Quick Aside: Thank you for your kind thoughts and prayers. Polly is going to short term rehab and we hope to have her back home on hospice in about a week. It has been a really tough road for her.
Women and the Presidency of the United States
The following post is not meant to be a discussion of politics and we would ask that our readers refrain from discussing, endorsing or critiquing any candidates. Hillary Clinton has a good shot at the Presidency and this makes the following theological discussion more relevant than ever.
A few years ago I asked a question which has never been answered from those within the CBMW tribe.
Assume a member in good standing of a complementarian church gets elected President. That church is planning on teaching a course on Christians in Politics. Tell me why she would not be more qualified to teach this course than some wet behind the ears elder.
Some complementarians might say that a woman can do anything except inside the church and in marriage. Only men can be the head of the household and only men can serve as pastors and elders. To this, I have been asking another a couple of other questions.
1. Why spend a gazillion dollars on organizations and conferences if it just boils down to these three items?
2. What exactly are the specific leadership actions men can take in marriage that a woman cannot?
The answer are rather simple.
1. There are many things that complementarians believe a woman can't do but they refuse to answer until push comes to shove. And they are beginning to shove quite specifically.
2. They are unable to define anything a male leader does in marriage except to make a tie breaking vote.
Mary Kassian claims complementarianism has nothing to do with homemaking.
We wrote The Council of Biblical Manhood and Womanhood: If You Can’t Explain It to Me, You’ve Got a Problem. We documented a number of statements made by Kassian and others which demonstrate a lack of cohesiveness thinking on roles, etc. We looked at statements by Wayne Grudem, Al Mohler, Dorothy Patterson and others. Here is our conclusion.
So, I am left with this. I don't understand the practical application of comp theology and I don't think the CBMW crowd does either. If I don't understand it, I can assure CBMW that few people in the church or outside the church get it either. Yet, for some reason, the gospel is at stake.
Owen Strachan says God might not want a woman to be President and that the proper separation of gender roles should last for *all time.* (Think ESS debate.)
The Washington Post published God might not want a woman to be president, some religious conservatives say. Observe the title itself. Notice that the word *some* is used in the descriptor of religious conservatives. There is a hint of disagreement.
Strachan knows he stands for what he calls "a culturally despised position." However, he seems to indicate that his position is the position of *many* evangelicals.
“The Old Testament is very clear that Yahweh desires men to lead,” said Owen Strachan before he stepped down last week as president of the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. The purpose of the organization — to insist on separate roles for men and women in modern life — is itself an unpopular view, Strachan acknowledged upfront. “I do stand for a culturally despised position.”
But he believes the Bible has laid out spheres for men and for women that should last for all time. “A good number of evangelicals would probably prefer to see men lead in the political arena, and I would be one of them,” Strachan said. “Many evangelicals would say that men need to be the ones who step up and take responsibility, not simply for the home and the church, but also for the community.”
Men should lead in the political arena. He does not qualify this statement. This could be taken to mean that women should not run for any political office: be it county sheriff, dog catcher or president.
John Piper: Sometimes electing a woman could be the lesser of two evils.
Read that again carefully. Did you catch it? Did you know that Owen Strachan is an author at the Desiring God website? I would suspect that this mean Strachan agrees with Piper on his viewpoints.
In Why a Woman Shouldn't Run for Vice President, but Wise People May Still Vote for Her, Piper, in answering a question about a woman running for Vice President, had this to say.
(Discerning implications of biblical teachings for) political life are nuanced and rooted in Scripture. They are also complex and controversial. So they don’t fit blogs well. But I’ll try. The gist is this:
I think that the Bible summons men to bear the burden of primary leadership, provision, and protection in the home (Ephesians 5:21–33) and in the church (1 Timothy 2:8–15). Add to this that these texts (and others, like Genesis 1–3) build their case not on the basis of culture (which changes) but on the basis of God’s design in creation (which does not change).
Therefore, I am not able to say that God only speaks to the role of men and women in home and church. If our roles are rooted in the way God created us as male and female, then these differences shape the way we live everywhere and all the time.
Now read this carefully. It appears he is saying that voting for a woman would be a less sin than voting for a supporter of abortion. It is still a sin but not so bad as voting for a pro abortion candidate.
Not only that, a person with my view may very well vote for a woman to be President if the man running against her holds views and espouses policies that may, as far as we can see, do more harm to more people than we think would be done by electing a woman President and thus exalting a flawed pattern of womanhood. In my view, defending abortion is far worse sin for a man than serving as Vice President is for a woman.
John Piper believes that women should not be police officers carrying his legalistic restrictions on the roles women far beyond just political life.
Piper recently answered the question "Should women be police officers?" We wrote John Piper Backs Himself Into a Corner and Even Reformed Complementarians Are Confused.
