“As long as you love me, we could be starving, we could be homeless, we could be broke, as long as you love me I’ll be your platinum, I’ll be your silver, I’ll be your gold.” Justin Bieber, #6 on the charts

I just got back from a trip to Honduras with Compassion International where I had the chance to visit several families ravaged by poverty. One little eight-year-old girl in particular stole my heart. Her name was Crisvin – she had dark brown skin, black hair, and a beautiful smile. I found out that she loves dolls and taking care of her little brother. I was really excited to find out that our group was able to visit her home so that I could meet her little brother that she continued to talk about.

On our way to the house I was able to talk to Crisvin’s aunt about her family, and slowly (with the help of a translator) I began to get the full picture. Crisvin’s dad was gone. He had gotten so discouraged by their poverty that he left to try and start a new life with a new family. That meant that Crisvin’s mom was now working at a parachute factory a couple of hours away, and now the grandmother was taking care of Crisvin and her brother. The mom was very sorry and disappointed that she could not be there to meet us when we visited the home, but she had to work to pay the bills or at least whatever bills she could pay making $2 a day!

I wish I could say that Crisvin’s story was unique – that her dad happened to leave but most dads stick it out with their families. However, that is not the case. Poverty and starvation changes things – it changes families. Most of the time the dad leaves town because he wants a second chance at a new life. This means that an already struggling family is now left at an even bigger disadvantage and in essence in even deeper poverty.

So when I got back today for my first day in the office and I happened to hear Justin Bieber’s new song (#6 on Billboard) “As Long As You Love Me” where he romanticizes the idea of sticking with someone through poverty – I couldn’t help but pay attention. He went on to sing, “as long as you love me, we could be starving, we could be homeless, we could be broke, as long as you love me…”

As soon as I heard these lyrics my mind flashed back to Honduras, and I saw the beautiful face of Crisvin in her broken down shack of a home and then remembered that her dad was nowhere to be found. I saw a one room house with a bed that 4 people slept on together, and an out-house (if you can call it that) made up of four sticks and ripped cloth with a hole in the ground  (pictured left). I remembered the other families that were missing their fathers. I remembered a stick and mud hut where the dad, who was plagued by illness, was the one to stay and take care of his kids after the mom left. I thought about one of the biggest struggles in the inner cities around our nation – the dad’s are gone or drunk or into drugs.

In families where people are ACTUALLY starving divorce is rampant . Have their been cases of families sticking together through poverty? Absolutely, and those men and women are my heroes. But let’s be honest. As much as we want to romanticize the idea of starvation and poverty to sell records and prove how strong our love is for our significant other – maybe that’s not the best way to do it. It just seems wrong to sing about sticking with someone even through “starvation” when most of us have never had to skip a meal.

I’m not saying that Justin Bieber doesn’t mean it when he says he will stick with his girlfriend, wife or whomever through hard times – all of us should be that dedicated, and real love, committed love, should hold families together through the darkest of times. But this song does what a lot of pop-culture does – it romanticizes a very bad problem in our world to sell records and distract us from what we should be focusing on – making a difference in those issues!

If you want to sing “Aint no mountain high, aint no valley low” that’s fine, unrealistic, but fine. If you need to climb Mt. Everest or hike the Grand Canyon to get to your “babe” – do it. But a song that romanticizes starvation and poverty, written by a very wealthy artist in a country of wealthy people is both over the top and inappropriate.

What do you think? Have you ever experienced or witnessed REAL poverty before? Do you agree?

If you want to change the life of someone in poverty, sponsor a child through Compassion International by clicking here. It’s only $38 a month and it provides food, education, and medical help for a child that you choose. I saw Compassion in action, it’s amazing, they do what they promise, and they are making a huge difference.

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