April 25, 2009
To Honor God... by Recanting
Traditionally, recanting is considered poor form. It connotes a turnaround of one's thoughts quickly and, in some cases, so as to escape punishment for the initial idea put forth. Take Socrates, for example; he'd rather drink the hemlock than concede to corrupting the youth of Athens. Or, as an infinitely better example, Jesus Christ; He did not respond to the criticism of the high priests who sought to convict Him as the "King of the Jews." He had no choice* but to be punished. In fact, He wouldn't be The Christ (Messiah) if He recanted. In theologically reformed circles the charge against Martin Luther was heresy, in the rankest degree. But he, too, did not bow the knee to the church, choosing instead to take his unjust punishment.
Some decisions are not so controversial, or at least not in the same way. This past week the blogs, news stations and talk shows have all hailed a young woman for "holding to her principles" and "being consistent" in her Christian faith both for speaking her mind and, subsequently, choosing not to recant those statements, saying over and over again that she is nothing but "blessed" to have had the opportunity to be a role model for Christian, conservative values.
Initially I, along with every other conservative mouthpiece I can think of, joined in line to give this woman a congratulatory pat-on-the-back for standing up for our views (i.e. traditional marriage). However, with more reflection, I have decided to take back a portion of my support for this display. In short, this is a recant letter (which I hope will spark some discussion in the comments).
Let me begin by stating the obvious: she said the right thing. A marriage is between a man and a woman and that is how it should stay, federally or at the state level, forever. We all know this is true and right because it is intended by God to be so. End of story on that part of the moral question.
The sticky part of the issue is: was this the right time, place and person to represent this view, in front of millions of people, children and future Christians?
Now, I can understand why we jumped on the bandwagon to support her. In the culture and age we live in, with true Christian men and women so dangerously scarce, it's no wonder the first person in public to offer any semblance of a Christian ethic is applauded and lauded as if she were the new Paul. It's the same reason we endorse a radio personality or actor for merely saying they are a Christian. We are so in want for public profession of Christian faith that we settle for "my faith" instead of "my Savior." This is a sin and we must address it. We are to be separated from the world, not constantly looking for our place in it (2 Cor. 6:17). None of us- myself first- is a stranger to idol worship and we are to be on our guard against it at all times, and in all places (Luke 21:36).
Yet, I am empathetic; I know we are starved for Christian relationships in general. Let's be real; if you have both a pastor who preaches the gospel and one good Christian friend you can rely on, you're a leg up on most of us. So instead we look for role models and "friends" (here meaning people we can identify with) in the media, the movies, on t.v. and in print. I am ashamedly guilty of this. In fact, I probably spend more time listening to radio people than I do talking to people in person.
However, putting all these factors aside, we must return to the question posed: was this the right place, right time and right person to represent a Christian view? I do not believe it was. Think of those 'future Christians' in the audience, some of them children, and ask yourself the following:
The place and time are a beauty pageant, the stage set for glamour and physical "perfection" on display. Is this where you would like to find a young Christian girl? Is an event whose contestants are judged the best by their outer beauty something a Christian woman should participate in?
The Bible is clear on this question when it says the character of a woman is found not in her external adornment, but rather in a gentle and quiet, inward spirit (1 Peter 3:4). Consider also Proverbs 31:30: "Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised." Or, Proverbs 6:25: "Do not desire [a woman's] beauty in your heart." Lastly, one I have grown spiritually by committing to memory, "A gold ring in a pig's snout is a beautiful woman who shows no discretion" (Proverbs 11:22). I truly believe the sin women struggle with the most is vanity yet, as I recall, the woman "committed to Christian values" had no problem stalking like a gazelle in her bust-enhancing bikini just like all the other women. In fact, her participation alone should be considered evidence that vanity is no stranger; we all know it takes a lot of effort to get one's body in the shape hers is in.
And what of the young men watching this contest? As they view row after row of women in tiny bikinis parading past their innocent eyes, the idea that only women that look this way, regardless of their character, are desirable is taking shape. Lust is being sown in their hearts, a devastating sin to men which, the earlier it begins, the more difficult to replace with purity it becomes. Not to speak of the images forever burned in the memory, the recollection of which will not coincidentally push out chaste thoughts. How will we explain to them that watching this is ok, as long as the contestants are Christian women?
In several post-pageant interviews with the young woman, she did not do what I hoped she would, that is, to renounce pageantry for a more modest way of acting as Christian role model. She clearly does not see the hypocrisy, but neither did I until today, either.
Let my recant be a lesson to all of us; to think Biblically, in every sense of the Word, before responding to an instance like this one. Let us boldly remain outside of the world, having compassion on it but not being seduced by it. Let us look for godly men and women in our churches, in our elders, in the character of people whose heads and hearts are bent to God and His law, who love their Lord and desire only to please Him.
Lastly, let us honor Christ, Our Savior and Lord, by heeding the reminder that He, Himself, "had no form or majesty that we should look at him,
and no beauty that we should desire him" (Isaiah 53:2).