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The Palins And The Religious Right

The big theme from the Obamoids about Sarah Palin and her pregnant daughter is how this will drive a schism between Palin and the religious right. That shows just how little those people understand the religious right.

As a pronounced agnostic (which makes me a non-Christian), I might not be the best person to explain this. But I think that gives me a certain level of objectivity. That, combined with my past and present associations with some very devout, very conservative, very politically interested Christians, puts me in what I think is a pretty good place to observe and translate.

First up, let's dispel a few myths. "The religious right" has nothing to do with the Westboro Baptist assholes, and wants nothing to do with them. They are offended by the Phelps clan claiming to be Christians and pronouncing what they consider God's word, but they choose to ignore them and deny them the attention they deserve seek.

Also, the televangelists Christians are also not that fond of the televangelists. Pat Robertson isn't as much of an asshole as the Phelps clan, but he's certainly of a kin.

The fundamental (if you'll pardon the word) attitude that my friends have held towards the conduct of others has been "love the sinner, hate the sin." They understand that people are flawed, occasionally weak, and make mistakes and wrong decisions and do wrong things. It's all part and parcel of being human -- we're all sinners, it's just in the particulars that we all differ.

When someone commits what they consider a sin, such as Bristol Palin did, they are not angered or disgusted or appalled. They see it as their Christian obligation to help her -- help her recognize her mistake, help her atone for it, and help her bear up under the consequences of her sin.

In this particular case, the repentance is pretty much a given -- I strongly suspect that this pregnancy was more of a "whoops" moment than a "I wanna get knocked up" decision. I know that when I was about that age (actually, slightly older), I had two distinct such incidents, but in both cases was far, far luckier than she was. (Hell, if Palin only got the votes of half the people who have been involved in a pregnancy scare, the Republicans would win in a landslide.) She was probably terrified and horrified and mortified when the little plus sign turned up (or whatever she used).

So that is out of the way. She did it, it's done, she's preggers. She deeply regrets the decisions she made that led up to it. What the hell does she do now?

Well, she decides to not have an abortion. Under Alaskan law, she could get one, without her parents' consent or even knowledge, but she did not. She chooses to bear the child.

She also decides to keep the child, instead of giving it up for adoption. And she and the father choose to get married -- it's too late for the child to be conceived in wedlock, but they can at least guarantee that it will be born to two married parents.

And what is her family's response? They don't cast her out, they embrace her -- and her child. They know she has done something sinful, but they love the sinner. They will not completely protect her from the consequences of her actions, but they will do all they can to help her, her future husband, and the future grandchild.

Because that is their Christian duty. That is what God has told them to do.

And because the girl in question is their daughter.

The process, as I tend to understand it, is that most Christians are positively eager to help folks in trouble. It's, as I said above, their Christian duty. And they don't put much in the way of conditions on their help -- the only one I've ever seen is that the person in trouble really ought to be sincerely repentant of their sins. They're not that interested in helping a sinner who's eager to go right back out and sin again -- it strikes them as an exercise in futility, and they prefer their good deeds to actually accomplish things.

That's where they tend to run afoul of folks such as gays. They have no problem helping gay people, generally, but they sincerely believe that homosexual conduct is sinful. Most gays don't, so they aren't overly repentant of what they do. So the Christians havepretty much given up on "saving" the gays; they've just resigned themselves to asking "please don't do this right in front of me" and "please don't ask me to honor and sanction and support what you do."

Most Christians are not looking at the Palins and saying "that harlot of a girl -- her mother MUST be a horrible mother to let her daughter get herself pregnant." Rather, they're saying things like "that poor girl, she has NO idea what she's gotten herself into -- and her poor mother, having to deal with that along with everything else in her life."

But from what I've seen of the Palins, they will accept the prayers of others, but they aren't interested in getting others involved. They see their situation as a family matter, and the family is drawing together to handle things. The only "outside" help they're interested in is from the father of the child, and they're "drafting" him into the family so he won't be an outsider.

And most Christians will respect that, because most of them know at least one family that's had to deal with a similar situation.

There's a lesson I've learned from my work -- where we are developing a strong, loyal clientele -- is that most people are sensible. They don't expect perfection every time. They hope for it, but they know that everyone's human and will make mistakes.

The real test of a business is not whether or not they will screw up. They will. That is a given.

The real test of whether or not a business is worthy of loyalty is how they handle those screwups. If they quickly acknowledge the mistake, accept responsibility, and do whatever they can to make things right, then you know you're dealing with a good business.

The same principle holds true for families. Everyone screws up. That's a given. It's how that person handles the screwup -- and how the family as a unit handles it -- that shows the true character of that family, and its members.

