The Problem of Celebrity

Our society has become one where fame matters. The line between admiration for a celebrity and worship of a celebrity can be very thin. Everywhere we turn, celebrities and influencers are telling us how to think, how to feel, how to speak, what to buy, and what to believe. There seems to be a natural human tendency to look to people of higher status or position or wealth to guide us in life.

The world of Christianity is not immune to the influence of celebrity. It’s a trend that troubles me more than any other form of celebrity worship. Too often, when it comes to celebrities within the Church, we don’t realize we’re doing it. We look at a person’s calling or position or success and assume that what they tell us must be right. We don’t think to question them because they are faithful and active.

I’m not saying it’s wrong for anyone to share their beliefs. There’s nothing wrong with being a teacher or an artist or psychologist or a businessperson while also being a person of faith. We are often asked to bear our testimonies of the truth so that others may learn what we know.

But we are also invited to put these words, teachings, and testimonies to the test. Often, the General Authorities of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints ask us to pray about what we hear in general conference, stake conference, or our regular Sunday classes. In the Book of Mormon, Moroni counsels:

“And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost. And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.” (Moroni 10:4-5)

When the prophet gives us direction, we should pray—with sincerity—to know if his teachings are true. When an apostle speaks, we should pray to know if his teachings are true. When a sister or brother speaks in Church, we should pray to know if her or his words are true. It stands to reason that we can go to ourHeavenly Father when we need to know the truth of any statement, whether spiritual or secular. I believe that, if we are meant to ask to know the truthfulness of a religious teaching, we can also ask to know the truthfulness of a political speech or a news story or a social media post. This is my own personal opinion, so please don’t take my word for it, though; ask for yourself if this is true.

I have learned for myself that God is willing and ready to answer our questions and point us in the right direction. He wants us to know the truth and has given us a way to find it. I am grateful for that gift and hope that I will always use it wisely.

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