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The rampant idolatry of celebrity, Part IV

By Scott Tibbs, April 6, 2010

Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever. - 1 John 2:15-17

On her Facebook page, one of my nieces complained that while she was watching the TV news, about 5 minutes were spent discussing the President and more than 15 minutes were spent talking about a certain professional athlete involved in a sex scandal. She turned it off. My niece's response: "This is what is wrong with America."

She is right.

This is an election year. In November, all 435 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives and one third of the U.S. Senate will be chosen by the voters. Here in Indiana, half of the state senate and all 100 members of the state house of representatives will be up for re-election. In Monroe County, we will elect four members of the county council, a county commissioner and a number of other local officials.

I understand that the news media is a business, and the reason the personal life of this professional athlete gets a great deal of coverage is because the media knows that is what people want to see. Coverage of this individual brings higher TV ratings, more hits on websites and more newspaper sales, which leads to higher advertising revenue. Ultimately, we can't complain about the news media's saturation coverage of celebrities because we are ultimately to blame.

Our elected representatives are a reflection of the American people. As the cliché goes, we get the government we deserve. If we're going to survive as a constitutional republic, then we need to have a population that is informed about the issues, the legislation being debated before Congress, and the positions of candidates for elective office. We need a population educated about the workings, structure, legal authority and history of government.

What we have is a population that is educated about the women that a certain professional athlete is having sex with, the statistics of professional athletes, the patterns and powers of computer-controlled enemies in video games, the plots of movies and television programs, and the intimate details of celebrities' personal lives. That same population is frighteningly ignorant of things as basic as the Bill of Rights.

So what is the problem? Is the news media failing to make the needed effort to educate the American people? Are schools failing to educate children about history and government?

The problem is much deeper. The problem is that we are a nation of idolaters, worshiping anything other than the only true and living God who died on the cross for the sins of His creation. We may not pray to the idols of our age and we may not think they have supernatural powers, but we certainly place them before God in our lives.

This certainly is not new. The early Corinthian church was divided between those who professed loyalty to Paul, Apollos and Cephas, rather than being unified under true doctrine and worshiping Christ. (See I Corinthians.) Even those who proclaimed "I am of Christ" were really only proclaiming their own righteousness, a self-worship which is idolatry. As Christians, we need to repent of the sins of idolatry that we commit every day. Each thing should be in its proper place, subordinate to the worship of the only true God.

See Part I, Part II and Part III of this series.