Personally, I'd be a bit happier if Bristol Palin and her fiance' didn't show up at the convention, and instead quietly withdrew from the limelight to start their own lives, but that's their decision. Perhaps Bristol has inherited a healthy dose of her parents' strength and is determined to say "here I am, you're not going to destroy me, you're not going to use me to destroy my mother, and you're not going to shame me into becoming a hermit."

Regardless, it's their decision, and they'll be the ones who will be dealing with the consequences of it.

I find myself hoping that it goes well for the Palin family. In the brief time I've known about them, I find myself liking them, and hoping for the best.

Besides, their youngest daughter scares me just a little. She does NOT look like someone you want angry with you.


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Comments (30)

Jay,For a self-avo... (Below threshold)
Wordygirl:

Jay,

For a self-avowed "non-Christian", you sure could teach many Christians (myself included) a lesson on what it means to be a Christian. You have truly articulated the Christian belief system. As always, thanks for a fantastic post.

"but they choose to igno... (Below threshold)
P. Bunyan:

"but they choose to ignore them and deny them the attention they deserve."

I would have said the attention they "seek". I don't think they "deserve" any.

Other than that, excellent article.

Every time I hear a leftist explain why they hated to, but just had to report this story, I would love to ask them, if she'd had an abortion would you have reported the story then?

But's that's just me...

Has Bristol Palin expressed... (Below threshold)
hyperbolist:

Has Bristol Palin expressed regret? I don't believe she should have as I don't believe she did anything wrong re: having sex and getting pregnant (assuming both partners were honest with one another and all the other caveats that go along with legal sexual activity). I'm just curious, is all.

"The process, as I tend to ... (Below threshold)
jp2:

"The process, as I tend to understand it, is that most Christians are positively eager to help folks in trouble. It's, as I said above, their Christian duty."

You still aren't understanding it.

Help folks in trouble huh?

I suppose that's why Palin cut funds for halfway houses for pregnant girls.

http://voices.washingtonpost.com/the-trail/2008/09/02/palin_slashed_funding_to_help.html?hpid=artslot


I also like how you talk about the girl "choosing" to have the child. Funny because Palin wants to take that away from every single woman in the country.

jp2:You're behind th... (Below threshold)
cirby:

jp2:
You're behind the curve on that one - it's already been shot down (as noted in the comments of your own link). The Post got it wrong. The actual budget was an INCREASE (by a large amount) of the previous year's budget, approximately TRIPLING their budget.

The "cut" was a reduction in the initial request of over $5.2 million to "only" $3.9 million.

jp2, some people don't cons... (Below threshold)
P. Bunyan:

jp2, some people don't consider a smaller INCREASE than what was requested (reality), to be a "cut" (fabrication).

Every time I hear a left... (Below threshold)
Brian:

Every time I hear a leftist explain why they hated to, but just had to report this story

The media knew all about this story but DID NOT report on it, until McCain's camp essentially told them to. Even Wizbang acknowledged this.

I would love to ask them, if she'd had an abortion would you have reported the story then?

Let me ask you... if Chelsea Clinton got pregnant at 17 and chose to keep it, would the right be talking about "that poor girl" and "her poor mother"? And about how the Clintons clearly provided a solid family foundation for their daughter, and taught her to be responsible? Would it have been a boost to Hillary's campaign?

Crap... Bunyan, that was wh... (Below threshold)

Crap... Bunyan, that was what I MEANT to type, and have fixed it. I HATE it when I do that sort of thing.

Thanks for catching it, Bunyan.

J.

Hey, jp2, can I have that k... (Below threshold)

Hey, jp2, can I have that kind of a "cut" in my annual budget? How about in my budget for the next 20 years?

Good god, I thought he was one of our BETTER trolls.

J.

Jay, I tried to write somet... (Below threshold)

Jay, I tried to write something in response to the usual lefty hooting over perceived "hypocracy," but couldn't get the words right.

You've done a spectacular job. Thank you!

As to Chelsea? Yes. If sh... (Below threshold)
Ryan:

As to Chelsea? Yes. If she got pregnant at seventeen, decided to keep the baby and marry the father, and the family drew around her supporting her decision, I would say with near dead certainty that it would be viewed as a positive. It would not have, with Bill OR Hillary, outweighed all of their negatives, but it would have been a positive.
\

Gulp! Hit me w/ links.... (Below threshold)
jp2:

Gulp! Hit me w/ links.

Jay, how can you write some... (Below threshold)
Jason Author Profile Page:

Jay, how can you write something like that and still be an agnostic?

Jay,As a Christian... (Below threshold)
Randy:

Jay,

As a Christian let me say you hit the nail right on the head. You may not realize it but it looks like you got a healthy dose of God's grace.

"Let me ask you... if Ch... (Below threshold)

"Let me ask you... if Chelsea Clinton got pregnant at 17 and chose to keep it, would the right be talking about "that poor girl" and "her poor mother"?"

