Where there are celebrities, there are bound to be fans, and the more well-known the celebrity, the greater number of fans. As long as there are talented, beautiful, wealthy people alive, there will be those who adore them.

Keira Knightley

But should a Christian man or woman become a fan of anyone? I suppose that depends on the definition of “fan” (not the instrument that produces wind), and what type of fan you are. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines a fan as:

Main Entry: 3fan
Etymology: probably short for fanatic
1 : an enthusiastic devotee (as of a sport or a performing art) usually as a spectator 2 : an ardent admirer or enthusiast (as of a celebrity or a pursuit) <science-fiction fans>

Referring to the second definition, I personally think that there are different types of fans with varying levels of enthusiasm for the recipient(s) of their affections. These levels include:

1) The Casual Fan: someone who likes the celebrity for their talent, artistry, and/or good looks but doesn’t devote a lot of time or attention to thinking about them.

2) The Groupie: Someone who is devoted enough to a celebrity to join a fan site and keep up with the latest news about them. This person might write the celebrity, attend their concerts and/or movies, make friends with other fans, participate in fund raising for the celebrity’s charities, and devote their talents and time to creating celebrity inspired graphics, crafts, fan fiction, and other creations.

3) The Fan Leader: Someone who starts their own fan site or forum for the celebrity, and remains devoted to him/her for years, doing all of the things that Level 2 fans do and more, and often leading the fan initiatives. This type of fan can often become a liaison between the celebrity and the rest of the fans. They are also often die-hard fans who will stick with the celebrity no matter what the celebrity does or what happens to them.

4) The Stalker: Someone who cannot distinguish between their own reality and their obsession with the celebrity. They will go to great lengths to meet their idol in person, even if it is by criminal means. They will also become very upset if anyone suggests that their idol isn’t perfect.

Of course these levels of fanaticism are fluid and are not absolute. Another name for Level 4 is Celebrity Worship Syndrome. In the course of my lifetime I have been a serious fan (Level 2) of two celebrities in total, and I can attest that their fandom operated like the congregation of a church (or a kingdom). Worship and imitation abounded, and those who dared to complain or criticize were not treated very nicely unless that criticism was tempered with adoration. Politics was rampant, with certain fans bullying and silencing other fans for the slightest of “infractions”.

My fellow fans of these two celebrities were mostly women (many were over the age of 30), and many of them were conservative and/or Christians. Many became good friends and shared their successes, sorrows, health issues, and general life’s travails, and prayed for each other. Yet when it came to the object of their affection, certain Christian proprieties went out the window. Many lusted after the celebrity’s appearance and would indulge in discussions about his body parts. One Christian woman confessed that ever since she became a fan, she had started using the F– word a lot, just like her idol did. Many religious fans I knew remained blind to a celebrity’s antics even after it was clear that the fame had gone to his head. And of course, there was the catty gossip about other fans. In one case, it resulted in cyberbullying and cyberharassment of a fan for several weeks.

I usually do not become a fan of any celebrity, because their lifestyle and values often do not match mine. Out of the two celebrities I admired, one was an actor and the other a singer. I liked both of them because I thought we had some shared values or personal traits. But the actor became a diva after he made it to the big time, and the singer has started to go down the slippery slope into the mud with his formerly clean image. I am no longer a fan of the actor and will probably soon no longer be a fan of the singer, also.

In general I think it is okay for a Christian to be a Level 1 fan and admire someone for their talent, character, and even beauty (in a non-lustful way). But I don’t think it should go beyond that, or else we might be in danger of (1) worshiping the created rather than the Creator (Exodus 20:4), (2) following and imitating men instead of God, which is a problem even within the church (1 Corinthians 3: 4-5), (3) indulging in ungodly conversations (James 1:26), (4) committing the sin of lust (Matthew 5:28), and (5) pinning our joy and hopes on sinners who will fail us (Jeremiah 17:5).

Celebrities are just “mere men,” like us, even though often they are treated like gods. And what does the Bible say about the “gods”? Psalm 82:6-7 says:

I said, ‘You are “gods”;
you are all sons of the Most High.’

But you will die like mere men;
you will fall like every other ruler.

Proverbs 14:8 says, ” The wisdom of the prudent is to give thought to their ways, but the folly of fools is deception.” Most likely we will never have a personal relationship with a celebrity, but we can still pray for them. To do any more than that–to revolve one’s life and/or thoughts around them–or to merely look to them for some temporary happiness or as an escape from reality is foolish and will disappoint in the end. As Psalm 62:5 says, ” Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him.”