When confronted, there are two things to remember:
- Defensiveness will only get you so far.
- Defensiveness sets you up for an attack
Carrie Prejean’s reaction to the revelation that she had cosmetic surgery done was to get defensive. She sated that she did not believe that it was against the Bible to have cosmetic surgery done.
This wasn’t really the issue. Part of the issue was a look at her morality. People want to know why someone that is now claiming biblical morality would be having elective surgery to increase her bust size. They want to think through whether or not a Christian should be competing in a contest that values external appearance and emphasizes the womanly figure. They want to know what’s on the inside.
When you get defensive, you don’t seem sure of yourself—you express doubt.
A Lesson from Romans
Romans 14 is the classic chapter on Christian Liberty. In it, Paul defines both the stronger and the weaker brother, but one of the verses sticks out on this topic. Paul exhorts everyone to be fully persuaded about what they are doing as far as whether it is glorifying God or not.
In context, Paul is talking about eating food that was offered to idols or respecting a certain day (like the Jewish holidays). Paul said that Christians are at liberty to glorify God in any way that they feel persuaded pleases them1 and that the only thing they should be careful of is that they are fully persuaded that what they are doing is acceptable.
The brother that believes he has liberty to do something is not to act in such a way to offend the brother that believes that it is wrong. In the same token, that brother that believes that something is wrong should not judge the one that partakes.
In this case, Carrie’s answer about her implants shows that she’s defensive. Trying to prove from the Scripture your point of view only seeks to divide people and to cause offense.
A Better Response
A. W. Tozer, when talking about churches, advised the church to always listen to criticism and accept it. If it is true, the church should adjust, and if not, just let it roll off.
For you and I, I would apply this like this: If someone has a problem with your action, which you believe to be supported by Scripture, you should thank the person for bringing it up, and say that you will read and pray on it. After a time, you may want to get back with them and thank them for their concern and let them know that you’ve researched it and you believe that you’re either right or that you’re wrong and that you’ll change. If they ask where you find it, then show them what you’ve found.
This avoids (to some extent) the “I’m right, you’re wrong” of reacting immediately, and it shows that you actually value the comment.
In the case of Miss Prejean, she could have said that she would read and pray about it, and then state that she was doing what she believed glorified God and it was between Him and her. Or that she believe it was wrong and that she wouldn’t do it again.
Either way would have been better than attempting to state that her critics were most certainly wrong and acting as if she were better than the rest.
- Outside the clear commands of Scripture.