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  • Micah Coate

What the Church can Learn from Kanye West

Updated: Apr 27

Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority - Paul to Timothy (1 Timothy 2:1-2).

Kanye West is a name that pretty much everyone knows. If you don’t, let me quickly fill you in. If you are taking skin color into consideration, the forty-five-year-old is one of the most successful and richest black men alive today. Having built himself on his abilities to write and perform songs as well as produce others’ music, he has became an icon of all things hip-hop and rap. In addition to this, Kanye is a fashion designer, having multiple products sold by top-name brands around the world. And if these accomplishments weren’t enough to appease the greedy appetites of fandom, he married the already famous Kim Kardashian in 2014. Having four children together while being married for six years, the couple divorced over irreconcilable differences in February of 2021.

But from everything we think we know about Kanye — as much as is accurate from the tabloids — he is still somewhat of a sensational enigma. While most celebrities lean politically left, not only does Kayne lean right but became an outspoken supporter of Donald Trump. And while most famous people are not Christian or at least keep their Christian faith very quiet or even inaudible, Kanye is a vocal and unapologetic follower of Jesus. In 2019, Kayne’s 9th studio album was simply titled, Jesus Is King. He considered the album as an expression of the gospel. But his admission and affirmation of conservative political views and deeply held Christian beliefs seem to have come with a cost. This isn’t to say that West didn’t wrestle with mental illness before his departure from the democratic left or the atheistic worldview, but it probably didn’t help. In addition to struggling with bouts of depression and anxiety, West even admitted to feeling suicidal at times. In an interview with David Letterman in 2019, Kanye was candid about his bipolar disorder.

All this is to say that for better or worse, Kanye is who the media love and live to feed on. His celebrity embodies music, fashion, marital drama, politics, and religion. Because of this, he is a real influencer and defines what celebrity actually is. In the wise words of Ron Burgundy, he’s kind of a big deal.

But Kayne hasn’t really influenced me at all. For starters, I’ve never cared too much for rap music, so I can’t really comment on any of his songs or the music he has produced. Although I am not a fashion designer (even though I could be and many urge me to be), I think Kanye’s Crock-like foam runners from Adidas, named the “Yeezy” are the most repugnant things my eyes have ever beheld. Furthermore, while some celebrities can keep their ego from reaching embarrassing heights, I don’t think Kanye is one of them. Continuing in the vein of honesty, I think the level of stardom Kanye has reached has, not surprisingly, negatively affected him. While stating some things that are seemingly good and full of common sense, he also says things that are quite odd and tainted with straight-forward narcissism. But maybe that’s what comes with being an internationally successful artist.

Yet with all that said, based on his confession of faith in the person and work of Jesus, he is a son of God and brother to all those in the church of Christ. Therefore, we are called to embrace him — encourage him when he is right, hold him accountable when wrong, and pray for him in both. Kanye is a greatly influential man, not only in America but across the western world and is therefore in serious need of the church’s collaborative help. As I confessed that Kanye hasn’t influenced me in the slightest in regards to music or fashion, he has heartened me in the contentious realm of abortion. Saying something that the church can and should emulate in a recent sit down interview with Tucker Carlson, Kanye reminds us, the church, of who we are to perform for.

CARLSON: So you just came from Paris Fashion Week, you just landed and the lanyard is still on from it and there’s a photograph on it, what is that? WEST: It’s a photograph of a baby’s ultrasound. CARLSON: You designed that? Why, what does that mean? WEST: It just represents life. I’m pro-life. CARLSON: So you wear it as a badge, what kind of response do you get? And amen, I agree. WEST: I don’t care about people’s response as I care about the fact that there is more Black babies being aborted than born in New York City at this point. 50% of Black death in America is abortion. I don’t care about people’s responses, I perform for an audience of one and that is God.

So what can the church learn from Kanye West? Be bold. Be brave. And don’t fear other people’s reactions. We Christians, just as Kanye stated, need to remember and learn to perform for an audience of One! If someone with the clout of Kanye is willing to receive the blowback from millions of his haters and critics for stating the obvious, then so can I and so can you.

If the church can’t agree that God is the Author of life and that we have no business altering it, let alone ending it, then maybe a narcissistic rapper, jealous ex husband, and suboptimal fashion designer should have more influence in the church than we might want to admit.

But what do you think?

Micah Coate, President and Host of Salvation and Stuff 


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