31 August 2008

Am I Missing Something?

Somebody help me out. Or, confuse me further to begin with, if that's what it takes to get things sorted in my head. I'm genuinely puzzled and perplexed, and I would really welcome some clarity. I'm trying to understand how so many conservatives — not only political conservatives, but theological conservatives, including some of my kindred spirits — are evidently and unabashedly excited and energized by John McCain's naming of Sarah Palin as his Vice Presidential running mate.

I've got nothing against Sarah Palin. She sounds like an amazing woman. I'm glad that she's a wife and a mother of five children. I'm thankful that she did not abort her Down's Syndrome child (though I was shocked to learn that nine out of ten women do, if they know ahead of time). I'm grateful that she is so staunchly pro-life, and that she's evidently been unafraid to take on corruption in her home state of Alaska, where she is governor. These are all wonderful things. I'm not as impressed by what I've read of her religious life and church attendance, but I don't regard those factors as inherently pertinent to her nomination.

Sarah Palin's politics are impressive. I don't question for a moment that her knowledge and expertise in that arena are better than most and light years beyond me. Let no one take my confusion and concern as a doubting of this impressive woman's competence or ability. I am privileged to know many intelligent, capable women, including those who are nearest and dearest to me, who make my life and the world we live in a better place. Kudos to all of them, and to Sarah Palin, too.

But I am having a hard time understanding the appropriateness of nominating a woman for such an office as Vice President of the United States (or governor of a state, for that matter). How does this fit the order of creation? How does it harmonize with the headship of a husband and father for his wife, family and household? I realize that civil government is not the church, and this isn't a matter of the pastoral office, but I haven't bought the recent rhetoric that the roles of men and women are distinguished solely by the prohibition of women's ordination. It's clear that women should not be ordained to the pastoral office, but it doesn't follow that a woman should be free and clear to do anything and everything else that a man might otherwise do.

I'm not commenting here on the broader topic of women in the workplace, nor even the more general topic of women in politics. I'm confused enough as it is trying to sort out this present case at hand. I know that a husband is the head of his wife, as Christ is the Head of His Church. I know that a father is the head of his household. And I believe, teach and confess with the Large Catechism that the government is the office of father writ large. Presidents and Kings are the fathers of their countries. Vice President isn't quite President, but it strikes me as not so far removed, in so far as my question is concerned.

I am well aware of some very powerful queens who have reigned in the history of the world, including Christian women who have ruled with competence. I'm not sure what to say about that, either. I'm honestly looking for some explanation and some answers, as to why this should be okay and acceptable. Or, if there is no sound and solid rationale, why are conservatives of various stripes applauding the nomination of a woman for the office of Vice President? Is this really a good thing? I'm having trouble connecting the dots.

The closest thing to an answer that I've heard so far is a comparison to Deborah in the Old Testament, whom God raised up to shame the men for not fulfilling their responsibilities and rising to the call of duty. In particular, Sarah Palin has been an outspoken opponent of abortion, in a way that John McCain and many other men have not been. That's well and good, but are there no men anywhere who will stand up and be counted, who will do their duty in protecting the women and children of this country? Have we really sunk so low? If John McCain wants to champion pro-life politics, he should simply repent of any past poor performance in this area, and do better in his own efforts to safeguard the lives of the unborn. Frankly, any man that would advocate or support the legality and practice of abortion is unfit to serve office. But are there no men anywhere left who have the political acumen and the moral fortitude to oppose abortion?

Part of my concern stems from the fact that abortion, as vile and wicked as it is, belongs to a larger context in which children are viewed as an obstacle to the careers of working women. Okay, so maybe Sarah Palin is one of those oustanding super heroes who supposedly demonstrate that today's woman really can have it all and do it all. She's not only a governor and a wife and mother, but she's still having children. In fact, she had her youngest earlier this year (in April, if I have understood correctly). Yet, she is still a finite creature. Simply being a wife and having children does not necessarily mean that she is devoting all the time and energy she should to those primary vocations. Maybe being the governor of Alaska has afforded her the opportunity to juggle everything, though I have my doubts; I'm skeptical, however, that being the Vice President of the country would allow her to manage the demands of her home and family, especially with an infant and a Down's Syndrome child.

I'm not drawing my own conclusions, yet. I'm trying to think through this, and I'm very open to explanation and clarification of things I either haven't considered or simply do not understand. For the time being, though, I have to confess that the nomination of a woman to the office of Vice President does not thrill me. Not because I have anything against Sarah Palin, far less against women in general, but because I'm wondering where all the men have gone, and what has become of every fatherhood on earth.


Rev. Larry Beane said...

Dear Dr. S:

I'm also baffled. I think feminism has gotten into our blood to the point where we have surrendered the order of creation (with the sole exception of ordained ministry) to feminism - all the while convinced that this is compatible with not only conservatism, but the scriptural order of creation.

If being a great leader is license for her to lead, then how can we argue that being a great "pastor" is not license for a woman to be in the ordained ministry? This will be the big question in a few years.

Mrs. Palin is a member of Feminists for Life - which is very good and very bad. According to her own words, she does not believe in any distinction between the roles of men and women - but LCMS conservatives will just uncritically gush, pleased that McCain didn't pick another moderate like himself to round out the ticket - even considering the fact that she has small children - including a Down syndrome infant.

A few years ago, Rush Limbaugh coined the term "feminazi", but today he is championing a self-described feminist for VP. But I guess she's "our feminist" - so the heck with her children and with her vocation of wife and mother. In politics, pragmatism trumps principles.

I really do believe that modern conservatism has lost its bearings. It is today largely an inconsistent agenda governed by pragmatism and the Religion of Winning at Any Cost.

An interesting survey of current conservative thinking regarding Mrs. Palin and the roles of the sexes can be found here.

Again, the conservative understanding of the order of creation has taken a radical shift. I think this shift will find itself breaking the "glass ceiling" in the LCMS (specifically with regard to ordained ministry) in the next generation.

According to the prophet Isaiah, having female rulers doesn't seem like something to celebrate (Isa 3:12).

I really feel bad for her little son who needs a mommy (not to mention her husband who needs a helpmeet) way more than America needs Mrs. Palin to have the seemingly "more important" job than wife and mother.

Where are the "family values" here? Look how low the bar has gotten in conservatism. Today, you win accolades for just not murdering your children. But spending long hours away from husband and children (even infants!) is just shrugged off as the cost of Being Important.

WM Cwirla said...

The closest thing to an answer that I've heard so far is a comparison to Deborah in the Old Testament, whom God raised up to shame the men for not fulfilling their responsibilities and rising to the call of duty.

Where in Scripture does it say this exactly?

Rev. Rick Stuckwisch said...

Good question, Pastor Cwirla.

It does appear to be implicit in the story, in particular in the way that the enemy commander is pointedly killed by a woman. But perhaps it isn't even a legitimate comparison to begin with.

As I say, however, it is so far the closest thing I've heard to an explanation.

WM Cwirla said...

With a tent peg through the head, no less. Nasty way to go.

I note also that Deborah was a prophetess as well as a judge, while being the wife of Lappidoth (Judges 4:4). I'm not sure what all that entails, but the Word of the Lord was certainly with her indicating some measure of divine approval, no?

Where in the Scripture does it say that women are not to hold public office in government?

Rev. Rick Stuckwisch said...

