going through their minds at this point. I don’t personally watch these awards shows anymore, so I don’t know if anyone got up and walked out, but I can only imagine how uncomfortable that must have been.

If you want to read a description (and see a few of the images), you can surely find one on most news sites this morning, MTV’s site has a write up entitled,

Sam Smith, Kim Petras Teleport To Hell For ‘Unholy’ Grammys Performance: The duo sang their award-winning hit after making history for the LGBTQ+ community.”

I realize it’s not standard to use italics and quotes, but I wanted to ensure there was no doubt, those are their exact words (not mine). The write-up itself contains several very telling details with respect to what may have been the intent of some of the performance’s elements.

“Midway through the number, Smith also accessorized with a rhinestone-studded cane and devil-horned top hat. The satanic imagery was a fitting send-off for a performance that surely made some religious (or anti-LGBTQ+) viewers clutch their pearls.[1]

Interestingly, the song itself is about marital infidelity (something which is certainly unholy). Unsurprisingly though, the lyrics of the song aren’t an indictment of infidelity (though they call what is happening “unholy”), they actually glamorize it. Perhaps this is the reason for the aesthetic choices, “dance moves,” etc.. It’s not that most people (including believers) are unaccustomed to seeing the devil depicted in a performance. It is interesting and bothersome though that the main performer was adorned this way.

This is not the only example of our minds being inundated with evil images, music and ideas. One notorious example occurred in November of 2021 in Houston, TX where eight attendees of the Astroworld concert died. The stage, set and other elements, again contained demonic imagery. This phenomenon is not limited to concerts and awards shows.

There is a commercial for a popular grocery delivery service that has been running for the past several months. The commercial uses a song from the 90’s which is chock-full of thinly veiled sexual innuendo. While I can’t say for certain whether the people responsible for developing the ad are simply not familiar enough with 90’s music to realize what the song describes or if there is something else at work, the history of advertising seems to suggest that whether they are aware or not is irrelevant as long as the ad accomplishes its intended goals (driving traffic to the client’s site).

Is any of this necessarily surprising? No. Is this shocking? Only if you haven’t been paying attention to our society’s continual descent into total moral depravity and its increasing tendency to embrace demonic symbols. Why is this noteworthy then? Because we are all being targeted by these ideas, symbols, images, lyrics and the spirits that are connected to them. It’s noteworthy because you may be raising kids during these perilous times and you are going to have to figure out how to teach them to live a holy and sanctified life in the midst of all of this.

The Apostle Peter admonished us,

“As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts [which were yours] in your ignorance, but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all [your] behavior; because it is written, “YOU SHALL BE HOLY, FOR I AM HOLY.”

[1 Peter 1:14-16 NASB95]

We often use words like holy and saints, but do we really understand what they mean and live our lives accordingly? The Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary has the following definition for the word holy:

HOLY Biblical use of the term “holy” has to do primarily with God’s separating from the world that which He chooses to devote to Himself. As God’s redemptive plan unfolded through the OT, the “holy” became associated with the character of God’s separated people conforming to His revealed law. When the time became ripe for the saving work of Jesus Christ, His redeemed people came to be known as saints (literally, “holy ones”). The cross made this possible by inaugurating the fulfillment of the preparatory OT teachings on the holy, opening the way for God’s Holy Spirit to indwell His people.[2]

Similar to the Apostle Peter’s admonitions to be separate (holy), the Apostle Paul warned us to not bind ourselves together with unbelievers (2 Corinthians 6:14) and pointed out the inherent spiritual disharmony between believers and unbelievers; between righteousness and lawlessness. His point wasn’t that we are to in no way associate with non-believers (otherwise we would have to be taken out of the world). The point is that we are not to join ourselves to them in what they worship, value, etc. and how they operate as a whole. We are literally called to live separate from everything that underlies and empowers systems, ideologies, values and morals rooted in those things that are in opposition to God. We are called to walk separately from those who have joined themselves to those demonic forces and beckon them toward the light. In living separate we should also remember that the works of the unbelieving are the works we committed when we were in the same state.

In his second letter to the church in Corinth, the Apostle Paul further admonishes us:

“Therefore, COME OUT FROM THEIR MIDST AND BE SEPARATE,” says the Lord. “AND DO NOT TOUCH WHAT IS UNCLEAN; And I will welcome you. “And I will be a father to you, And you shall be sons and daughters to Me,” Says the Lord Almighty.

[2 Corinthians 6:17-18 NASB95]

We can live in the world without allowing it to contaminate our faith. We can interact with and witness to non-believers without falling away from the faith ourselves. How? By ensuring that our relationship circles and the boundaries around them are properly established and maintained. We should be careful not to make the mistake of allowing someone living an ungodly life (whether they profess faith in Christ or not) to occupy a place so close to us and our beliefs that we allow their compromise to become our moral and spiritual compromise.

In terms of our entertainment, our recreation and the things we do in life outside the four walls of the church, we need to consider how the early church lived. 1st century Christians lived in an environment hostile to their faith. For example, take some time to examine the seven churches to which letters were addressed in the book of Revelation. Specifically, look at the history of Pergamos (see Revelation 2:12-17), Thyatira (see Revelation 2:18-29) and Sardis (see Revelation 3:1-6). Evil was abundant in that time (as it is now) and some believers fell away from the faith, being swept up into the filth that surrounded them. By contrast, the church at Philadelphia (see Revelation 3:7-13) kept Jesus’ Word and did not deny His Name.

So, we have a choice to make in the midst of all this. We have a choice that must be made daily and reinforced by other choices if we are to overcome as is the intent of our Lord Jesus. I urge you to carefully consider what you see around you and what is at stake. I’ll close with restating Peter’s admonition:

As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts [which were yours] in your ignorance, but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all [your] behavior; because it is written, “YOU SHALL BE HOLY, FOR I AM HOLY.”

[1 Peter 1:14-16 NASB95]

It was always God’s design to give us supernatural provision to live according to His Word. By the indwelling presence of His Spirit, we can live a holy (separate), sanctified, fulfilling life that is pleasing to God which brings glory to His Name and exhorts others to do the same.

[1] Manzella, Sam. “Sam Smith, Kim Petras Teleport to Hell for ‘Unholy’ Grammys Performance.” MTV, February 5, 2023.

[2] Cabal Ted, “Holy,” ed. Chad Brand et al., Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary (Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2003), 772.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.