In Defense of Justin Bieber

7:22 AM

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Since earlier we talked about subjects that unknowingly offend, I thought I'd share one of my biggest irritants: I hate it when people say Justin Bieber sings like a girl. Not because he doesn't. He does. And not because I love Justin Bieber's music. I haven't listened to much of it, truthfully. It's because it's such a mean thing to say about something he cannot change.

The cold, hard truth: boys sing like girls until their voice cracks.

Why this offends me so much? People used to make fun of my brother because he "sang like a girl." They teased him about it until he was afraid to let out his gorgeous voice. It required extra big sister pep talks. It made him self-conscious.

All because a group of girls thought to have a little fun at his expense.

The worst thing was that I used to laugh along to that overdone joke and take my own jabs at his music and style, as if he were a celebrity cardboard cutout instead of a human being. The thought of applying the Golden Rule never crossed my mind. It was Justin Bieber, for Pete's sake -- it was a joke, it was sarcasm, it was showing off my dazzling wit. But when it became personal -- it wasn't very funny anymore.

Nobody means to be cruel. I doubt anybody would mock Justin Bieber to his face. We're nice people; we're kind people; we're sensitive people (generally). We've merely worked ourselves into the rut of habit, that's all, so deep down that we don't even recognize our insensitivity and rudeness.

Our entire American culture has that problem. Anything is appropriate so long as it's "just a joke" or labeled under the hallowed category of "sarcasm." And any poor fellow who dares speak up about using more subdued wordage wins the title of Tone Police and is told that Paul used sarcasm. Ha!

As if we're all inspired by God to attack Justin Bieber.

This common sense application of kindness will never become popular, I think. It's too much of a habit -- and we're blind to it. It stings us deeply when another objects to our form of fun -- especially when he drags out that Golden Rule and gets all "gracious" and "loving." We call the Tone Police wet blankets, puritans, stiff, humorless. We never listen when they say that making fun of Joel Osteen isn't really profitable or right. We shrug our shoulders when someone cuts in on our rude remarks about Taylor Swift. We boil with hurt when our friend doesn't get just as disgusted at that annoying girl we gossiped about. "Holier than thou," we mutter, as she sweetly suggests a more plausible, less derogatory explanation for her behavior.

But oh, how quick we are to strike humorlessly when we're the butt of the joke!

I once read some extremely rude, inflammatory and untruthful things about me and my family. It hurt me in a way no human being should ever have to hurt and really exposed my naivete about the lie of Human Goodness. What first struck me was how much I had been hurt -- what struck me harder was how much I had hurt. How many people had I gossiped about in the privacy of my home? How many politicians, pastors and poets had I mocked under cover of sarcasm? How many Walmart shoppers had I picked apart? How many jokes had I made that would have deeply wounded the person in question had he been standing before me?

That's over-spiritualizing things, Bailey, I soothed myself. It's just a joke.

But wasn't a joke to see myself slandered and laughed at and not a single word in my defense. It wasn't a joke to cry for days on end. It wasn't a joke to overcome paranoia to write even a private essay. I would never wish anyone to go through the feelings I did, force him to work through the anger and hatred toward cruel people, to hold his head up again and move on.

I tremble to think how my daily conversations would abuse the soul of someone else. I do not want to be present when every word I've said is taken into account on judgment day. I do not want to know my motives or see how reekingly proud my ugly heart is.

I cannot rightly fault another person for offending me when every other word of mine laughs at another's weakness. What makes me more special than Justin Bieber or the annoying girl or even the people who have hurt me? We wouldn't say such rude things in front of them. We wouldn't say rude things about ourselves.

Why does slander and unkindness become part of polite society -- a requirement, almost -- when spoken behind the person's back? It's as ridiculous as saying theft, murder and lying isn't a sin unless one is caught.

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27 impressions

  1. Yes!!! I've had to hash this out in my own heart. I have to admit, sarcasam was an easy habit to fall into when the whole crowd of friends was doing it.

    It's terrible hearing people use any mean, cutting, sarcastic remark that they want to as long as it's cloaked in that protective covering of "It's a joke".

    Coarse jesting is wrong. Saying "Shut up" or "You're so stupid" in a sarcastic voice is not funny. And it only escalates from there to more personal remarks.

