Thursday, April 23, 2009

Loosing the Crown: When Conviction Trumps Competition

You know something has happened in our culture whenever divisive moral issues like homosexuality become the main discussion after the Miss USA pageant. Perhaps everyone is aware of what happened. Openly gay blogger Perez Hilton, one of the pageants judges, asked Miss California, an openly conservative Christian, Carrie Prejean, "Vermont recently became the fourth state to legalize same sex marriage. Do you think every state should follow suit? Why or why not?”

Miss California found herself stuck: be politically correct and increase her chance to win or "stick by her guns" and be honest with the millions of Americans watching. She decided to be bold and affirm her faith admitting that she believed that homosexuality is wrong. And for that, she did not win.

The controversy was immediate. Many lined up behind Miss California in support while others became vitriol, including the judges. The organizer of the pageant, Donald Trump, even admitted that her answer alone had probably cost her the crown.

What a sad commentary. The fact that such a question appears in the pageant leaves me scratching my head, but to deny someone a crown because they answered honestly, rather than giving the answer expected, is even more ludicrous. It is official, the Miss USA pageant is nothing more than political correctness on display.

But the reaction of Miss California and Prez Hilton is telling. Miss California has been honest about her answer. She answered honestly with her heart, rather than answer in a way that would contradict here core beliefs. She said:
We live in a land where you can choose same-sex marriage or opposite. And you know what, I think in my country, in my family, I think that I believe that a marriage should be between a man and a woman. No offense to anybody out there, but that’s how I was raised.

On the other hand, Hilton has been just as honest as to why Miss California lost: she gave the wrong answer. He admits, “She lost it because of that question. She was definitely the front-runner before that.” He further suggested that rather than give the conservative answer, she should have played politics and not really answered the question saying, "In pageants as in politics it is probably best to give a neutral answer if you want to win.” I ask, how is a neutral answer possible? It seems the only answer she could have given to the question is either yes or no. Though many have tried, there simply is no middle ground on this issue.

But not only did Hilton play a vital role in denying Miss California the crown, he has responded to her answer with vitriol. Since the competition, he has gone on a tirade blogging on the pageant. He has called her a number of things that I cannot repeat here. He has further gone on mainstream news networks spreading his vitriol. Although he later apologized for his remarks, his words are still hanging in the air. If Miss California had responded to Hilton in this way, I can only imagine the anger she would receive.

It is shocking, isn't it, how our tolerant culture could be so intolerant. If the gay community were serious about their desire for the culture to be tolerant towards them, maybe they could first lead the way. Truth is, the gay community, though our culture tries to deny it, is just as closed-minded and bigoted as their conservative/Christian counterparts.

The events that have transpired since the annual Miss USA pageant are eye opening to those still asleep to the world that we live in. The "tolerant" left have been exposed as frauds. The left does not want tolerance, they want their will done. The cry for tolerance from the left usually applies only to their opponents and never applies to them.

As Christians, we should not surprised by the anger and vitriol that Miss California has received. She will forever be remembered by our culture for giving the wrong answer. Our understanding of human nature is being proven before our very eyes. Man is more than content to remain in his sin and will do whatever it takes to normalize, celebrate, organize, and legislate their sin. No matter what it takes. Even if it means demeaning Miss California because she didn't give them the answer they wanted.

Truth is by it's very definition intolerant and bigoted. Though the culture may seek to redefine marriage into something it is not and though they try to force feed their morality to us, we are commanded to remain vigilant and faithful to the gospel. Men will not be saved unless they repent. Men will not repent unless they know they have rebelled.

So although the controversy surrounding the Miss USA pageant tells us a lot, it tells us nothing we didn't already know and nothing we should be surprised by.

