It seems like it has been a long, long time since I sat down to write a new post. In reality it has only been a week that has gone by since I last posted. But it has been a few weeks since I have been able to take the time to sit down and write with any real enjoyment.
Since I last posted regularly our church has added an assistant pastor, I have been elected (appointed?) president of the Athletic Booster Club at Sullivan Central High School, Miss California has lost the Miss USA pageant but become the spokesperson for the new religious right, and militant pro-lifers have been thrown in jail for protesting the president in South Bend, Indiana.
There is a lot that would have been great blog fodder.
I want to just take a moment to comment on the Miss California and Pro Life protests. In both situations it has been asserted that there is a sense of religious persecution against Christians occuring. But I am not so sure that things are as clear as some would like to make them out to be.
Miss California, Carrie Prejean, as almost everyone in the Western world knows, was a finalist for the Miss USA crown. She was put in, what was in one sense, a difficult position. She was asked her opinion about gay marriage by an agenda driven celebrity, with no apparent talents, Perez Hilton. In her hesitating and somewhat aplogetic response Miss Prejean affirmed her support of, not just traditional but, God’s standard and governing of marriage. The backlash and media coverage that resulted was more than a little ridiculous. Hilton went on the warpath, ignorantly and offensively attacking Miss Prejean for disagreeing with him. As has been said by many before me, apparently open-mindedness only opens to the Left.
That event provided some interesting cultural insights.
First, I am amazed that Pro Gay seems to have become a mark of righteousness. It is not enough for some that people be open and non-hostile to those choosing homosexual lifestyles. In our current culture any scruples about homosexuality is deemed not only ignorant but actually seems to be considered evil. Pro Gay is not only accepted as enlightened but as a mark of the righteous. This is peculiar in one sense because the position they espouse (no pun intended) is a minority view even in California. What is even more peculiar is that there is no apparent standard that makes their position “righteous” other than the fact that supporters say so. What guage are these people using to determine what is righteousness and what is sin? Romans 1 is being acted out right before our eyes: “They exchanged the truth of God for a lie…” (Romans 1.25)
Second, because of her position on this issue, and because of the noteriety that surrounded it, there was an apparent attempt to destroy Miss Prejean. They dug up dirt to discredit her. They did not have to dig deep. Pictures taken for a modeling portfolio were more revealing than the average conservative Christian girl has posed for. That was enough to get the hounds howling about her hypocrissy, and some pageant officials questionining her qualification to continue as the reigning Miss California.
I have little doubt that the motive behind releasing those photos was malicious and political. But I also thought the response given by Miss Prejean and her handlers was a bit weak and pretentious. To merely explain them as the trademark of her profession is not to uphold the standard of modesty her faith calls for. And to claim that this was happening to her only because she was a Christian is just lame.
I am not offering a judgement on Miss Prejean for the photos. For one thing, I don’t know when she posed for them nor when she became a Christian. But I do think that she assumed a role that has become all-too-common among Evanglicals in our culture: victim. She assumed this role when it was asserted that she was being treated unfairly just because she was a Christian. We seem to cry “foul” far too often when things don’t go our way, even if there are other factors other than our faith.
And this, I believe, is also pertinent to those lamenting the arrests of Pro Life protesters at Notre Dame.
In Miss Prejeans case, while there does appear to have been politically driven motive to destroy her credibility, the ammunition against her came from her own decsions and behavior. Other contestants in recent years have faced scrutiney, and even the loss of their titles, for similar actions, without regard for their faith or faithlessness. While harsh, the standards were comparable.
In the case of the protesters at the Notre Dame commencement, the same princile seems to apply. While I passionately share their position against abortion, and have been both disappointed and outraged by the policies implemeted by Barrack Obama on that front, these people were not arrested because they have trusted Jesus as their only hope and salvation. The protesters were arrested because they crossed a line of civil behavior. While their cause is noble, you don’t threaten the President of the United States and expect to have no consequence. That they are Christians is incidental. They were not arrested for being Christians, nor for being Pro Life. They were arrested because they chose to cross a line; because they chose to violate a “just” law in order to protest an injustice. And as the old theme song from the ’70’s TV show Barretta says: “If you can’t do the time, don’t do the crime.”
Jesus said: “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.” (Matthew 5.11)
I think we create serious confusion and distortion when we complain that we are persecuted for our faith, when in reality we are experiencing consequences of our behavior. In each of these cases it may reasonably be argued that the consequences were unjust as compared to the actions and the motives. But we must be clear that none of these people were singled out simply for their faithfulness to the Gospel. If we are unwilling, or unable, to make that distinction then we distort the Gospel, and create confusion about what the essence of the Gospel really is.
My third cultural insight is simply that as Christians we are way too quick to make celebreties. While Miss Prejean may be a very nice and godly young lady, she is hardly prepared to be the national spokesperson for the sake of the Kingdom of God. She is a 22 year old model/beauty queen. While that certaily does not disqualify her, it harldy qualifies her to be elevated as a Christian leader. She’s not the first, nor will she be the last. We do the same for athletes and actors. Consequently, not only do we as an Evangelical sub-culture present a mere cotton-candy face of our faith to the culture at large, we do a disservice to spirituality those we prop up – and soon discard.
I’m afraid that as Evangelicals we are all to often so much like the world that we decry, it is no wonder that they rest of the world cannot tell the difference Jesus makes.