Friday, September 05, 2008

In the public eye

Ack! Someday this blog will be less about politics, I promise!

Yesterday I made another trip around the blogosphere, to see what people were writing about Governor Palin. I also read some of the articles in the media, both mainstream and otherwise.

And you know what? I got really excited. Not so much about the politics, but about the tremendous opportunity we, as Christians, have been given to be salt and light before a watching world. Governor Palin has suddenly brought all sorts of issues out in the open, issues that are now being discussed widely, in a more public way than I can ever recall, issues such as:

1. Outside of the pro-life movement, it is shocking news that 80-90% of babies known to have Down syndrome are aborted. The response has been interesting --- I've been amazed to read how many of those who are not opposed to abortion are still very troubled by this.

2. Suddenly the pro-life movement has a different public face. It's not just a bunch of white males who want to keep all women barefoot and in the kitchen.

3. The hypocrisy of many liberals is being exposed. It's not really about choice, after all --- people are more than willing to attack Palin for her choices.

4. We're all forced to face reality: not every women is liberal. Even more shocking, not every feminist is liberal and pro-abortion. You can be feminine, articulate, intelligent and politically conservative.

5. Having a baby with Down syndrome is not a horrible, life-consuming tragedy. It will not ruin your life or your family. Even if angry bloggers refer to your child disdainfully as "that child", and suggest it is unseemly for him to be seen in public, you and your family will love and unashamedly enjoy your special child --- at least that is the testimony that the Palin family lives out, loud and clear. (Other families live this testimony too, of course, but they don't get to do so on TV, in front of the entire nation.)

6. There is nothing shameful or degrading about being an involved mother. You don't have to be a crunch granola Birkenstock earth mama to wear your baby in a sling. Nor does wearing your baby in a sling turn your brain to mush or turn you into a primitivistic marsupial mother. You can be bright, successful, charming, and attractive --- and mother your baby right out there in the open, without apology or shame.

7. Not everyone who has five children is some sort of cross between Ma Kettle and a faceless, downtrodden cult member. Having more than the socially acceptable number of children does not rob you of brain cells, turn you into a boring drudge, or make you spend the rest of your life in shapeless dresses and/or frumpy sweatpants.

Many of us who are conservative Christians, pro-life, and who have dared to have more than 1.8 children could never have dared hope that we would ever have a "poster child for our cause" capture the national attention like Governor Palin has. Whether or not we agree with her politics, whether or not we think women should be vice presidents, we have to agree that she has been a remarkable public advocate and shining testimony on a scale that none of us could ever hope to be.

But there is more. I saved the best for last...

8. Over the past two to three days, I've had the amazing experience of reading in newspapers and hearing on the radio people trying to explain why evangelical Christians are not suddenly dropping Governor Palin like a hot potato after hearing that her teenage daughter is pregnant out of wedlock. And do you know how some of these journalists and commentators --- a number of whom I have no reason to believe are Christians --- are explaining it? With the gospel. Suddenly, people are feeling a need to explain why evangelicals are not shocked about sin, why we take sin so seriously, and why we are so forgiving! It is both deeply moving and, at the same time, amusing, to read/hear people in the secular world actually defending and explaining our beliefs (e.g., "Few people seem to understand what the Christian faith is all about...")

Do you realize what a tremendous opportunity Governor Palin has given us? The opportunity that I believe God has given us through her?

The world is watching. They are watching her. But they are also watching those of us who they believe she represents.

Think of this, fellow bloggers. What is our message to the watching world? Will we join many of them in condemning Governor Palin? Will they discover that our main message to them is angry words about what women can't and shouldn't do? Or will they discover that, as followers of Jesus, as recipients of His saving grace, we are known for being serious about sin and yet forgiving and gracious...the people who rejoice in that truth, "There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus". Will we be known as those who make love their rule? Will we be known as those who stand for truth? Will our words be so seasoned with grace as to be able to be used of God to win hearts for Him?

Or will we be known as being harsh, strident, judgmental, hateful? Much of the world already thinks that about us. Now, perhaps, we can, prayerfully, try to become better ambassadors and representatives of Jesus Christ.

I write this as much for me as for my fellow bloggers. And yes, I know I fail in this. Constantly.

Most of us cannot capture the attention of a nation. Most of us will never walk in the corridors of power, or have the ear of our nation's leaders --- or even be one of those leaders ourselves. But we can pray for those leaders and for those potential leaders. And we can rejoice in this wonderful window of opportunity, in our much smaller worlds, to echo the messages of grace, forgiveness, the sanctity of life, and the blessings of motherhood.

And we can thank God for the powerful and unexpected way in which He is using Governor Palin's life and testimony. May we be faithful in the little things, in our small arenas, and pray for Palin to be faithful in the big things, in her big arena.

Updated to add:

Here is Governor Palin's testimony of her faith in Christ.

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