It’s like the story taken out of the book of Esther. A beauty queen becomes God’s woman and saves the nation. These are what I hear for storylines about Governor Sarah Palin of Alaska and Miss USA runner-up Carrie Prejean. Celucien Joseph of Christ My Righteousness has posted in recent months on the saga of Carrie Prejean and the problematic nature of her (and therefore Christian women’s) involvement in beauty pageants (cuz they are just scholarship contests, right?). (see here and here)
Should Christian women objectify themselves wearing two-piece swimwear? What does this say about the purpose of human body? For me, the earliest Christians believed that the human body was the Holy of Holies , the sanctuary of the God Most High. In agreement with the Evangelist in the Gospel of John, the apostle Paul asked the church of Corinth, “Do you not know that you are God’s Holy of Holies and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? If anyone destroys that temple, God will destroy that person. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.” 1 Corinthians 3:16-17. One of my favorite Church fathers, Clement of Alexandria once inquired, “Without the body, how could the divine plan for us in the church achieve its end?” (Stromata 3.17.103:3, 2). Given that the human body has a divine purpose (the indwelling of the Third Person of the Holy Trinity), perhaps Christian men and women should be cautious of how they present themselves in public. Christianity is a public religion grounded in the faith of a publicly executed Messiah.
Christians should really consider how Solomon was allowed to build the LORD’s temple and not David. God is Spirit; God needs human bodies to execute his divine plan for creation. This is the truth of God’s election of the enslaved Jewish bodies during their tribulation in Egypt. This is the very truth of the Incarnation on which the Church stands. Given the theological considerations, and the scriptural precedent of stories such as queens Vashti and Esther, as well as the strange story of King David dancing, wearing an ephod, the Church may need to prioritize the human body when considering engagement in political life. Oddly enough, there is in this story of David’s two-step with God something that is rarely pointed out: what happens after the dancing? As the story goes, King David blesses the people in the name of YHWH, the LORD of hosts and feeds them all a cake of bread and a cake of raisins. David not only cared to praise the LORD with his own body, but he also worshipped God through providing food for those in need, feeding temples that needed to be filled.
That brings me back to American politics, Christianity and beauty pageants. The recent popularity of Palin and Prejean, regardless of whether you agree with their politics or not, should challenge the Church to reexamine not only the way women view and use their bodies, but also the ways that men view and use their own bodies. What is more disturbing than Palin’s or Prejean’s involvement in an ambiguously moral event that parades as a scholarship contest is the Church’s views on the value of human bodies, and which human bodies are valued. Are American temples of God’s Breathe more valuable than Afghani or Iraqi temples of God’s Breathe? Are there certain human bodies we are more likely to execute via the electric chair or go to war with simply because of the color of their skin? American politics, sadly enough, has become not about what a person stands for or has voted for, but what a person looks like, who that person appeals to. Do we trust governors who claim to be conservative because he looks the part, but has never once voted that way in his career? Do we elect a progressive politician who promises to rule from the “center” when in reality he nominates radicals to her administration? This is the real tragedy that the pageantry in North American politics has become. Because looks can be deceiving.
Truth and Peace,