The Bieber challenge

Amy Adair

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.

Topics: Music, Culture At Large, Arts & Leisure, Theology & The Church, Faith, Evangelism, Home & Family, Parenting