Last night the Miss Universe beauty pageant was on TV. According to the entertainment news reports this morning it was Miss Columbia who took home the crown. As a child I almost always watched these programs with my parents. Miss Universe, Miss USA, and Miss America were almost always a part of our yearly rituals. We would try to play judge and determine which young woman should be dubbed the prettiest of them all. As I have grown older and become the father of a new teenager (although if you ask her she is already there), I have began to see issues with such activities.
Without getting into whether or not a Christian man should be looking at a woman who is wearing something that leaves little to the imagination or getting to the discussion of what is modest, discreet, and proper clothing, there is the message that we are sending to the young girls in our world.
We teach our young girls that their worth is dictated by their appearance. I know our society is claiming that we are striving for equality among the sexes, but let us not fool ourselves. We might tell our daughters that we don’t want them to think that they are less than perfect because they don’t look like the photo-shopped models in magazines, but when we spend a couple of hours last night watching a program that honors the woman that looks most like those photo-shopped models we have undone all that we actually said. Statistics have shown that more attractive woman get paid better and get better promotions that the one that simple works hard and is dedicated to her work. I am not saying that a good looking woman can’t be a hard worker, I am just stating that the more unattractive candidate often gets overlooked, just like the beauty pageants.
We teach our young girls are objects to be lusted after. This morning as I went to my favorite sports teams fan page I noticed that there was a discussion last night concerning the pageant. Not once did I see someone comment on how bright someone’s answer was. Not once did someone ask if such and such a person was a kind compassionate person. The posts were at best superficial, valuing the woman based upon how she looked to the eye. The posts were at worst so crude I cannot repeat what was written without blushing. They were crude, barbaric and unbecoming of any kind of format. And yet, their they were reducing the women on the program to nothing more than a “sex object.” As a father of two girls the last thing I want someone to do is look at my daughters as a sex object. Why then would I encourage them into thinking that parading themselves around in such fashions is a good idea?
Finally, we are teaching our daughters that beauty is a trait worth pursuing. Beauty is not what makes an excellent wife. In Prov. 31, Solomon’s address to his son about what makes an excellent wife he does address beauty. This is what he has to say about it, “beauty is vain.” Beauty pageant teach our daughters that beauty is of upmost importance. It teaches our daughters that we can land a man by looking pretty. It teaches our daughters that with it, excellence can be achieved. But, Solomon said beauty is vain. It has no meaning. It has no purpose. It is a worthless trait.
Now, I am not saying that we should dress our daughters in rags and make certain that if they are pretty that we ugly them up. What I am saying is that we shouldn’t teach our daughters that being beautiful and attractive is something worthwhile pursuing. The reality is, any man who would judge my daughters’ worth based upon how much time she spends in front of the mirror is a man I don’t want my daughters around.
This morning I jumped on Facebook to see what the social media world was up to and the 1st thing I noticed was a comment by a sister in Christ who was pleased to wake up this morning in a country that honors a preacher. She then prompted the question, what would MLK think of our country today?
As I contemplated this thought, I came to the conclusion that I don’t think he would be too thrilled to see where we are as a nation today. MLK wanted equality among the races. As he stated in his famous “I Have a Dream” speech, he wanted people of all races to be able to walk hand in hand. What a wonderful world that would have been; to live in a world where no one sees the color of a person’s skin, but the quality of a person’s heart. Rather than judging a person by what they look like, we let a person’s deeds determine whether or not they are a praiseworthy, honorable person. We don’t live in this world. And it saddens my heart that all the good work that MLK did to help us change the world back in the 60s has grown into the culture we now have. We read of police officers opening fire upon African-Americans on almost a daily basis. We read of police officers using pictures of African-Americans as target practice. We have seen the protests throughout this country in recent months turn violent. Business were looted and burned. Police officers were threatened, and in many places hatred continued to grow. And then, in recent weeks we have seen this hate boil over to the point that police officers are being shot for doing nothing more than being a police officer in NYC. Comments like they kill one of ours, we will kill one of theirs have been popping up all over the social media. And it absolutely tears my soul apart. What has happened to this country that we have gotten to this point.
I believe the answer is found in my friends post. MLK was a preacher 1st. Yes, he was a great civil rights leader (in my opinion one of the greatest in this history of the world). But, he was a preacher 1st. He did not lead his cause without the principles found in God’s book. MLK was a preacher of peace. He led peaceful demonstrations. Why? Because his King, his Savior, taught that we were to be a peaceful people. “Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the sons of God (Matt. 5:9).” This was MLK desire, to be called a child of God. Yes, he wanted equality, but he wanted to achieve it God’s way, not whatever way he saw fit. I am firmly convinced that MLK would be appalled by the way many protestors are going today. It was MLK’s faith that motivated him to do all that he did. And I believe that is why he touched the lives of so many people. It is why his words still ring so loudly today. He was not just a powerful speaker. He was not just some radical. He was a preacher hoping to share God’s big picture of bringing men together into a harmonious relationship. “And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him: Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all. Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye. And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts (Col. 3:10-15).” If this nation really wants to honor the man, we ought to take the time to remember his King’s message.
