I wasn’t watching the Grammy Awards last Sunday night, but I couldn’t help but hear all the fuss about the controversial performance by artists Sam Smith and Kim Petros. Some people seemed surprised that their song “Unholy”—which is about a husband who cheats on his wife—won a Grammy for Best Pop Duo/Group Performance.
It’s no shock that a song about immoral sex won an award. (Anyone familiar with rock ‘n’ roll or hip hop knows this.) But Smith and Petros pushed the current limits of decency when they turned their song into what looked like a Satanic ritual. Bathed in red light, Smith wore a hat with goat horns while half-nude women writhed around him. The performance also featured women in cages with whips, while real flames made the stage look like hell itself.
It’s almost as if someone thought it would be a good idea to spend millions of dollars to record a worship anthem to the devil.
It’s not a surprise that CBS aired this demonic performance on prime-time television. It’s not a surprise that Petros, who is German, is known as the world’s youngest transexual—because he had gender reassignment surgery at age 16 and is now known as a she. It’s no surprise that Petros was the first trans woman to have a Number One song on Billboard’s Top 100 chart, and is now the first trans woman to win a Grammy.
This is where we are in 2023. This kind of “art” certainly isn’t new, but it has never been so brazenly celebrated front and center on the world’s stage. And it was no surprise that Madonna, the aging high priestess of musical debauchery, appeared at the Grammys to introduce “Unholy” and to praise Smith and Petros for being “provocative.”
How do we respond to such an obvious manifestation of Satanic darkness? I’m tempted to lash out in judgment, but I don’t believe that’s the attitude Jesus wants us to exhibit. Here are three ways we should react:
Pray for Sam Smith, Kim Petros and all those who are being used as pawns in the devil’s game. When Jesus looked out over the crowd of sinful people in Matthew 9:36, “He felt compassion for them.” When sinful men nailed Him to a cross, He cried out: “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34). This is the heart we should have for all sinners. It doesn’t matter if they are trans activists or irreverent pop stars like Madonna. If we can’t show compassion in our hearts for people who are lost in sin, we aren’t allowing God’s love to flow through us.
Pray that Satan’s blatant attempts to demand worship will be rejected by more and more people. The devil has always had a close connection to music. He was at one time a worship leader in heaven, but his lust for power resulted in his downfall. Isaiah wrote of Satan: “Your pomp and the music of your harps have been brought down to Sheol … How you have fallen from heaven, O star of the morning … You have been cut down to the earth, you who have weakened the nations” (Isa. 14:11-12).
Satan is definitely working overtime in these last days to grab attention. He’s working through politics, our educational system, the media, violence, the sexual exploitation of children in our schools, and so many other ways to find worshippers. And he is certainly working in the music industry.
What happened at the Grammys on Feb. 5 was an obvious display of his thirst for power. But I think he has overplayed his hand. Even non-Christians today recognize the work of demons, and this is driving many people to seek God for protection from a rising tide of evil in our culture. The devil is getting more brazen because he is more desperate. He knows his time is short.
Pray that the true worship of Jesus will rise like incense all over the earth. It is sad that a song called “Unholy” was the most streamed song in the United States for a few weeks in 2022, and that leaders in the music industry gave it their highest award last Sunday night. But we know that even the devil’s greatest hits will one day be drowned out by the sound of heaven’s praises.
Let’s remember that worship is spiritual warfare. When we sing praises to Jesus, demons tremble and hell’s strongholds come crashing down. It’s no surprise that the devil is using his music to lure people to serve him. But let’s keep singing heaven’s anthems, and praying that more and more people will reject Satan’s kingdom and join in our chorus.
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J. Lee Grady was editor of Charisma for 11 years and now serves as senior contributing editor. He directs the Mordecai Project (themordecaiproject.org), an international ministry that protects women and girls from gender-based violence. His latest books are “Follow Me”and “Let’s Go Deeper”(Charisma House).