Is the right saying that now about the Palin family because their daughter is pregnant? No. They ARE saying it, but only because of the vicious attacks by, who, but the whackos on the left.

But you would rather answer a question with an insinuating question; a hypothetical which you believe you already magically know the answer to.

But to answer your question, I'd say yes, if she was being attacked by anyone the way the Palins are.

Let me ask you something. Do you have a problem with any of us defending this family from these awful rumors and accusations about their daughter and the impugning of their family? It sure seems like it. You've been awfully active in your commenting the last few days and you have carefully not touched the subject by simply saying that what has been going on in the rumor mills in regards to their family is indeed disgusting. It's okay to say so, Brian. We won't accuse you of defecting.

I too am not a Christian an... (Below threshold)
RAM:

I too am not a Christian and haven't been to a church regularly in over 35 years but can attest to what you say. I know many local elected officials who are what the left would call "fundamentalists". They are extremely conservative when spending the taxpayers money but generous to a fault when helping others. I have been surprised more times than I can count by their willingness to give others the "shirts off their backs" under circumstances I would have expected a judgmental reaction and a turning off their backs.

YW, Jay (& I kinda thought ... (Below threshold)
P. Bunyan:

YW, Jay (& I kinda thought that's what you meant, but didn't want to presume). And I hate to be nit picky, but is the first sentence in the next paragraph right?

Excellent thoughts and word... (Below threshold)

Excellent thoughts and words, Jay!

Jason, like I said, I've be... (Below threshold)

Jason, like I said, I've been very close to some very devout Christians. I don't believe as they do, but I did pay attention to what they said -- and, more importantly, what they did.

One can understand a philosophy without subscribing to it. It's difficult at times, but if you care enough and work at it enough and have enough motive (I had and have tremendous respect and affection for those Christians), it's very doable.

If you really want to, and you really work at it, and you're very lucky.

J.

Jay : check it out!<p... (Below threshold)
jp2:
Peggy Noonan in the WSJ tod... (Below threshold)
Nylda:

Peggy Noonan in the WSJ today has a fine observation about evangelicals and their response to Palin's daughter pregnancy, which is not as nasty as we are hearing on the left. Worth a read:

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB122044753790594947.html?mod=todays_columnists

That was an excellent post ... (Below threshold)

That was an excellent post Jay. For a guy who claims to be agnostic, you have an excellent grasp of the fundamentals of Christian theology.

Is the right saying that... (Below threshold)
Brian:

Is the right saying that now about the Palin family because their daughter is pregnant? No. They ARE saying it, but only because of the vicious attacks by, who, but the whackos on the left.

"Vicious attacks"? She's an unmarried, pregnant teenager. Is any of that false? That is something the right has been using as a symbol of amoral liberal values for years. Cassy even wrote a screed about it. Now suddenly people are writing that teenagers have been having sex for 6000 years and there's nothing any parent can do about it.

But you would rather answer a question with an insinuating question;

There was no question posed, except to hypothetical "leftist reporters". As I am not one, it was not directed at me.

Let me ask you something. Do you have a problem with any of us defending this family from these awful rumors and accusations about their daughter and the impugning of their family?

Not at all. I just have a problem with the sudden silence from the right about an umarried pregnant teenager growing up to raise another umarried pregnant teenager indicating anything about responsibility and family values. Just as long as she decided to not get an abortion and have a shotgun wedding, then all is well in conservative America?

Myself, I have no problem with them. I just find the hypocrisy amusing.

You've been awfully active in your commenting the last few days and you have carefully not touched the subject by simply saying that what has been going on in the rumor mills in regards to their family is indeed disgusting.

Disgusting? To debunk the rumor that her teenage daughter had a baby, they announce that no, no no, she's only pregnant! Why do you find it disgusting to have had a baby four months ago, but not to have one four months from now?

Aside from the medically impossible and immediately debunked "Trig is Bristol's child" allegation from a few loonies, I haven't heard any rumors that weren't either shown to be true or shown to be based on mistaken sources. Certainly nothing worse than what the right has thrown at Obama. Did you have a problem with any of that? It's okay to say so. We won't accuse you of defecting.

Great Post Jay. I also cla... (Below threshold)
Rich:

Great Post Jay. I also claim the agnostic title. I just wish I could claim the ability to express the same thoughts so well to the left.

I feel that most of the left has this over inflated stereotype of christians that they can not get past. As if all of them are bible thumping preachers of hellfire and brimstone. It really tweaks their beaks out of whack when the christians don't break out the Scarlet Letter.

I feel that most of the ... (Below threshold)
Brian:

I feel that most of the left has this over inflated stereotype of christians that they can not get past.

