Today, the LA Times takes a look at the issue, which we’ve mentioned here a few times, of the seeming conflict between the belief among some conservative evangelicals that women cannot be leaders of the church and that their proper role is to be submissive to their husbands all while enthusiastically supporting Sarah Palin’s candidacy for vice president.
The consensus seems to be that biblical restrictions on women’s roles only apply at church and at home, not out in the secular world and, provided that Palin’s husband approves, she is free to have a career.
But inevitably, there are those for whom even this seemingly restrictive view is too liberal:
“The Palin selection is the single most dangerous event in the conscience of the Christian community in the last 10 years at least,” said Doug Phillips, president of Vision Forum, a Texas-based ministry. “The unabashed, unquestioning support of Sarah Palin and all she represents marks a fundamental departure from our historic position of family priorities — of moms being at home with young children, of moms being helpers to their husbands, the priority of being keepers of the home.”
Voddie Baucham, a Texas pastor who has criticized the Palin selection as anti-family in a series of blogs, said that the overwhelming evangelical support demonstrates a willingness to sacrifice biblical principles for politics. “Evangelicalism has lost its biblical perspective and its prophetic voice,” Baucham wrote. “Men who should be standing guard as the conscience of the country are instead falling in line with the feminist agenda and calling a family tragedy . . . a shining example of family values.”
In an interview, Baucham said the hundreds of responses he’s received are running 20 to 1 in his favor. But he said he has also been castigated for “breaking ranks” by some, who argue the election is too important to raise divisive issues.
He and other like-minded pastors disagree. “It’s more important for us to truthfully represent the priorities of Scripture than it is for us to win an election,” Phillips said.
That view is obviously held by a very small minority of evangelicals, but overall this issue is leading to rather odd statements from Religious Right leaders as they try to reconcile this apparent contradiction:
Although many conservative Christians agree that women should place homemaking over working outside, many are hesitant to apply those views to Palin. Christian author Martha Peace, whose book “The Excellent Wife” tells women to submit to husbands and be good homemakers, said she would not make the same choice as Palin.
Ditto for Richard Land, who heads the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission and recommended Palin to the McCain campaign. He also would not do as the Palins have done. “I’m not hard-wired to be the ‘First Dude,’ ” he said.
But Peace and Land are two of many who say the public should stay out of what is a matter between the Palins and their pastor. “I wouldn’t presume to make that judgment for another family,” Land said.
That’s rich coming from Land, whose entire career has been based on passing judgment on others.