Yes, Deborah had the Word of the Lord. I don't question that. Of course, the Lord also placed Saul into the office of king (or prince), while at the same time clearly indicating that the people had, by asking for such a king, rejected Him as their King. God often permits, and even uses, that which is not in line with His will.

As far as the Scriptures are concerned, I don't have any Word of the Lord in mind that specifically forbids a woman from serving in public office. Nor, for that matter, have I spoken in any broad, general fashion concerning "public office." I've been pretty clear that I'm asking a question regarding the nomination of a woman to the office of Vice President.

My question is prompted by the way in which Scripture does speak very clearly, in my opinion, concerning the headship of husbands and fathers within their own families and households. In connection with that, I note that the Large Catechism locates the authority of government in the office of father (though I'm working from memory here, and perhaps I am missing some crucial distinction or detail). I'm raising the question, not because I already have a definitive answer (which a clear and straightforward Word of the Lord would obviously provide). I'm asking because I'm trying to understand how a woman could appropriately be placed into an office of headship within our country. Clearly, many of my like-minded conservative colleagues think Sarah Palin's nomination is not only okay, but a great thing. So I'm trying to figure it out.

Regarding Deborah, again, she was pointedly not a royal ruler; Israel had no such thing. The Judges were distinct from the monarchy, as 1 Samuel makes clear. Of course, the United States is not Israel, in any event, nor any sort of theocracy, so I'm thinking the analogy to Deborah is stretched to begin with. But Deborah judged by speaking the Word of the Lord that she was given. So, what I'm looking for, in this case, is a Word of the Lord that would give some sound and solid rationale for a woman (indeed, a wife and mother with a newborn) being placed into a prominent position of headship. Can you help me?

Rev. James Leistico said...

while I'm more in line with Cwirla on this, your post did get me to wonder about this question:
Are theological conservatives openly supporting Palin partially in defense of their stance against women's ordination? I can't answer for others, but as for me it does seem that I am so tired of being labeled as anti-woman that when the smallest chance comes along to support a woman, the temptation is to go over the top in support - even though it means looking the other way and giving a free-pass to failings that might otherwise bother me. If Mr. Palin were the Governor and now VP candidate, I don't know that I'd have listened to the introductory speech on the radio on Friday.

WM Cwirla said...

According to the theological conservatives I know who have left-hand kingdom opinions and support McCain/Palin, it is more for her pro-life, pro-gun, anti-gay marriage (the conservative trifecta) position, not to mention that she favors drilling ANWR. I don't sense any compensation for some perceived misogyny over women's ordination. This is a matter of the proper distinction of the two kingdoms, after all.

WM Cwirla said...

So, what I'm looking for, in this case, is a Word of the Lord that would give some sound and solid rationale for a woman (indeed, a wife and mother with a newborn) being placed into a prominent position of headship. Can you help me?

I don't think you'll find one, one way or the other, at least not without some logical gymnastics that would rival the Chinese Olympic team.

There seems to be several issues in play:

1. Women in government.
2. Married women in government.
3. Married women with small children in government.

#3 is largely pragmatic, though one might argue vocational priority. #1-2 may be matters of theological principle, and then you have to figure out what the principle is and does it proceed directly from the text of Scripture. Derivative arguments, of course, need to be tested for their logical coherency.

If your anxiety is over #3, that Sarah Palin is a mother of young children, the youngest having special needs, I think many, myself included, share that concern. We would in any job that takes time and energy away from the child.

If your anxiety is over #2, then we have to consider whether a husband can still be head of the house, even if his wife is head of state. Let's think about Prince Philip and Queen Elizabeth or even better, Dennis Thatcher and the great Margaret Thatcher.

If the anxiety is over #1, then we have to consider whether it is a violation of a principle of the "order of creation" to even have women in any office of leadership in government (mayor, governor, etc), or whether such a principle actually exists.

Let's not forget Indira Ghandi, Benazir Bhutto, Golda Meier, etc.

WM Cwirla said...

I'm going to hazard an attempt to analyze the dilemma. It appearsto me to be a conflict of ethical schemes: deontological vs teleological. In a deontological approach to ethics, one begins with hard and fast principles and then pursues a path to a goal. The alternative ethical scheme is teleological wherein the goal is predominant while the specific pathway may vary in principle.

At least three principles seem to be in play in the original post:

1. The headship of man over woman (or more narrowly husband over wife, depending on whom you ask).

2. The so-called "order of creation" which is often invoked as the underlying principle of #1.

3. The derivation of governing authority in general from the parental authority of the father of the family.

Assuming all these principles are indeed valid, for the sake of argument, a deontological approach will try to keep all three inviolate, hence the anxiety.

A teleological approach would subordinate the principles in service of the goal (whether getting a conservative elected, having a pro-life candidate, presenting a popular, electable candidate, etc). The teleological approach is far more comfortable with exceptions.

Deontologicals are notoriously difficult to get elected (and to establish fellowship with). Their deontological position demands that they stick to their principles regardless of the outcome. There are no shades of gray allowed here. Of course, the danger with a purely teleological approach is that the end justifies the means and one has no guiding principles whatsoever.

In my opinion, the left-handed world of politics calls for a reasoned combination of the two, wherein principles are adhered to, but not simply for their own sake, and compromise (often the lesser of two evils) is possible.

I also believe that some personality types are more comfortable with ambiguity and compromise than others, but that's best left for another post.

Rev. Larry Beane said...

Some interesting excepts from this article from the London Times.

“She opposes same-sex marriage, but one of her first acts in office was to veto a bill blocking health benefits for gay lovers of public employees.” This decision to surrender to the gay agenda may be related to the next quote: “’I was raised in a family where gender was not going to be an issue,’” she said. ‘The girls did what the boys did. Apparently in Alaska that’s quite commonplace.’”


Here is an interesting item to consider as well concerning Mr. Palin: “Like his wife, he is able to swap the traditional roles. ‘My husband loves being a dad as much as I love being a mom,’ Palin said. ‘I’ve got great help there.’” So, just who is the “help meet” (Gen 2:18) in this family? Who is the “keeper at home” (Titus 2:4)? Swap traditional roles? There is an increasing acceptance among conservatives of the feminist argument that men and women are interchangeable units that only differ in plumbing, that there is no vocational (let alone spiritual and ontological) difference between the sexes.

Which leads to disturbing situations like this (which are far too common among Christians and non-Christians alike): “[S]he held a meeting as governor three days after giving birth. ‘I just put down the BlackBerrys and pick up the breast pump,’ she said of her life as a working mother.” Attending a meeting with her BlackBerry three days (!) after her child was born takes precedence over bonding with her son at the breast. Good for us the Virgin Mary didn’t aspire to be something more “important” than being “just” a wife and mother.

And look at how Republicans today sound like Democrats of only two decades ago: “Republican women, however, are delighted by Palin’s example. Kellyanne Conway, 41, a Republican pollster and mother of three, said, ‘I really feel mother knows best without the peanut gallery giving unsolicited advice. She strongly conveys to women today that you don’t have to choose between a successful career and motherhood. You do have to make sacrifices, but you can have it all.’”

