Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Palin, Political Expediency, and Complementarians

I have been doing a good deal of thinking and reading about Gov. Palin's run for the Vice-Presidency. I am bothered by how conservative complementarians have reacted to it, and I am afraid that we run the danger of compromising for the sake of political expediency. The argument that has come forth is that, while the Bible is clear that a woman's priority is in the home, and that they are not to exercise authority over men in the context of the church, it is actually silent regarding the issue of a woman holding secular authority. You may find a couple of strong arguments in this regard by Dr. Al Mohler here, and another excellent article by David Kotter writing for The Council of Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. Dr. Mohler, the CBMW, and David Kotter are complementarians who believe that Gov. Palin's run is not necessarily outside the God-ordained role of womanhood.

I know that my critique of the view of these folks may be prideful assumption, but I find their argument bothersome for two important reasons. And on the third reason, I think that it may fail altogether. Let me outline my concerns and let you have at it in the comment section if anyone so desires.

My first worry is this idea that God has ordained roles for men and women inside the home and church that is not consistently applied in the secular world. That is, if Paul forbids women to "teach or have authority over men" (1 Timothy 2:10), must we assume he only meant in the context of the local church? Further, Paul made his argument from creation, not the church per se. In creation, God gave the man dominion over the created world, not simply the church and family. I find their reasoning to be very compartmentalized. I have to wonder, if Gov. Palin's husband is the head of her household and the one to whom she submits, shouldn't we be voting for him instead of her?

That leads me to my second objection. Since Francis Schaeffer, evangelicals have labored to teach people to have a "Christian World View" and not to compartmentalize the sacred and the secular. The reasoning of Dr. Mohler and the CBMW seems to do precisely that. I fear that this position is undercutting, for the sake of political expediency, the arguments complementarians have been advancing for years.

Finally, I want to address the issue of family. Voddie Baucham wrote a post on his blog entitled Did McCain Make a Pro-Family Pick? that addresses this issue. Baucham emphatically answers his own question with a "No!". Gov. Palin may be pro-life, but she is not acting pro-family by running for VP with five children. In fairness to Gov. Palin, she only has three dependant children. Her oldest son is in the military and is heading for Iraq, surely he doesn't still need her at home. Her oldest daughter is about to be a married woman, and I am of the opinion that a seventeen year old married woman is a woman who doesn't need mom at home. So that leaves three children, one of whom is an infant with Down's Syndrome. My wife has two children and is a stay-at-home mom. My wife can hardly find time in the day to go to the grocery store and go to exercise without a job. I simply cannot see, even with three children, how Gov. Palin could manage to be Vice-President, or even President!, and still keep home the priority.

But alas, I confess that I will most likely vote for the McCain/Palin ticket in November. I can even see much good from Gov. Palin's candidacy. (I may write on that tomorrow.) And if it is true that politics are the art of choosing between the unpalatable and the disasterous, then my decision is simply status quo and a reflection of the nature of the beast.


Drew said...

Thanks for this post Brad, it made me think a lot. What bothers me most about this whole situation is that I feel, we as evangelicals in getting gooey-eyed over Palin are devaluing the importance of parenting--especially the importance of mothers caring for their children.

MColvin said...

Great post Brad. Especially the part at the end. I, too, will be voting for McCain/Palin, in the same way that if a police officer gave me the option of paying a $100 or a $250 fine, I'd pick the $100 fine.

Sad....but true.

Kathy said...

OK, this is my second attempt at this. My first comments somehow got lost in cyber space. I've lost my original passion so I hope I can remember everything.

As a working Mom, you learn to do what you have to do. I do think you can be a working mom and be pro-family. You become 2nd and the children and family first. I give up my time and the things I may like to do for them but there are still occasions where I can take some liberty with my time. Also, at my work they know my family comes first if something comes up with them.
It was mentioned just this past Sunday that God will equip us for what we need to do (paraphrase mine). Look at Esther. God put her in a position in which she could be used to bring about God's plan for His people. How are we to know if He is not doing the same for Palin? And if he is, he'll take care of her family in the same way I pray for Him to help me train up my child in the Lord.

I agree with you completely on a woman's roll in church leadership but have honestly not ever thought of how that flows into the secular realm. But if it is wrong for a women to take position in the secular world, why do we encourage our daughters to get a college education. I do think that in a lot of our churchs and families the men have not stepped up to their duties and women have to take those positions. (This is were I thank God I do have a husband who is the leader in our home)
I would have preferred a male VP but I really think none stand up to Palin's character (or at least of what I've read and heard).

You've really made me think about this b/c honestly I had hoped
C. Rice would run for President :)
I am open for any new revelations on this subject.



Brad Williams said...


