The Quest for Integrity
May 7, 2009

As is expected, the ramifications of Miss California, Carrie Prejean's comments regarding traditional marriage or "non-opposite marriage" (whatever that may be) continue to be felt. While some may argue that Prejean's semi-nude photographs that have recently surfaced provide a major blow to her fight in favor of traditional marriage, I think the photographs serve as a great jumping off point for discussion on a few important issues.

When Mario Lavandeira (also known as Perez Hilton) asked Prejean to give her opinion on whether same-sex marriage should be legalized, it was no shocker that whatever answer she gave pro or con, was bound to make the press. But what shouldn't have come as a surprise to anyone is how quickly many individuals would seek to discredit the messenger who spoke the shaky words, "I believe marriage should be defined as being between a man and a woman." It is interesting what the masses do when someone puts forth a personal opinion that is at odds with what many wrongly assume is the ethos of the majority. There is little that can be done to combat the opinion of another, so instead of going after the opinion, the adversary attempts to combat the integrity of the individual. That's where many messengers with valid points fall short -- lack of integrity (Rush Limbaugh, I'm talking to you).

For whatever inconceivable reason, Carrie Prejean posed for semi nude photographs. Was what she did when she was 18-years-old in conflict with her Christian beliefs? Though many would argue with me, I'd say so. While I don't care for the type of logic that implies tastefully done boudoir photos are less egregious than posing as a nude centerfold for Playboy, I do think that given the current age of sex tapes, sexting, and drunken revelry, Prejean's current art making the rounds on the Internet is far less incriminating than what you might find opening up an issue of Maxim or logging on to Still, I've never been one to get behind the whole soft/hard classification of pornographic material. It all leads down a very bad path as far as I'm concerned. At age 21, is Prejean the same person she was at age 18? I'd hope not. Maybe these photos fall under the banner of "we all make mistakes." Unfortunately, that conclusion is entirely too cliche for my tastes.

If I were a betting woman, I'd wager that Ms. Prejean likely never imagined one day her answer during a beauty pageant would temporarily make her the face of a major moral and political debate. And had Ms. Prejean been privy to her future, I can pretty much guarantee she wouldn't have posed for those "modeling" shots either. The decisions we make in life are far more crucial to our future than we realize. Short-sightedness is familiar territory for many young Americans. Whether or not you believe Prejean is in the wrong for posing for those photos, the reality is, given her current platform, she executed poor judgment and is now reaping the consequences of that mistake. "To whom much is given, much is required" comes to mind. Are there many well-meaning people who pose for semi-nude photographs with no intent of ever releasing the photos to the public? Certainly. Unfortunately, some people will end up in places down the road where those very photos might call to question their integrity on an entirely separate issue. If you're one who likes to reason such consequences and double standards as unfair, let me remind you of two phrases my mother often said, "That's great for Johnson family, but you are not a Johnson," and my personal favorite, "Life is not fair. And then you die."

In the age of Myspace, Facebook, and all matters of social networking, the Internet is wrought with irrevocable regret. Although Carrie Prejean's photos had little to do with the Internet, her predicament may become a common future occurrence as countless young people carelessly manage their online and digital identities. Many young adults are already reaping the consequences of posting photos of themselves engaging in underage drinking and illegal drug activity. Many have been suspended from school or worse, charged with a crime. I foresee a day when Internet documented debauchery could cost some people their jobs, their promotion, or even worse, their message.

The saddest reality in this entire conundrum a very powerful and important message is being lost. That's exactly what opponents of Prejean would like. Unfortunately for them, she's just a pageant contestant and despite her own shortcomings, she spoke truth on that stage. Fortunately for those with an ear to hear -- Truth always stands tall regardless of the mess going on around it. There are a whole slew of Americans, some with a platform, others without, who stand firm in the conviction that the definition of marriage must not be changed. Being pro-marriage, doesn't mean being anti-rights for those who choose a homosexual lifestyle. If that minority wishes to have unions legally recognized as such, or civil ceremonies or whatever their wish, that's perfectly fine. But let's not redefine the definition of marriage, one of the bedrocks of our society. That is a slippery slope towards a standard none of us can define.

As for the fate of Miss California, quite frankly on the most superficial level, I don't care. If the Miss USA organization strips her of her state title, that's certainly their prerogative. If the vetting process in the competition included questioning about improper photos and Prejean was dishonest in her answers, then let her reap those consequences. I hardly believe she's the only contestant with questionable photos out, but sometimes public figures make public targets and that's just how the cookie crumbles. I trust that if Prejean handles these events with integrity, humility, and honesty, she will fare quite well with or without the fancy title. I pray she learns from this and continues to stand for truth. More importantly, I hope others will learn from her experience and seek to live lives beyond reproach so as not to give an occasion for their life's message to be called to question or jeopardize their personal testimony.

Finally, I think conservatives (or anyone for that matter) ought to be careful in rushing too quickly to anoint people as spokespersons for a cause. I agree with supporting someone who is being unfairly judged for his or her opinion, but don't be so insecure as to need to jump on the tailcoat of someone else's very public platform in order to validate what you believe. The voters of California quietly validated it on November 4th, 2008. Even if the vote had gone the other direction, that wouldn't change the beliefs of those who stand for traditional marriage. The National Organization for Marriage recently brought on Prejean as one of their spokespeople. That's a great opportunity for her. I just hope the NOM stands by their decision and doesn't backtrack now because of something they should've researched in the first place. Sometimes instead of crowning people as heroic, we need to just allow events to run their course and see how people handle the spotlight. Prejean did what many perceived to be a very brave thing when she declared her stance on national television. Really, she just spoke the truth. That's not brave; that's what "Christians" are supposed to do.

