“Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong.” (1 Corinthians 16:13)
A good friend recently referred me to this article, titled In Defense of Justin Bieber. As you can imagine, my initial reaction was one of incredulity. What? You’ve gotta be kidding me. Surely I read that wrong…
But as I continued to take in what this young woman had to say, I found myself nodding in agreement. She makes some very good points about the power of words, the importance of being Christ-like in our conversation, and how quickly sarcasm can turn into pure, arrogant, ungraceful spite. She’s pleading – and rightly so – for gentleness in our speech.
Having said that, I believe that, on the whole, she tends to be a bit too gentle. I’m all for self-control of the tongue; and as far as that goes, the article is a good one. At the same time, I think it would be much too easy for someone to read it and walk away under the mistaken impression that Justin Bieber is A-Okay: just a misunderstood kid who doesn’t deserve an ounce of the criticism he’s received thus far.
I’m not suggesting that this is what the young lady meant to say. Not at all. But I am suggesting that her words could be perceived in such a light. And I find that more than a little unsettling.
Please note: I don’t dislike Bieber on a personal level – I’ve never even met him. I also don’t believe that wanton verbal abuse is the appropriate (or mature) response to him or his actions. My concerns are just that: concerns. And they’re biblically rooted. So don’t play the fool and take what follows as an angry ad hominem attack on a celebrity figure.
As a guy, my frustration with Bieber has little to do with his voice, girly or no. My frustration stems from the fact that his general bearing is effeminate. There’s hardly anything manly about the way this young man carries himself. From the way he dresses to the way he acts, he’s implicitly conveying the idea that it’s totally “cool” for guys to “get in touch” with their “feminine side”.
Whatever the heck that is.
In short, what we’re dealing with is yet another manifestation of the ongoing movement to redefine manhood. Of course, this movement didn’t start with Bieber and it won’t end with Bieber – but Bieber is contributing to it nonetheless.
For one thing, he is playing no small role in influencing what girls look for in a man. He’s a teen-heartthrob, for goodness’ sake: his biggest fans are adolescent and pre-adolescant girls. Bieber is the bomb. *swoon*
Instead of looking for the same qualities they used to – qualities like strength, purpose, responsibility, manliness – girls are looking for different things from the men in their lives – things like sensitivity and passivity. You get the picture.
Biblical, masculine, manliness is out. Soft, effeminate, metro-sexuality is in.
Because of this shift in expectations, guys will naturally tend to mimic the example set by Bieber and those like him; after all, if that’s the sort of “masculinity” so many girls are attracted to these days, why not? Slip on those skinny jeans. Wear that pink shirt. Grow some bangs. Your girlfriend will love you for it. And you’ll look so much “safer” and more “sensitive”.
I’m not saying that Bieber is responsible for all the girly-guys on this giant dustball. But he’s certainly not helping set a different, more biblical standard. In fact, he’s doing the very opposite.
He’s a celebrity, and people love celebrities. Not only that, they idolize them. They want to be like them. A celebrity’s sphere of influence is wide – ranging from fashion design to hair styles to which charity you should support. Yet these are all superficial when compared to the impression a celebrity makes on the hearts and minds of his/her followers. Bieber is making an impression. And if you think it’s a good one, you should probably take your head out of the sand and open your eyes.
Bieber has apparently professed to be a Christian; and while I may not be able see the state of his heart, I can see the fruit he is bearing. The fact that Bieber claims the name of Christ means that he has the responsibility before God to “walk in a manner worthy of the God who calls you into His own kingdom and glory”. (Thessalonians 2:12) But instead of doing this – instead of using his influence to encourage fellow believers, witness to the lost, and bring glory to his Savior – Bieber is promoting an image that is directly contrary to biblical Christianity.
We should find that more than slightly bothersome. But resorting to hatred and loathing isn’t the correct response; we need to be praying for him. Fervently.
Fellow blogger Gabriel Hudelson has written several times on the subject of biblical manhood. In this post, he says something which I think is well worth repeating:
Has anyone else noticed the fad of girly, soft young men lately? I’m getting tired of it. I even see it among homeschoolers. A gentle, quiet softness that isn’t just manly meekness – it’s girly. And it’s disgusting. And it’s unbiblical, most importantly.
And it’s so fashionable, it seems, today.
I’m not advocating boorish, vulgar manhood – just manly manhood.
Any other men out there who agree? Who desire to have a bit of thunder in their step, lion in their voice, iron in their grip, determination in their stride, fiery vision in their eyes?
Of course, this strength must be tempered by meekness. Strength under control for The Glory of God.
But I can be meek and still be very firmly a man.
Young men don’t need any more examples of effeminacy. They need the examples of real men, godly men; men of the past and men of the present; men who take their God-given manhood seriously. We need more writers like Gabriel Hudelson; more blogs like Man Against World. Most importantly, we need to get back to the basics – attempting to ground yourself in manhood without first grounding yourself in God’s Word is ultimately counter-productive, like trying to drive a car without an engine. You ain’t goin’ nowhere.
I’ll close with the words of C.S. Lewis:
We make men without chests and expect of them virtue and enterprise. We laugh at honor and are shocked to find traitors in our midst. We castrate and then bid the geldings to be fruitful.
I know it sounds cliche, guys, but we are at war. The fight to redefine what it means to be a man has been raging since time began, and Bieber is only a part of it. So don’t just sit there listlessly on the couch, drooling like an idiot – get up and do something about it.
Don’t settle for what the world has to offer. There’s a race to be run, a fight to be fought, a crown to be won. Go run it, fight it, win it. All to the glory of Christ.