Charles Colson, Choosing the Better Crown: Miss First Runner-up
Andrea Tantoros, Miss (Liberal) USA?
CBS, Miss Calif. Reply Inspired By the Bible
Robert Kahn, "Miss California: Gay Marriage Answer Cost Me Miss USA Crown"
Michael Inbar, "Miss California: I Stand By Gay Marriage Remark,"
"Exclusive: Carrie Prejean Says 'God Was Testing My Faith' With Gay Marriage Question,"
"Miss Runner-Up: A Better Crown Is Coming," The Point

Friday, April 17, 2009

When Politics Hits Home: Sarah Palin and the Defense to Save Trigg

I admire Sarah Palin. Though her and John McCain's run for President and Vice-President in 2008 failed, Palin continues to be an influential voice among conservatives and pro-lifers in America. One of the main reasons why pro-life conservatives are so attracted to her is becaues she has proven to be a politician whose policies are her own.

Everyone should be aware of the special needs of her youngest child Trigg. Trigg was born with Down Syndrome and his parents were aware of the condition prior to his birth. The Palin family have always been pro-life affirming the sanctity of life in everyone regardless of handicap. Palin became pregnant while serving as governor in Alaska and had to choose between aborting Trigg or raising him. At this moment, Todd and Sarah Palin's politics had reached home. They were faced with the decision to either affirm what they had said they believed, or abandon their convictions due to convienancy.

They choose to have Trigg allowing the world to see that all life is sacred regardless of one's condition.

Recently, Sarah Palin gave a speech where she discussed the decision to have Trigg and what it means to be the mother of a child with special needs. Regardless of what one may think of her tax policies or her energy policies, one must admire this woman who is not just a politician, but someone who lives out her beliefs. The Palin family shows the glory of God in all life. They are an attack on the culture of death and although they did not win the Whitehouse, God's glory was seen before the nation as Trigg became the face of God's glory in the face of one the culture had wished we had killed.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

"Friendship With the World is Enmity With God": Rick Warren Tries To Have It Both Ways

Which matters most to you: friendship with the culture or complete obedience to God regardless of the cost? Very rarely will one be able, on almost any issue, please both crowds. Either one will be lauded by the culture as enlightened and wise, or will disgust the culture and labeled a closed-minded bigot and fool. However, many well intentioned Christians have tried to have it both ways.

Recently, well-known pastor and bestselling author of Purpose-Driven Life, Pastor Rick Warren has seemingly tried to have it both ways and is looking like a fool who has abandoned obedience to His Savior. In recent months, Pastor Warren has been criticized for his stance on homosexual marriage and his support of Proposition 8 in California which, when adopted by the voters, defined marriage as being only between one man and one woman. Proposition 8 passed in California and many attribute the success of the vote to persons like Pastor Warren. Prior to the vote, Warren released statements that clearly were in favor of the proposition. For example:

The election's coming just in a couple of weeks, and I hope you're praying about your vote. One of the propositions, of course, that I want to mention is Proposition 8, which is the proposition that had to be instituted because the courts threw out the will of the people. And a court of four guys actually voted to change a definition of marriage that has been going for 5,000 years.

Now let me say this really clearly: we support Proposition 8 -- and if you believe what the Bible says about marriage, you need to support Proposition 8. I never support a candidate, but on moral issues I come out very clear...

Now here's an interesting thing. There are about two percent of Americans [who] are homosexual or gay/lesbian people. We should not let two percent of the population determine to change a definition of marriage that has been supported by every single culture and every single religion for 5,000 years.

This is not even just a Christian issue -- it's a humanitarian and human issue that God created marriage for the purpose of family, love, and procreation.

So I urge you to support Proposition 8, and pass that word on. I'm going to be sending out a note to pastors on what I believe about this. But everybody knows what I believe about it. They heard me at the Civil Forum when I asked both Obama and McCain on their views."

