Friday, May 8, 2009

Blessed Are Those Who Are Kicked While They're Down

There is a certain blog -- that I won't link to -- I used to frequent. The blogger and I go waaay back to the days of the Christian blogosphere when we were both big fish in a little pond. I still have this blog in my reader, and I don't know why. Nostalgia, I s'pose. But reading it is not good for my spirit. The blogger is fixated on stereotyping and demonizing Christians in conservative demographics and fixated on the issue of homosexuality.

So heavy is this fixation that despite the blogger's oft-stated concern for mercy for the weak and justice for the powerless, that stuff didn't mean squat when Miss California answered an interview question about "gay marriage."

Let the smears begin.

This poor girl was an immodest fool to allow nude (semi-nude?) photos taken of herself. Perhaps she is an immodest fool today, I don't know. (To show you how disconnected I am from the Miss Wear a Bathing Suit competitions, I kept seeing the name Prejean in the news and thought for a few days it referred to the real-life nun from Dead Man Walking.)

But make no mistake: the outright "she must be destroyed" campaign about her parents' bitter divorce -- who's business is THAT?! for goodness' sake -- about the photos, about where she goes to church and how awful the place is, or whatever else can be dug up is all about her response to the question about "gay marriage." If she'd said it was cool and the gang, or if they'd asked her another question (about, say, global warming or something), the landslide of personal destruction would not have been uncapped.

Kudos, Christians joining in the smears. Your true colors are showing.

My friend Ray Ortlund writes with much less vituperation:
So a few years ago she did something wrong. A world of love would say, "Let's bury this and give her her life back. She can still have a great future. God bless her." But the actual world we live in, this merciless world, says, "Let's embarrass her and shame her and destroy her."

Thank God for God the merciful. All who, like her, like me, need mercy, should stand together with defiant trust in him. He will have the final word, a very happy word.


Ken Stoll said...

I'd been reading some posts earlier this afternoon that make me wonder. Just because some idiots blow up an abortion clinic the rest of us are insane quacks. And just because there are those of us who won't name gossip, envy and gluttony as as sins but will demonize homosexuality beyond all other sins doesn't mean there aren't those of us who we can't still call homosexuality sin even if some folks don't like us saying so. Sin is an equal opportunity employer you know.

I find the double standards we demonstrate day in and day out as obvious as a big red zit on Brad Pitt's nose would be. Its like the folks who like to lump all us pastors and preachers into one bucket... "snake oil salesman" they call us. I say "really?..." While snake oil salesmen do reside in many pulpits today (some seen and others obscure), I would only add that the same follows in every field and walk of life: There are teachers who molest kids and cops who are a racist as the KKK, but that doesn’t implicate them all as bad apples (Funny we never hear much about those down serving the poor in the inner city, those visiting those in prison, and those who have given up lucrative careers to deliver clean drinking water to those who'd have none otherwise on the other side of the globe.

Recently I saw a headline that went something along the lines of asking why Christians frequent blogs about atheism (as if there is some sort of national ban on doing such). The blogger was indirectly insinuating that our doing such negates God's existence and proves those of us who would be so bold to be closet non-believers. My ? is simple then... if God is not real why do atheists frequent so-called "Christian" blogs and its peachy keen for them? Hmmm. Maybe both Jesus-followers and unbelievers are curious?... And I dare say it... maybe care about the other one and are willing to listen to what they have to say even if they do disagree? Can you say mutual respect? Paul did say to "consider others better than yourself" after all (I guess listening to one another might be a good place to start!).

And about the poster girl from California... amazing how everyone on the planet screams for tolerance until it comes to an opinion that collides with theirs! Tolerance-smolerance. We can have our opinion as long as it's spoon fed to us by those who don't like what those of us who might disagree with them have to say.

I find it odd that when we disagree with others who don't see eye to eye with us about the origins of marriage---we are suddenly bigots and hateful racists and they are the good guys. Can we have a debate in which both sides are able to talk and one in which we who believe marriage is between one man and one woman are not automatically cousins with James Dobson because of our differing views?

Jared, people are blind, and the wiser I get, I find that even those within our own ranks can be a little near or far sighted (remember Paul had to confront and oppose even Peter).

Thanks for speaking up.

Jared said...

I find that the more conscious of other people's sins I am, the farther from God I've gotten.

Would that grace would keep me a ruthless prophet of my own sin and a reconciling priest about the sins of others.

Ken Stoll said...

Yes, me too Jared.

I was meditating on the words of à Kempis just this past weeekend: "A true understanding and estimate of oneself is the highest and most valuable of all lessons. To take no account of oneself, but always to think well and highly of others is the highest wisdom and perfection. Should you see another person openly doing evil or carrying out a wicked purpose, do not on that account consider yourself better than him, for you cannot tell how long you will remain in a state of grace. We are all frail; consider none more frail than yourself."

Strangely enough, at times I need to put down the very rocks I condemn others for tossing.

Elle Pyke said...

Funny...I read your article here first, and then the post from the anonymous blogger whom you speak of. I too subscribe to their feed and was sad to see that post.

