Wrecking Biebs

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.

Who really wrecked Justin Bieber? It's a good question Christians should ask.

Who really wrecked Justin Bieber? I think that’s a worthy question Christians should ask.

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.
Conform.

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.

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Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • I agree Chris on the hating on the poor kid. Right on. That said, when will we learn this is not a good idea? How many train wrecks do we have to see before Christian parents stop getting on the same train? Kudos to Justin if he lasted longer than most, but the machine always wins. It is not good for anyone’s spiritual growth to have all the money, adoration, etc. that the machine throws at you. I’m not mad at him, just sad for him, and whatever adults that encouraged this.

    • So true. “Machine” is good word choice, a pattern we need to figure out. We like to say we believe in the next generation, but if this is how we chew them up and spit them out, they don’t stand a chance.

      • Raquel Rizzuto Hitchcock

        I can put the things you mentioned down as immature antics. What is really beyond that is what you don’t mention: drug use, vandalization, and hanging out at strip clubs. Those things I find much harder to look past.

        • You’re proving my point, Raquel. These are lies, and people believe and spread them.

          I challenge you to find credible evidence of those three accusations. You’ll find plenty of tabloid drivel, but nothing more. You’ve been duped.

          • Isaac Harris

            Chris, photos and three independent witness reports place him at a strip club, he had cocaine laying out on the table in his home (regardless of whether or not it was his, it was sanctioned in his house), he admitted to marijuana use to the police, and he participated in under age drinking, even if it was below the “legal limit” it was never legal for him to begin with.

            You keep saying we can’t find a credible source… I’d appreciate perspective as to what you view as “credible.” Also, I’d appreciate the proof you seem to have that what the police and reporters say is happening isn’t happening. If it’s not true, there has to be someone with the real perspective, otherwise you can’t claim it is true, by your own standards of proof.

            I agree that hating and tearing him down isn’t the answer. But support doesn’t look like ignoring what he does. You can play him up as a victim all you want, but he’s still responsible for his actions. Regardless of how much he claims he wants to change things or he is just misunderstood, his actions have become increasingly selfish and depraved.

            Is Justin Bieber a victim of the system? Maybe so. But he still is an adult with free will. And most importantly, he’s not a role model of anything. To “stand with Bieber” implies a lot more than I hope you mean, because I think young people should have role models who don’t cave to drugs, alcohol, and sexual immorality when the pressure of money and paparazzi are thrown their way.

            This doesn’t mean I hate him. It just means I don’t trust him and I won’t look up to him.

            • I’m not with you on this, Isaac. You’ll need to provide links to non-tabloid articles or something like a police report. I’m convinced there is a lynch-mob mentality out there, and that’s what I mean to stand by him. (Though I don’t think I’ve ever said that myself…but if I did, that’d be what I meant.)

              Last night, reports were rampant that JB’s father was the one leading him to drag racing. I tried desperately to find credible evidence. Google pages of tabloid articles, but no evidence. Once the police report came out and CNN reported, I saw that it was all hype. Naturally, the tabloid article still exist, just like all the other fabrications about Justin’s life.

              I bet you’ll find the same with the claims of pot, cocaine, etc. I’ll also bet you’ll be questioning the impressions you have had of the Biebs.

    • Annie Hall

      So are you saying that Christian young people shouldn’t try to be influential and try to break the machine (as you very aptly called it 🙂 )?

      • I’m saying becoming a pop star is not becoming influential and is inescapably dangerous. I’m all for influence. I’m against confusing having millions adore you with influence.

        • Annie Hall

          Ah, ok. 🙂

  • I was happy to see the words: “I am proud of them for seeing the human side to their star.” I fear for any people whose talent thrusts them into the world of being idolized, especially when they are young. And add to that the pressure of being expected to be perfect. Anyone hates to be put into a box. We all desire to be known as we are…and loved as we are. When people put their stars on pedestals they feel put into a corner. I think sometimes outrageous behaviors are an effort to break out of this perfection straight jacket. Use of chemicals can also be a way of escaping the feelings of loneliness they might feel, for whenever we idolize someone, we set them apart. I am way way past the age of having idols. At this time of my life, I pray for those who find themselves in any limelight. It is a very difficult road. If I hear bad things about a celeb, I don’t give it much thought. That is my choice. I am afraid that getting participating in condemnation, gossip, or even defense only adds fuel to the fire. If allegations turn out to be true, I figure they are on a journey as i am. I am one of the fortunate ones who can make mistakes without having a whole bunch of people get their shorts in a bundle. Justin needs friends who accept him as he is and appreciate his beautiful gift and his willingness to share it. That is what everyone needs.

    • Whoa. This comment was not written by me. I think there is a glitch in Disqus.

      Whoever wrote this, I like your comment, but for some reason it posted as me. Weird.

  • Doug Tjaden

    This is a tough subject because we do want our children to be “in the world, but not of it” influencing others and bringing them to know Christ. My concern is that there is no biblical precedent for children being on the front lines. It takes a very high level of spiritual maturity to navigate these waters, and the vast majority of children/young adults simply do not have the life experience necessary to give them the strength to stand against everything a hostile culture can throw at them. Jesus even sent His disciples (men who spent 3 years with the Master Himself, not children) out two by two, not alone.

