When the news came out that Palin's daughter had sinned sexually, I was glad that the Palins were not taking Obama's our-grandchild-is-a-punishment-so-kill-it approach. When Pastor Doug Wilson immediately laid responsibility for Bristol Palin's sin at her father's feet, I took issue with him at length ...and I still agree with myself!
I'm glad of all those stances, with no "But's" or second thoughts.
Now Governor Palin does something I can't defend, and haven't the slightest inclination to defend. Palin gives her shallow, foolish, clueless, unrepentant daughter a global microphone, and lets her strike at the heart of what Palin herself professes to believe.
Be clear: Bristol Palin has accomplished nothing of global significance in her life. Nothing has earned her the spotlight. Her mother, by contrast, is a focused, excellent, disciplined woman. What's more, her mother professes to be a Christian, and has lived a life that adorns that testimony.
The only reason Bristol Palin is in the spotlight is because she sneered at God's law regarding sexuality, was found out, and is herself the child of a famous mother.
This gets her the spotlight — and it is an undeserved prominence.
Still, Bristol could use it for good, in an Ephesians 5:16 way. Were she a humbled, chastened, repentant child of God, Bristol could view the opportunity as repentant king David did:
Then I will teach transgressors your ways,She could speak of her sin, and of the glories of Christ. She could point the nation to Christ. Bristol could do all that. But she didn't — and Governor Palin had to know she wouldn't. That, or Palin has been terribly deceived by her daughter, or is a wretched, disengaged, irresponsible mother.
and sinners will return to you" (Psalm 51:13).
8 I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;
I will counsel you with my eye upon you.
9 Be not like a horse or a mule, without understanding,
which must be curbed with bit and bridle,
or it will not stay near you (Psalm 32:8-9)
Todd and Sarah Palin let Fox News into their house, and put their still unmarried daughter and illegitimately-conceived and still-fatherless grandson on camera, and they let Bristol share her unrepentant, unchastened foolishness with the world. To the families that defended and looked up to her, Governor Palin has presented her daughter as their Proverbs 13:20b and 1 Corinthians 15:33.
Now, if someone wants to argue that the interview was edited and slanted... fine. Governor Palin knew that would happen. She knows the media hate her and her faith. She had to have told Bristol it would happen.
So how does one defend these statements, from a Christian perspective, in any context?
VAN SUSTEREN: Any sort of -- I mean -- and I realize, you know, what joy a child brings to a family. But was there any sort of thinking that maybe -- did you have any sort of sense about, I wish that maybe this would happen a year or two from now, rather than now?She doesn't know, like, y'know, she guesses. Pregnancy, gestation, delivery, motherhood — still doesn't know, still guesses... yet she thought that was worth telling the watching world, the world that already ridicules her mother for her faith in Christ?
BRISTOL: Yes. Of course. I wished it would have happened in, like, 10 years so I could have a job and an education and be, like, prepared and have my own house and stuff. But he brings so much joy, I don't regret it at all. I just wish it would have happened in 10 years, rather than right now.
VAN SUSTEREN: You know, it always is sort of a difficult thing, you know, when it's a question of youth, and no one ever really knows what to say to a young person in your situation.
BRISTOL: Yes. I don't know. I just -- I hope that people learn from my story and just, like, I don't know, prevent teen pregnancy, I guess.
Here's what Bristol says about her mother's influence on her decision:
VAN SUSTEREN: What didn't anybody get? What didn't people understand?Further, we learn that she didn't even tell her parents first. She told a best friend, and her accomplice, Levi. The three of them sat her parents down, and her parents had to hear it from her friend. Not their daughter, not the brave father. The friend. Great.
BRISTOL: That -- there's a lot of things. They thought that, like, my mom was going to make me have the baby, and it was my choice to have the baby. And it's just -- that kind of stuff just bothered me.
VAN SUSTEREN: And in terms of your mother making you have the baby, I mean, the whole issue of, I guess, the right -- the right to life and choice and things like that.
BRISTOL: Yes. Yes.
VAN SUSTEREN: But this is your issue. This is your decision.
BRISTOL: Yes. And would have -- [would have what?] doesn't matter what my mom's views are on it. It was my decision, and I wish people would realize that, too.
And Bristol depicts their reaction in terms of her having "a lot of growing up" to do. When someone sins, when I sin, that isn't my first thought; I don't think it ever should be anyone's first thought. Sin is not immaturity — it's sin. Bristol wasn't a tot showing bad manners; she was a young woman knowingly and deliberately violating God's law. Is that what she got from her parents — that she just needed to mature?
Well, it isn't what she needed, nor needs. She needs what any sinner needs. She needs Christ. She needs to humble herself, repent, mortify her sin, make right whatever she could, put off the patterns and sinful attitudes that birthed the sin, and walk with Christ (cf. Job 42:6; Proverbs 28:13; Ezekiel 18:30; Matthew 13:8; Romans 6; 8:12-14; 2 Corinthians 7:10; James 4:6-10). If this exposes that Bristol never truly believed in Christ, she must repent and do so (Acts 16:31; 17:30).
But a chastened humility is not what radiates through the interview. Rather, an in-denial giddiness over the joys and trials of young motherhood — and still, her child is fatherless.
Well, Bristol doesn't think her child is fatherless. She says that Levi is "a really hands-on dad. He's just in love with him as much as I am."
