Yes, I know it is Tuesday but I was sidetracked last night (in a good way) by a deep conversation with my wife concerning the church and our faith. When we finally finished, I had to hit the sack so I could get up for basketball this morning. So here we are on Tuesday looking at this week’s Monday Muse.
Last week I asked whether or not Sarah Palin’s presence on McCain’s ticket would have a positive or negative effect on his run at the presidency. No matter how you feel about Palin it is hard to deny the buzz she has created for McCain. One thought that has been thrown around lately is the legitimacy of her appeal to evangelical Christians. It seems that many evangelicals have jumped on the Palin bandwagon due to her conservative values and Christian faith. Recently, Dr. David Gushee joined the conversation by challenging the largely complementarian conservative evangelicals with the predicament of their endorsement and excitement. Gushee says, “It is an uncomfortable fact that many of the theologically conservative Christians who have endorsed Palin’s nomination would not be willing to endorse her or any other woman for service as pastor of their church.” Gushee sees an inconsistency in supporting a woman to take up a governmental leadership role and yet at the same time prohibiting her from being a pastor in a church. It might even be labeled hypocrisy from Gushee’s point of view. In closing, he believes Palin’s nomination “offers conservative Christian leaders the chance to rethink an archaic theological vision that wounds millions of devout Christian women and restricts the full exercise of their gifts.”
Being mentioned by name as “an influential advocacy group” by Dr. Gushee, CBMW (The Center for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood) posted a response on their blog to the questions raised by Gushee. In the end, CBMW sees no inconsistency with a women being able to take governmental office and yet not being allowed to pastor a church. As CBMW states,
The Bible calls women to specific roles in the church and home, but does not prohibit them from exercising leadership in secular political fields. Therefore we must be careful to not go beyond the teaching of the Bible. A president is not held to the same moral standards as an elder of a church. While it is a blessing from God to have ethical or even Christian political leaders, the Bible places no such requirements on secular governments. Even though the Bible reserves final authority in the church for men, this does not apply in the kingdom of this world.
Voddie Baucham is another evangelical who has recently spoken out about the Palin frenzy. He agrees that the excitement over Palin is perplexing for a whole different reason. As he puts it,
Complimentarians have basically argued in support of Governor Palin’s candidacy on the basis of the following: 1) there is no specific New Testament injunction against female magistrates. 2) we have old testament examples of women as magistrates. and 3) she is not running for pastor-in-chief; therefore, we cannot hold her (or Senator McCain) to 1 Timothy 3/Titus 1 standards. Taking their line of reasoning, what would stop evangelicals from supporting, say, a polygamist candidate? Ridiculous? Lets see.
So…I think there is a mixed response to Palin’s nomination and the evangelical response to it as it relates to the role and responsibility of a woman within her family and the role of women in society and church. So here’s the question:
Does Palin’s nomination create a difficult predicament for complementarians? Why or why not?
Personally, I’m not convinced by Dr. Gushee’s argument. I am thankful for his thoughtful challenge to complementarians though I don’t think it creates the difficulties he mentions. The difference between leadership in the general society and the church is the difference between spiritual leadership and governmental leadership. Being a government leader does not inherently make you qualified to be a spiritual leader. Though a woman may be qualified to lead a government, it does not mean she is called or even commissioned to lead a church. She may be a uniquely gifted person but God does not elevate the gifts above revelation. It comes down to a matter of obedience. This can be said for all of us, not just women. I digress for now…this is just to get things started.