CBMW: Does Governor Sarah Palin Present a Dilemma for Complementarians?

CBMW has a post up asking the crucial question Does Governor Sarah Palin Present a Dilemma for Complementarians?

From the outset we must remember that on November 7 the voters will not elect a national minister or pastor in chief. 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.

Therefore we must be careful to not go beyond the teaching of the Bible. The Bible calls women to specific roles in the church and home, but does not prohibit them from exercising leadership in secular political fields.

This is a much different position than what I’ve read from other CBMW writers. For example, Barbara K. Mouser in The Womanliness of Deborah asks, “Does Deborah provide an historical precedent that overturns the principle of male leadership in the home and nation?” Obviously, she presupposes that there IS a principle of male leadership in the nation and seems to infer it from Isaiah 3:12, “Isaiah tells us that the rule of women is a sign of degeneracy, not liberation.” She even goes so far to say that Deborah is only “judging” but is not a “judge” (!) as the book of Judges understands the role. Her desire, according to Mouser, was to strengthen men and not replace them, and therefore she should not be seen as a head of state.

Kim Pennington, in her article Able to Teach and Complementarian?, observes that the Old Testament shows a pattern of male leadership for the nation of Israel, and that Isaiah 3:12 demonstrates that national female leadership is “unnatural and grievous to God.” She also sticks to the line of reasoning that Deborah really wasn’t a judge since she did all of her governing privately.

Stuart W. Scott in Profiling Christian Masculinity concludes that because God gave men headship in marriage and the church and gave leadership positions to men in Israel, “It is obvious that God has given man the role of ultimate leadership.”

Finally, in an interview with John Piper, he answers a question about political leadership saying, “When a man and a woman have similar qualifications, I’m inclined to think that we should vote for the man. I would probably say it even stronger than that in light of Isaiah 3:12, where part of the judgment of God upon His people is to subject them to being ruled by women.”

In light of these previous statements, it seems to me that there is a large concession happening when Kotter says, “Therefore we must be careful to not go beyond the teaching of the Bible. The Bible calls women to specific roles in the church and home, but does not prohibit them from exercising leadership in secular political fields.” It looks like there needs to be a discussion among complementarians as to what the Bible teaches about women in society, because it does not seem clear to them what exactly it is.

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