That wouldn't be a sterotype of the left, would it?

You know what I find really... (Below threshold)
Chad:

You know what I find really funny (and kind of sad)? When the enquirer said edwards was having an affair, it was just to be laughed at. It's "the enquirer", not a real newspaper. And now we are using the exact same paper to attack the Palin family, and that's o.k. Talk about hipocracy. As far as wanting them to get married before the announcement, same exact thing happened with one of my buddies. Obviously her mom wasn't running for V.P., but otherwise exactly the same. They didn't make it public until after the wedding. Mom didn't want the bump to be in the way of the "perfect wedding dress", and you know what? They made their confessions and apologies, and it's no problem. Yeah, they screwed up. I did, and still do. But you have to forgive, after all, God forgave us for killing his son, what less can we do?

Jay Tea -"Good ... (Below threshold)

Jay Tea -

"Good god, I thought he was one of our BETTER trolls."

Told you they got a shipment of rotten brains at the Trollworks...

And with Palin around, the rot seems to be acellerating. Isn't that odd?

Re Bristol's actions - I think it was a rather classy raised middle finger to the media.

"Vicious attacks"? She's... (Below threshold)
James Cloninger:

"Vicious attacks"? She's an unmarried, pregnant teenager. Is any of that false? That is something the right has been using as a symbol of amoral liberal values for years. Cassy even wrote a screed about it. Now suddenly people are writing that teenagers have been having sex for 6000 years and there's nothing any parent can do about it.

So, when exactly did Bristol become the VP candidate for the Presidency, because isn't there an age requirement or something?

Oh? She's NOT running? Could have had me fooled, you crazy media guys.


Oh, and HEY! I did check out that NE link. I noted first that it is filed in the "Gossip" section, so there's a good tip that I shouldn't take it all that seriously.

Second, I had to scan to the final paragraph to locate the source of this "information":

"Palin's ongoing war with her ex brother-in-law Mike Wooten, a state trooper, has caused multiple sources to come forward with shocking allegations about the governor."

Ah. Multiple Sources. Unnamed, of course. Mike Wooten---yes, that would be the drinking-on-the job, abusive/tasering lout that we are talking about. Yes, very credible I'm sure.

Get me a named source with credible evidence, maybe a tape recording or something WILLING TO GO ON RECORD, then I'll listen.

At least with Edwards, they were able to get some photography.

I am seriously considering ... (Below threshold)

I am seriously considering e-mailing all my articles to P. Bunyan for final proofreading before I publish them.

J.

"Vicious attacks"? She's... (Below threshold)

"Vicious attacks"? She's an unmarried, pregnant teenager. Is any of that false?

Pretending that none of the other rumors exist, Brian, and getting all indignant in doing it only shows how obtuse you can be. You know what I'm talking about.

"Just as long as she decided to not get an abortion and have a shotgun wedding, then all is well in conservative America?"


"Shotgun wedding." That's cute, Brian. Be careful not to give them any credit for making the right decision while visions of hillbilly shotgun weddings dance in your head. Much better to shout, "Hypocrisy!"

They're not defending her actions as acceptable, that it was "OK". What they ARE saying is that owning up to it and doing the right thing is laudable. If Sarah Palin herself had had an abortion THAT would be hypocrisy. Human failings are not hypocrisy. Showing support for someone who has owned up and done their best to accept responsibility AND the consequences for their error is laudable.

"Why do you find it disgusting to have had a baby four months ago, but not to have one four months from now?"

Just because you're being so obtuse I'll explain what's disgusting. Not that you don't already know,

"Aside from the medically impossible and immediately debunked "Trig is Bristol's child" allegation from a few loonies,"

That's exactly what I'm talking about. What's disgusting is the over the top hysteria that flew across the internet that Sarah Palin's pregnancy was faked, her daughter was pulled out of school to hide her pregnancy, and even went so far as to allege that Todd Palin was the father of the daughter's baby. It gained so much traction that people (supposedly even media figures) are even asking that paternity tests be run. Instead, you completely mischaracterize what I'm saying and add that as an aside.

I can't believe I even have to explain this.

As far as your allegations that "the right" is holding Obama responsible for something Ayers did when Obama was a child is also untrue. Keep touting that meme, Brian. You've got friends out there that believe that crap. Never mind that it's been explained a dozen times or more and you STILL ignore it says a lot about your willingness to have an honest discussion.

Jay gave a long and detailed explanation of what the vast majority of the religious right feels and you STILL don't get it. Hell, I'm not a Christian and even *I* get it.

You refuse to have an honest discussion preferring to assume I'm talking about anything BUT the slanderous rumors. I'm done with you, Brian. Feel free to get your last self-serving word in. And scream hypocrisy all you want. It'll just be ignored.




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