I hate to sound cliche...but sometimes I think Christians, myself included, forget what love is really all about. The steam of information that becomes available to us via the internet, or television us ample opportunity to judge, pitch some rocks, or try on some mercy.

Anonymous said...

Jared- I think that the way Ms. Prejean has been treated by the likes of Perez Hilton is disgusting. But, you know who's really treated her horribly? The Christian community- and no, I don't mean those who've dared to criticize her for her immodesty- I mean those who haven't. Where was this girl's pastor and fellow church members when she walked almost naked across a stage for an audience of millions to gawk at and for men to devour with their eyes? I think many of the same words used by Perez Hilton were probably used by the men who looked at her that night or in the nude photos that subsequently emerged. The only difference being that Perez wanted to destroy her and the others wanted to bed her.

James Dobson has given her a platform to speak out against gay marriage. When threatened with the loss of her Ms. California crown, there were those in the Christian community who wanted to crown her the poster child for traditional marriage. Why? Why are we turning a blind eye to her sins and the far greater effect that those sins have on traditional marriage? Trust me, if my husband shares casual conversation with the homosexual dude next door, I won't feel threatened in the least. But, if I caught him chatting it up with Ms. Prejean in her string bikini, alarm bells would be going off.

I don't support gay marriage. I hate the fact that our society is becoming more and more desensitized to such a deviant lifestyle and is in fact beginning to embrace and celebrate it. But, that is the world, and we should not be surprised when the world acts like the world. Saddened, but not shocked.

What should shock us is when the Church starts to turn a blind eye to such blatant sin and to make heroes of those we should rather be calling to repentance.

Focus on the Family aired a two part iterview with Ms. Prejean earlier this week. It was billed on their website thusly: "Carrie Prejean- A Modern Day Esther". What?? For an organization that is so bent of constitutionally defining marriage as between one man and one woman- I find it ironic how willing they are to throw aside definitions of other words such as "hero", "virtue", or "bravery". Ms. Prejean doesn't deserve the mantle she is being given. Once again, the Christian community has rushed to embrace a "celebrity" face to champion our cause, seemingly oblivious or indifferent to the fact that our emperor isn't wearing any clothes. Figuratively or literally.

I earlier gave an example of how I'd feel if my husband was caught talking to the likes of Ms. Prejean in her bikini. Well, it wasn't just a far fetched made up scenario. The truth is, my marriage has been ruined by my husband's addiction to pornography. Right now, I and my four daughters are without husband or father because a man who professed Christ opened the door to lust. He was allured away from us by the strange woman Proverbs 7 warns of. He is now so caught up in the bondage of this sin that repentance is unlikely, and I am having to pursue the dissolution of our marriage.

I don't approve of gay marriage. While I commend those who have taken up the issue in the public arena, I know that the tide of acceptance for this lifestyle will be stemmed, not by policy, but by the Gospel. But, as a woman whose life has been devestated by the ruinous effects of lust, I am insulted that Ms. Prejean is being made the spokesperson for this issue.

She should not be thrown under the bus, but the alternative to that need not be elevating her to a place of prominence and influence. To do so, is to throw victims like my daughters and myself under the bus, and God has some choice words for those who would treat widows and orphans so.

Jared said...

Anonymous, first of all, I have read your comment 3 times. I have prayed that God would make your husband wake up and repent.

Thank you for putting real life skin on what often amounts to theoretical hobbyhorsing.

Secondly, I agree with you that she doesn't need to be made a spokesperson for anything. I didn't know she was being called a new Esther, etc.
The Christian subculture has an idiot habit of elevating anyone they think will a) make money or b) galvanize people for the culture war cause. This is why, I think, any time a celebrity of any level of fame professes faith, they're on TBN two weeks later talking about it.

I did not mean to say we should err on the opposite side of mercy, only that it is emphatically unChristian to, as the blogger I mention in the post does, be "fine" with gay marriage even to the extent that if a sister in Christ says she's personally against it we participate in shaming and defaming her.

Peace to you and your girls.

Ken Stoll said...

...ditto on your note Jared, I can certainly see where "anonymous" is coming from and she makes a strong point. I myself have thought Ms. Prejean should stick to beauty contests since this whole thing erupted. That many have gone after her and tried to injure her never shocked me. Its par for the course.

I am surprised to learn (but in a way sort of not) that James Dobson or Focus would give her a platform (of course she has her own already w/o any help) because of several factors which I won't list here. We continue as a Christian culture to crave our heroes.

I'm praying for this husband as well. If Christ can change me, and I did plenty to help breakdown my previous marriage, I know he can work in others. His grace is real as I remind myself often.

As my friend George Grant once told me when my own marriage was falling apart 5 years ago, "There is always hope because there is always the gospel".

Anonymous said...

Please don't hear me condoning the treatment of Carrie. As a mom of girls, my heart breaks for her. Where's her daddy? Oh, he's by her side now that this sh*t storm has hit, but where was he when she walked across that stage and was visually raped by thousands of men? My girls don't have a daddy to protect them, and I can only plead the mercy of a good God who is the father of the fatherless, to preserve them from a similar fate.

