Suicides, drug overdoses (whether illicit or prescription), divorces, alcoholism, financial disasters – why are tragedies like these seemingly common among celebrities? Why do many celebrities, some of whom are relatively intelligent and good people, make such complete disasters of their lives? There is no single answer that definitively applies to each and every celebrity tragedy, but if there is an explicit biblical answer, it is one word – pride.
The most powerful biblical example of a “fall from grace” is Satan. Listen to Ezekiel’s description of Satan before his fall: “You were the model of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. You were in Eden, the garden of God; every precious stone adorned you…your settings and mountings were made of gold” (Ezekiel 28:12-13). What happened to Satan? “Your heart became proud on account of your beauty, and you corrupted your wisdom because of your splendor” (Ezekiel 28:17). Isaiah expands on the cause of Satan’s fall: “You said in your heart, ‘I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God; I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly, on the utmost heights of the sacred mountain. I will ascend above the tops of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High’” (Isaiah 14:13-14). Rather than honoring and worshipping the God who created him and gave him beauty, Satan became proud, essentially worshipping himself.
What is the end result? “All the nations who knew you are appalled at you; you have come to a horrible end and will be no more” (Ezekiel 28:19). “But you are brought down to the grave, to the depths of the pit. Those who see you stare at you, they ponder your fate” (Isaiah 14:15-16). The messages of Isaiah and Ezekiel regarding the fate of Satan sound remarkably similar to some of the tragedies that have occurred among celebrities in recent years.
Why is pride such a problem? Proverbs 16:18 declares, “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.” Pride causes people to forget God (Hosea 13:6). Pride causes some celebrities to forget that God was the one who gave them the talents and skills they possess. Pride causes celebrities to have too high a view of themselves, to think they are worthy of all the adulation they receive. Arrogant pride results in celebrities thinking they cannot be deceived and therefore putting trust in very untrustworthy people. Too high a view of self leads to some celebrities believing they are beyond the possibility of failure and thereby making extremely foolish decisions with their lives, careers, relationships, marriages, finances, etc.
Ultimately, the issue is this – human beings are not spiritually, emotionally, or psychologically designed to receive worship. Only God is worthy of worship, and only God can receive worship without it perverting His “psyche.” When celebrities worship themselves or allow others to worship them, it results in arrogant pride and self-centeredness, which leads to disaster and tragedy.
It is important to remember that these sort of tragedies are not limited to celebrities. “Average” and “ordinary” people experience the same tragedies. The difference is that the tragedies are not proclaimed in the tabloids and discussed in the news. You do not have to be a celebrity to be controlled by self-centeredness, arrogance, and vanity. We are all subject to these temptations and failures (1 Corinthians 10:13). Celebrities face an extra measure of temptation due to the adulation they receive, but again, the same tragedies that beset celebrities also happen every day in the lives of “ordinary” people.
What is the cure? The cure is to give God the glory He alone deserves. The fix is to have a biblical self-image, recognizing that we are valuable because we are created in God’s image and likeness (Genesis 1:26-27), not because of anything we have accomplished “on our own.” The solution is to refuse to be worshipped, as the holy angels do (Revelation 19:10; 22:9), and instead to deflect any and all worship and adulation to God, who alone is worthy. The key is recognizing that we are who Romans 3:10-23 says we are and praising God for being the merciful, gracious, and loving God that He is.