In this released statement, and more could be given, Warren makes it clear that he supported the passing of Proposition 8. However, months after the vote and the fallout of it from homosexuals and homosexual activist, Warren has apparently changed his mind. Warren has come under attack as a closed-minded bigot who is prejudice against homosexuals. As the released statement implies, Warren's stance on this issue is rooted in a Biblical worldview that takes Scripture at it's word. Scripture clearly defines homosexuality as a sin and marriage to be only between one man and one woman.

Any worldview rooted in Scripture must affirm the sinfulness of homosexuality regardless of what the culture might believes. If one claims to be obedient to God regardless of the cost, then there is no wiggle room on this issue. A Biblical Christian must consider homosexuality and any other sexual perversion to be a sin because that is what the text clearly says.

To change that stance results in a redefinition of the gospel. If sin is redefined, then the gospel becomes deluded. This issue is not just about homosexuality and marriage. Its about sin and man's obsession with organizing, normalizing, legalizing, and celebrating their sin. Any worldview that stands in the way of man enjoying sin's indulgence will always be met with vitriol and opposition. The fact that homosexual activist reacted so strongly against this vote should not be surprising.

But that is what the gospel is: an offense. It is a smack in the face that attacks us at our core. We are wrong. We have rebelled. We stand condemned. No one wants to hear such a message, therefore most will refuse to hear it. They will go further and condemn the gospel for being so condemning. Warren should have expected this onslaught from homosexual activists. Every Christian everywhere should expect it.

But Warren has changed his mind. Regardless of the evidence, Warren has recently argued on Larry King Live that he "never once even gave an endorsement" of Proposition 8 and has "never been and never will be" an anti-gay activist. He went on to add:

During the whole Proposition 8 thing, I never once went to a meeting, never once issued a statement, never -- never once even gave an endorsement in the two years Prop. 8 was going. The week before the -- the vote, somebody in my church said, 'Pastor Rick, what -- what do you think about this?' And I sent a note to my own members that said, I actually believe that marriage is -- really should be defined, that that definition should be -- say between a man and a woman."

Warren seems to be speaking out of both sides of his mouth. On the one end, Warren is clearly against any legislation that would redefine marriage as being between homosexuals. However, on the other hand, Warren seems to be against such a stance. So which is it?

The truth is, it doesn't matter. Warren has clearly been affected by all of the name calling and verbal attacks upon him, his church, and his faith. Therefore, he is trying to show that he isn't an enemy to the wants of the culture, but actually a friend. The argument goes that to be viewed negatively by the culture makes it impossible to share the gospel with the culture.

But I have a hard time finding such a model in the New Testament. Throughout Acts and the Epistles, Christians are repeatedly persecuted, both verbally and physically, imprisoned, and killed over their message of repentance. Warren, however, finds such a model to be outdated. What we need now is accommodation and friendship with the world, not boldness and enmity.

But what is most interesting about Acts and the Early Church is that the more opposition that arose, the more it grew. In the end, increase persecution, prisonment, and martyrdoms were blessings rather than curses. By remaining faithful to the gospel, the Church increased in converts. And the times where persons tried to be friends with the unregenerate (see Gal. 2 for example) Scripture condemns them. The pattern is clear: opposition will only increase where the gospel is faithfully preached and obeyed. But by apologizing for standing for Biblical truth, as Warren has done on national television, Warren has undermined the gospel.

As Christians, we must face the reality that the world hates us. Culture can't stand us simply because the gospel is an offense. It stands in the way of everything that we are. Anytime we preach or live out a gospel that is contrary to its offensiveness is the minute it becomes deluded and no longer saves. We must be willing to take the hits. We should all be ashamed if we can't take a few verbal attacks whenever our forefathers in the faith were burned at the stake and turned into human torches by the culture they offended. Surely we can handle being called a few names.

So, will Christians rremain faithful and obedient to the God that saved them regardless of the cost, or will we continue to accomodate to the culture and pretend to be something we aren't?
For more:
Associated Baptist Press: Rick Warren says he did not campaign for Proposition 8 (includes video of Warren endorsing Proposition 8)