It used to be that fame was associated with doing something really great. By great, I mean admirable – something perceived as praise-worthy. Now, that could have been an achievement as important as discovering the cure for a deadly illness, or as fleeting as simply performing well in a sports competition. Regardless, the basic rule was the same: fame and prestige comes from doing something people perceive as worthy of admiration.
Not so much anymore. Our culture now relishes (even adores) all things directly opposed to what used to be called, “virtue.” Vice, which has always had the ability to pique our interests, now garners applause and full-out fame (not infamy). Just consider the careers of people like Paris Hilton, R. Kelly, and Kim Kardashian: their shameful scandals have, if anything, bolstered their public image and rocketed them to stardom.
The ubiquitous and highly influential “Media” has undoubtedly led the way in our culture’s glorifying of vice; the success of shows such as Big Brother and pretty much anything on MTV is enough to prove this point. Incredibly, this inversion of America’s moral judgment is even reflected in those we have elected to political office. Sex scandals involving elected officials are as unexpected as Hugh Hefner announcing a new girlfriend (for an interesting take on the propensity of male politicians to become entangled in scandals, check out this article from The New York Times).
Regarding the recent Weiner fiasco, James Poniewozik, writing for Time, notes:
As a TV critic, it was most interesting to me to watch CNN cover the event live, with Wolf Blitzer and John King asking whether Weiner could mount a political comeback, without raising the (maybe more likely) possibility that’s already being floated: that Weiner could end up a pundit on cable TV, perhaps on their own network, CNN.
Why the speculation? (And it is, right now, nothing more than that.) Well, a couple years after he left office in disgrace from a prostitution scandal, former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer is now Blitzer and King’s co-worker. Whatever the penalties for personal embarrassments in politics, the statute of limitations is shorter in media. More important, the numbers in media just work differently than in politics. To win a seat in Congress or the mayor’s office, you need a plurality of votes. To be a success as a cable-news commentator, it’s fine if a lot of people hate you, as long as a significant, loyal fraction love you enough to watch.
Our country’s glorification of this type of behavior is in direct opposition to the teachings of the Bible. As Christians, we are called to imitate Christ, the author and perfecter of our faith, who was righteous and God-glorifying in all things. We are also called to imitate godly examples living around us (Hebrews 13:7). Paul calls Timothy to “follow me, as I follow Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1, cf. 2 Timothy 1:13). He writes that those worthy of “honor” (1 Timothy 5:17) and “respect” (1 Thessalonians 5:12-13) should be:
…above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God’s church? He must not be a recent convert, or he may become puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil. Moreover, he must be well thought of by outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace, into a snare of the devil. (1 Timothy 3:2-7)
Let’s commit, as God’s people, to admiring and adoring, praising and proclaiming, esteeming and extolling our wonderful Savior. He alone is worthy of all our honor and acclaim. Simply put, let’s commit to glorifying Jesus, the reigning King of the universe and our one great hope.
For He is the Lord, the famous One, and great is His name in all the earth.