The Bieber challenge

Sparkly eyes. The smile. The hair, oh, the hair. Bieber fever is everywhere.

Justin Bieber is a marketing dream. Not only did his first album, "My World," go platinum in 2009, his new movie "Never Say Never" grossed $3.3 million the first weekend it was released. He has been on countless TV shows, including "CSI," "Saturday Night Live" and now graces the cover of Rolling Stone.

He’s only 16 and makes more money and is more famous than most of us can even imagine. And now he’s considered a role model for teens around the world, as they flock to his concerts and hang on his every tweet and word.

Bieber claims he is a professing Christian. In "Never Say Never," he is seen praying before a show and talks openly about his faith. Paramount Pictures has been capitalizing on this by screening the movie for religious leaders and passing out spiritual discussion guides.

So Justin Bieber says he loves Jesus. Should Christians care? Yes, I know that we should care about every single soul won for Christ. But Bieber isn’t the first star to claim he’s a Christian. It’s important to remember that he is a product of the music industry. Are Christians - especially young, impressionable teens - being manipulated just so the entertainment industry can sell another movie ticket and another 99-cent song will be downloaded to an iPod?

There are many Christians who have Bieber fever - perhaps more so since he told Rolling Stone he was pro-life. When contributing editor Vanessa Grigoridis asked him about abortion, Bieber answered, “I really don’t believe in abortion. It’s like killing a baby.” When pressed about abortion in the case of rape, he replied, “Um. Well, I think that’s really sad, but everything happens for a reason. I don’t know how that would be a reason. I guess I haven’t been in that position, so I wouldn’t be able to judge that.”

Bieber’s bold pro-life stance in Rolling Stone should be applauded by pro-life Christians. However, Christians and church leaders should tread very carefully when they use secular pop stars, especially teens, as any sort of role model. It’s hard enough being a teen in ordinary circumstances. Peer pressure can seem unbearable at times. But Bieber has more than peer pressure. He has millions and millions of investment dollars riding on his back. To insure his success, he’s surrounded by pop stars like Usher, whose music is full of lewd, sexually suggestive lyrics. It’s not a huge leap to think that some of that may rub off on Bieber.

Even the pop star’s mom, Pattie Mallette, has acknowledged that the entertainment industry is a “dark” business and has openly asked for prayers that her son would be protected against the temptations that money and fame can bring.

No one knows for sure what’s in Bieber’s heart; only God can judge that. And maybe God is using Justin Bieber and his fame to further the kingdom. But it seems as though the secular music industry is difficult for an adult to navigate, let alone a teenager. And there are better role models in the Christian music industry for impressionable young fans, who not only claim to know Christ, but actually have lyrics and lifestyles to match their faith.

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I watched Madonna’s “Truth or Dare” movie the other day.  She prays before going out on stage too.

Do you know why Andy Williams has played Vegas for decades?  So he could go to the same church every Sunday… 

The same thing said here about Beiber could be said for Joel Olsteen or any other Christian leader.  BTW my 15 year old daughter and her friends despise Beiber.

This is more a generic comment, not to Bieber per say: I think there is a real need for the church to be the hero and not a particular person in the church. The mission should be what attracts, not a particular saint. I cherish people who do their jobs well and are greatly blessed. I just feel its time for community to outshine a saint now.

I suppose that the best thing for us to do is to pray that his faith is authentic and is actually his own, and not something that is manufactured by his corporation.  Then we should pray that he keeps true to God and doesn’t let the industry or money take him down the wrong path.

It seems slightly bizarre to doubt the faith of Christians in secular fields while blindly accepting the faithfulness of those in the religious industry.  Who trades more on their faith?

Is a professor at a secular university who claims Christianity more or less sincere than their counterpart at a Chrisyian institution?  I am sure there is no rule of thumb to parse that out, but I do know of Christian schools with very restrictive morals clauses for all their staff.  Some faculty from a Christian University would often drive to a liquor store in a neighboring town than face the censure/risk of being seem at one in their own non-teetotaling community (and some chose to worship in adjacent communities for similar reasons).  I would say those profs were simply more managed in their outward appearances.

When one receives livelihood from expressions of faith, the risk in broadcasting changes in belief is incredibly high.

I would prefer that we accept our inability to know the hearts of public figures than believe that some are sanctified by their choice of record label or publishing house.

If Justin Bieber is a real believer we can’t say and it’s not our rol to judge the spiritual condition of anybody. So, that shouldn’t be a problem for a christian family…if we have taught our chidren to put their eyes in Christ only not as leader but as a personal Savior and the only one worthy to imitate and follow.

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