Twitter can be a wonderful place for news, opinions and the occasional funny meme or cute photo. If you don’t follow @CuteEmergency, you’re missing out on some incredible things.
As I scanned through the Trending Topics, as I’m prone to do often, I saw “Bristol Palin” on the list. Curiosity piqued, I clicked and found out some news. She’s pregnant out-of-wedlock, for the second time. A big deal was made of the first baby, which was announced during her mother’s run for the Vice Presidency back in 2008. And I’m sure that soon there will be a big deal about this baby too.
A lot of the early analysis, if you look at Twitter, is calls of hypocrisy for Palin’s extensive work with pro-abstinence organizations such as The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy and the Candie’s Foundation. And I’m sure there will be more.
Palin announced the news on her blog on Patheos.com:
I wanted you guys to be the first to know that I am pregnant.
Honestly, I’ve been trying my hardest to keep my chin up on this one.
At the end of the day there’s nothing I can’t do with God by my side, and I know I am fully capable of handling anything that is put in front of me with dignity and grace.
Life moves on no matter what. So no matter how you feel, you get up, get dressed, show up, and never give up.
When life gets tough, there is no other option but to get tougher.
I know this has been, and will be, a huge disappointment to my family, to my close friends, and to many of you.
But please respect Tripp’s and my privacy during this time. I do not want any lectures and I do not want any sympathy.
My little family always has, and always will come first.
Tripp (her first child), this new baby, and I will all be fine, because God is merciful.
First thought: good luck on not getting any lectures, because in our social media world, that’s all she’ll get. Anyways.
This situation reminded me of somebody very close to me, someone I know very well, someone who struggles with sin too. Me.
See, I struggle with lust, particularly when it comes to sexual temptation. I haven’t let it get to a point where I’ve had sex or had a kid, but it’s been present in my life for a long time. It’s a daily struggle. And daily, I give into my lust, often simply by looking too long at a girl in a sinful way.
Yeah, I said it in public.
Anyways, I daily have to remind myself of the grace of God that Christ earned for me on the cross because I can get really frustrated with my lust. I can get really mad that I lust after girls. I wish I could just look at them the right way all the time, but I don’t. It’s a sinful thing I’ve been praying about a lot, but it’s not going away yet.
I think we have a problem in the church culture when we expect people who make mistakes to fix them immediately if they’re a Christian. There’s no grace period, especially if it’s a mistake that’s already been publicly made. I know that I struggle to give that grace to myself.
There’s no Scripture that says we will totally kill our sin in our lifetimes. And even if we make one ginormous mistake that we swear to never make again, we will most likely make that mistake again. Bristol Palin is a perfect example of that. As am I. I swear to myself that I’ll never look at a girl lustfully ever again, but then I do, and I feel like crap.
(Side note: This is why I think “resolutions” are dangerous, but that’s a different thing entirely.)
Since we are sinful people living in a culture of shame and not of grace and compassion, our first reaction to each other and to ourselves is to condemn and to shame those who mess up publicly. But really, we should be the first people to give grace and love and support.
Imagine there’s a young girl in your church who becomes pregnant by her high school boyfriend. He can’t handle the pressure that comes with it, so he quits the relationship. She comes to the church, alone, desperate for help. The church does the right thing and helps her pay for doctor’s visits. The youth pastor and his wife are there, supportive all along the way, even showing up for the birth of the baby.
A couple weeks after the baby is born, she stands in front of the congregation with her child, a gorgeous baby boy, and gives an impassioned testimony about the grace of God in her circumstances. She says her goal is to raise this child to the glory of God. She also speaks about the dangers of moving relationships too fast and the importance of saving yourself for marriage.
Three years later, you see a little bit showing in her belly. You soon hear that she’s pregnant again.
What’s your first reaction?
My first reaction in this hypothetical: Some people never change. What the heck is she doing?
Jesus’ first reaction:
Early in the morning he came again to the temple. All the people came to him, and he sat down and taught them. The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery, and placing her in the midst they said to him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery. Now in the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?” This they said to test him, that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” And once more he bent down and wrote on the ground. But when they heard it, they went away one by one, beginning with the older ones, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. Jesus stood up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.”
He doesn’t condemn this woman who has surely done this before. He loves her, does not condemn her, then instructs her to sin no more. He’s certainly not going to encourage her to sin anymore or let it casually slide, but in the middle of her darkest hour, her deepest sin exposed, He loves.
Bristol Palin sinned, and she acknowledges that. The woman caught in adultery doesn’t plead her case, doesn’t deny that she did what was accused of her. She just receives the grace. I hope and pray Bristol Palin does the same, receives the grace of the Gospel as she goes through this ordeal for the second time in a very public way.
Let this be a reminder to us in two ways. First, there’s always the possibility that we’ll commit the same sin a second, third, 5700th time. Second, grace from God is there each and every time. Let’s give the same grace. Please avoid speaking in a condemning way of her. God’s already skipped over that part and loves her. Let’s be people of grace.