    Great post, Bailey. I wish more people would think about this issue.

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  2. When I first saw the picture and title I was like, "What?!" But, now moi understands!

    I agree that there is so much unkindness and critisism in our world today. As you said, the little things that aren't spoken in front of the person are just as bad, even if they don't know about it!

    It's so easy to "acheive" that fault, nowdays. :(

    *hugs*
    See you Tomorrow!

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  3. Great post, Bailey. I have to admit I've "made fun" of Justin Bieber at times. It's not right, and I'm going to stop.

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  4. So true. It seems like the "cool in-thing" right now as a Christian home schooler is to spurn Justin Bieber. But you bring up great points! I actually enjoy some of his music, but even if I didn't we shouldn't treat anyone that way.

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  5. Way to go Bailey! I have thought the same thing numerous times.

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  6. Oh wow, Bailey. Amazing post. This hit hard with me. I've never even listened to Justin Bieber's music (I'm more of a Steven Curtis Chapman fan), but this did strike home for me. Thank you for these words of wisdom... truly, when did slandering others become so acceptable?

    God bless!
    Rachel

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  7. Thanks so much for sharing this thought provoking post! What a great reminder to think before we speak.

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  8. True, true. I have been so convicted of this lately. People are complainer (myself included) and I sincerely hope that I will be able to break myself of this habit. The last thing I want to do is hurt someone and make them self-conscious. Thanks for this post!

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  9. Bravo Bailey!

    How true! I believe this article will hit several people right in a soft, proud spot.Including me. Ouch.

    The truth hurts...keep on telling it to the world!
    Jillian

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  10. AMEN.

    ... and talk about convicting.

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  11. He's 18 years old now. If his voice was going to change it would have by now.

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  12. How true this is. How easy it is to make fun of others, yet we all know how much it hurts.

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  13. This post made me smile. You're right. It goes along with the question, "who is my neighbor?". Because celebrities are people too. And although I'm not realy a JB fan... I agree that speaking harshly about him or any other celeb is wrong.... um... right now my husband is dancing and singing "Baby... baby... baby ooooh!" (Justin Beiber... wow... I really hope he stops... hahah!). And I was going to ask Anonymous the same question. I actually saw JB on a recent interview (don't ask) and he said his voice is still very much changing... so much that he's working with a vocal coach to help him through it while still singing professionally. I couldn't imagine the amount of things people could make fun of ME for - esp. if I were famous. Man!!! Great post though, very true words.

    xo Cass @ The Unplugged Family

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  14. I think her point is that his voice has changed by now. It's just that in the early days of his fame, it had not changed yet. Maybe his voice is lower in more recent songs.

    Anyway. You make such a powerful point. Yes, if someone is wrong, it's okay to point it out and refute him. But it is not right to go further and start making fun of his appearance, voice, wife, or kids. It is not right to act like he has less worth than you do. How can Christ and the Gospel look beautiful to the world if we are constantly degrading others?
    <><

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  15. My thoughts exactly(:

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  16. AMEN! I've been skeptical about him for a while. My cousins' typical response was "He's a Christian! He prays before every concert and has a song called Pray!" Recently I listened to a few of his songs and I noticed two things: He is really talented, and he does have some good lyrics. Only God knows a person's heart. I think I may listen to his songs a little more, but I will definitely not obsess over him.

    Blessings,
    Lauren Elaine

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  17. @Anon--There is no point in saying such a thing. But even if there was, what you're saying is wrong anyhow. True, most male voices do change before 18. But I know a guy who had a high voice that age. In fact, it just started changing and he is now 20. But even if it will never change, Bailey's point is valid. He is made in the image of God and ought to be treated as such. Saying that his voice won't change now that he is 18 has nothing to do with anything. If anything, it seems to simply defend the sarcasm that he receives.

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  18. Bailey, this post was good for me to see. I know that in my family many are the comments which fly hither and yon focusing on the shallow and surface-level. This post gives me good things to ponder.

    I'm also greatly enjoying your blog, and your writing style.

    Don't know if I agree with everything... but I'm looking forward to finding out in future!

    (And that praise does indeed go to The Lord Jesus Christ, because every good thing given comes from Him.)

