Celebrity Worship

bieberworshipWe as a human race were born to worship.  There is something inherently in us that longs to worship something.  Worship is defined as expression of reverence and adoration to a deity.  God created the world and various species in it.  Our species has a special love affair with God stemming from how He created us in His likeness.

Celebrities of various industries (sports and entertainment specifically) may generate a ‘god complex’ but it’s only because they receive expressions of reverence and adoration from others.  Fans of said celebrities cheer and stick up for them even if it violates common sense or truth.   Remember that song:  When a Man Loves a Woman?  The lyrics start out like this:

When a man loves a woman, he can’t keep his mind on nothing else
He’ll trade the world for the good thing he’s found
If she is bad, he can’t see it, she can do no wrong
Turn his back on his best friend if he put her down

I’ll focus on the last line by sharing a personal story.

I’m a Seahawks fan.  I love my Seahawks and our quest for a third straight Super Bowl and 2 out of 3 championships.  We have Marshawn Lynch, a beast of a running back that runs with reckless abandon on every play.   He calls it Beast Mode.

The first Beast Mode came in 2010.  What a marvelous run against the New Orleans Saints.  He broke like 11 tackles on his way to the game sealing touchdown.  As he crossed the endzone he turned around, dove, and grabbed his crotch to the opposing players.  My screaming of joy was cut short for my disappointment in the crotch grabbing act.  So what I though.   Marshawn’s a grown man and can do what he wants.  I was over it quickly.

In 2014 against an overconfident Arizona Cardinals team we witnessed Beast Mode 2.  It was just as beautiful as the first one, and like the first one Marshawn dove in the endzone backwards grabbing his crotch. Once again my cheering was stopped for a head shake, thinking why does he do that?  Then again, these were two of his greatest runs and quite possibly two of the best runs in NFL history.  I’ll cut the guy some slack.

Then it happened again, and in a non Beast Mode run.  When Lynch scored that game even some of his teammates on the sidelines grabbed their crotch.  People in Seattle thought it was so cool that Lynch had ‘his thing.’  I hated it.

Finally, during the NFC Championship game against the Green Bay Packers the Seahawks had the most improbable comeback in NFL history.  We had some friends over to watch the game and we were all a little cranky watching our Seahawks, more importantly Russell Wilson, have an awful game.  BUT we were coming back and after the Seahawks recovered the onside kick we had all the momentum in the world.  Of course Lynch scored which gave us a one point lead with a little over two minutes and when he did he politely turned around, grabbed his crotch, and shook the hands of oncoming teammates.

My friends and I were ecstatic!  We were screaming and jumping in celebration and as the broadcast showed the reply you could see Lynch grab his crotch.  It was subtle and hard to notice until the replay came on.  Some of my adult guests also noticed it and in front of all the kids pointed to the TV laughing hysterically at the popular move that Lynch was now doing.  I quickly barked out, “hey, there are kids here!  Let’s not support that type of action.”  I looked at my 7 year old son and paused the game.  “We don’t do that” I told him.

This growing trend by Lynch bothered me but what could I do?  My allegiance was to the team not Lynch or any other player but I’m just a fan, there is nothing that I could do…or was there? My son and I both had Lynch jerseys and I realized there was something I could do.  I could not wear his jersey anymore and show my 7 year old that there are lines if crossed, we don’t support with our athlete role models.

As I do with a lot of things I like to share with others some of my decisions as a parent.  Not because I’m better than anyone else but because I want to be an example.  Paul writes in the New Testament to follow him as he follows Christ.  I’ve taken that instruction to heart and am not scared of keeping my life an open book for those that don’t know Christ to follow me.  So I went to Twitter and tweeted:

marshawn tweet

Some things to note:  I did not tag Marshawn’s Twitter handle.  I did not tag the Seahawks.  I was simply letting the universe know where I stood but didn’t want to create a stink with Marshawn or the Seahawks.  Then the responses came in and let me tell you there were many.  Even though most of them were extremely hateful questioning my loyalty to the team I was kind of impressed that so many people responded.  Had I arrived?  🙂

My tweets are auto posted to Facebook and sure enough my Christian friends started questioning why I posted that.  The overall message I received was keep it to yourself, or don’t be so sensitive, let Marshawn be Marshawn, yada yada.

Here’s my point in sharing this story as it relates to this post and song lyric.

Turn his back on his best friend if he put her down

In many of my friend’s mind I put Marshawn Lynch down.  They love Marshawn and they quickly turned their back on me regardless of what it was about.  What it was about was a parent standing up for what he believed in and showing that example to his son.