    The machine is very powerful. It doesn’t just claim children and young adults. For some reason, Elvis came to mind as I was reading this. He grew up in very humble, Christian surroundings. Some of his renditions of Christian gospel music are incredibly heart filled tributes to the real King. Yet, as an adult, the machine ate him up and literally killed him.

    Parents with gifted children who are thrust into the pop culture limelight, really need to think through where it ends. If they do not have a strong relationship with their children, and can remain that child’s primary spiritual mentor through the process of their early career, should consider tapping the breaks on that career until they’ve established that solid relationship. Bring a lot of love into the house and build their relationship with that child. Prepare them mentally and spiritually for the battle ahead. And remain in the battle with them. If it gets too intense, both of them should be able to walk away from it for a time to regroup.

    Having strong Christian parents isn’t enough. I think of some of the Christian sports stars who seem to be navigating the gauntlet (Tewbow, RG III) and they have very strong RELATIONSHIPS with their parents. I don’t know about Bieber’s, but I wouldn’t be surprised if that played a part of it. It certainly did with Miley Cyrus.

  • Danny Sargent

    The sad part is, a lot of Christians will look at his fall and gloat and point fingers. When I heard of his doings and arrest, I felt sad for him. The truth is we are all no better without Jesus, and put us in a spotlight, who knows. We might fall too.

    It’s also frustrating how inconsistent people are. Mickey Cyrus falls, everyone shakes their heads, the Biebs falls, everyone rejoices, Doug Phillips falls, everyone looks the other way and keeps it hush-hush. Why arethey not mocking Phillips? Why are they so ready to forgive him but unwilling to even pray for Justin? Sheesh.

    Last note: I know we don’t agree on everything, but kudos to the Jeub family for believing in JB. Belief is a sort of love. Keep spreading it.

  • Fiona11

    Sadly Justin Beiber is another example of ‘too much too soon’. The media, parents, culture and a whole lot of other factors contribute to his complete melt down, so graphically portrayed by the press, and I am quite sure sensationalized as well.
    His behaviour is characteristic of boys his age who have too much money, and are caught up in a consumer and over sexualised society where long ago what we now consider ‘norms’ would have been considered ‘soft porn’!
    If you read ‘Consumer Kids-how big buisness is grooming our kids for profit’ by Ed Mayo and Agnes Nairn, ‘Pornland-how porn has sexualised our society’ by Gail Dines or any of Sue Palmers books (21st c girls/boys, toxic childhood etc) it is clear to see how the modern world has corrupted these vunerable young people.
    We are now brought up to idolise them for all the wrong reasons. There are plenty of very young, and equally talented musicans who are far more grounded and do not behave in this fashion.
    I for one, will steer my children towards One Republic, all christians, met in Colorado Christian school and the lead singer is my friends nephew too! Every intereview they are comended for being the ‘gentlemen of pop’.Poor Justin will have a long way to go, to make anyone see him for his Christian values anymore.
    I don’t blame the kid, I am quite sure, given the fame, money and ammount of girls willing to throw themselves at him that my 17 year old son, would have behaved in much the same fashion. I blame the parents, managers media, and all the people suposidlity there to look after and to protect him.People who are older and should not be caught up in such trappings.
    I ultimatly feel sorry for him. We had a discussion about him over the tea table as my 16 year old was at one stage bessotted with him and still like him a lot. We discussed his demise, and why and thankfully all the children saw beyond his behaviour to the factors contributing to it.
    I worry about this generation, I worry about how my own children are being influenced and I worry at the pele promoting such behaviour as normal.

  • Judge Napolitano from Fox News tweeted a very interesting development. Perhaps we all may be judging the Biebs a bit too quickly: http://thelibertarianrepublic.com/police-may-lied-justin-biebers-arrest-miami-pd-credibility-issues/#axzz2rG0tgRhO

  • TheRev

    I would have been more open to this article had the writer not began the whole justifying jeremiad by saying:”My kids are Beliebers.” All Christian parents better train their children about “human, sinful nature” and not to put any person on a pedestal except for One – the Lord Jesus. We all need to be true BELIEVERS – followers of Jesus Christ – and not “Beliebers” (followers of Justin Bieber). He is definitely taking a wrong path and has been on it for quite a while now. As a parent, I’d be careful of any person my child holds as a supposed role model or teen idol. However, as Christians we definitely need to hold him up in prayer and ask the Lord to touch his heart.

  • Randy Elrod

    Good article, Chris. I applaud your courage.

  • Melody Ray

    I totally agree that Beiber is often used as a scapegoat. He was arrested about an hour away from where I live and I was listening to the radio and there was an absurd amount of criticism spewed about, for example they were trying to find out how he rented the fancy car when he is underage, the media actually went to the length of having lawyers discussing where he rented the car and blah blah blah. It was comical, you’d think a bomb had hit South Florida with BREAKING NEWS BEIBER, I think they should just leave the kids alone

    • It’s interesting to get a local perspective. Thanks Melody!

    • I just came across this video. Oh my, if this doesn’t show the truth in the media’s bent, nothing will…
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ihU0f_4lAXU

      • Doug Tjaden

        Seriously? Interrupt a conversation about ending the NSA to cover Beiber’s charges? Sad…

  • Anna

    My beef with Bieber is that the lyrics to many of his songs in no way reflect his belief in Christ. A true follower of Christ should be honoring to Him in all ways, no matter if he’s famous or not.