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Suppose that social conservatives hadn’t rallied around the Palin family after news of Bristol Palin’s pregnancy broke. Suppose James Dobson had taken to the airwaves to denounce, say, “permissive parenting” and “teenage promiscuity,” and that a host of religious-right pooh-bahs had joined him. Suppose that Rick Warren had remarked to reporters that of course, abortion was a terrible thing, but teenage pregnancy was just as bad or worse. Suppose further that the Palins then decided to immediately ship Bristol back up to Alaska, to hide out, far from the media, until her disgraceful pregnancy was carried to term, and never mentioned their daughter in public during the campaign again. Do you imagine for a moment that we’d be reading liberal essayists opining about how impressive it was that social conservatives were willing to put the good of the American family above their pro-life absolutism? About what a relief it was to see to that the family-values crowd still cared about values besides the importance of not having an abortion? 

Of course not. If anything remotely like this had happened, all we’d hear is satisfied chirping about how the response to Bristol Palin’s pregnancy proves, once and for all, that social conservatives don’t give two figs about the rights of the unborn; what they really care about is controlling women’s sex lives and reinforcing patriarchal norms, full stop. Hence the weird anger emanating from social liberals at the religious right’s failure to tar and feather the Palins and run them out of GOP politics on a rail: They’re mad that religious conservatives aren’t fitting neatly into the stereotypes that liberals have spent years cultivating.

From Ross Douthat



  1. If those people are going to get on the radio and denounce the sinfulness in killing babies, should they not denounce the sinfulness of sexual immorality.

    Sexual immorality is a bigger issue in this country than abortion, for only a certain percentage of the sexually immoral accidently get pregnant and desire to kill it.

    I’m impressed that some conservatives have stepped beyond the abortion issue. However, I am concerned that they would rather have a conservative in the white house than call a spade a spade.

    Sam, if the world is supposed to admit that Edward’s scandal was sinful sexual immorality, why should they not do the same for Palin’s?

  2. Sarah Palin did not commit sexual immorality; her teenage daughter with her own mind did. BRISTOL IS NOT RUNNING FOR OFFICE. Nobody denies that the unwed pregnancy was a mistake. Conservatives are applauding the family for the way they responded to the mistake. Bristol is having the baby and getting married. What more could you ask?

  3. Amen Brandon!

    Bristol and Levi made a choice, a bad choice, her life will not be easy, nor will Levi’s. These two young people have had to grow up into adulthood way before they should have had to. However, they have made the choice to grow up into adulthood, neither of these two individuals, nor the parents of these two young people are running from the “consequence” of the sin that was committed. They are planning for the future of their family.

    Edwards, continued to betray his wife until he was caught. Edwards was running for political office and had put himself into the spotlight. I understand why it was “news” with Edwards. But I don’t like that it is news. I think our society has become so reactive instead of proactive in these matters.

    I am tired of hearing of anyone’s sexual struggles. Whether that be the young woman who is pregnant, the young man who got her pregnant, or the person who has had an affair, or hired a sexual services worker – it seems to me that these should be personal matters. However, for some reason, they are not. I wonder if this is not part of why God warns so strongly against sexual immorality. He knows the cost, both to the person who steps outside of His perfect plan, and to the many who are so horribly wounded by the act. I think of Elizabeth Edwards and many others who have been so publicly humiliated by the actions of someone they love. These people do NOT deserve the shame and humiliation that is dumped on them. And while I get so very angry at the person who “caused” this pain, I also am very well aware that they too do not intend to cause the ones they love pain.

    There is a tragic flaw in the way humans behave with regard to these matters. If we had public listing of everyone’s sin – the finger wagging would stop. For some reason, society has always been quick to make public the sexual sins of a person. I wish we would start decrying the gossipers, apathetic parents and spouses, rageaholics, workaholics and you can insert your pet peeve sin in here, that sit pompously in our churches and community leadership meetings. Maybe if we started publicly focusing on their sin they would leave the sin of others alone.

    Somewhere in this entire conversation is lacking one crucial piece. What does God say about all of this? What does God feel about all of this. I think scripture is clear. God hates the sin that has taken place. But equally clear, He offers REDEMPTION!

    A message we could all do well to hear more often!

  4. Well said, Brandon

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