Sunday, August 31, 2008
The Palin Debate Continues
Welcome back! In our last episode, I argued that conservatives should support McCain/Palin even if they are opposed to women holding public office (or even a public job). Stephen's response in the comments can be summed up as follows: 1. Governor Palin has not done a good job raising her children and 2. Women should not work outside the home, lest they undermine the institution of the home. In this post, I'll try to refute both of these points.
First, we consider the quality of the Palin family. Before even attempting to pass judgment, it might help to ponder the very subjective nature of the exercise itself. How do you know if your family is successful or if your children are being raised correctly? I can tell you that mine is and my children are, but I can't tell you at exactly what point that would no longer be the case. I know when my wife is being submissive and when I'm being sacrificial, and I know when those things aren't quite working out. What I can't do is make a sweeping judgment one way or the other. We know when our family is going right and when it's not, but sometimes it's hard to nail down. Now that's my own family.
Let's talk about your family. I can look at your family and make some judgments. If your only discussions with your wife happen via lawyer and your kids are on crack, I might be safe in pronouncing your family a complete failure. But what if your family is...well, normal? I might not prefer your family's decision to have taco night every Tuesday, but really, what business is it of mine? What if your wife only cooks 4 meals a week instead of all 7? Does that mean she is unsubmissive? It would certainly be inappropriate for me to make that call, particularly if you (as the husband) are supportive of it. What if your wife prefers to send her kids off to public school instead of nurturing them at home? Is she failing as a mother at this point? It sure doesn't seem like my place to say it. I might prefer my wife to do that, but that doesn't mean I need to be critical of your wife.
Family decisions are just that: Family decisions. The Mom and the Dad make decisions about how their family will work, and they live them out. We outsiders can make certain observations about the wisdom or foolishness of these choices, but, at the end of the day, how is it our business to tell someone else how to run their family? This is exponentially more true if the family under scrutiny happens to be happy with the choices they've made and are able to showcase a few well-adjusted, normal kids to boot.
This is case with Governor Palin's family. BTW, check out these great behind-the-scenes pictures from Friday's rally. You'll see a family that works. You'll see a mom that loves her kids and has made every provision for their education, comfort and well-being. Their decision to give birth to a child with Down's Syndrome surely indicates an intense amount of character and selfless love, as a selfish mother would do what many other selfish mothers do every day: have an abortion. Her oldest son is selfless enough to serve his country in Iraq. Her husband is happy with her role as wife and mother, despite the sacrifices they have had to make. Who are we to sit in judgment of this family and declare Mrs. Palin a bad mother, a judgment directly at odds with her own husband's. Clearly, this line of criticism is utterly and profoundly absurd.
Secondly, let us discuss the role of a virtuous woman. Proverbs 31 provides the clearest picture in all the Bible of a successful and productive wife and mother:
10: Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies.
11: The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil.
12: She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life.
13: She seeketh wool, and flax, and worketh willingly with her hands.
14: She is like the merchants' ships; she bringeth her food from afar.
15: She riseth also while it is yet night, and giveth meat to her household, and a portion to her maidens.
16: She considereth a field, and buyeth it: with the fruit of her hands she planteth a vineyard.
17: She girdeth her loins with strength, and strengtheneth her arms.
18: She perceiveth that her merchandise is good: her candle goeth not out by night.
19: She layeth her hands to the spindle, and her hands hold the distaff.
20: She stretcheth out her hand to the poor; yea, she reacheth forth her hands to the needy.
21: She is not afraid of the snow for her household: for all her household are clothed with scarlet.
22: She maketh herself coverings of tapestry; her clothing is silk and purple.
23: Her husband is known in the gates, when he sitteth among the elders of the land.
24: She maketh fine linen, and selleth it; and delivereth girdles unto the merchant.
25: Strength and honour are her clothing; and she shall rejoice in time to come.
26: She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness.
27: She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness.
28: Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her.
This woman is BUSY! She works hard for her family, both inside and outside the home. She runs a small business. She does not always remain in silent "submission" to her husband; rather she speaks wisdom. And her husband and children love her for it! I'll admit that not all women (or men) are capable of so much. Family is a complicated balancing act, and sometimes trade-offs have to be made. However, each family bears responsibility for its own decisions. Note also that all women are not called to be under subjection to all other men (Ephesians 5:22). I can't boss your wife around just as you can't boss mine. Rather each wife is to submit to her own husband. The husband, as head of the home, will ultimately answer to God for his family's success or failure. The wife, as heart of the home, will answer for how she followed his leadership. Both are responsible for providing for and serving the family. So long as a wife acts in accordance with her husband's leadership, she is being submissive. Whether or not she holds a position in a business or even in government has no bearing on this formula.
Sarah Palin seems to be doing her job as mother and wife. Her husband and children seem to think so. Who are we to argue with them?