Does Marshawn answer to me?  No, he can do what he wants if the team and league is ok with it just as I can do what I want in not wearing his jersey.  Do I cheer when Marshawn runs?  Yes!  Absolutely.  He’s a great player.  I just won’t wear his jersey.

As part of the human species when someone puts down someone that is important to you it hurts.  Whether it’s wearing a jersey or holding your woman’s hand, putting down someone that is important to you implies that perhaps they don’t approve of you approving of them.  So that person gets upset.  Upset enough to communicate that the problem isn’t the action of the individual but the problem is you.   In this case, the love for the celebrity (Marshawn) trumped the despicable action (crotch grab).

My wife, Lindsay, agreed with everyone else that thought I should keep this to myself.  Her comment was, why bother posting something so personal.  My response was simple, I share many things about my life in writing stories and blogs, singing with my music, and acting.  It’s what I do. I share.

After I told her that she understood and asked that I write a blog so everyone else could understand – especially my friends.  Long story short, I didn’t write a blog about it mainly because writing about it then may have been driven by my feelings and not truth.  Not to mention I don’t care what others think about me as it relates to my parenting.  You can like it or not but explanation on my part wasn’t necessary.

Athletes like Marshawn doing what they do to help the team we love win makes us feel good.  It brightens our gray day here in Seattle.  Now if the Seahawks were losing you can bet the boo birds would be out for something like a crotch grab.  They would call it what it is.  A vulgar unnecessary despicable act, but since we are winning it’s ok with a lot of fans.

We need to stand by truth instead of reverence and adoration to celebrities, ignoring actions that are inappropriate.  All that said, I can’t really expect much from those that may not hold truth to the same Biblical regard that I do. Unfortunately though, celebrity worship is also a part of the Christian culture.

I’ve never seen a post on Facebook that reads:  Praise God [insert tagged individual], became a Christian today!  The Heavens are rejoicing for a lost sheep found!

We don’t post things like this for a few reasons.

  1. As a whole, Christians today don’t guide their non-believing friends to becoming born again.  They may bring them to church in hopes that the sermon sparks the sinner’s prayer but 1 on 1 evangelism is rare.  We don’t want to infringe our beliefs on theirs. (This is a generalization.  If you are actively doing this I commend you and please share via comments how you are doing it so we can follow your example).
  2. Christians don’t want to reveal something so private about their friend.
  3. It might embarrass the new believer.
  4. Christians don’t want friends that haven’t accepted Christ to feel like they have been left out.

Even though being ‘born again’ and starting a new life of repentance is an important part of a new Christian’s life we don’t want to share it…unless they are a celebrity of course.

Anytime a celebrity comes out of the Christian closet the church rejoices.  Post after post after post on social media will show you just how gleefully the church is in their celebrity worship.  Talk shows, magazines, and websites all jump on the bandwagon of spreading the word that [insert celebrity] is a Christian.

When Shia Labeouf came out as a Christian it was all over my social media feeds.  Many of my Christian friends rejoiced!  Praise God!  They wrote.

Shia made his impact felt immediately by using profanity in describing that he wasn’t an effing bullsh.. fake Christian.  He was genuine.  Hmmm, really?  My first thought after reading that was how odd that he would purposely use profanity.

Shia is a fantastic method actor.  One that gets into character more than a normal actor.  His character in the movie Fury was a Bible thumper.  Did Shia do what he always does and get so immersed in his character that he believed he was a ‘effing real, not bullshi.. Christian?’  Well we shall see over time.  Really, it’s not important to me when a celebrity accepts Christ and I often wonder why is it so important to the church.

Enter Denzel Washington.  I love Denzel and hope to work with him someday after I start my film company.  He came out as a Christian a while back which got me pumped actually until I saw the movie Flight.  Ugh.  The opening scene, to set up the story, showed a careless airline pilot fooling around with a flight attendant before the trip.  It was important for us to view how reckless this pilot was.  The girl he was fooling around with was buck naked.  Like full on buck naked.  Oh and she was smoking hot.  My heart dropped as I sat and watched this film with my wife.  Here was Denzel Washington, part of the Christian community, huggin, kissing, and laying with a naked actress.  Was it necessary?  No.  It wasn’t.  We could have easily saw how reckless the pilot was without showing nudity.

