Amanda Bynes set herself on fire a few weeks ago. She literally lit her pant leg aflame, and were it not for some concerned citizens, she may have endured serious injury. It was just the latest in bizarre behavior from Bynes, someone who is enjoying her celebrity by smoking some weed and getting arrested for driving with a suspended license.
In more attention seeking news, Miley Cyrus had a performance that made everyone watching feel a strong urge to take a shower afterwards. Dancing in a sexual manner with little clothing on, she went on to make suggestive motions with of all things a foam finger. I think even Lady Gaga was blushing somewhere in the audience.
Amanda Bynes and Miley Cyrus are people whose lives are spinning furiously out of control right in front of our eyes, we can’t help but watch the meltdown. We can’t help but read the daily updates on her story. After all, her over three-million Twitter followers need to know the latest Amanda drama.
The sins of celebrities seem distant to us, obviously because their perpetrators are. The immoral behavior of actors and actresses and athletes rarely shocks us now. In a world where the latest arrest or divorce filing or sex tape is discovered within mere seconds via social media, celebrities gain fame (or notoriety) with every 140 character post.
What sin is the worst? Which ones do we look past the most? Which ones do we laugh about and poke fun at? Which ones make us steam in anger?
Sports fans are taken aback by Ryan Braun and Alex Rodriguez making headlines because they lied and cheated. Hopeless romantics sit in shock and awe at a favorite actress that’s been cheated on by a spouse. Music fans roll their eyes at the lead singer entering rehab for drug abuse.
But one sin in particular crops up over and over again in the world of celebrities. One that doesn’t have the taboo feel of infidelity and alcoholism, but is just as deadly. A transgression that doesn’t appear as heavy as pornography or domestic abuse, but eats away at the soul just as rapidly. A sin that too often bears fruit to many other sins.
We see every inch of celebrity on display when we turn on the TV, check Twitter, click on any news website. We see the movie premieres packed with red carpet gods and goddesses, stopping at every angle for the cameras to capture their glory. We know who designed every dress. We know what attractive co-star this star is seeing now. It’s all about the celebrities.
We see it on display on the field or court. We see the wide receiver do ridiculous dances to celebrate a touchdown. We see incredible athletes willing to inject dangerous drugs into their bodies in an attempt to perform better than the other players. We see college athletes spending time relaying all of their personal lives to us via Twitter. It’s all about the athletes.
We see it on the music award shows and music videos. The rapper with a dozen guys following him like lost puppies we call an entourage. The pop singer dancing half-naked to flaunt her body and prove she’s not a little girl anymore. It’s all about the musicians.
Pride is one of those sins, however, we tend to overlook. See, pride isn’t tangible. It’s not a defined disease we can point fingers at. It’s not something a 12 step recovery program will help with. It won’t cause us haughty Christians to turn off the movie or song. “No, let’s not watch the VMAs tonight. Those singers are all so prideful.”
Pride is more complicated than all of that. But why? It’s pretty cut and dry in scripture as to what pride can do.
“Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall” Proverbs 16:18
“Pride brings a person low…” Proverbs 29:23
“I will put an end to the arrogance of the haughty and will humble the pride of the ruthless.” Isaiah 13:11
Pride was the down fall even of King Nebuchadnezzar. Daniel 5:20 says this of the king: “But when his heart became arrogant and hardened with pride, he was deposed from his royal throne and stripped of his glory.”
Why is it we don’t point out the issue of pride much when it comes to our beloved celebrities? Especially when there are so many other downfalls we love to talk about? I think the answer is pretty clear. Pride isn’t just a struggle with celebrities: it’s a personal struggle for all of us.
Our days are spent keeping up an image to those around us. We have a certain reputation we’d like to maintain, and our pride keeps us from ever failing too hard, showing any cracks in the foundation. Sometimes it’s not just about maintaining ourselves, it’s about showing in subtle and some not-so-subtle ways that we’re just plain better than others.
Us Americans know how to do pride well. We can buy the bigger house, drive the cooler car, and wear the nicer clothes. We can raise smarter kids, have hotter spouses, work better paying jobs. Christian Americans do the pride thing really well too. We can quote more scripture, write better blogs, and attend more Bible studies. We can tithe more, pray longer, and smile more often. We can share more inspirational quotes on Facebook and read more C.S. Lewis novels than others.
It’s kind of odd to think of Christians as struggling with pride. We worship a man who entered the world born of a poor teenager that gave birth in a stall surrounded by cattle. We worship a man who worked as a carpenter and lived much of his adult life homeless. We worship a man who spent a lot of his time with a bunch of uneducated fishermen. We worship a man who willingly broke bread with thieves and whores. We worship a man who died completely naked, beaten beyond recognition. We worship a man whose entire life was lived completely opposite of prideful.
Tonight I can’t help but think the vanity of a Hollywood life helped nudge Miley Cyrus to do something that probably made loyal Hannah Montana fans confused and angry. I can’t help but think we as a society fueled by the worship of those on TV and sports fields didn’t play some part in the need for so many celebrities to continually push the envelope. As we’ve seen too often in recent months, pride truly does come before a fall.
I don’t think it’s stepping out on a limb to say you may struggle some with pride. I know I do. I also know that Jesus didn’t, and that fact alone tells us how we should live.