* Bikini Baristas & The Miss USA Pageant.
The Cultural Relevance of Beauty Pageants

Posted by Ambra at May 7, 2009 11:58 AM in Current Events ,Marriage ,Sex/Purity
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i'm curious as to why you think that Rush operates in the politics of destruction. i've been a listener for almost 20 years as well as an employee at one point and I have to say I've NEVER heard him go after someone's personality over their ideas. This tactic they are using on Prejean is a classic liberal strategy. Dig into their personal life, go after their family, go after anything but what they actually said or stand for. Rush does the opposite. He attacks bad ideas. I'm curious as to where you think he can be compared to Perez Hilton? btw-good article

@M. Fox

"That's where many messengers fall short (Rush Limbaugh, I'm talking to you)."

Maybe I didn't word the sentence correctly, but what I was inferring is that often the messengers of truth or valid points are ignored because they often lack the integrity to back it up. Rush Limbaugh is an example of that to me. People who stand on a soapbox telling everyone else about their problems yet fail to be transparent about their own shortcomings.

Well I have to respectfully disagree with that. Rush was extremely transparent about his problems with his pain med addiction. He owned up, went to rehab and to this day still talks about the difficulties of living with pain that is unmanageable (3 failed back surgeries will do that to you) And he has been very transparent about his failed marriages as well...i mean, not going into details, but he has told his audience that he is very hard to live with. I think if you were as familiar with his show as I am, you might see it differently. It's not easy to understand him if you don't listen regularly. Rush is actually very open about his life, which is why I think a lot of his fans feel a familial bond with him. I do feel like I'm protecting my favorite uncle! And having met him several times and worked with him, I can attest that you wouldn't meet a kinder, more generous person in the media business. He had the same secretary for 20 years and I couldn't get one negative thing out of her. She loves him. And his employees love him...he threw one of them a wedding at Rockefeller Plaza for her "gift" because she had lost her reception hall. I just think he really gets a bad rap and with all the other real jerks out there, he just doesn't deserve to be in that category. Rush is the master at debating ideas and at the same time, he loves people. To associate him with people who trash others' character is just not accurate, especially to those who know him. Now the question could be asked, is it trashing someone's character when they have done that for themselves? (aka, Bill Clinton and his escapades?) One could argue that once you've done it to yourself, exposed yourself as a fraud, you deserve whatever public scrutiny you get. Rush sure got his. I don't think because someone has failed they lose the right to teach us the way it oughtta be! (all have failed and fallen short of the glory of God.)

@M. Fox

Again, I did NOT say Rush trashes people's character. Where are you getting that? Please go back and re-read that paragraph. I edited it for clarity. I'm actually not saying what I think you think I'm saying.

I understand your desire to defend Rush. I'm sure he's a great guy behind closed doors. Sometimes I think he could stand to display that "greatness" in public. I'm not a fan of dualistic personalities. I have listened to his show and as always, I think he makes very good, solid points. My friends and I laugh at the things he says all the time. And you're right, he's a skilled debater. The problem is, the right people are never listening to him because he's a turn off and understandably so. So if nothing else, I see his show as ear candy for conservatives and Republicans. And he's always good for a laugh.

But unfortunately, for me, he fits in the same category as Ann Coulter does in that I don't care for the brash and sometimes petty and juvenile manner in which they pick apart those who are on "the other side" of the issue. But I get it, that's what pundits do. In the sake of Limbaugh a lot of his delivery has to do with this radio persona he's created. It sells. It keeps people listening. It's just not my cup of tea nor do I think it's winning any converts.

I don't subscribe to the "call Democrats idiots, bash the president, mock leaders, degrade others" type of commentary. I think it takes a special skill to simply cut people with the truth instead of low blow attacks for the sake of good entertainment value. There are few pundits/commentators out there that manage to do it successfully. Those are the people I think are going to change America.

I just think sometimes the scripture "But for the Grace of God there god I" is appropriate. Thanks for your comments. It's nice to know Rush has such great defenders.

uh oh...Ann makes me laugh too!


I'm glad you're back in the blogosphere!!! :)

Well said all around, Ambra. I think your exhortation to lead a blameless life so that when you take a stand it means something is well taken. After all, our moral rectitude does not stem from beliefs, it grows out of our actions. Often, indeed, the experience of a sin or crime propels us to greater moral rectitude, and while I would be speculating to claim that Miss California maybe "straightened up" after the semi-nude photos, it certainly bears consideration. And however "hypocritical" or worthless her position might be given her conflicting claim to Christianity and history of semi-nude photos, her view is no less her own, and she was no less willing to defend it.

I just wanted to point out also that bravely standing up for your beliefs and being a Christian are not mutually exclusive, or put another way, the "Christian" part does not remove the "bravely" part. Sometimes being a good Christian requires courage.

Aw man, you missed your chance!
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