Couple of points on the Palin/Ester comparison. Ester's authority as Queen totally rested in her relationship to the King. Also, it isn't as if she left the kids with Mordecai so she could run for Queen.:)

I'm also not advocating a total withdrawal of women from education and public life or any authority positions. If Gov. Palin's children were all out of the house, or if she had a job that would put them in the same place a good deal of the time, that'd be fine. My point is that the office of VP probably isn't a good 8-5 job, and I cannot see this as anything other than putting career ahead of family. That may not always be the case with every working mom.

So in the end, this isn't just an 'authority' issue for me. It's a question of priority and what are we teaching our young women about what they should strive to be in the home. I'm thinking of Titus 2:5 that teaches we are to "admonish young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, homemakers, good obedient to their own husbands."

Ron said...

Lots of good points, but without Palin, McCain would not have much of a chance of defeating Obama. With 1.3 million babies murdered every year and the Supreme court balance as it is, should she have said "no" to the VP job?

If Obama appoints the next 2 judges how many babies will die before we get another opportunity to turn it around?

There are very few decisions of national magnitude that do not have a moral downside.

The economy-
freemarket= rich get richer and poor get poorer.
socialism= a few get richer, but everyone else is equally poor.

National defense-
Take money from people who need it to build an army we may never need.
Allow them to keep their money and provide for their families and insure that we will wish we had that army.

Vote for a woman for VP and her children suffer and we set a bad example.
60 million more children die, but we can feel better because we didn't vote for a woman and take her from her kids.

We live in a fallen world run by fallen people influenced by fallen Angels.

By the way, the VP has 2 facets to the job-
President of the Senate- presiding over the Senate but only voting if there is a tie. Very much a part time job.
Extension of the presidency- this part of the job may be very hectic or very laid back depending on the President. Dick Cheney and Al Gore were very much full time, while George H.W. Bush had a pretty cushy job.

Thomas Clay said...

I think the real issue on the subject is Palin's husband. If we know that Sarah's husband is the head of their home then aren't we also voting for him to be VP? How does Sarah make decisions without her husband's approval?

Secondly, if we also believe that Palin understands this principle (and who knows if she really does) then isn't the decision for her to run made with her husband's blessing and shouldn't we trust his leadership of his home? In other words, if she is taking on more responsibility than she can handle, won't it be her husband who will answer to God for it?

Anonymous said...

Like another poster has said, I believe the “highest calling” on my life is the one that called me to faith and forgiveness. My devotion to my children has been, and always will be secondary to my devotion to my Father.

Which means that sometimes my children have to take a backseat to the needs of the people God has called me to serve. I am confident enough in my parenting to believe they will not wither away simply because I’m away from them for a few hours every day.

Which do they need more? My presence every moment of their lives or my example of obedience to God’s calling?

God Bless you all for your concern.

Brad Williams said...


I agree that abortion is a horror and a blight. But surely there are a few other folks who could have stood up for the unborn?

I'm not pondering political inconveniences. I'm talking about the Biblical testimony to the priorities of men and women in the home. I am also asking whether it is consistent to deny women the headship in the home, the leadership over men in church, and then to say that it is fine for one to be the possible leader of the USA.

And, just for fun, did someone just try to make it look like Gov. Palin left an anonymous comment in my meta? I'd just like to say to the anonymous commentor that this is not about the Governor's parental skills, nor even a question about the Governor in general. It is about discussing the roles of men and women in the church, the home, and in society. If it is true that God has ordained male headship across the board, then Gov. Palin does not do anyone any service by leading with a bad example.

Ron said...

Hi Brad,

I agree that a woman is to submit to her husband and that she should not seek authority over a man in society in general.

However the issue has been made that she is Mccain's running mate. We cannot change that. We must look at Mccain/Palin vs Obama/Biden, and if we look at the whole picture from a Christian perspective Mccain/Palin is way ahead in my book. A woman as VP doesn't even come close to the abortion issue, not to mention the lefts hatred for conservative Christians, gay marriage, taking God out of schools, basing judicial law on fluctuating standards etc.

Palin has done one thing no one else could do, brought two living examples of the pro-life position to the national stage.

By the way I noticed on one of your sermons you posted that you are looking for a witnessing program, checkout They use the ten commandments so it is easy, Biblical, and can be applied to any situation. It does not feel like you are giving a sales pitch like many other programs do.

Brad Williams said...


I will take that 'sales pitch' as a compliment. :)

I agree with you on practically everything that you've said in your last comment relating to the McCain/Palin ticket. It could be far worse. Just to be clear, I like and admire Gov. Palin. This post was meant to be a critique of evangelical complimentarian double-standard that I am detecting. I could have done a better job.

Maybe I'll make another post on it.

Brad Williams said...
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