Good News for Teenagers: Jesus Doesn’t Cancel Chrissy Teigen—Or Us!
What happened: The internet is abuzz this week with model Chrissy Teigen’s recent admission of cyberbullying. Ten years ago Teigen allegedly sent reality star Courtney Stodden repeated direct messages on Twitter suggesting that the younger celebrity commit suicide.
Fans were shocked to learn that the seemingly warm and down-to-earth Teigen, whose marriage to musician John Legend is #goals for teenagers and Millennials alike, would be so ruthless online. In the past several days, other reality TV stars have come forward with similar allegations against Teigen, one of them calling the ordeal “aTeigen has denied some of these claims, while taking full responsibility for her conduct toward Stodden, apologizing twice publicly.
Teigen’s statements of remorse, along with Legend’s public support of her, have garnered debate over whether she should be forgiven or canceled for her past transgressions. Teigen faces the loss of fans, paid partnerships, and a Netflix show. seems to dictate that there can be no redemption for celebrities who have erred.
Why it matters and how to talk about it: While the scandal presents yet another opportunity to talk with teenagers about the seriousness of their conduct online, and particularly about cyberbullying, the greater lesson has to do with the grace of Jesus in contrast to cancel culture. Teigen pleaded with Twitter followers to recognize that “we are all more than our worst moments,” a line Legend highlighted when he re-tweeted her apology.
Of course it’s impossible to know what is in Teigen’s heart, but at least part of the problem with cancel culture is that it renders all apologies meaningless, denying forgiveness and restoration for all past wrongs. (In a , Tim Keller explains how cancel culture is causing secular society to lose its collective resources for forgiveness and mercy.) The gospel, on the other hand, asserts that our forgiveness is secure before we even know to be sorry for our wrongdoing. “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8).
Teigen’s apology highlights the way cancel culture makes failure a permanent identity with no hope of change or reconciliation. “I have worked so hard to give you guys joy and be beloved,” she wrote, “and the feeling of letting you down is nearly unbearable, truly.”
The Good News for Teigen, for teenagers, and for us all is that we don’t have to work at being beloved. While cancel culture forces those who have done wrong to bear the full weight of their sin, in the gospel, Jesus takes the weight of our restoration upon his own shoulders at the cross. for our worst moments! And therefore we do not have to bear the weight of letting him down.
As Dane Ortlund has so eloquently put it, “Our goal is that our kids would leave the house at eighteen and be unable to live the rest of their lives believing that their sins and sufferings repel Christ.”
Chrissy Teigen’s fall from public favor may be a beautiful moment to share with our teenagers that they are beloved to Jesus on their worst days as well as their best. Let’s pray that by God’s grace, Teigen herself can receive this Good News, too.