Acton Institute Powerblog

Tattooing Justin Bieber’s Heart

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bieberJustin Bieber is no different than many 20-year-olds in the US and Canada. He is naturally searching for identity, meaning, and purpose — and searching for a community with whom to pursue those things. This is a normal process of transitioning from the teenage years into adulthood. Bieber, like many 20-year-olds, has shown a lack of judgement at times that has landed him not only in the news but also in jail. Many of us remember our own antics in those years and breathe a sigh of relief that we were never caught.

January 23, 2014 was one of those nights for Bieber. He was taken into custody with singer Khalil Amir Sharieff after police busted an illegal street drag race involving exotic cars, according to news sources. The Miami Police are now releasing photos from the custody intake process that put on display Bieber’s many tattoos. What I find interesting is that Bieber not only has a tattoo of Psalm 119:105 and but also one of Jesus. It made me wonder what Bieber’s life would like look if these things were tattooed not only on his skin but also on his heart.

It would be great to have an opportunity to ask Bieber what Jesus and Psalm 119 mean to him with no cameras, no media, no “selfies,” and the like–just to have an honest conversation about how he believes Jesus and Psalm 119 provide direction in his life. According to the Christian Post, Bieber recently tried to get baptized in an evangelical Protestant church.

Justin Bieber, seen recently in an X-rated photo with an adult dancer, reportedly scoured New York City over the weekend for a private pool where he could be baptized through Hillsong NYC church, led by his close friend Pastor Carl Lentz.

“Justin and his team spent time on Saturday searching for a place with a pool where they could conduct a baptism for him, a cleansing ritual, with the Hillsong Church. But they couldn’t find a place in time,” one person, among “multiple sources,” told the New York Post’s Page Six.

Bieber clearly seems to be searching for something deeper in his life but maybe what he really needs is not simply the occasional drop-in on a church comprised of and led by his peers. And the wrestling with his past maybe reveals he wants to be free? What Bieber needs, then, is spiritual direction from a sage. A Gandalf or Yoda figure. Someone who is two or three times his age and has the life skills and wisdom to help Bieber ink those texts and images on his body onto his heart and soul. Spiritual direction from a sage, a spiritual father or grandfather, with whom Bieber can consult confidentially, outside the eyes of social media, to provide him encouragement, correction, and vision.

In the coming years, Bieber will need to figure out how to transition from someone who spent years building massive international influence and wealth to someone who holds responsibility to properly steward his influence. If Bieber’s future is characterized by the drive to love God and love neighbor (Matt 22:36-40) and driven to publicly promote and advance moral virtue (Phil 4:8), instead of cities protesting him taking up residence they would welcome him with open arms.

Moral Choices: An Introduction to Ethics

Moral Choices: An Introduction to Ethics

With its unique union of theory and application and its well-organized, easy-to-use design, Moral Choices has earned its place as the standard text for college ethics courses.

Anthony Bradley Anthony Bradley, Ph.D. is Associate Professor of Theology and Ethics in the Public Service Program at The King's College in New York City and serves as a Research Fellow at the Acton Institute. Dr. Bradley lectures at colleges, universities, business organizations, conferences, and churches throughout the U.S. and abroad. His books include: Liberating Black Theology: The Bible and the Black Experience in America (2010),  Black and Tired: Essays on Race, Politics, Culture, and International Development (2011),  The Political Economy of Liberation: Thomas Sowell and James Cone of the Black Experience (2012), Keep Your Head Up: America's New Black Christian Leaders, Social Consciousness, and the Cosby Conversation (2012), Aliens in the Promised Land:  Why Minority Leadership Is Overlooked in White Christian Churches and Institutions (forthcoming, 2013). Dr. Bradley's writings on religious and cultural issues have been published in a variety of journals, including: the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the Detroit News, and World Magazine. Dr. Bradley is called upon by members of the broadcast media for comment on current issues and has appeared C-SPAN, NPR, CNN/Headline News, and Fox News, among others. He studies and writes on issues of race in America, hip hop, youth culture, issues among African Americans, the American family, welfare, education, and modern slavery. From 2005-2009, Dr. Bradley was Assistant Professor of Systematic Theology and Ethics at Covenant Theological Seminary in St. Louis, MO where he also directed the Francis A. Schaeffer Institute.   Dr. Bradley holds Bachelor of Science in biological sciences from Clemson University, a Master of Divinity from Covenant Theological Seminary, and a Doctor of Philosophy degree from Westminster Theological Seminary.  Dr. Bradley also holds an M.A. in Ethics and Society at Fordham University.

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