Mel Gibson’s recent trials—DUI, resisting arrest, and a belligerent drunken anti-Semitic tirade—is a sad reminder for the Christian community.
I don’t know the condition of Mr. Gibson’s heart. Is he a believer in Christ? Does he really harbor hateful anti-Semitic views? Is he an actor in real life, i.e. a hypocrite, as well as in film? I don’t know. But I do know this: the Christian community should learn to walk carefully around “celebrity Christians.”
When Mel Gibson produced The Passion of the Christ he became something of a new-found celebrity darling of many in the Christian community. Church groups, schools, and other Christian leaders vied for Gibson’s time and attention or for the ultimate—a photo op. For Gibson and his film company this was a boon to marketing. These new relationships, vigorous press attention, and a reasonably good quality film helped make The Passion of the Christ a blockbuster, despite official Hollywood’s distance and even disdain.
But Mel Gibson, as we have painfully witnessed, is just a man. He will make mistakes. He is capable of taking the wrong path. People holding him too closely as their latest celebrity Christian hero can get burned.
The Christian community did this a few years ago with Jane Fonda. She declared her faith in Christ and Christian groups stumbled over each other in an effort to trot her out as the latest trophy validation of—just maybe—Christianity was true after all. Cal Thomas warned us back then. He said the woman is a new believer and to let her alone. Give her time to grow. Unfortunately she has now renounced her Christian faith and is experimenting with other spiritualist interests. The point is, when are we going to learn?
Satan is also at work. Had Mr. Gibson run off with a woman not his wife, Hollywood and the rest of American culture barely have blinked. We would have pointed out the inconsistency of this action with his recent religious film-making, but then we would have moved on. Immorality is an everyday occurrence in Hollywood and for that matter everywhere else too. But Mr. Gibson stepped over a currently sensitive line. In other words, Anti-Semitic remarks are a far greater Hollywood sin than immorality. I’m not saying Anti-Semitic comments shouldn’t be condemned. I’m just saying that the ripple effect of this kind of behavior back to a film like The Passion of the Christ is greater than immorality might have been.
I am sorry for Mr. Gibson. I like him and much of his work. I hope he gets help for his alcoholism, and I hope he is able to rebuild his reputation. More importantly, I hope he has or comes to real faith in Jesus Christ along with a biblically Christian, loving view of Jewish people. I also hope the Christian community learns a powerful lesson about not jumping on too quickly to the latest celebrity Christian’s bandwagon.
© Rex M. Rogers - All Rights Reserved, 2006
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