Friday, September 2, 2011

Carrie the Hittite

By Charles Moncrief

“Send me Uriah the Hittite!” (2 Samuel 11:6)

In ancient Israel it was the custom to hire Hittite mercenary soldiers to assist in battling the nation’s enemies. Uriah was one of these mercenaries during the time of King David, and he lived in Jerusalem with his wife Bathsheba. From his palace David had a clear enough view of their rooftop where Bathsheba bathed when Uriah was at work. David had an affair with Bathsheba, after which he ordered his general to have Uriah killed in battle. The general positioned Uriah at the front of the action, and then pulled all the other men back and left him alone to face the enemy. So Uriah the Hittite was killed in accordance with David’s wishes.

Jumping ahead to the Miss USA pageant in April of 2009, each of the finalists stood alone on a stage to field a question from one of the pageant judges. Caroline Michelle (“Carrie”) Prejean, Miss California, stood on that stage and listened to the question that she was to answer. The judge asked Carrie to give her opinion of same-sex marriage. Carrie’s answer, that she supported marriage as between a man and a woman, touched off a firestorm.

It’s been at least thirty years since I’ve watched any sort of beauty pageant (or “scholarship competition,” as expressed in “Miss Congeniality”). So I caught all this on the reruns. As I watched, I found myself picturing Carrie in the position of Uriah the Hittite, receiving darts and arrows from the judge and from thousands in the community that favors same-sex marriage. That community includes heterosexual  as well as homosexual persons.

Over the next several weeks, two things surprised me above everything else. The first -- and the lesser -- was that so few of Carrie’s critics were gay and lesbian activists. There were some, of course, whose voices constantly demand “Don’t cram your values down our throats” (while exempting themselves from such restraint), but they were relatively benign in Carrie’s case; apparently they were able to dismiss a 22-year-old woman’s opinion. Perhaps they even respected Carrie for not giving one of those air-headed “world peace” answers!

To describe the second surprise, I’ll refer back to Uriah the Hittite. An essential difference is that Uriah was not fragged, and Carrie was. When David’s soldiers pulled back and left Uriah alone to die, they didn’t shoot Uriah in the back. When Carrie stood alone on the stage and spoke on marriage according to her Christian upbringing, pulpiteers from around the nation launched their barbs into her back. How dare this twenty-two-year-old, who prances around in public wearing scant clothing and provocative swimsuits, make such a statement about Christian upbringing? Oh, and did we mention, that this seductress also had bod mods? And furthermore, did you know that her parents had a bitter divorce?

Why the hateful epithets from pulpiteers who agreed with her? Wouldn’t you expect, at least, Evangelical Christian preachers to come to her defense? Or at least, wouldn’t you expect silence rather than sanctimonious condemnation of the young woman?

I believe their hateful barbs were the result of jealousy. When preachers speak in favor of traditional marriage, the vast majority of them do so from the safety of their pulpits. But when it comes to the public square, they clam up. Worse still, in Carrie’s case, they resented anyone who showed the courage that they themselves were lacking. So they, many of them my colleagues, lowered themselves to the level of political candidates and attacked the character of the person who stung them.

Nothing here is intended to side with or against Carrie. My position on same-sex marriage offends the sacred cows on both sides of the battlefield, just as my position on homosexuality and homosexual behavior. But when someone stands publicly and expresses her opinion about an issue, the content of what she said makes no difference whether she’s Rahab the Harlot or the Blessed Virgin Mary. She simply deserves better than to be slammed and demonized by the spineless who who won’t even stand beside her and say nothing more than “In this I agree with you.”

In my sadness and cynicism, it will never be a surprise to me when (not if) my colleagues in ministry act in this shameful manner again.

In my opinion Carrie’s no victim. She chose the high-risk path that goes with all activity whose central theme is display of the feminine form. She also chose to be a combatant on a battlefield, when she could have made some inane comment similar to those made by the pageant winner and by her replacement as Miss California. Yes, expressing her position not only cost Carrie the Miss USA crown, but eventually the pageant owners also took away her state title. But she made adult choices among adults who held her accountable for those choices. And since there is more to the story than an answer in a beauty pageant, we’re talking about lopsided balance pans in the scale of justice rather than the slaughter of an innocent lamb.

We all face difficult choices daily. With some we encounter defining moments, when we can take a stand or choose not to. In those few seconds between the end of the judge’s question and the beginning of our answer, however, we don’t define ourselves; we draw on the definition of who we are. If I were preaching, I’d probably add that we dig deep into ourselves and remember whose we are as well.

I’ll leave you with a happy difference between Uriah the Hittite and Carrie the Californian. Uriah died. Carrie married NFL quarterback Kyle Boller just over a year ago, and on May 11 of this year she gave birth to Grace Christina. I’d say Carrie made out far better than she would have if she had become Miss USA!

Grace and Peace,

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