I am not attacking her, but I will not celebrate her. How I would love to be a Titus 2 woman in her life and to extend to her the grace of pointing out her sin, calling her to repentance, and helping her to pursue that holy adornment of a chaste spirit that is lovely in God's eyes.

I'm just so disappointed in the response of the Christian community- the incredible naivete that is being displayed. The thing I hear over and over is that we have to forgive because which of us is without sin, judge not that you be not judged, and all the other verses that have taken on a cliche' like quality because of the way they've been misused and misunderstood. "Judge not" doesn't mean discrn not! And forgiveness granted to the unrepentant cheapens the grace of the gospel. God doesn't grant it. Do we think ourselves more merciful than He?

Only two evenings ago, Ms. Prejean was on Hannity defending herself. She said that the nude photos of her on the windy cliff were taken surreptitiously by a photographer in between approved shots. We are expected to set aside the fact that she was only wearing a pair of bikini bottoms and an open vest strategically laid across her nipples with the rest of her breasts exposed. The wind caught the vest and gave a glimpse of more of her, the photographer snapped a shot, and she is crying foul and comparing this to someone sneakily taking photos of her while she was dressing. She had the audacity to act offended.

I don't entirely blame her though. Perez Hilton hasn't thrown her into the spotlight. He could have ranted all he wanted on his blog and used every name in the book, and she could have taken it all quietly and privately. When in Scripture are we called upon to defend our right to speak out? Do we have to defend ourselves in the face of insult? I seem to recall a very different reaction by our sinless Savior to unjust verbal attacks. When reviled, He reviled not again, but committed Himself to the One who judges righteously. Perez Hilton, if he doesn't repent will face His Judge and give an accounting. Carrie can rest in that.

The irony of this is that by coming out in her defense in such a public way without addressing her very real and very public sins, her defenders have actually placed her in a position to be subjected to even greater insult. Her pastor should not have welcomed her onto the stage of Rock Church on May 10th for a sitdown interview to tell her story. As a shepherd, he ought to have commissioned an older woman in the faith to go to her, to mentor her, and to direct her out of the limelight and to the foot of the cross. If Carrie was not appearing on news programs and holding press conferences, I really think this thing would be dying down by now. Hers is not the first beauty pageant scandal. Whose to say that her answer to that now infamous question was really the cause of all of this? Remind me, please, what conservative position held by Vanessa Williams- that model of morality and virtue- provoked people to go poking around in her past and uncovering nude photos? And what righteous moral stand was it that John Edwards took which prompted the National Inquirer journalist to follow him around and snap pictures of his rendezvous with Rheile Hunter? C'mon we live in a voyeuristic society that loves to see people, conservatives and liberals alike, publicly shamed. It's equal opportunity. Maybe Perez's initial attacks were because he didn't like her answer, but the idea that Carrie continues to be vilified merely because of her stand on gay marriage is highly suspect in my opinion. More likely, this is persisting because the world hates a hypocrite, and it doesn't take a lot to see that we as Christians are being exceedingly hypocritical on this issue. We, and our elevation of Ms. Prejean are far more to blame for the persistent vicious attacks than Perez Hilton.

I appreciate your pledged prayers for my girls and me. We sure need them. I know I've gotten pretty verbose on this. It just hits so very close to home. Jared, I've been reading your stuff here and at Thinklings for a long time now, and more recently on facebook. I am eagerly awaiting the publication of your book. I highly respect you and though I only know of you through blog posts and Moot Mocumentaries :) I feel like I could sit down with you and Becky for a beer and we would become fast friends. You love and defend so much of what I treasure about the beauty of the gospel. You inspire me and ignite fresh affection in my heart for Jesus. Your response to this caught me off guard and I felt like I wanted to speak up here. I know now that you weren't aware of much of the story surrounding Ms. Prejean, so it makes a little more sense than it did. Now that you have a fuller picture of things, I hope you will use your platform here and at Thinklings, or wherever God grants to address this highly visible issue in a biblical manner.

Thanks and peace to you and yours.

Jared said...

Anonymous, thanks for follow-up and the kind words.
Sorry for the delayed reply: was sort of disconnected most of the day.
But I prayed for your family again today.

Btw, if you are comfortable enough to do this, if you provide a mailing address via my contact email (in the upper right), I will send you a free copy of the book when it comes out.
Will respect your confidence, of course. And if you aren't comfortable with that, I understand.


Anonymous said...

I would be thrilled to get a copy of your book. Autographed- right? So I can brag that I "knew" you when. I've really been looking forward to the release, so this is pretty stinkin' cool of you.
I'll send my address along and thank you so much for this kind gesture. A million fold more so for your prayers.

Jared said...

Sure, would be happy to autograph it.

I would've felt weird volunteering to do that, as if to take for granted someone would want my scribbles marring their book, but I'd be happy to oblige. :-)