Years ago I heard a story of a young boy he desired to be a great runner. With his father’s help, he trained hard, watched what he ate and before long he become one of the fastest kids in school. By the time high school come around he was extremely excited about going out for the track team as a freshman. He was so quick and so fast he was certain that he would make the varsity team. During try outs he amazed his coach with his great athleticism. The coach thought his talent was great, but his heart was even greater. He made the cut on the last day. He rushed home to tell his father the wonderful news. His dad was excited for him. He was extremely proud and promised to be at his very first meet. When that fateful Saturday came this young boy lined up in the first heat, an 800 meter run, and took off far quicker than anyone else in his heat. He knew it too. If he could just maintain this pace he thought I can win. But, he tripped and stumbled to the ground. He managed to quickly get up as he didn’t hurt himself. A little frustrated he took off again with his lead nearly gone. He tripped again trying to grow his lead to where it once was. This time by the time he got up his lead was gone. He was being passed. He again took off running harder than he had ever run before and again his legs gave out on him and he fell just as he caught up with the lead runner. Bruised, battered, and heartbroken he climbed to his feet yet again. The race was over. He started running again. Not a casual jog, not off the track, but towards the finish line as hard as when he started. Sure, he finished dead last. But he did finish. Later talking to his father, his father reiterated how proud he was of his son. His son, however didn’t understand why. “I finished last,” he said. “I fell over and over again. What is there to be proud of.” His father smiled and simply said… “You never quit, even when it couldn’t look any worse.”
For those following my blog, you know that it has been a rough couple of weeks for me. Two weeks ago today, my wife lost our baby. I cannot begin to describe how I felt on the inside. For those who have suffered through a miscarriage, you know my pain. I found out that I was not as strong as I would like to have been. I found myself returning to my old ways. While I have never struggled with the inner demons of alcoholism or a drug addiction, I have for too long found comfort in food. I nearly ate myself to an early grave. I started eating all those foods I gave up a year ago. I started eating more portions, drinking a coke and all the left over holiday foods. Before I knew it I have gained 10 lbs between Thanksgiving and New Years. I couldn’t believe it. Here I thought I was way out in front… winning this race against my past life and I fell down it is was right on top of me. I had a choice to make. I can either get up and keep running or quit.
For most of my life I quit. I stated, who care. I am no better off know than were I was x months ago or x years ago. But, not this time. I got up. I went to the gym and I rededicated myself to hard work. By the end of the week I lost 9 lbs.
My friends, we are all going to fall. Paul stated that there is none righteous before God (Rom. 3:10). We are all going to make mistakes that we regret. But your true merit, your true worth, your true character will be determined by how many times you get back up, dust yourself off and get back into the race.
In my post last week I spoke of how my wife’s pregnancy was in danger. We were so excited to know that God was going to be adding a blessing to our life before 2015 would expire. In fact, I was firmly convinced this was all a part of God’s plan for me. We had been contemplating and discussing about whether or not we should have a baby. We had been discussing it for a couple of months. In November, I prayed a very specific prayer. To understand the significance of this prayer permit me to explain some background information. For the last 3 years my family has attended a homeschool camp in the fall. We have made some very dear friends there and we didn’t want to miss out on a chance to go. This meant that when we finally decided to have a baby we had about a 2 week window to get pregnant without it interfering with our camp hopes. So, I prayed. I asked God that if it were His will that we would grow our family that we would get pregnant right away. She did, much to our surprise. To make it even more special to me, the baby’s due date was my father’s birthday. I was nearly in tears from joy seeing how this blessing was lining up. When we found out the pregnancy was in danger, I began praying… a lot. I wanted this baby to be okay. I wanted my wife to be okay. I wanted God’s will to be the same as my will. And if it wasn’t I wanted to change his mind. Within a few hours of posting my lost blog I went to the doctor’s office with my wife to have another ultrasound taken. I have been to several of these now and I know what to look for. (Not that I am a doctor or anything). I couldn’t see a heartbeat. In what seemed like an eternity, and was likely only a couple of minutes, we were informed that our little “tie breaker” was gone. It killed me to hear that. It kills me to write this. This past week has easily been the hardest week of my life. And I have hated every minute of it.
I have had to be strong for everyone. My wife is laid up in bed, still on bed rest. My kids still had their schooling to do. I still had sermons to write, articles to write, class notes to write and I had to go to church, preach, teach, etc. Like I said last week, this church is amazing, they truly are. They were everything I needed them to be in my hour of need. It was hard for me to lean upon them, but I needed to. If I didn’t, I feel like I would have broke. Nonetheless, at home I had to be the rock. I had to be the tower. I had to hold it together. And I failed… a lot. I needed to mourn, and my kids needed their daddy. I needed to mourn, and my wife needed me to take care of her.
It’s been a week now since I lost my baby. God has certainly tested me. I don’t love him less. I don’t trust him less. In fact, I need him now more than ever. My prayer life is stronger. I have meditated more. I hope that I am indeed passing the test for I know that other trials or coming, and I need to trust my God even more to make it through them.