The Vice Presidential nomination of Sarah Palin stunned the American public, especially the mainstream media. For weeks, the focus of Palin puzzlement shifted daily, from her support for aerial wolf hunting to her claiming per diem payments for nights spent at home to Tina Fey's jaw-dropping Palin impersonation.
But two sex- and gender-related questions caught our attention. First, reactions to news of Bristol Palin's out-of-wedlock pregnancy: liberal pundits gleefully announced that this was going to seriously undermine Governor Palin's standing with the Republican Party's evangelical base. Any informed evangelical watcher or evangelical believer could have told them that this is a non-issue.
It is a non-issue because John Newton's famous line, "I once was lost but now I'm found," defines the evangelical ethos. We specialize in troubled lives. Stories of transformation from sin and degradation to righteousness and wholeness frame the way evangelicals see life. From the slave-trading Newton to the White House "hatchet man" Chuck Colson, God saves people from their slavery to sin and uses them to restore others. Indeed, those of us who never did anything particularly shocking sometimes have trouble fitting in.
Evangelical pews are full of people whose family lives are untidy. If we get angry when a teen gets pregnant, it is not at the hot-blooded teens but at the fashion and entertainment industries that persistently sexualize the images of the young and set them up for bad choices. It's no wonder: One recent study showed that adolescents with a sexually charged media diet are more than twice as likely as others to have sex by the time they turn 16. Teen pregnancy is one of the situations in which it is easiest for us to hate ...