Advice to Justin Bieber Regarding Hillsong Pastor Scandal

The Biebs is reportedly pissed, and he has every right to be.

His pastor, Carl Lentz, has apparently confessed to bumping uglies with one not his wife.

Hillsong Church responded appropriately to Lentz’s infidelity by sacking him, but I’m sure Justin Bieber is left wondering how a man he apparently held in such high regard spiritually could fail so miserably morally.

Christians will likely be quick to advise Bieber that we are all sinners saved by grace, impliedly suggesting he should not have expected Lentz not to fornicate, that no one can really live in victory over sin, not even gross sin. I think that is about the worst advice someone could give to him.

Justin Bieber has every right to expect that the pastor of his prominent evangelical church is far enough down the road of sanctification that he will not commit adultery. Even in my profession, lawyers are generally disbarred when they commit felonies, and for good reason: how can clients trust their lawyers to put their client’s interests ahead of their own when the clients can’t trust the lawyers not to commit felonies?

Suggesting Bieber lower his expectations to assuage his anger is like suggesting one should not expect one’s surgeon to operate on the correct organ in case he operates on the wrong one. Expectations affirm the standard. And even though expectations will also give rise to hypocrisy, it is better than the alternative. As Francois de La Rochefoucauld said, “Hypocrisy is the homage vice pays to virtue.”

My second piece of advice to Mr. Bieber is to only follow your pastors as they follow Christ, and when they stop following Christ, stop following them. I had a pastor who became a heretic. I’m not talking about wavering between protestant and Catholic soteriology or musings on the edge of orthodoxy; I mean off-the-reservation, Jesus-was-just-a-man and Buddhism-is-equally-valid kind of stuff. Unfortunately, many in our church were following the pastor instead of Jesus, and when the pastor died in a freak accident, many fell away from the Lord. Fortunately, I had long since left.

I would also note this, that while Jesus said it was inevitable that stumbling blocks would come, He also said, “woe to him through whom they come. It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea, than that he would cause one of these little ones to stumble.” Luke 17:1-2. Jesus’ words should put the fear of God in any Christian in a position where their moral failing could adversely affect the faith of others.

In short Justin, continue to follow Jesus, keep your expectations high, and we will all continue to be Beliebers. GS

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