Much hoopla, excitement, controversy and concern has emerged due to John McCain’s recent selection of Alaska governor Sarah Palin as his running mate.
Of particular interest to us has been the discussion of whether it’s appropriate for this mother of five to run for office — or whether such ambitions run counter to Biblical admonitions to be a “keeper of the home” (Titus 2:5). Add to the mix the breaking news that Palin’s 17yo unmarried daughter is pregnant, and certain Christian commentators have begun lamenting the enthusiasm of the evangelical Christian community as ignorant of the “anti-family” nature of supporting such a person for VP. For example, pastor and author Dr. Voddie Baucham, Jr. (whom we deeply respect) writes:
In an effort to win the pro-family political argument, we are sacrificing the pro-family biblical argument. In essence, the message being sent to women by conservative Christians backing McCain/Palin is, “It’s ok to sacrifice your family on the altar of your career; just don’t have an abortion.” How pro-family is that?
I have some sympathies with Dr. Baucham. I too have concerns (esp. with the revelations about Palin’s pregnant teenage daughter) whether she is truly managing to take care of her family with all the responsibilities of a governor (let alone vice president or on-the-campaign candidate).
All that said, I think Dr. Baucham is not asking the right question. If I, as a conservative Christian, vote for McCain/Palin, am I truly supporting her personal views on feminism or motherhood? I think not. I am simply saying with my vote that that particular ticket represents the best option for the advancement of a particular political agenda. And in this respect, we find ourselves in agreement with Palin’s positions on limited government, energy policy, abortion and conservationism. Though some would argue that, if elected, she might advance some sort of unbiblical feminism, I’m not convinced that’s the case, nor is it even terribly important.
Lois and I have been having these past couple of days on the matter, and came upon a statement at Nancy Wilson’s Femina blog that summed up our thoughts quite nicely:
I don’t think Sarah Palin is a role model for Christian women. But neither do I think President Bush is a role model for Christian men. But no one brings that up.
Amen. As I said in a comment to that post:
It would be one thing if we were considering Palin for church ministry / leadership, in which character, integrity, and Biblical womanhood are a clear criteria.
However, we’re not. We’re considering her as a candidate for the vice presidency of the United States, in which case, while certain character qualifications apply, a litmus test of “Biblical womanhood” does not (though it wouldn’t hurt). Far more important in this case are her political positions and her commitment to following through.
Again, I’m not blind to the potential downside of those who would see this as an opportunity to advance an unhealthy “feminist” agenda. But inasmuch as I don’t place much hope in government to advance the gospel, neither does the Bible really tell us to worry too much about a government opposed to the gospel (let alone the implications of the gospel on family life). It is His church which will long outlast all these institutions and candidates, and it is Christ’s church alone which has the responsibility to carry the torch for Biblical truth, the gospel and its ramifications for our lives.
UPDATE: I found Al Mohler’s perspective on this debate thoughtful. He offers a good analysis, recognizing the difficulties of the circumstances without making the “perfect” become “the enemy of the good.” In other words, this is not a “black and white,” “all or nothing” situation. While expressing pastoral concern for Gov. Palin and her family, and in particular her ability to faithfully serve her family as wife & mother while pursuing public service, Mohler expressed these thoughts:
The New Testament clearly speaks to the complementary roles of men and women in the home and in the church, but not in roles of public responsibility. I believe that women as CEOs in the business world and as officials in government are no affront to Scripture. Then again, that presupposes that women — and men — have first fulfilled their responsibilities within the little commonwealth of the family.
Is this kind of public role what most women want? Clearly not, and for that I am honestly thankful. The tasks assigned to women within the home are monumental. The maternal role is crucial, and the vast majority of women find their greatest fulfillment in this role — and for good reason. In the roles of wives and mothers women do what no one else can do so naturally and so well.
Regarding Gov. Palin’s choices with her infant son, as well as her daughter’s choice to have her baby, he continues:
Count me in on the thrill of seeing such a public display of pro-life commitment, and such a prominent pro-life candidate added to the ticket. I still believe that Gov. Palin can — and I hope will — serve with distinction as Vice President of the United States.
Still, there is something to give us all pause in this picture, and those who care for the future of the family should take note and think hard.