Career and motherhood. You can have it all. Well, at least for the cost of a few “sacrifices.” I think the children are the ones making the sacrifices here. Or maybe more accurately, they are the ones being sacrificed. Let’s face it, in this culture, career is Priority Number One – and if the children have to be “sacrificed” – so be it. The liberals kill them, and the conservatives hire someone else to bond with them, raise them, and mother them. While not as extreme as the former, the latter is indeed a “sacrifice” - so that “Mom” can “have it all.” Didn’t we used to consider greed to be one of the seven deadlies?

Maybe this is what God was trying to prevent in making the man the head, and the woman to be *his* helpmeet. Maybe this is why women lactate and men don’t. Maybe this is why the *man* was cursed with the need to work and the *woman* was cursed by pain in conception and birth. Being pro-choice runs deeper than being anti-abortion.

And check out this next one: “Deborah Fikes, a board member of the National Association of Evangelicals, said: ‘I would just trust that the child is not neglected in any way. There are millions of women who work. Why is it that the father cannot provide the same standard of care? There has been an evolving view of working women even in conservative Christian circles.’”

Indeed. We are evolving – especially in the realm of gender. In our grandfather’s church, women didn’t serve as elders, congregational presidents, acolytes, and Eucharistic ministers. Our grandmothers raised their children instead of putting them in daycare so they could have a *fulfilling* career. They didn’t swap traditional gender roles – neither in the matter of the husband being his wife’s helpmeet, nor owing his wife submission as his governor (Rom 13:1), nor in signing bills into law that are the logical consequence of feminism and gender egalitarianism: benefits for gay lovers.

The current homosexual problems of the Anglican communion are the direct consequence of the Church’s embrace of feminism – which is, by definition, the rejection of the order of creation. And remember, Gov. Palin describes herself as a “feminist.”

I do believe that if Mrs. Palin were “liberal” instead of “conservative” (as if the terms really had much meaning any more) , and if the Democrats had put her up as VP – conservative Christians would be all over the gender-role switching in her family, the decision to leave her three day old infant to attend a meeting, the signing of gay rights legislation, as well as the unmarried pregnant daughter.

But she’s a feminist with an “R” next to her name – so whatever she does is okay. She may be a feminist – but she’s *our* feminist.

Maybe we should take heed of the Word of the Lord given to Isaiah (3:12): “As for My people, children are their oppressors, And women rule over them. O My people! Those who lead you cause you to err, And destroy the way of your paths.”

chaplain7904 said...

Pastor, your post is long enough, but the comments even longer, so I don't have time to read them all.

Here are what I consider the plain facts:

1. Sarah Palin was picked because she is a female, (even as Obama the presidential candidate only because he's black.)

2. Sarah was picked, secondly, because she's got some nice qualities and abilities which will gain voters for McCain.

3. We (the church) can't have our way in the world. The world is spiritually dead and doesn't comprehend the things of the Spirit of God. In a double whammy by the devil, the world has also rebelled against reason in the last 50 years or so. It's impossible to say to a person today: be reasonable. The meaning of that phrase no longer exists. (One of the many curses of sin is that it often makes us just plain stupid.)

4. Because of our understanding of the two kingdoms, we can live in and take part in the left hand kingdom, even if it's institutions and behavior is not in accord with our faith.

This is why, e.g., Christian young men can enter the military - even though they're defending a country which murders babies in the womb and commits a thousand other national sins.

There will not be, nor can there be, nor should we expect God's will to be the law of the land. That would be heaven on earth.

AP,XV answers all these questions nicely.

Just because we take part in civil affairs doesn't mean we approve of them. Nor does it means that we are, "convinced that this is compatible with not only convservatism, but the scriptural order of creation," to quote Fr. Hollywood.

Sarah Palin is no saint or redemptress. She is a breath of fresh air, but this only her role in the play. She's still a politician, and anyone who expects good (beyond basic law and order) to come from government is mistaken.

As Jeremiah told the captives in Babylon: pray for the good of the city.

Pastor Peasant said...

Heath Curtis begins to wrestle with some of these issues in his article in Logia XVI:3, Holy Trinity 2007. Perhaps this will help. Worth the read.

chaplain7904 said...

I think I recall Fr. Hollywood writing quite a nice post about a female police officer who was pregnant and killed in the line of duty. I'd like to find that and read it again. It puts everything in the proper perspective. But it still doesn't make the world do what we know is best.

Fr. H. can you post that again?

Eric said...

I don’t know if comments from laymen are welcome in this conversation, but I hope you will permit a question. First, let me say that I am not thrilled at the nomination of Sarah Palin, for many of the reasons articulated here. But I have seen Isaiah 3:12 come up a couple of times in this discussion and it is emphasized even more elsewhere on the Internet. The verse seems to suggest, as Father Hollywood says, that having female rulers may not be something to celebrate. But it seems to me that we Lutherans often celebrate our freedom to enjoy “adult beverages,” even though the Bible speaks more frequently about wine in the same sort of negative language Isaiah uses in this verse on the subject of women rulers.

So I’m wondering... If heeding Isaiah’s warning means that we ought not rejoice in (or support in principle) the elevation of women to positions of civil authority, then shouldn’t a proper respect for Proverbs 23:29-35 teach us just as surely that we ought not touch alcohol? I don’t consider myself a tee-totaler or a feminist. I’m just wondering about that particular verse in Isaiah, and wondering if what I perceive as a potential inconsistency is truly that.

Rev. Rick Stuckwisch said...

Dear Eric, thanks for your comments and questions. Laymen (and lay women) are always welcome to comment on my blog.

Perhaps others will have a more specific answer to your question, but it seems to me that, while the Scriptures speak clearly against drunkenness, they do not prohibit the drinking of alcohol, but rather at times speak of it, wine in particular, in very positive and commendable terms. The fact that our Lord Himself provided wine for the wedding in Cana is already a compelling example; but even more significant is the fact that He has chosen wine as the means by which He pours out His holy, precious blood for His Christians to drink in the Holy Communion.

The passage from Isaiah is one that should be taken seriously. But of course, it should also be interpreted within its context, both the immediate context and the wider context of the Holy Scriptures. The example of the prophetess Deborah, who judged Israel with the Word of the Lord, has been cited and should also be taken into account. I've tried to suggest, myself, that the order of creation and the headship of men within their homes and families are foundational considerations.

While I've not arrived at any final conclusions, I've yet to hear (or read) any convincing explanations as to the propriety and appropriateness of a woman being nominated or elected to serve as a chief executive officer of the government. Pastor Cwirla's logical analysis of my quandry has been helpful, but it hasn't answered my question; it's simply rephrased my question with clarity (thanks, Pastor Cwirla). So far, I would have to say that the election of a woman to such an office as that of Vice President is a case of compromise for the sake of expediency, or the lesser of evils, both of which I can understand, but neither of which seem a cause for celebration but for remorse, regret and repentance.

Let me clarify that I do not at all suppose that Christians should avoid participation in the realm of politics and government. It is precisely because I do have a responsibility, also in that realm, that I want to make wise and godly decisions for my own part. I already know that I could not in good conscience vote for Obama. The chief purpose and responsibililty of human government is to protect, defend and avenge human life ("whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed"). This, it seems to me, is part of the way in which government is the office of father writ large; as a father is responsible for the care and protection of his family. Obama's attitudes toward abortion show him to be unfit for office. That much is already clear in my mind. What I'm trying to determine is whether I could, in good conscience, vote for Sarah Palin (or any woman) to serve as Vice President of our country. Perhaps it will come down to choosing the lesser of evils, as it often does; and perhaps that does make this a situation similar to that of Deborah in the Old Testament. But, as I have said, I would like to believe that there are still men with the political acumen and the moral fortitude to do what governing authorities ought to do: punishing evildoers and praising the good, instead of praising evil and punishing the innocent.

chaplain7904 said...

