Sarah Palin’s Daughter—What Should We Think?

September 6, 2008

A friend asked me why evangelicals think it’s okay that Sarah Palin’s seventeen-year-old daughter got pregnant by her boyfriend. I think the exact wording was, “Why are we so excited about it?” Hmmmm. That’s not exactly the way I would put it.

I don’t know anyone who is “excited” about a teenage girl getting pregnant out of wedlock. This seems to be a point on which there is near-universal agreement. Getting pregnant outside of marriage is always problematic, but when you are a teenager, the difficulties are magnified. This isn’t a liberal or conservative observation—just a statement of reality. 

However, I think the question is meant to go to a different point. Why are evangelicals willing to overlook the pregnancy of Sarah Palin’s daughter? Well, it is a useful question, given that everyone I have talked to (an admittedly unscientific sample) seems to love Sarah Palin. Count me in that number. I thought she did a terrific job in her speech on Wednesday night at the Republican Convention. But what about her daughter getting pregnant outside of wedlock?

Here’s a simple answer. Sarah and Todd Palin are not the first parents to have a child make this sort of mistake. And it’s not just the getting pregnant part. It’s as much the part about being sexually active in the first place. Given that most of us knew nothing about the Palins ten days ago, we aren’t in a position to say anything about how they raised their children. But Bristol Palin is hardly the first child raised in an evangelical family to get pregnant out of wedlock. We might be surprised if we knew how often this happens. That isn’t meant to excuse anything. Sin is sin, wrong is wrong, but is helps to remember that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” and “there but for the grace of God." 

But doesn’t it reflect poorly on the parents when children make bad choices? The answer is yes and no. Certainly it has cast a shadow over the whole nomination of Sarah Palin, and it has given the media another opening to attack her. But her daughter’s pregnancy does not disqualify her for public office. By the same token, I would argue that a similar situation would not automatically disqualify a pastor from serving in a local church. Note the word “automatically.” Sometimes churches have demanded a level of perfection in pastoral child-rearing that James Dobson couldn’t possibly meet. 

It’s not what the children do that matters as much as how the parents respond. 1 Timothy 3:4 tell us that a spiritual leader must “manage his own household well.” How do you measure that? The real test of any manager is how he responds when trouble comes. Anyone can manage an organization when you have plenty of money in the bank, when your market share is growing, and when everyone is happy. Great managers rise to the top when the waters are rough, when money is tight, when the market is down, and when times are tough.

Do they cover up the truth or do they face reality?
Can they demonstrate wisdom in how they respond?
Do they keep their people united?
Do they have a plan and will others follow their plan?
Can they remain positive and calm when others are panicking?

These are the traits of good leadership—and you only see this when unexpected trouble comes. Leaders rise to the top in hard times. And that’s why I think pastors (and other spiritual leaders) ought not to be trashed or suddenly dismissed because of family issues. It’s how they respond that makes the difference.

Regarding Sarah Palin and her pregnant daughter, so far so good. Her daughter did not abort the baby, which many people would have advised her to do. And she and her boyfriend plan to be married and keep the baby. Good for them. I can’t imagine that Todd and Sarah Palin are happy about their daughter’s pregnancy, but as far as anyone can tell, they have responded with grace and courage under an enormous media spotlight. They have done well, their family seems to be rallying to the cause, and they are setting a good example of how to handle a crisis when the whole world is watching.

Evangelicals of all people believe in sin and grace. We admit our sin and we cling to the grace of God. We face the consequences, we seek forgiveness, we love each other, and we go forward together.

What do you think? We welcome your comments.

Comments

Do you have any thoughts or questions about this post? If you have a Facebook account, you may comment below:

PREVIOUS POST
«
Ray Pritchard
Subscribe to Pastor Ray’s blog by email »

Latest blog posts

Good Words for Today: November 27
Thursday, November 27

Continue

Anchor
The Anchor Project
Explaining the Gospel in “Walmart English”

Anchor is a “gospel book” that explains the Good News in a simple and persuasive manner. Read the latest on “The Anchor Project” and how you can be support our work.

Read More
China
Keep Believing China
Partnering with Chinese pastors and churches

We want to join together with pastors and Christian workers to equip the church in China, broadcasting translated sermons, providing ministry resources for Christians and pastors in China.

Read More

Email
Weekly sermon email
Subscribe for free

Subscribe to the weekly sermon from Keep Believing Ministries. Sign up for our emails and use it to grow in your faith as well as to encourage others.

Continue

audio
KBM Podcasts
Weekly audio sermons

Welcome to Keep Believing Ministries’ audio/podcast library. Listen to or download a digital audio version of one of these messages or receive them via our podcast and feed.

Read More

Ebook: ABC’s of Wisdom

In the book of Proverbs, King Solomon left us a treasure trove of practical principles for daily living. The ardent pursuit of wisdom is every Christian’s calling! Wisdom “is a tree of life to those who embrace her. Those who lay hold of her will be blessed.” (Proverbs 3:18)

“Equipping and encouraging people to keep believing in Jesus”

“Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit”