Whitney Houston is THE news item of the day. Her face is there when I turn on the television. Her music is climbing the download charts. People are sharing her videos via social media and email. Every news page on the Internet includes a Whitney story. Her funeral was streamed live on Internet and television, and it was called a celebration of life. It is easy to find something online that celebrates Whitney’s life.
Unfortunately, it is also easy to find criticism and condemnation for this extremely talented artist. In the hours that followed Houston’s death, we heard outrageous speculations that were sometimes passed off as truth. She was high. She was drunk. Who left her alone? Who was with her? Who pushed her? Thus far, I have not heard an autopsy report. My mother was the picture of health when she had a sudden seizure that killed her. For all we know, Houston may have died the same way. Perhaps she had an aneurysm. Any number of things besides substance abuse could have caused this tragic loss. Indeed, I have no reason to believe that Houston was anything but clean.
This morning I read a condemnation of New Jersey lowering the flag to half-staff for a “drug addict.” Curiosity prompted me to search for a news article with details. I got a whole host of hits, but I only read this one: http://www.chron.com/news/article/NJ-gov-strongly-defends-lowering-flags-for-Houston-3333666.php . I was a little surprised that the flag was lowered for Houston because I thought this honor was reserved for people who give their lives to service of the state or nation. Honestly, though, I don’t know the accepted protocol. We may have lowered flags for Princess Diana for all I know. This was really the only thing that surprised me about Houston being honored by lowering the flag.
Other people object because Houston fell victim to substance abuse. The article quotes one blog that contends lowering the flag for Houston suggests it is okay to abuse drugs as long as they have a special talent or are a pop idol. Of course, we do not want to glorify drug abuse. However, we should well remember WHO gives a person celebrity status. That would be US. The people who support her financially by purchasing her art are responsible. The people who share her videos are responsible. The media that glorifies her are responsible. The media that condemns her are responsible. WE made her a celebrity, so it is hardly fair that we criticize her status now.
One of the scriptures from todays devotion in The Upper Room addresses our nature to criticize and condemn others.
It is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but it is what comes out of the mouth that defiles.
— Matthew 15:11 (NRSV)
All of us struggle with something. I am overweight. I struggle with a nicotine addiction that refused to let go, even after I had quit for 5 years. I drink. I take a prescription drug to control my emotions. These things are easy to ask forgiveness for. I know I am a weak sinner. I am also opinionated and quick to judge or condemn others, even though I realize that this is a sin – and that is a one of the BIG SINS! Or is it that all sins are created equal? Perhaps this is one that it is more difficult for me to ask of God forgiveness.
Of course, we may object to the deed. Many people will look at me and judge the types of food I eat. I know the SPAM, brats, kraut, and other fried and sodium drenched foods are not good for me. Add to that a fair amount of beer, and you have one fat lady. I hope my friends, who mostly have healthy diets, don’t condemn me because they disapprove of my actions. When I defend Whitney Houston, I do not condone substance abuse. To the contrary, I am sad for her that she fell VICTIM to such an ominous evil.
I put a lot of things in my mouth that defile the way I look, feel, and am perceived. It is that judgment that is formed in words that come out of my mouth that are truly defiling. I am guilty of judging people based on their actions, and I must learn to embrace those people and glorify the goodness that lives in them, for God does not create anything that is void of beauty.
I pray my Lord Jesus forgives me for this sin and helps me control my tongue.