Pastor S. writes, "I've yet to hear (or read) any convincing explanations as to the propriety and appropriateness of a woman being nominated or elected to serve as a chief executive officer of the government."

Pastor K. responds, "Who's propriety and appropriateness" are we talking about? A Lutheran woman who takes her faith seriously would probably not do what Sarah Palin does. She would recognize her primary vocations as wife and mother and understand that those are full time vocations, and not compromise them (except from sinful temptation and weakness, to which all of us are subject).

On the other hand, can we hope to impose God's way on the world? It's been tried before and never works. If Sarah Palin were my member I'd want to have some serious talks about vocation with her. On the other hand if her kids were grown, it would be a different story.

Pastor S writes, "I want to make wise and godly decisions for my own part."

Pastor K. responds, "Your godly decisions aren't in question here. All you can do is vote for the government which will do the least harm. It's like choosing the most beautiful contestant in an ugly contest."

Pastor S. writes,"I would like to believe that there are still men with the political acumen and the moral fortitude to do what governing authorities ought to do: punishing evildoers and praising the good, instead of praising evil and punishing the innocent."

Pastor K. responds, "Political acumen and moral fortitude are mutually exclusive. If the man isn't corrupt when he starts (which is doubtful) this type of high office will corrupt him, I don't care how Christian or non-Christian he may happen to be.

Sorry to say it. And no one could say that with more confidence than a Lutheran -- who like Jesus "knows what is in man" John 2:25.

Sarah Palin may seem like Casper the Friendly Ghost, but remember, first and foremost she's still a ghost." She'll give us nothing better than Hillary Clinton or Nancy Pelosi. Politicians live for one reason only: to take the money and freedom of their citizens, and to gain their total dependence and allegience. All else is play-acting. And she plays a nice part. I'm enjoying it. So much so that I'm almost willing to suspend belief for a few short moments because is feels so good.

Naomi said...

I'm sure there are lots of men that are just as pro-life as Mrs. Palin however, maybe a woman is what this sinful country needs at this time. (Not that I'm trying to compare her to Deborah and saying I think God is behind her at all! :) )

One commercial for Mr. Obama I've been hearing lately talks about how Mr. McCain is "out of touch" with women and wants to take away their freedoms and choice, etc. So they should protect themselves and vote for Obama. I'm sure they were planning on using that argument for whoever Mr. McCain chose to be his running mate. However, there is no way they could say she's "out of touch" with women when she is one and has a baby with disabilities and now has a daughter who is about to become a teenage mother (two situations that, I think, the average American would think it's fine to solve by having an abortion). People will have a harder time just dismissing everything she has to say and so they might actually stop and listen to her.

Chuck Wiese said...

Dr. S:

I am puzzled and confused as well. I've been a Chuck Baldwin supporter but this recent decision by McCain has thrown me for a loop. In principle, I think it is a poor use of the gifts that God has given to women to waste her talents on the VP slot and I'm not sure it's safe for women in general to be placed a heartbeat away from the position of commander and chief (McCain does have real health problems).

On the other hand, a staunchly pro-life woman who has practiced what she preaches does take the common, "He's just a man trying to control women's bodies" off the table. But is this just pragmatism? I honestly don't know.

Rev. Rick Stuckwisch said...

Your points are well-taken, Pastor K, even if a bit cynical, but I'm not sure I follow your arguments entirely.

For my part, I'm not trying to impose "Christian values" on Sarah Palin, but I am inquiring after the order of creation, which is a matter of natural law and pertains to everyone (like it or not); and I'm concerned about what is in the best interest of good government, which is, in fact, one of God's gifts of daily bread, even for the benefit of "all the wicked."

Notwithstanding the evil intentions of man's heart (and woman's, too), I still believe that the governing authorities are instituted by God for our good.

My concerns, arising in this case of Sarah Palin's nomination, are not only pertaining to her vocations as a wife and mother, but to the headship of husbands and fathers within their homes and families; and by that, I'm not so much referring to Mr. Palin, but to the way in which the President is to be a father of the country (leastwise, that is how I understand the Large Catechism). I take it as axiomatic that no one should be elected to the office of Vice President who should not be elected to the office of President.

I understand (in my own limited way) the political savvy and tactic involved in John McCain's selection of Sarah Palin to be his vice presidential running mate. Impressive move, it seems to me. But is it right? Even in the general prayers of the Church, we intercede for the leaders of our country, that they would exercise their offices according to God's good pleasure.

Naomi, your points are also well-taken along these same lines. I don't discount the fact that God brings good even out of evil, and I will certainly rejoice if fewer babies are put to death in the womb because of Sarah Palin (no matter what her office and station may be). Yet, I remain wary of succumbing to the temptation of the ends justifying the means. As St. Paul catechizes the Romans and us, the fact that God causes grace to abound does not mean that we should sin all the more, but that we should henceforth live unto righteousness.

Anyway, I appreciate the input, and I hope the discussion continues. It's very helpful, but I'm still not entirely clear as to how I should think about these matters.

chaplain7904 said...

Well dear Brother, there's no answer. The world is what it is, and we are commanded to live in it, and partake in it as best we can, as well as pray for it's political structures (which need our prayers).

Unknown said...

Dear Pastors,

I am also a layperson, female I must confess.

Having read all the blog comments to date, there are a few areas of thought that are not clear to me.

1) When referring to the "order of creation", what exactly, word for word (in English please, not Hebrew) are you referring to, and how does this relate to the question of women holding public office in a democracy?

2) When referring to "Lutheran" ideas of the authority of the state deriving from the family, it seems to me that any authority, especially within a family involves some greater or lesser degree of delegation of that authority. For example, I think Luther stated that the father has the primary responsibility to teach his children especially in spiritual matters. However, I believe Luther also allows that the father may delegate this responsibility to another (i.e. pastor, or in the case of most homeschooling moms: to the mother). Knowing that the father has the ultimate responsibility for the outcome of the teaching in this case, does that mean that the father himself necessarily must teach the subject?

In the same way, if a father has determined that his wife should serve in a certain capacity, and the father has ensured that the other responsibilities usually covered by the mother are taken care of to the satisfaction of the father, and since the father ultimately has the responsibility before God of governing his own household, then it seems that second guessing his decisions about his own household by the outward appearance is a bit like judging someone else's servant. To his own master he will stand or fall.

3) Another area that I'd like to hear you further express is that of the Lutheran understanding of natural law in light of the freedom of the Gospel given in Christ. It has always been of some interest to me that Leviticus is very very detailed and explicit about some aspects, and quite silent about other aspects of husband/wife relationships. I found no where in Leviticus or Deuteronomy a statement such as "the wife must be home with children while the husband works outside the home for money". In fact, the proverb of the ideal wife implies that she is out buying and selling, and planting fields and investing the profits. I think the proverb of the ideal wife does not even refer to breastfeeding her infant children (Although I am VERY pro breastfeeding) but rather talks about providing for the needs of her household.

