Today’s Message from Carrie Prejean, Former Miss California
June 11, 2009 5 Comments
It all started when she answered a politically select question with a politically inorrect answer. For that she was denied the Miss USA crown. Even her Miss California standing was in jeopardy. Then Donald Trump kindly came to her defense. More trouble surfaced, however, with the revelation of photos of Ms. Prejean, well . . . “revealed.” Yesterday her pal, Donald Trump, defrocked the beauty queen with words akin to “You’re fired!”
Today Carrie Prejean rebounds, starting with an article for BigHollywood.com. For an article ostensibly written by her, the title is a little weird: “Exclusive: Miss California Speaks Out After Pageant Firing.” Prejean defends herself against allocations that she violated the conditions for wearing the Miss California crown. Conveniently, the professional photos go unmentiond. They are, of course, unmentionable.
The whole ordeal has turned tawdry. It doesn’t help that Prejean has expressed a dual affiliation, one in her capacity as Miss California USA and another as a firm and vocal believer in God and God’s providence. Christians with a public platform may learn from her experiences.
The Most Important Lesson
Miss Prejean says today that she’s learned a most important lesson from what she’s been through. You might find this interesting. She writes that “nothing is more important than standing up for what you believe in, no matter what the cost may be.” This is how she answers vicious attacks, to which, she maintains, she has consistently responded with integrity.
It saddens me to hear that this is “the most important lesson” she’s learned from the ordeal. Yes, she has been attacked. Yes, some attacks have been vicious and motivated by malice. And yes, Carrie Prejean acted with courage when she answered a politically-motivated question in a way that ensured that she would not win first place in the Miss USA pageant. She says she anticipated the possibility of the question, prayed it would not come up, then answered candidly when it did. I wrote about that and the fallout here.
So Ms. Prejean was not completey surprised by the verdict when the crown went to someone else. What may have surprised her is the effort that followed to incriminate her, to demonize her after so publicly taking a pro-marriage stand. As these things do, this led to the exposure of some pictures taken not so long ago. And no matter what Ms. Prejean says now in public, her photo-shoot clashes with her public image as innocent, with having traditional values and sticking to them.
Faced with the public appearance of hypocrisy, there are far more important lessons to learn than the one affirmed with such poise by Carrie Prejean. She says, “Nothing is more important than standing up for what you believe in, no matter what the cost may be.” What does it mean to stand up for what you believe in? Surely it means more than simply asserting your beliefs. Surely it matters no less whether your belief-assertions are matched by public and private conduct.
The Nature of Integrity
This is a question of truth—truth that you believe what you say you believe, the truth of what you believe, and the truth of the inner person. These are three distinct ways in which we are related to truth as individuals. Integrity is a matter of alignment among all three. First, do I truly believe what I say I believe? Second, is what I believe actually true? And third, is my life in harmony with what I believe?
These are hard questions. No one who contemplates them feels completely assured of his or her own integrity. But we are not always uncertain; sometimes we simply know that we fall short. This is why we must ask these questions of ourselves. They are a means of testing how faithful we are to our own values.
Carrie Prejean concludes her article with these words:
I am proud to be an American, and blessed to have had the opportunity to exercise my freedom of speech. I am excited and looking forward to where God leads me in the future. I know He has big plans for me. I am proud to be the strong woman God has molded me to be. I will always stand for the truth, respectfully, and never back down.
Americans have much to be proud of. Americans are blessed with the privilege of free speech. Of course, for the believer, it’s not only about freedom of speech. With freedom comes responsibility—the responsibility to speak with integrity.
Ms. Prejean speaks, finally, of divine leading. Her doctrine of divine guidance cannot be discerned in detail from the brief comments she makes. She claims to know that God “has big plans for me.” She doesn’t speculate about what those plans are. But the language she chooses is arresting. “Big plans.” But why not simply “a plan”?
Or why big plans for me? Ms. Prejean is “proud to be the strong woman God has molded me to be.” Many speak this way when talking about divine guidance. God’s leading is personal. It is special. It is large. It is for me.
Maybe we need to ask ourselves a few questions. Where do we get our ideas about divine guidance? What do they say about our view of God? And what do they say about our view of ourselves?
Carrie Prejean is a public figure. She stepped very deliberately into the limelight and became a kind of celebrity. She’s human, with human ambitions and human limitations. She has an opportunity to speak freely of what she believes and why. Today she’s declard in a very public way her values and her beliefs. She’s related them directly to how she understands God’s work in the world, how God leads individuals, and what individuals can expect from God when they use their free speech to affirm their values.
This young woman has provided believers everywhere with an opportunity for sober reflection about issues of integrity, the role of the believer in the world, and dependence on God, come what may. We do well to consider what are the most important lessons we can learn from her example.