Not unexpectedly, my article yesterday on another Christian celebrity who seems to know little about biblical truth and morality resulted in numerous folks going on the attack: not to critique her, but to jump all over me. As so often happens in these situations, I get called every name in the book: I am being negative and proud and critical and judgmental and unloving and….
All these Christian critics thought it is absolutely terrible that I publicly called out a high-profile believer. Of course it did not seem to occur to any of these folks that as they publicly called me out, they just might be guilty of some hypocrisy and double standards.
But I get this all the time: Christians will attack me about something, telling me how unbiblical it is, all the while doing the very thing they tell me we should not be doing as Christians. Duh. In case you are unaware of my recent piece, it is this: https://billmuehlenberg.com/2018/12/02/no-jesus-did-not-accept-all-people-all-faiths-and-all-behaviours/
It involved big name Christian artist Lauren Daigle and her inability to offer anything remotely biblical when asked very publicly about homosexuality. So I wrote the piece and mentioned that she is not alone – plenty of other big cheese Christian celebs have done the very same thing.
But for daring to call her out on this, all sorts of angry Christians let me know how evil I was to do so. So let me deal with a few of their criticisms, and try to offer a bit of light amidst all the heat being generated. First of all, Scripture makes it perfectly clear that public error deserves public correction.
Yes, private sin warrants private rebuke, but when a very public performer makes very public appearances and does very public interviews, then the Body of Christ has a biblical obligation to hold such people to account. And that is just what I did. See more on this here: https://billmuehlenberg.com/2011/09/22/on-public-rebukes/
And I had plenty of folks seeking to make cheap excuses for her. ‘Oh, she is just a new Christian,’ or, ‘She was unprepared to answer such questions,’ and so on. Good grief. As to the first unhelpful excuse, I told one person this:
It would appear that she has been a Christian for a number of years now. Wikipedia says that she did mission work in Brazil before attending university. She is now 27, so that means she has been a Christian for at least a decade it would seem. Just how long does one have to be a Christian before they know something about some of the rudimentary teachings of the Bible? How many years must a person be saved before they understand the basics of Scripture? Paul rebuked immature believers who were still on the milk of the Word and not solid meat.
And if Lauren does not know what the Bible teaches on the issue of God’s intentions for human sexuality in general, and homosexuality in particular, then I suggest that she stops all the concerts and touring, stops all the appearances on secular TV shows, and actually starts to seriously read and study her Bible. And she should not resume her career until she does know what it teaches on these and other absolutely crucial issues. Otherwise she is harming the cause of Christ and doing great damage to the Kingdom.
And she may well have been a Christian even longer. Either way, she should have fully known by now just what the Bible says about things like the sin of homosexuality. She really should have been prepared for such questions. But I keep getting related criticisms, including this dodgy one: “Christian artists are not theologians.”
Yeah, I do not expect them to be full-blown theologians, but I do expect them to know something about their faith. Given their VERY public ministry, they will influence millions of people for good or ill. She has been a believer for a while now, and really should know the basics of her faith.
As I said in my article, her reply could have and should have been direct and straight-forward: “It does not matter a hill of beans how I feel about the issue. What does matter is what God has said about it. And he has clearly said that it is indeed a sin, and it must be repented of and turned away from.”
Yet she claimed complete ignorance about the matter, and used as an excuse the fact that she has homosexual friends. It seems she was more concerned to stay buddies with her friends as they continue in their sinful lifestyle than she was to stand on God’s Word and affirm God’s moral standards.
She and my many critics may think this is the loving and Christlike thing to do. But it is not. Refusing to agree with God about sin and letting others know what He has said is NOT loving people – it is allowing them to slide straight into hell. That is hardly loving or Christlike!
Then I had others complaining that people like me talk a lot about ‘judgement, sin, and hell’. Um, there might be a good reason for that: Jesus talked about these things – constantly. We know more about future judgement and hell from the lips of Jesus than from anyone else in Scripture.
But these ‘Jesus would never harm a fly’ Christians actually get mad at you when you simply share what Jesus and the disciples said about such matters. They get upset if you remind folks that sin is real, God hates it, and we must repent or face his judgment.