4) There is comment in the blog posts about women submitting to men. But in all I have read in the Word of God, I have only found references to wives submitting to their own husbands as unto the Lord. Please help me out with this concept with actual quotes from the Word of God.

4) I can see from the various comments that one of the deep concerns is the implications for women ministers within the Lutheran church. But it seems to me that in your zeal to protect the pastorate from women pastors (which I also agree with, since the Word of God is pretty explicitly clear about that) you are making a "hedge around the Torah", perhaps requiring things and restricting things that the Word of God itself does not require or restrict.

It seems to me that if you as pastors approach this issue from a law standpoint, you will end with more heat than light.

I am very interested to see the remainder of the comments.

Rev. Rick Stuckwisch said...

Thanks for your comments and questions, Donna. I'm not sure I can answer everything here, but I'll try to respond to some of what you've asked.

First of all, the "order of creation" refers to the fact, as St. Paul describes especially in First Corinthians 11, that God made man first, and then the woman for man. It pertains to matters of vocation in the world, and the way in which men and women relate to each other in the home and family, in the Church, and in society.

I don't have any qualms about what you have described as a delegation of authority within a home and family. Of course, this is part of the headship that a husband and father exercises. What we're talking about in the case of a chief executive officer, however, is a particular office, not the delegation of official duties. While a husband and father may "delegate" various things to his wife, for example, he is not free to relinquish his office as husband and father to her.

This is one of the reasons that I have specifically not addressed the more general questions of women in the workplace or in public office. I've addressed myself specifically to the question of a woman serving as a chief executive officer, such as President (or Vice President in this specific case).

Again, my concern is not with the details of the Palin household, whether they are wise or unwise or whatever. My concern is for the "family and household" of our government, whether it is appropriate for a woman to be given the office of Vice President.

I'm sorry that I don't exactly understand your question about the natural law and how it pertains to the freedom of the Gospel. I don't have any objections to women doing all sorts of things, so I don't follow your line of thought in that regard. Being Vice President isn't just another job on the marketplace.

But in general, the freedom of the Gospel does not mean that we now live lawlessly. It means that we are free of the curse and burden of the Law, because we are righteous before God by grace through faith in Christ. Hence, we are now free to live unto righteousness in Him. The Christian desires and delights to live according to His will, which is revealed in the Law and fulfilled in Christ.

The way that Luther very helpfully speaks of the freedom of the Gospel (in several places), he emphasizes that we are, on the one hand, entirely free before God by faith, the slave of no man; but in love we are bound to serve the neighbor as the servant of all men. The natural law also belongs to this discussion, not as condemnation, but as a guide to the way in which we are given to serve our neighbor.

Natural law also refers to the structures that God has established -- and which He upholds -- within creation. Those structures of creation are not undone by our redemption in Christ, but restored and sanctified and fulfilled in the way that God intended. That is why "the freedom of the Gospel" does not justify "gay marriage," for example.

Mention has been made concerning the office of the ministry and the prohibition of women's ordination. But there isn't a confusion of that topic with the topic at hand. In fact, I mentioned that comparison to begin with for the very sake of dinstinguishing the two topics. My question (which has not yet been any conclusion) has not stemmed from a comparison of the pastoral office with that of the president or vice president. It has rather stemmed from the fact that government in the world derives its authority from the office of father. Just as all of society and every relationship derives from the original creation of man and woman, from the God-given vocations of marriage and the family (husbands and wives, fathers and mothers of children). My reference to natural law is especially because these vocations do not depend upon Christianity, nor are they exclusive to Christians, but they are universal "laws" that God has established within His creation. That is something quite different from the very explicit laws of Leviticus, which do not even pertain to us Christians in the way they did specifically to the Old Testament Israelites.

I'm not sure that I've said much about women submitting to men in general. I've rather spoken of the headship and authority that God has given to men as husbands and fathers within their own homes and families. We are also commanded to submit to the governing authorities, as the Table of Duties indicates with various passages of the Holy Scripture.

Again, while I do have some pastoral concerns for Sarah Palin and her family, as to her vocations as wife and mother, I've really not intended to focus on that. I think those questions are circumstantial to my main question and concern. I've simply raised the question, and so far I'm still waiting for any sort of compelling answer. Most of what I've heard in affirmation of Sarah Palin's nomination sounds like cynical resolve or compromise for the sake of expediency. I can relate to either or both of those, and I can live with the fact that we find ourselves in a fallen world, but I am still searching for a sound and solid rationale for understanding what we're dealing with.

My understanding is not that government is "analagous" to the home and family, but that it derives its authority, its place and purpose in the world, from the divinely established office of the father. This is the way that I find Luther speaking on the Fourth Commandment, but I do not think it is simply a "Lutheran" teaching. I believe that the responsibilities of government, as established by God in Genesis following the flood, and as summarized by St. Paul in Romans 13, are the very sort of responsibilities that a husband and father has for his household (whether he or they are Christian or not). So, I have simply been asking whether it is appropriate for a woman to be given that sort of paternal office and responsibility.

It is not a matter of delegation, but of abdication or death on the part of the man, when a woman is made the head of her household. So, if it has become expedient or even necessary for a woman to be elected as Vice President of our country, perhaps we should conclude that all of the men have either abdicated their responsibility or died. At which point, instead of celebrating, we ought to be repenting with remorse.

Finally, with respect to your concern about approaching this issue from the standpoint of the law, it is simply a fact that the government is a structure of law: for the punishment of evildoers and the praise of those who do well. The Gospel is pastorally brought to bear upon individuals, including Sarah Palin and her family, but questions pertaining to the right ordering of our government are questions of law. And the Law, outside of the doctrine of justification, is not our enemy; nor is it evil. The Law is good (Romans 7), and it is rightly used in the world (1 Timothy 1). It is also a lamp to our feet and light to our path, as it is the good and acceptable will of God. Christians are not lawless, neither in their own lives nor in their dealings with the world around them. In fact, it is precisely in relation to our neighbors that we follow the Law of the Lord as the measure of Love; which we see fulfilled for us and for all in Christ.

I hope these further comments and reflections are helpful. Perhaps they will prompt some additional responses, which will be helpful to me.

Rev. Rick Stuckwisch said...

It probably also bears mention that, if the natural law is set aside in deference to freedom (whether of the Gospel or otherwise), then you no longer have any grounds on which to oppose abortion.

Rev. Michael Monterastelli said...

maybe someone has already asked this, but i'm short on time, so here goes: what's the difference between a married woman who runs a large household with male and female servants and a married woman who runs an even larger and more complex household like a company or a government?
At home she is subject to her husband and in our government she is still subject to the People. President's of the USA are still subject to male and female Citizens. In neither case is she functioning as the head of a household in the way that a man would.

Rev. Rick Stuckwisch said...

Others seem to have this figured out and settled in their own minds, but I'm still wrestling with it, myself. I guess I'm free to do that, since this is my own blog. Anyone else is welcome to chime in, or not, as you like.

Various people have offered the perspective that Mr. Palin (Todd?) has the authority to permit his wife to become Vice President. Clearly, he doesn't have the authority to make her the Vice President, since that office is not his to give or delegate. But may he permit his wife to undertake this office and its obligations? Such questions and considerations do not really pertain to my primary concern, as I have not mainly been interested in the ins and outs of the Palin household, but with the "household" of our United States government. Nevertheless, let me offer some things to think about, in so far as Mr. Palin's headship of his home and family relate to the main question at hand.

