I never want this blog to turn into a rant, but that might just happen today. You have been warned . . . and so have I.
The 90th Miss America pageant was held recently and I was alerted to the outcome by a Christian news source I subscribe to. The news story lauded the crowning of a homeschooled young woman, Teresa Scanlan, who gives credit to God for creating her the way she is and for guiding the outcome of the contest. I don’t dispute that God has createdher nor do I dispute that God controls the outcome of this pageant. I do, however, dispute that God is pleased with her actions in winning this competition—despite her giving the credit to Him. Should Christians be celebrating this achievement or calling her to repentance?
For her to say that God wants her to be involved in this competition is to say, “God desires me to parade across the stage in a bikini and a tight-fitted gown so that people can evaluate my body, to help empower young women to achieve their personal and professional goals, and to travel around the country giving self-esteem pep talks to girls.” Based on what God has revealed to us in Scripture, is that really what God wants for this young lady?
Finally then, brethren, we urge and exhort in the Lord Jesus that you should abound more and more, just as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God; for you know what commandments we gave you through the Lord Jesus. For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you should abstain from sexual immorality; that each of you should know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, not in passion of lust, like the Gentiles who do not know God; that no one should take advantage of and defraud his brother in this matter, because the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also forewarned you and testified. For God did not call us to uncleanness, but in holiness. (1 Thessalonians 4:1–7)
This is one of the passages of Scripture that clearly tells us what God desires in the lives of His children—among whom Miss Scanlan would place herself. The Greek word for “sexual immorality” in this verse, porneia, is the root of our word pornography. It carries the broad connotation of any sexually immoral action. Not only does this passage direct us to avoid sexually immoral acts with our own bodies, it also calls us not to “take advantage of and defraud our brother” in such matters.
I would submit to you that just the swimsuit competition portion of the pageant alone violates both of those commands. Miss Scanlan intentionally dressed in a scant, black bikini and paraded herself across the stage knowing that she was to be evaluated by others, including men, for the form of her body and the way she carries herself. This is not how a Christian “possess[es her] own vessel in sanctification and honor.” This is a sexually immoral act that not only involved her own body, but it undoubtedly led to men in the audience having lustful thoughts. This is not how a Christian avoids “tak[ing] advantage of and defraud[ing her] brother.”
This in no way is an attempt to excuse the sin of those men who indulged in lustful thoughts while watching her perform. Each man is accountable for his own sin, but causing a brother, or any man for that matter, to lust after you by the way you dress is placing sin upon sin.
[Speak to] the older women likewise, that they be reverent in behavior, not slanderers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things—that they admonish the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, homemakers, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be blasphemed. (Titus 2:3–5)
It may sound old-fashioned, but I really do believe Paul’s words to Titus, among other passages, are a prescription for biblical womanhood. Nothing about this pageant conforms to these standards, but it does conform with the standards of this world. Miss Scanlan also intends to pursue a career in law or politics after her time as spokeswoman for empowering women is over. I am not able to find that in this passage either. I realize that she does not have a husband yet, but these same things apply to her father at this stage in her life. I cannot imagine finding biblical justification for allowing my daughter to participate in such exhibitionism.
Before you announce the praises of a Christian young woman winning such high honors from the world, consider what this says about the person of Christ. As Christians, we are to be conformed into the image of Christ and to live our lives in such a way that the gospel is demonstrated. Is this how we want the world to think of Christ and the gospel? I’ll leave that for you to decide.
I can’t wait to tell my young daughter about the great success that this young woman has had, about her accomplishments, and about her aspirations . . . so that I can point her to real biblical womanhood. I am waiting for the day when a young Christian woman might approach one of these pageants to answer the questions with Christ-centered, gospel-focused answers while wearing an elegant dress that draws attention to her face and then displaying a skirted swimsuit with sleeves. That would be a message to the world about how Christians are called to be separate. But then again, a young woman with those values would probably not be interested in being evaluated for praise by the world.