Sorry, I prefer to be biblical rather than to run with the world’s bogus notions of ‘tolerance’ and the like. Is the love of God also a key biblical theme? Absolutely, but we cannot understand his love and grace without first understanding our sinful condition and how we are all under the wrath of God.
The cross displays both the love and wrath of God, and it makes sense only in light of what all of Scripture says about our sinful and darkened condition. Speaking of which, I had other Christian critics get bent out of shape over one term that I used.
I got folks upset when I suggested that instead of Ellen Degeneres being a “bundle of light” as Lauren had called her, she was in fact a “bundle of darkness.” But these folks are obviously ignorant about the many biblical passages that associate darkness with those who are not God’s people.
Jesus and Paul for example both made this connection. Jesus said men prefer darkness rather than light (John 3:19-21), and Paul said non-believers are in fact in darkness (Acts 26:18). It seems these critics need as much basic Scripture study that Lauren does.
But as I keep saying, I am not picking on one person here. Sadly we have plenty of these celebs selling out the gospel in order to receive the praise of men and do well in their careers. As an earlier example, back in 2012 I wrote a piece on Guy Sebastian and how he said some really quite shocking things about his understanding of God, and of issues like homosexuality: billmuehlenberg.com/2012/10/11/celebrities-and-losing-the-faith/
That article received a lot of interest, with 45 responses. But a bit later I got a comment by someone claiming to be Guy Sebastian. I did not print it, mainly because I was doubtful that a big celeb like him would bother to read and respond to a rinky-dink site like mine.
So I just sat on it. But I often ran through in my mind what I would say in reply if I did print it. So let me do so now. Assuming it is in fact his comment, this is it, along with my response. First, ‘his’ comment:
None of you know my heart. None of you know my journey. None of you know my trials and tribulations. However all of you are so quick to hand out my sentence. Shame on all of you. You violate numerous verses by publicly shaming me and delivering an absolute verdict on my salvation. There are things taken so far out of context and also things i never even said. My whole point was that just because I believe in Jesus doesn’t mean I have the right to tell someone else whom I don’t even know that what they believe in is completely false and they are going to hell. What sort of way is that showing love? What sort of way is that showing them a path of grace that maybe down the line they will be attracted to follow themselves?
This is my journey and Ill navigate it myself and all of you only serve to fuel all of why I doubt that this whole religion produces ANY fruits of love. Shame on you all.
And this is the reply I would have made:
Thanks Guy (assuming it really is you), but no, there is no shame on us. The shame is on the super celebs who claim to be Christians but misrepresent and mangle the Christian message. The more influence these folks have, the more careful they must be to accurately represent our Lord in public.
A mere peon like me might just reach hundreds of people, but celebrities like you can reach millions of people. If you were just Joe Pagan and said what you did about homosexuality, God, and the rest, it would be par for the course. But because you are also someone who says he is a Christian, then that is altogether different.
It is sad but true that many Christians put various Christian celebs on a pedestal. Their biblical discernment may be low, but their devotion and dedication to their fav celebs is quite high. Thus if the celeb says things that are patently untrue regarding things like human sexuality, then countless believers may well be impacted by that – even led astray.
So the gravity of what you are doing is very significant indeed. If you stand with biblical truth and influence many, you are doing the work of the Kingdom. But if you basically deny or at least radically distort biblical truth, then you are having influence alright, but for the other kingdom.
I will pray for you and other Christian celebs that you take seriously the grave responsibilities you have to rightly represent biblical truth as you continue your very public careers.
We must indeed pray for all these public performers and artists who claim to be Christians. They can do so much good for Christ if they genuinely reflect biblical truth and values, but they can do massive damage if they distort the Word of God and soft-peddle the seriousness of sin.
Oh, and one final thought: God really does NOT need Christian entertainers and artists and performers and celebrities and singers and musicians and all the rest. What he does need and desire are those who bow before him and tremble at his Word; those who faithfully and humbly represent him aright, regardless of how unpopular that may be; and those who say no to the world and its applause, and say yes to him and to the cross.