First of all, some hypoethetical and analogical scenarios, to think about in comparison to the matter of whether Mr. Palin (for example) may permit his wife to be the Vice President of the United States:

Does a husband have the authority to permit his wife to commit murder? No. But that's an easy one, because murder is against the law of the land, as well as against the Law of God.

Well, then, does a husband have the authority to permit his wife to have an abortion? Abortion is legal by the laws of the land (and I'm not sure the law even requires the baby's daddy's permission in any case). But from the standpoint of the Law of God, I would say that, no, a husband's permission does not justify abortion.

But what about the case of a woman with an ectopic pregnancy? Would her husband have the authority to permit her to have an abortion in such a case, for the sake of the larger responsibility he has to protect his wife and family? Under those circumstances, I would say that such a decision is legitimate, but only because, in this fallen world, we are faced with having to choose between the lesser of evils (a topic that has recently been discussed on the blog of one of my young friends). Surely the legitimacy of such a painful decision does not make it "right," far less a cause for celebration, but rather calls us all to repentance.

So, in the case of Sarah Palin, my question is not whether her husband has authority to permit her to do things in general, but whether it is according to the good and acceptable will of God for a woman to be placed into a chief executive office of a country. And if it really is the case that we are faced with no other options, then choosing the lesser of two evils still does not make me want to celebrate.

Okay, let us say that Sarah Palin is elected to Vice President; and her husband has exercised his headship and authority to permit this sacrifice on the part of his family. How would things play out if, two years into her term of office, Mr. Palin determines that it isn't in the best interests of his wife and his marriage, his children, his family and household, for his wife to continue serving in that capacity? Would he be able to say to her, "Sarah, you need to resign your office as Vice President of the United States and come home and take care of our children and our home and family"? If the argument is that she may assume this office with his permission, under his headship and authority, then he should also have the prerogative to "call her home." But, again, how would that play out?

Or, let us say that, whether by Mr. McCain's death, or by a subsequent election, Sarah Palin becomes President of the United States. And let us say that she issues an executive order, perhaps sending the United States into war. But let us say that Mr. Palin has strong convictions and conscientious objections to this order. As Sarah's husband and head, would he have the authority to countermand her executive order? Presumably not, by the laws of the land. But what does that scenario suggest concerning the authority and headship of a husband over his wife and family?

I'm not asking these questions to be difficult, nor because I've got any foregone conclusions. I'm honestly trying to understand the positive excitement that I have witnessed in many of my conservative colleagues over the nomination of a woman for the office of Vice President. It seems that either I am missing something of key significance, or that others are rationalizing things for the sake of expediency.

Rev. Rick Stuckwisch said...

Brokenbeaker, thanks for your helpful observation. I've actually pondered something along those same lines, but you've phrased it nicely.

I guess I'm not sure to what extent "the People" exercise authority over a sitting President. Our democratic form of government is different than a monarchy, which is significant.

I'll have to think about this some more. It's a good and worthwhile point to consider. Perhaps others will also have some reflections on it.

Erich Heidenreich, DDS said...

Pr. Stuckwisch,

I'm glad to find out I'm not the only one who had this reaction to Palin's nomination. I appreciate your discussion here.

Something I might add here for you to chew on are two quotes, the first from Luther commenting on Ecclesiastes:

Ecclesiastes 7:26. "And I found more bitter than death the woman whose heart is snares and nets and whose hands are fetters; he who pleases God escapes her, but the sinner is taken by her."

"Among the things I have noticed about fools is this one, which has to do with women. For when he was writing a catalog of vanities, it would not do to pass over this. What happens to fools who try to keep hands off and to do nothing and to be free of everything is that they fall into the hands of women and are obliged to serve women. He is speaking about a woman who administers things and arrogates wisdom and ruling power to herself. He is not speaking about the wrath of women, although it is true that a woman has a more tempestuous nature than a man. This is not a condemnation of the female sex, which is a creation of God. For the sex must be kept distinct from its weaknesses, just as earlier he made a distinction between the works of God and the counsels of men. A human being is a work of God, but beyond this work he wants to follow also his own counsels and not to be controlled solely by God, by whom he has nevertheless been created and made. In the same way the sex must be kept distinct from its weaknesses. As a creature of God, a woman is to be looked upon with reverence. For she was created to be around the man, to care for children and to bring them up in an honest and godly way, and to be subject to the man. Men, on the other hand, are commanded to govern and have the rule over women and the rest of the household. But if a woman forsakes her office and assumes authority over her husband, she is no longer doing her own work, for which she was created, but a work that comes from her own fault and from evil. For God did not create this sex for ruling, and therefore they never rule successfully.

"In opposition to this one could cite the histories about the Amazons, celebrated by Greek writers. They are said to have exercised authority and to have waged war. For my part, however, I believe that what is said of them is a fable. The Ethiopians select women as both kings and princes, as is their custom; thus Candace, the queen of Ethiopia, is mentioned in the Book of Acts (Acts 8:27). But this is a foolish thing to do, as foolish princes are often put in charge of a kingdom. Never has there been divine permission for a woman to rule. Of course, it can happen that she is put into the place of the king and of the kingdom; but then she always has a senate of leading men, by whose counsel everything should be administered. Therefore even though a woman may occupy the king’s place, this does not confirm the right of women to rule. For the text is clear (Gen. 3:16): “You shall be under the power of your husband, and he shall rule over you.” The woman was created for her special purpose, namely, to use prudence and reason in the rearing of children. For everyone functions most efficiently in that for which he was created. A woman can handle a child better with her little finger than a man can with both fists. Therefore let everyone remain in that work to which he has been called and ordained by God."

Luther's Works (15:130)

The second quote is from Pieper's Dogmatics:

"On the other hand, Scripture teaches that woman in her relation to man occupied a position of subordination even before the Fall. This fact is expressed in the term used in Gen. 2:18: “an helpmeet for him.” The same thought is voiced in the New Testament. 1 Cor. 11:9: “Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man.” Hence woman is forbidden to exercise dominion over man. 1 Tim. 2:12: “I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man.” There are two reasons for this: a) Adam was created first, then Eve (v. 13), and b) the woman introduced a disastrous innovation—sin (v. 14: “Adam was not deceived, but the woman, being deceived, was in the transgression”). It is the plain teaching of Scripture that in relation to the man, the woman is in a position of subordination. Both the order of creation and the order established after the Fall assign her that position.

"People in our day are becoming more and more oblivious to this divine order, and this for two reasons. In spite of its wide circulation the Bible exerts less influence on human society than formerly, and good common sense, in spite of all advances in technical science, is rapidly diminishing among men. We find in Luther two different sets of statements on the position of woman in human society. On the one hand, he says: “God did not set up womankind to rule, neither in the Church nor in secular offices” (St. L. II:687). Again: “The Holy Ghost has excluded women from the government of the Church” (St. L. XVI:2280). On the other hand, Luther requires men to show special reverence (reverentia) to woman, because the woman is the mother and educator of the human race. “Muller ut est creatura Dei, cure reverentia spectanda est; ad hoc enim, est creata, ut circa virum sit, ut filios nutriat et educet honeste et pie” (Opp. ex., Erl. XXI:170; St. L. V:1516). (“Since woman is a creature of God, she is to be regarded with reverence; for this purpose, indeed, she was created that she should be with man, that she should nurture and train children in honesty and piety.”) Luther maintains consistently that God’s creation of man and woman with a different sex appoints and fits them for a separate sphere of activity. He says: “Each one functions best as he has been created. ‘A woman with her little finger does better by a child than a man with both his fists.’ Let everyone stick to that work to which God has called and appointed him.” (St. L. V:1517.) This is the Scriptural position. Scripture makes the home the sphere of the woman; it distinguishes sharply between the forbidden public and the permitted and commanded domestic activity of woman."

