This commentary is straightforward speech about a chronicle of culture presenting what’s “cool” for young people. I harbor no ill will toward the purveyors of the propaganda, but I do long for the day it folds. Even as the apostle Paul was direct in addressing those undermining the kingdom of God in his day (“… let him be accursed. … I wish that those who are troubling you would castrate themselves” [Gal.1:8; 5:12]), I pray for the people involved to be redeemed but proclaim anathema over their work.
Rolling Stone magazine is celebrating its 50th anniversary. The “counterculture bible” of drugs, depravity and deception was founded by Jann Wenner who recently put his 49 percent share of the business up for sale. This leftist publication is also being exposed in a recently released book that “lays it all on the table” regarding its operation.
Rolling Stone magazine is similar to MTV. Both revel in the pied-piper seduction of gullible young people. MTV just debuted another sewer production called “Floribama Shore,” featuring eight 20–somethings getting drunk, hooking up and getting “buck booty wild.” Rolling Stone magazine just put a provocatively dressed “adult entertainer” on its cover celebrating her vulgar actions and rebellion to gender norms. Years ago the editor-in-chief of this “trendsetting” publication left his wife and three children after 28 years, announcing his homosexuality. He’s currently recovering from triple bypass surgery, battling sexual-harassment and assault charges, plus being exposed for his longstanding decadent lifestyle.
Joe Hagan, a former contributor whom Wenner hand-picked, wrote the slick magazine’s history in, “Sticky Fingers: The Life and Times of Jann Wanner and Rolling Stone Magazine.” It truly is a revealing account of how the leader and staffers lived a hedonistic life of sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll, while brazenly promoting it for decades to impressionable youth.
HBO chronicled the iconic publication through a five-decade prism with their just-concluded two-night special, “Rolling Stone: Stories From the Edge.” Its opening statement said it all: “It’s not just about the music but also the things and the attitude that the music embraces.”
The documentary featured profanity, promiscuity and the ideal of projecting a cool, countercultural, taboo-breaking, dark-side image. It was replete with references to getting stoned, rebellion, a romanticized rock subculture, a museum of high priests, groupies, sexual deviation, cocaine, nudity, perversion, protest, liberation, disruption, violent revolution, feminism and homosexuality. Author Tom Wolfe boasted, “Rolling Stone broke all the rules!”
Because of my assignment in this season of life as a cultural commentator, I held my nose and guarded my eyes as I did my research. I don’t purchase the publication, but I’ll flip through it at newsstands so I can analyze, answer questions and alert unsuspecting pastors and parents as to what to watch out for in the minefield of pop culture.
Christ called out youth corrupters
God has a special place in His heart for young people. “Remember your Creator in the days of your youth …” (Ecclesiastes 12:1).
In His earthly ministry, Jesus singled out young and vulnerable ones for special protection from those misleading them into temptation to sin. He actually comes very close to suggesting taking one’s own life rather than engage in any activity corrupting the innocence of youth, causing them to stumble and fall.
“But whoever misleads one of these little ones who believe in Me, it would be better for him to have a millstone hung about his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea. Woe to the world because of temptations! For it must be that temptations come, but woe to that man by whom the temptation comes!” (Matthew 18:6-7)
“Little ones” are not just those young in age, but those who are innocent and impressionable. He’s not speaking of infants but young ones capable of conscious offenses causing them to stumble in their faith and morals and then fall away.
Although many pastors like to avoid the “uncomfortable” and keep everything faith-filled, positive and upbeat, Jesus spoke here in solemn terms. He was impressing upon us the gravity of seducing and misleading youth into sin. He cited exceptional punishment used in that period for criminals committing heinous acts.
In the Greco-Roman culture capital punishment consisted of stoning, burning, slaying with the sword or strangling. Jesus was describing an extraordinary measure where the millstone drowned the person in cases of special infamy; they had no chance for escape or recovery; plus, the offender was so stigmatized that he was deprived of all burial rights!
Jesus communicated that it was better for a person to endure the severest temporal punishment reserved for hardened criminals then expose himself to everlasting destruction as a consequence of corrupting youth. This is serious because a young one’s life can be permanently scarred in minutes by a wicked offender. When I was picked up hitchhiking as a young boy by a sexual predator, contemplate how my entire life could’ve been ruined by a lecherous homosexual had I not jumped out of the car!
In this same passage of Scripture, Jesus addressed the reality of being “thrown into the fire of hell” (v. 9). Though it may not be popular or recommended by church growth experts, it’s good to contemplate periodically the doctrine of eternal damnation Jesus warned of here. Hell is real and real people go there! Folks at Rolling Stone may scoff, but the Bible describes the place where those who fail to follow Jesus Christ “will be tormented day and night forever and ever” (Revelation 20:10). “But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the abominable, the murderers, the sexually immoral, the sorcerers, the idolaters, and all liars shall have their portion in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone” (Revelation 21:8).
The “cowardly” want to be politically correct instead of biblically obedient; the “unbelieving” may be atheists, or those embracing sexual “diversity” and “validity of all religions”; the “abominable” refers to those polluted with unnatural lust; “murderers” kill innocent life, including the unborn; “sexually immoral” embrace fornication, promiscuity, adultery and homosexuality; “sorcerers” (Greek – “pharmakeusin”) indulge in drugs; “idolaters” put people and possessions above God; and, “liars” deceive and traffic in falsehoods.
For five decades, Rolling Stone Magazine has aggressively advocated for rebellion and all of the above. It has unashamedly influenced millions to follow a pathway leading to earthly destruction and ultimately eternal damnation. Remember how in 2014 they lied about the alleged gang rape at the University of Virginia and were court-ordered to settle a defamation lawsuit?
In the HBO special Jann Wenner was asked: “Do you have anything to say to the youth of America?” He boasted, “I know where it’s at. Follow me!” I submit that we reject his invitation leading to eternal disaster and instead respond to the One who issued that same call that leads to an abundant and eternal life!
Here’s the deal: Let’s pray for this 71-year-old man, his staff and his fading empire as I hope we did with Hefner and Manson in recent days. We should also continue protecting our youth from their deceptive propaganda.
Yes, I will party in the streets when this publication meets its demise. I only hope it’s sooner rather than later.