    :-)

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  19. I'm sitting here way past my bedtime, wishing I could respond to all these thoughtful comments. You all have such great insights and sensitive hearts. Bravo for you.

    Courtney, sadly, your comment is so true: It seems like the "cool in-thing" right now as a Christian home schooler is to spurn Justin Bieber. Ouch. We can do better than that.

    Cass, I don't know whether to pity you or say you have an awesome hubby. :D

    Jenny, yes.

    Aemi, thanks for covering that territory. We absolutely must correct error -- in truth and in love. But belittling another...not such an effective truth preserver. If anything can be said against JB, it's not his voice.

    Gabriel, I think I know what post you read recently. ;o) But I am blessed that you direct all glory to God. I appreciate that and your kind comment very much.

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  20. "We absolutely must correct error"

    This is big, too. Very true. Though we must speak in love, it must be The Truth which we're speaking. We shouldn't have reckless words which pierce like a sword, but we don't need to bubble-wrap our iron-sharpening-iron- um, sharpener thing.

    It's a careful balance which requires wisdom.

    I also believe that there is an important and Godly function served by sarcasm and satire which goes along with this. "Maybe your god is sleeping! Shout louder!"

    But posts like this remind me to be careful lest I err on the side of recklessness.

    Was wondering whether this post would add anything to the discussion, then saw the first of your ground rules, so here it is.

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  21. If you ever figure out the balance, let me know. Sarcasm and satire, like you said, are very effective communicators -- but very sharp, very pungent. And as with swords and salt, we needn't overdue it. It's a very rare person who uses sarcasm in a constructive way that actually advances the argument instead of bunny trailing down the path of cruelty and pride.

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  22. I think this is another area of our culture that has weakened over time- of course, at its root, because of the loss of Biblical Worldview in the "marketplace."

    We (not meaning you- meaning "we" in general) are quite thin-skinned, in my opinion. We can't take a good insult.

    “A gentleman is one who never hurts anyone's feelings unintentionally.”

    So I don't know exactly where the balance is, but I don't want that to stop me from seeking it. :-)

    Here's a post I did which has received some criticism because I wrote it with a sharp(er) pen. Would be quite interested to hear your thoughts thereon in context of this discussion.

    http://allauthority.blogspot.com/2011/10/more-thoughts-on-biblical-masculinity.html

    Thus said, I don't know if you want this conversation taking up all your comment space. I'd be glad to move it elsewhere if such is your desire.

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  23. This is the forum for discussion, so it's all good.

    I think the problem with today's culture is that we are quick to sting and cry when stung. Even in our sensitivity we are insensitive. (The oppressed minorities are very oppressive lately.) And when we are sensitive, it's in a destructive way, a wimpy, can't-stomach-truth way, not a Spirit-led way.

    For instance, I read your post and thought it bold but not arrogant or overbearing. It would fall into the exhortation category, a truth that hurts but is not a jab against a celebrity or a mean-spiritedly loving open letter. And yet I can see how some people are going to get upset over your tone and cry "TRUTH IN LOVE!" simply because they can't take the truth. It's not your tone they object to more than the truth -- and truth does taint the tone a little bit.

    (But then, I'm a girl reading a post for young men. Maybe that's all the difference in the world. ;o))

    The truth in love hurts -- and that's what many people fight against. People (even fellow believers) love to twist Christians' hands behind their backs: whenever a Christian dares speak boldly in his Savior's defense, he gets the You're Not Loving crowd stoked.

    There's a difference between being bold, being truthful, being painfully truthful and being slanderous and unkind. I think there is a proper way to discuss, say, Justin Bieber's pros and cons in a way that doesn't make fun of him and actually builds up the converser's faith, not his ego.

    My friend and I have a litmus test for such conversations: Is it constructive? And I think that is really the balance we must achieve.

    It's a balance that many claim to make and few actually do.

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  24. "The oppressed minorities are very oppressive lately."

    Yep, pretty much. Very insightful post in general.

    I *think* I agree with everything you said and yet I *think* I am going to fall a little bit more on the sarcastic side of that balance.

    May God give us wisdom. :-)

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  25. Kind of a side-note, but I feel truly sorry for the said Justin Bieber. I'd hate to be a controversy.

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  26. ^The above comment was made by my sister Allison, not me. ;)

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