Don’t rush to celebrate when a ’big name’ professes Christ, warns Kate Orson


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Last week the evangelist Lindz West wrote that Christians should stop being so quick to judge celebrities who talk about Christ.

His words came in the light of rapper Lil Naz X’s recent post asking his fans if it was “okay if I enter my Christian era?” along with a new song about God. Christians online had accused him of mocking God, but West thinks we need to judge less and welcome more.

I agree with his thoughts. But I also think we need to find the middle ground between cynical judging, and unconditional celebration when it comes to celebrities who say they’ve converted. 

When it comes to Lil Nas X’s statements, it’s understandable that people might have their doubts. After all, this is a man who has previously given a lap dance to ‘Satan’ in a video, and designed a pair of Satanic Nike shoes that contained a real drop of human blood.

You might say that’s all in the past now. The old has gone, the new has come! He’s turned his life around, why not celebrate that? 

Well, a post from just four days ago shows Lil singing about drinking and drugs and saying “f***” while making a hand signal to refer to sexual intercourse. Don’t get me wrong, it’s great that Lil might be asking questions about faith. And it would be wrong to expect perfection from him, or anyone else. We’re all on a journey. But let’s not kid ourselves that Lil Nas X is showing the fruit of a born again believer just yet.

Often in these conversations, Jesus’ words about judging are thrown around with no context. “Judge not,” we’re told. But contrary to popular belief, Christians are actually instructed to judge those who claim to be fellow believers. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 5:12, “What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside?”

This means we are meant to use our discernment. We are meant to discern right from wrong, and teach others to walk the path of righteousness. We’re meant to help our brothers and sisters see where they might be sinning. Obviously this gets problematic on the internet, where it’s hard to communicate a correction with grace and love. But the principle stands.

Celebrities are in a place of influence. They have immense power. They can speak for Jesus, and when they do so, the effects can be glorious. But they also have the ability to promote a “different Gospel,” as Paul put it (Galatians 1:8). We Christians are told to beware of “wolves in sheep’s clothing” and Jesus said that “not everyone who calls Lord, Lord, shall enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 7:21) All of this means we cannot uncritically accept every apparent confession of faith, especially when its just a fleeting comment with no evidence of a changed life.

When a celebrity calls themselves a Christian and continues to sin, it can cause onlookers to misunderstand what being a Christian actually means, as well as tempt believers to stumble. Take Taylor Swift for example. She has called herself a Christian in the past, yet has made a music video mocking Christian beliefs on sexuality (‘You need to calm down’), and sings about new age spirituality (Karma). I have concerns about her songs and lyrics and would definitely share my thoughts if it came up in conversation. Only God truly knows her heart, but I can make factual comments on her creative output.

When a big name mentions Christ it can be exciting, but let’s not rush to publicly celebrate their conversion if it could lead people to be confused by a false representation of what being a follower of Christ is. As the book of Ecclesiastes says, there is “a time to keep silence, and a time to speak.” (3:7)

If in doubt then perhaps it’s best to move away from the bright lights of celebrity conversions, neither celebrating nor condemning them. A ‘wait and see’ approach can be valuable.

We should also beware our culture’s obsession with the rich and famous. Most of us will never get the opportunity to help a famous person come to Christ, but there is someone who needs him living next door to you right now. And God cares about them just as much.