[Pieper, F., Christian Dogmatics (1:524-525)]

Unknown said...

One follow up question for all the readers, to make sure that I am understanding the implications of the two passages which Dr. Heidenreich quoted, please highlight for me the appropriate letters

Is the conclusion of these passages that women should have no role in:

a) Work for employment outside of the home.
b) Teaching anyone other than her children.
c) Have authority over any male of any age.
d) Have authority over any male of age 18 or older.
e) Hold any profession which would involve any authority over any male age 18 or older.
f) Hold any office of any sort of teaching authority within the church.
g) Speak publically in the church.
h) Speak publically at all.
f) Hold public office.
g) Go outside the house without her face veiled?

Thanks for the clarification of the implications of the quotes.

Unknown said...

Well, regarding the comment from Pastor Stuckwisch:
"It probably also bears mention that, if the natural law is set aside in deference to freedom (whether of the Gospel or otherwise), then you no longer have any grounds on which to oppose abortion."

The Word of God itself comments on the act of taking human life, without any secondary appeal to the natural law concept:

Gen 9:5 - 6
" And for your lifeblood I will surely demand an accountin. I will demand an accounting from every animal. And from each man too I will demand an accountinfor the life of his fellow man. "Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed; for in the image of God has God made man". (NIV)

Also in the Ten Commandments (Ex 20:13 NIV) "You shall not murder".

Rev. Larry Beane said...

"g) Go outside the house without her face veiled?"

Dear Donna:

You've demonstrated that rational discussion with you on this topic is not possible. And that's too bad. A truly sexist argument against women is that they are not capable of rational thought ("hysterical" is related to the Greek word for uterus).

It's sad that you're playing right into that ugly stereotype while implying that a group of Christian men who hold women in the highest regard (who either happen to disagree with you, or are wrestling with the implications of Scripture) are somehow akin to the Taliban.

I hope you find whatever it is you're looking for.

Bryce P Wandrey said...

I have major difficulties drawing practical, useful conclusions to the philosophy that states in so many words that the man is the head of household and the woman has a certain role in "being created" for her husband (I think that is how it is stated). On another blog by Latif Gaba, he stated that "it is precisely in the realm of the home that the woman is most fully herself. She, in fact, is the home, which thankfully (eucharistically) receives the man in her life." I am not sure if Richard's questions stem from Latif's understanding, but...

Practically speaking, if one operates with a philosophy that is characteristic of the one(s) stated above, is it justifiable for a wife to work outside of the home? Would it be justifiable for the wife, if she can work outside the home, to earn more money than the husband? Wouldn't both of these be cases of an abandonment of the above stated order of creation?

Erich Heidenreich, DDS said...

Fr. H.,

Please reconsider your comment. I am acquainted with Donna Harrison and find her to be quite capable of rational discussion. I respect her reaction to the quotes I provided, and see her comment about veils in good humor.


I will give the best answers I can to your questions as follows:

a) Work for employment outside of the home?

I see no problem with work outside the home that does not take the mother away from her children. However, ideally, cottage industries are best suited to motherhood.

b) Teaching anyone other than her children?

Teaching her children is her primary vocation, but teaching younger women in accordance with Scripture is encouraged, as long as it doesn't affect her devotion to her children. Scripture particularly encourages older women (presumably past the years of raising children) to teach the younger women.

c) Have authority over any male of any age?

Scripture is talking about authority over MEN, not boys. Now, what age boys become men is a matter of debate. The safe bet is that the male children in her household are under her authority until they grow up into men and leave the home. Of course, her male children must honor her even as adults. When it comes to childless women teaching in an institutional education environment, I believe the culture determines when a boy has become a man. Without further thought on this, I would think the legal age of 18.

d) Have authority over any male of age 18 or older?

No, I believe a woman should not have authority over any man, certainly this includes at least any male age 18 or older.

e) Hold any profession which would involve any authority over any male age 18 or older?

Same answer.

f) Hold any office of any sort of teaching authority within the church.

Her only legitimate office is the teaching of children (male and female) or younger women. This teaching within the church should be under the authority and supervision of the parish pastor, or school administrator (as should any teaching by men).

g) Speak publicly in the church.

Outside the divine service, she may speak publicly when it is in conjunction with any office rightly held (f) and men are not somehow included in her gathered pupils.

h) Speak publicly at all.

Same answer as above.

f) Hold public office.

Not if it involves having authority over men, and not if it takes her away from her children.

g) Go outside the house without her face veiled?

If she lives in an Islamic nation with such a law, I would suggest she not go outside the house without her face veiled, being subject to the governing authorities. In the United States, we have no such law or custom. ;-)

Peace to you in Christ,


Rev. Larry Beane said...


I'm not sure I understand your question. The amount of money that can be made doesn't have any relevance to the question of whether or not something is scriptural or in accordance with the order of creation.

What I've seen as a teacher is that: 1) very few children have stay-at-home mothers these days because mom works full time, 2) children spend hours and hours at "day care" after school, instead of being at home with family, 3) people have more money; bigger cars, houses, and televisions, 4) the divorce rate is higher than ever (and many children have no real home as a result) 5) husbands are not the leaders in their families, spiritual or otherwise.

I would never tell a woman whether she should work outside the home, but other than making more money, I see no advantage to choosing a career and being willing to house your children in day care over and against the Proverbs 31, Eph 5, and Titus 2 descriptions of the divine order of family life.

I do think things function better when we use them the way God intended them, and I believe that in general (though there are always exceptions) traditional families modeled on male headship and the wife running the household are more healthy than the modern, liberal, feminist ideal (in which women work 40-60 hours a week in addition to doing all the housework anyway).

In the communist world, the traditional model was forceably abolished. I worked with a lady who grew up in Uzbekistan and she accepted it as normal that she and her brother checked into "day care" on Monday morning, and returned home Friday evening. She only saw her mother (and father) on the weekends. This is how she grew up, because both parents were "equal" and were expected to work. Sadly, a lot of American kids, between being shuttled between their divorced-parents' families and day care have very little contact with their parents.

I do believe my son benefits immeasurably by having his mother at home, by having been breastfed, by being raised by his family and not by day care workers, and the fact that we live in a small house and don't take expensive vacations doesn't hurt him one iota. In fact, maybe it is a good corrective to the commercialism that runs rampant in our culture.

I hope my son is able to find a wife that hasn't been poisoned by materialism and feminism so his children enjoy what he does today (as does his father!). Either there will be a rebellion against the paradigm, or the traditionalist Christian family will only be a quaint memory.

It's really up to us, especially us husbands and fathers, if we're willing to have less toys but more time as a family - or if we'd rather indulge in the culture's worldview that being a wife and mother is not as important as having a career.