As an actor in both film and theater I’ve heard it all from fellow artistic Christians who are actors. They would explain that since it’s art it’s ok to do or say things that they normally wouldn’t do.  I agree to a point and when Christian actors swear in a movie I give them the benefit of the doubt; it doesn’t bother me.

Nudity and sexual situations however bother me.  Christian actors can take a stand if they wanted to, shoot maybe Denzel would have not agreed to the nude scene if the flight attendant was 350 pounds.  Denzel Washington has clout, he could have made it happen if it was that important to him.

Over the last couple of days I’ve seen posts on social media celebrating that Denzel is a Christian.  “I knew it!”  One person wrote in glee.  This overjoy from my Christian brethren bothered me a bit.  Not that Denzel is sharing his faith (although, I would like to ask why lay next to a nude actress) but that we as Christians are celebrating someone that is just another man.  Especially since I never, EVER, see my social media wall with posts of friends leading other friends (non celebrity types) to Christ.

Today I finally had to chime in with this celebrity worship by Christians.  I posted a link asking:

denzel

Notice that I’m asking a question.  Mainly to see what others think about nudity and Christian actors.  This brought up comments around me  judging Denzel.

As I’ve said time and time again, yes I’m judging, just like those telling me to not judge Denzel are judging.  We all judge.  I am not however condemning Denzel Washington and not or questioning his salvation.  I’ve never questioned anyone’s salvation since that’s above my pay grade.

In my daily readings of the scripture I’ve read more times than not that Christians are called to be blameless.  BLAMELESS!!!  That is to be FREE FROM BLAME.  Do we as Christians live like that today?  No!  We don’t.  We say things like:  “you can’t  judge me” or “only God knows my heart” and do whatever we want to do.

Live with our girlfriend? Sure.

Sex before marriage?  Why not.

Believe Jesus is only one of many paths to Heaven?  Well if that’s why you believe that’s ok.

[Sigh]  I miss Elijah.

The thread came down to me judging a fellow believer and by doing that makes the church look bad.  That I should stop posting comments like that and pray for Denzel.  I should show love.  My questioning Denzel makes the church look bad yet laying next to a naked hottie shouldn’t be questioned (you can understand why I’m scratching my head).

Here is the thing, I am showing love.  I’m showing love to those that look up to me and those I may influence.  There is nothing confusing about the gospel.  If a teacher or preacher or even I say something that confuses you because it deters from what you think the Bible instructs then please, go to the Bible and read for it yourself.  That’s the problem with today’s Christian.  We don’t go to the word to ensure those in leadership or influence are in alignment with what Scripture says.

According to scripture nudity is a big no no.

‘But Troy, we are all born naked, God meant for us to be naked.’  Yeah I’ve heard that crap from the artsy-fartsy Christians so let me ask you this:  Why did God make clothes for Adam and Eve after they sinned?  Adam and Eve were hiding from God before God said anything about their actions.  He was looking for them, calling out for them.

When God found them He asked why were you hiding?

Adam and Eve said, ‘we were naked.’

God asked, ‘how do you know you’re naked?’

They said ‘we ate of the tree and discovered we were naked.’

God didn’t scold them or tell them that they aren’t naked.  He made clothes for them so they could hide their private parts and no longer be naked.  God loved them even after their disobedience to care for them and clothe them.  What an awesome God we serve.

Because celebrities add credence to our decision to follow Christ we as the church sometimes get our feathers ruffled when others say anything about the legitimacy of the celebrity’s claim.  Can you imagine if someone questioned Shia’s conversion?  Man, you would have them church folk running out with pitchforks faster than Marshawn Lynch running over defenders.   It cannot be done in today’s culture.

Celebrities are important to today’s culture, especially Christian celebrities.  They have the ability (as fishers of men) to cast a wide net so others can come to know Christ.  I heard someone ask after Stuart Scott’s death if Scott was a Christian.   The radio host was stunned a bit at the question but didn’t know the answer.

Let me ask you a question:  Can a celebrity be a Christian and no one know about it?

It’s an interesting question that you could even ask about yourself.

Can you be a Christian and no one knows about it?

If no one knows you are a Christian it goes against everything Jesus taught in becoming fishers of men and leading others to Him.  That’s an important part of what we do as the church.

Denzel Washington rolling around with a naked actress isn’t the issue here.  The issue is Christians making a big deal about celebrities that claim to be Christian.  If legit, it’s awesome that Denzel is a brother in Christ but it has no more awesomeness than your neighbor coming to know Christ.

 

 

 

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