Piper believes that men and women not only have role differentiation within the church and home but also in society. Here is how he distinguishes between "jobs for men" and "jobs for women." If a woman is in a job which is personal and directive, then it will cause men to be uncomfortable. Yes, he means all men, even those who are not involved in his sort of church.
There is a continuum from very personal influence, very eye-to-eye, close personal influence, to non-personal influence. And the other continuum is very directive — commands and forcefulness — directive influence to very non-directive influence. And here is my conviction. To the degree that a woman’s influence over a man, guidance of a man, leadership of a man, is personal and a directive, it will generally offend a man’s good, God-given sense of responsibility and leadership, and thus controvert God’s created order.
Here are two examples that he uses to demonstrate his rather unusual guidelines.
1. A woman civil engineer is OK.
A woman who is a civil engineer may design a traffic pattern in a city so that she is deciding which streets are one-way and, therefore, she is influencing, indeed controlling, in one sense, all the male drivers all day long. But this influence is so non-personal that it seems to me the feminine masculine dynamic is utterly negligible in this kind of relationship.
2. A woman as a drill sergeant is not OK
A drill sergeant might epitomize directive influence over the privates in the platoon. And it would be hard for me to see how a woman could be a drill sergeant — hut two, right face, left face, keep your mouth shut, private — over men without violating their sense of manhood and her sense of womanhood.
He then repeats his advice, saying that there will be a breaking point for godly men and women if they do not adhere to these roles.
If a woman’s job involves a good deal of directives toward men, they will need to be non-personal in general, or men and women won’t flourish in the long run in that relationship without compromising profound biblical and psychological issues. And conversely, if a woman’s relationship to a man is very personal, then the way she offers guidance and influence will need to be more non-directive. And my own view is that there are some roles in society that will strain godly manhood and womanhood to the breaking point.
Just in case you are prone like me to think his advice is strange and possibly damaging, he reminds is all that we must be "submissive to Scripture" and he is pretty darn sure that he is one of those who is submissive.
John Piper's dreamed up guidance is impossible to attain in most jobs in the world.
Al Mohler appears to believe it is preferable for men lead.
The Christian Post published Is it Biblical for Women to Lead in Politics, Military? Albert Mohler Answers. Mohler says he cannot answer the question definitively and equivocates on female leadership in the areas of politics, economics and culture..
"Even in creation, it was very clear that there was a responsibility given to Adam and Eve together, but there was a complementary relationship between them," Mohler pointed out, explaining that God said of Adam that it's not good for man to be alone, so He will make for him a helper or a complement fitting to him.
"I'm not sure we can give a definitive answer in terms of women serving in economic leadership, in cultural leadership or in political leadership… But the answer is not necessarily 'no.' …Women in the Scripture have had very important responsibilities," Mohler said, referring to Lydia in Philippi, who was involved in business, as an example.
There's "no one flat principle" that deals with the question of the role of women in politics for all times, he stressed. "In general, men need to grow up and take responsibility and fill these arenas with as much leadership as possible. But that doesn't mean that there's never a time for women to lead."
This apparent contradiction—how you can be leader of the free world and yet subordinate to some guy —has proved no less confusing to the nation's conservative evangelicals. For them, the justification for a Bachmann presidential run lies in a very careful, some would say tortured, theological interpretation that emerged during Sarah Palin's vice-presidential candidacy in 2008.
Slate sees the problem with female submission and the White House.
Hail to the Housewife was written during Michelle Bachmann's run for the presidency in 2011.
Why should I go and do something like that?" she recalled thinking. "But the Lord says, 'Be submissive wives; you are to be submissive to your husbands.'"
For non-evangelical Christians, this sounds ludicrous: How can a woman who believes in submitting to her husband's will aspire to be president of the United States? Is she going to have to ask Marcus' permission every time she wants to throw a state dinner?
The article quotes Al Mohler who questioned Sarah Palin's domestic priorities. It dawned on me that he would never question a man running for Vice President while being a father to a large family. Is he implying that a father's presence is expendable?
Albert Mohler Jr., president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, said that while he liked Palin's political views, he worried about the effect of her candidacy on her domestic priorities. "It would be hypocritical of me to suggest that I would be perfectly happy to have Christian young women believe that being Vice President of the United States is more important than being a wife and mother,
I believe that the complementarian camp is heading for a split. Those who believe that women could be President are far different than those who believe such an accomplishment is a sin. Those who believe women will be subordinate to men forever are far different than those who believe that some form of submission is temporary.
One thing is definite. Women are and will be filling roles in all levels of business, politics, government, academics, etc. There is nothing in the Bible that clearly prevents them from doing so.
So where does this leave the minority who believe that it is unbiblical to have a woman as a President, a firefighter, an Air Force pilot, etc.? They will be come increasingly irrelevant as women assume these roles, fully believing that God has ordained it to be so. Many men will agree with them, especially as women continue succeed on all levels of leadership in business, politics and culture.