I may be the only 40-something Christian parent who thinks Justin Bieber is worth believing in. Even after his Lamborghini/DUI scandal. This post is directed to those who disagree with me on this — which is perhaps the entire Christian community. But please, hear me out, or we might as well throw our youth to the wolves.
My kids are Beliebers. They’re the minority among their friends, but that didn’t seem to ever bother them. They wore their purple snapbacks with a bit of pride and would host dance parties and rock the night away. Their friends would come at them with how silly their rock idol was, but they were undaunted by their ignorance, confident in themselves and in the faithful calling to “believe” from the pop star not too much older than them.
One thing about their “faith” in the Biebs has made me proud of them: their ability to separate truth from fiction. For years, a salivating media fished for another wrecking ball in Justin Bieber, and for several years those stories were proven false.
Time and time again, really, especially in his formative years. The media grabbed every negative image they could post. They painted a picture of evil deeds like driving too fast, getting tattoos, kissing his girlfriend, running with his friends, egging his neighbor’s house, getting angry when aggressive paparazzi would taunt him.
You know, really bad stuff that Christians have a moral duty to condemn and hate.
Call it blind frenzy if you like, but I’m glad my kids saw through the hype. Headline and after headline — usually sent to them by one of their Christian friends who insisted the Biebs was a phony — and my kids would be able to read between the lines. Honestly, I don’t think there is a pop star who has suffered more slander than Justin Bieber.
I like to think the truth would vindicate the young Christian, but it never worked for Justin. Among Christian youth groups, it seemed rather cool to gossip of the Biebs. Even though his lyrics were hardly threatening and his faith was boldly outspoken, none of that seemed to matter.
Judgment was the trend, even from those who should have appreciated a talented musician who insisted on praying before concerts and singing of his faith in God.
I understand tabloids, don’t you? They’re slime. But I don’t understand Christians who latch onto their slime and think it worth spreading. They seemed to love the allusions to Justin’s tattoos, his dancing, his swooning lyrics that caused a screaming frenzy from teenage girls. Their frenzy seemed to be hate for the frenzy, and it didn’t matter much what the truth was. Justin was worth hating, that’s all, despite his insistence of love for God and others.
This makes me a bit angry, and here’s why. Justin Bieber is one of the most talented individuals on the planet, and he professed faith in Jesus Christ. You would think Christian communities would welcome such a mix, but he continued to be hated by his own. At a remarkably young age, he poured his life into a culture that is dripping with immorality, but he strived to stay above it and sing his gifts to the world. He seemed to be a perfect example of someone “in the world but not of it.”
Isn’t this what we encourage young people to be? A light in darkness, a representative of the hope which we have? To some, this seems to be the ultimate sin.
I fear the message to any young Christian talent who wants to be something for Jesus is this: don’t get too big. You’ll be hated by the world for your faith, and hated even more by Christians for your pride. In other words:
Don’t be all that God is calling you to be.
Settle down, stay centered, move far away from the margins.
And this Christian message sucks. It drains a young person of the challenging work God has for him. Rather than encouraging and lifting him up, certain Christians didn’t give Justin a living chance. Christianity and fame, to them, just don’t mix.
So congratulations, we now have another wrecking ball. Justin’s haters are finally vindicated with a news story that’s true. He was caught with a blood-alcohol level, drag racing and using foul language to police officers. His “believe” message is all for naught. Christian pastors around the world can preach from their pulpits how right they always were about idolizing young talent. Heed the lesson, children, of how corrupt Justin Bieber has become.
This brings to mind an acquaintance of mine, Randy Elrod, a former youth pastor of Miley Cyrus. He saw Hannah Montana grow in her talent and her beauty, and witnessed — like all of us — her personal degradation. Not long after her infamous nude Wrecking Ball video, he wrote:
“Perhaps I’m reading too much into it. I do not pretend to know the magnitude of angst experienced by Miley Cyrus, but a child star, no matter in front of hundreds or millions, never has opportunity to be truly loved for who they are.”
My kids are rather down right now about the news of Justin’s arrest, but I’m proud of them for seeing that there is a human side to their star. As long as my kids have this kind of discernment, I’ll have faith in them.
I don’t think we’re reading too much into this. I cannot help but feel like we helped push Justin into this. And my fear is that young talent to follow — especially those who want to use that talent to proclaim the love of Jesus Christ — will have no other choice but be wrecked.