Gosh, that offends me, as a Christian man and a father. This boy is so "in love with" his son that he doesn't mind if the child bears the stigma of illegitimacy now, nor that he would bear that stigma forever, if Levi were to die before finally marrying Bristol. So "in love" that Levi pursues his life and schooling or whatever as his child and the woman he wronged start the family by themselves. So "in love" with the child that he continues to set an indelibly wretched example for his son, that words alone will never undo.
I can't begin to tell you how impressed I am not with Levi's "love" for that child.
Bristol several times speaks of being "blessed" in her family, but that's always in the context of their usefulness to her, their utility. She shows us more of her attitude towards her parents:
VAN SUSTEREN: Your parents know you're doing this interview. You're 18, so you make your own decisions, but do they know?Well, that's just great. Bristol's mother is an international figure now, almost was vice-president; she (Bristol) caused her embarrassment and threatened the focus of the campaign... but, hey, whatever. I guess it looked like a hoot to get out there and, y'know, blab with Greta.
BRISTOL: I told my mom yesterday, so...
VAN SUSTEREN: That was good timing, yesterday.
VAN SUSTEREN: You don't give them much notice, do you, advance notice.
And blab she does. Once again, Bristol is given an opportunity to say something about her sin. Here's what she says:
VAN SUSTEREN: Teen pregnancy -- what's your thought on that?Gets very vague and "I guess"-y, doesn't she? But it gets worse, as she's given yet another opportunity:
BRISTOL: I think everyone should just wait 10 years.
VAN SUSTEREN: That's just -- why?
BRISTOL: Just because it's so much easier if you're married and if you have a house and a career and -- it's just so much easier.
VAN SUSTEREN: What do your parents say about teen pregnancy?
BRISTOL: It's not something to strive for, I guess. It's just -- I don't know. I'm not the first person that it's happened to and I'm not going to be the last. But I don't know. I'd love for -- to be an advocate to prevent teen pregnancy because it's not, like, a situation that you want to strive for, I guess.
VAN SUSTEREN: I don't want to pry to personally, but I mean, actually, contraception is an issue here. Is that something that you were just lazy about or not interested, or do you have a philosophical or religious opposition to it or...I don't know, I guess, I don't want, uh... "not realistic" ...uh... "more accepted" ...uh... "easier." Mercy.
BRISTOL: No. I don't want to get into detail about that. But I think abstinence is, like -- like, the -- I don't know how to put it -- like, the main -- everyone should be abstinent or whatever, but it's not realistic at all.
VAN SUSTEREN: Why?
BRISTOL: Because -- I don't want to get into details on this.
VAN SUSTEREN: Well, no, I don't mean personally, just big picture, not -- not necessarily about you, but...
BRISTOL: Because it's more and more accepted now.
VAN SUSTEREN: Among your classmates and kids your age?
BRISTOL: Among -- yes, among kids my age.
VAN SUSTEREN: How do you change that?
BRISTOL: To see stories like this and to see other stories of teen moms and just -- it's something that's -- I don't know, just -- you should just wait 10 years and it'd just be so much easier.
Um, Bristol? It still is not "more accepted" with God. Has no one pointed that out to you?
Now, if I were reading this, I'd be thinking, "Dude, you're being a bit harsh on Governor Palin. Bristol did this without her permission or knowledge. How can you lay this on her?" Fair enough. I don't want to lay this on Palin unfairly.
But Governor Palin enters the interview at this point, and here's what she says:
VAN SUSTEREN: OK. We weren't expecting you because Bristol -- she told me that she had just sort of sprung the interview on you.Palin's "proud" of Bristol's "advocacy role."
SARAH PALIN: Yes!
VAN SUSTEREN: And this is her idea about -- talking about the big picture of teen pregnancy.
SARAH PALIN: Yes. Yes. And I'm proud of her, too, wanting to take on an advocacy role and, you know, just let other girls know that this is - - it's not the most ideal situation, but certainly, make the most of it. And Bristol is a strong and bold young woman and she is an amazing mom. And this little baby is very lucky to have her as a mama. He's going to be just fine. We're very proud of Bristol.
I could go on quoting, but there's no point. Palin speaks of it as a "surprise," as something that "happened to" Bristol (you know, like being hit by a stray bullet, or catching a cold). She actually says, "Life happens. Life happens and you deal with it, and Bristol's dealing with it wonderfully."
Greta however uses the opportunity to whack on Palin's Christian faith. Oh, she doesn't use the words, "I despise your God and this is as good a time as any to say so" — she uses "abstinence," which to a Christian means "obeying Christ in the area of sexuality." Greta feels it unreasonable and even "unkind" (towards Levi) to obey Christ. Palin does not correct her, nor mention Christ at all.
In fact, nobody mentions Christ, or God. No sign of Him at all.
Final thoughts: I was content to let Bristol be their problem, their business. I was content to give them the benefit of the doubt (not the damn of the doubt, as I think Pastor Wilson did).
But now they let her make it my business, everybody's business.
And the taste it's leaving is bad.
I mean to write about this at Pyro, soon. But often our faith is most severely and bitterly tested when a dearly loved one shames and spites Christ. Do you sell Christ out to accommodate an unrepentant loved one's sin, or avoid that person's displeasure?
Is "Hallowed be Thy name" just words?
Situations like this test the heart like nothing else can.