What She Got Right; What the Media Got Wrong
A True Evangelical Response to the Palin Daughter Situation
Dr. Ergun Mehmet Caner- Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary
Recently there has been a revelation that one of the candidates for presidential office has a daughter who at the age of 17 came out and said that she was pregnant. The news media has been bloviating over this revelation, saying what a horror this is for Republicans and how social conservatives (meaning evangelical Christians) must be horrified by this. I assume they are waiting for us tio line up and abandon Governor Palin, or worse, put her daughter in stocks.
This shows not only a lack of restraint in the media for digging into the privacy of the lives of the children of candidates, but it also shows a serious misunderstanding of Christian conservatives. As a matter of fact, I would like to speak about the things that Gov. Palin’s daughter did right. While none of us would wish such a situation in our own families, all Christians understand that they do happen. The question is not whether we find ourselves in such an unfortunate situation. The question is what we do from there. Bear in mind, most of us will never have to go through such a personal issue while under the scrutiny of millions of opinionated blowhards, commenting on them nightly. However, since the media have chosen to make this a public issue, I wanted to write a letter of support and encouragement to this young lady. She did some things right!
First, she let her mother know. In an era where most kids are not even encouraged to tell their families when they are pregnant (so that they can’t affect their decision to kill the child) this young lady let her mom and dad know. I think that is an honorable thing, and evangelical Christians around the world applaud her for her honesty. Going through an unwanted pregnancy is difficult, but she chose to let her family know.
Secondly, she has the support of a loving family. In many homes, young women do not have such a foundation. Her parents did not whisk her off to a remote location under cover, and neither did they try to cover it up. They stand beside her lovingly. This is the Christian way. We are all broken in countless ways, and Christians should never bury our wounded. In fact, that is the exact time when we should stand shoulder to shoulder. Here in Lynchburg, our founder, Dr. Jerry Falwell, built the Liberty Godparent Home (http://www.godparent.org/) for such occasions. We stand with these young women in their hour of need. Thank God, so do the Palins.
Third, she is keeping the child. At this point, we are hearing that Gov. Palin’s daughter is planning on carrying the child to term. The politically expedient thing to do would have been to “terminate the pregnancy,” which is the PC way of saying, “kill the unborn child.” This decision is even more courageous given the fact that millions will be discussing this action. This young woman, like so many others, is to be applauded for her decision.
What does this have to do with politics, in any meaningful way? There is one salient point. As a former devout Muslim, I am aware of the current context and an irony that should not be lost. If this had happened in any of the Islamic Republics around the world, this would not even be a discussion. The young lady would be killed for bringing dishonor to her family, and it would be her father or brothers who would kill her, along with the child. Perhaps this puts the political issues in perspective.
If anyone is to be blamed during this fiasco, it is the media. They misunderstand evangelicals, and they misrepresent the news. News is not the reporting of the personal lives and details of the children of candidates. When President Clinton was in office, the media reacted correctly when they decided to leave the Clintons’ daughter alone. Though not every reporter was so circumspect, most were. Leave the children alone. Senators Barack Obama and John McCain have chosen the spotlight, but their families have not.
Finally, the media truly misunderstands evangelicals. Evangelicals do not expect other people to have perfect lives; we certainly don’t. None of us are perfect, and we all have broken lives. We do not demand perfection from our political or spiritual leaders. We do not want to put anyone in the stocks. That was a certain type of colonial Christianity called Puritan. Thankfully evangelicals have rejected this type of public humiliation. We do not excuse sinful acts, but neither do we bury the wounded.
It is not the decisions you made yesterday. It is what you do with today that is important. This young woman decided, having gone through this ordeal, to keep the child and carry it to term. Nothing could make us happier. Either by adoption or raising the child herself, she chose not to punish that child for her actions. So before the media decides that we are going to pick up stones and throw them, may we say it loudly and clearly, “Congratulations to the young lady; congratulations for making the right decisions in a tough spot.” Evangelical Christians put our arms around you and pray for you and that wonderful child from God that will come and be raised. We believe in life from the moment of conception to the point of natural death. It is not about perfection; it is about going in the right direction. So when the media misunderstands us, may we say it loud and clear, put your stones down. Christians wear our own “scarlet letter.” It is “F,” for “forgiven.”