Christian Celebrities — An Oxymoron?

By Julie Roys

Carrie Prejean – risqué model or model Christian? That’s the question dominating talk airwaves as more semi-nude photos of the Miss USA Runner-Up have surfaced. Christians applaud the defense of traditional marriage Prejean articulated in the Miss USA Pageant. But, we cringe as Prejean’s photos and news of her breast augmentation surgery is reported in the media.

I think the existence of the issue begs another discussion. That is, why do we Christians so desperately want celebrities to champion our causes?

Though much debate has focused on whether Christians should embrace this obviously flawed celebrity, I think the existence of the issue begs another discussion. That is, why do we Christians so desperately want celebrities to champion our causes? Hardly had Prejean uttered that marriage is between one man and one woman than Christian leaders crowned her the queen of traditional marriage and promoted her as such in the media.

I’ve always found Christian celebrity to be an oxymoron. After all, Christians are urged to follow the example of Christ who being in very nature God, made himself nothing. Celebrities, on the other hand, seem to be those who by nature are nothing, but whom society makes into gods.

After all, Christians are urged to follow the example of Christ who being in very nature God, made himself nothing. Celebrities, on the other hand, seem to be those who by nature are nothing, but whom society makes into gods.

Despite this irony though, we Christians love our celebrities. Trinity Broadcasting Network actually airs a weekly program called the “Christian Celebrity Showcase.” And, Sports Spectrum magazine features interviews with Christian sports stars in every issue. No doubt, some of these athletes possess the character and maturity that warrant a platform. But unfortunately, it’s their star status that gives them that platform, not their character. And, the latter is often woefully lacking.

I suppose some of our fascination with these celebrities is natural. The media keeps them constantly in the public eye and it’s no wonder we’re curious about what makes them tick. But, I think many Christians get excited about Christian celebrities because of their evangelistic potential. These superstars wield super-influence, they believe. So, why not harness this star-power for the kingdom?

I believe another, more subtle and less noble motive also exists. We Christians are tired of being cast as the church lady – narrow-minded, judgmental, and hopelessly un-hip. We cling to these stars because we hope they’ll somehow improve our image.

The problem, however, is that these celebrities probably harm the cause of Christ as much or more than they help it. Miss Prejean, as earnest as she may be, has provided plenty of fodder for those who wish to make our faith a laughingstock. But she’s not alone. Last year, several Christian professional baseball players were implicated in the high-profile Major League steroid scandal. And just last month, prominent Catholic actor and director of the Passion, Mel Gibson, announced he’s divorcing his wife and dating a woman half his age.

I doubt, however, that concern for the souls of others solely motivates our promotion of Christian celebrities. I believe another, more subtle and less noble motive also exists. We Christians are tired of being cast as the church lady – narrow-minded, judgmental, and hopelessly un-hip. We cling to these stars because we hope they’ll somehow improve our image. We desperately desire to be cool.

This attempt to be cool, however, is a futile endeavor. Jesus said the world would hate us because we do not belong to the world. Similarly, Paul wrote that the gospel is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved, it is the power of God.

I suppose given the media age we live in, Christian celebrities are unavoidable. Still, I think the cause of Christ would be best served if we downplayed that status as much as possible – if we promoted Christ, not superstar Christians.

 

UPDATE 5-20-2015:

We will be discussing Christian Celebrities on Up For Debate this Saturday with guests Wes Yoder and Michele Perry . Make plans to tune in at 11 a.m. CDT, and join the conversation on the Up for Debate Facebook page.

 

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4 thoughts on “Christian Celebrities — An Oxymoron?”

  1. Christians today should remember that the early church grew within the Roman Empire despite being illegal and persecuted. There were no celebrity christians, yet christianity eventually overcame the Roman Empire. The same spiritual power is still available today, if modern christians move out of their comfort zones and choose to use it.

  2. John,
    Thanks for your comments. How true. Also, the disciples were poor, uneducated, ordinary men. “Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” I Sam. 16:7

  3. Julie,

    The world see those who oppose same sex marriage as Bible thumping, skirts to your knees, no smoking, drinking, dancing, or going to movie and don’t associate with people who do kind of people.

    I really think this women who doesn’t look like what is the worlds view of a typical Christian blew them away. She was against something that most “normal” average Americans think is okay (same sex marriage). When across the country people found out that more than Bible thumping Christians are against this but even those of us who are silent until challenged I think it sent a shock wave through the Liberal camp.

    Yes this women is not what I would want my daughter to aspire to be but she is a sister in Christ and has chosen to live her faith with a few bumps in the road, but when challenged she stood up for what was right. We should applaud her doing the right thing – raise her up as a spokesperson – No. Should Christians have made a big deal out of her past falls from grace – No everyone has a few secrets in the closet the main thing to remember and use as an example to our children is she did a nobel thing and how the sins of our past come back to haunt us.

  4. Susan,
    I agree that Miss Prejean should be commended for taking a stand. One note… had the liberal media not made a big deal of Prejean’s shortcomings, I doubt Christians would be talking about it. Thanks for chiming in!

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