I think it is both a matter of priorities as well as submission to a biblical text that is "out of step" with modern sensibilities. I agree with Bishop Spong that the big question is "Must Christianity change or die?" - I just disagree with him on the answer.

Erich Heidenreich, DDS said...

P.S. My comments above are definitely examples of "thinking outloud." I reserve the right to amend or append my thinking. ;-)

Rev. Larry Beane said...

Dear Erich:

I'll take your word on it (that Donna was just cracking a joke). But I can't tell you how many of these discussions have simply spiraled into the mud because somebody starts talking about Burkhas.

I'm a little tired of being compared to Islamic extremists just because I advocate a traditionalist Christian understanding of family life.

It's also terribly insulting to my wife - and that is something no man should ever tolerate.

Erich Heidenreich, DDS said...


Rev. Rick Stuckwisch said...

I'm still not sure I follow your comments on the natural law, Donna. The natural law is God's own law, the very thing that He has also revealed in the Scriptures. This is clear from St. Paul's Epistle to the Romans, for example. The natural law undergirds God's creation and is written on man's heart, and it is a good thing.

While it is certainly true that we Christians recognize that abortion is wrong on the basis of God's revealed Word (and not only on account of the Law, but all the more so in light of our Lord's own incarnation as true man); one can hardly argue in the political realm against abortion on the basis of the Holy Scriptures. The natural law, which God has written on man's heart, has compelling authority over all people, irrespective of their religious faith or commitments (or lack thereof).

But perhaps I have misunderstood your initial point and question. In what way or on what basis do you view the natural law as problematic or contrary to the Gospel? Or, was that not your point to begin with?

Thanks again for your comments and questions.

Rev. Rick Stuckwisch said...

Bryce, for the sake of clarification, the order of creation and the headship of a man over his own wife and family are not matters of "philosophy," but are the teaching of the Word of God.

My interest is simply in trying to understand what is the good and acceptable will of God, with respect to the ordering of our government.

I've appreciated the discussion and the exchange of opinions, the offering of both comments and questions. All of this is helpful, and I rather hope it continues. I am well aware that the questions I've raised touch upon some very volatile issues, which can too easily spiral out of control or become emotional. But I am of the opinion that discussing such things, not only with logic and decorum, but especially on the basis of sound theology (the Word of God), can be helpful and instructive to all of us. So that is my goal.

I haven't read Latif Gaba's comments on this, but I can say that my own comments and questions have stemmed from exactly what I have described. I'm wrestling with the implications of a particular situation on the basis of what I know and understand from the Holy Scriptures and our Lutheran Confessions. I welcome correction wherever I am in error, and will gladly repent of anything I have said poorly or inappropriately. But I don't apologize for asking the questions.

And I'll just say, once more, also for the sake of clarification, that I have deliberately limited my questions to the matter of a woman serving as a chief executive officer. The broader and more general circumstances of a woman serving in public office or working outside the home belong to a somewhat different consideration, in my opinion.

Unknown said...

Dear Father Hollywood.

That was supposed to be an obvious joke. OK, no more jokes. Sorry

Rev. Michael Monterastelli said...

the topic of authority becomes complex in a fallen world. in this world different kinds of authority become necessary. While all authority is from our Heavenly Father, in the spiritual kingdom He delegates authority to His Son, who delegated authority to His male Apostles and to His Church.

In the civil kingdom He also delegates the authority or power to wield the sword and collect taxes to governing entities, he never specifies maleness or femaleness, does He? From the order of creation and from St. Paul we understand in the home, husbands love their wives by serving them as Christ served/serves His People. I'm not sure scripture ever tells us how this is supposed to work out where the home and government mix.

In a new CPH book on marriage it talks about the husband having ultimate responsibility no matter who is leading, though the husband is the one who usually leads while it may become necessary for the wife to lead under certain (hopefully temporary) circumstances. You'd think it would work out best when men are permitted to maintain headship in both realms; but has it ever? as a society composed of sinful men (who began questioning the authority of Scripture during the Enlightenment), without the authority of scripture to stand on it seems the men resorted to poor reasoning (physical strength, ability, stamina, mental toughness) to try and maintain their role and responsibilities, then some men abused their authority (violently) to the point that they were able to be shamed into 'giving women a shot' at running things in the home, work place, and now government. so does it please God to encourage, support, or even have a woman in an office which wields the sword (or tent spike) and is expected to 'get medieval' to limit the effects of evil. perhaps, for a time, it does.

Bryce P Wandrey said...

A matter of clarification, philosophy simply means (as you know) "love of knowledge or wisdom" and so your qualification of the order of creation not being philosophy but a matter of God's Word is not a distinction I would make. If the study of God's revelation doesn't involve a "love of knowledge or wisdom" then I am not what does.

Rev. Rick Stuckwisch said...

Fair enough, Bryce. I love the wisdom of the Word of God, so I suppose it can be called philosophy. I misunderstood your intention in using that term, which is commonly used of human wisdom in contrast to theology.

Regarding the matter of headship and authority in the home and family as it relates to headship and authority in government: For the sake of argument, let's set aside for the time being what our Lutheran Confessions teach concerning this (although I believe that those confessions are a faithful and true exposition of the Word of God).

Suppose there is a government of one family (such as there was in the beginning), a husband, his wife and children. In such a government -- given what the Word of God clearly teaches concerning the headship of a man over his own wife and children -- would it be appropriate for the wife and mother of this one family to be made the chief executive officer? It seems to me that we would have to say, "no."

When the children have grown up and married, and a new generation of children are born (as happened with the family of Adam & Eve and then following the flood), let's contemplate a government of ten families. Would it be appropriate for one of the wives or daughters to become the chief executive officer of that government, and thus to exercise headship and authority over her own husband and/or father, grandfather, etc.? It still seems fairly clear to me, on the basis of what the Holy Scriptures do explicitly teach concerning the home and family, that one of the adult men, preferably the patriarch of the family so long as he is able, ought to be the governing authority within that society, and not his wife or daughter or granddaughter.

And so it goes. No matter how large the society may become, it is essentially a family of people who are related from the first man (Adam) and the woman (Eve) who was made for him and given to him. The governing authority within that society exercises a paternal office and headship over that large family. What else is government, and from where else does it originate?

Now, as for Adam and Eve, look at what happened when the man left his wife to negotiate with the hostile power, to do the talking and make the decisions, while he stood there by her side saying nothing, doing nothing. Because he listened to the voice of his wife, instead of exercising his authority and headship with the Word of the Lord to defend and protect her from the enemy, he and she and all their children suffered the fall and the curse and consequences of sin.

With that curse and consequence, God reinforces the vocations he has already established in creation. The man must work in pain and sweat to provide for his wife and children. The woman must labor in pain and sweat to bring forth those children, but she will desire to have, instead, the place and position that God has given to the man. Because of sin, man will prefer not to work but to let his wife take care of things; while the woman will prefer not to have children, but to take over all those things that her husband isn't doing as well as he should. As one of my colleagues has summarized, in an aphorism that is a painfully accurate generalization of fallen humanity, men are lazy and women are usurpers.

Now, with respect to Sarah Palin's nomination to the office of Vice President, I am troubled in part by the very strategy involved. It is clear that she was not chosen solely for her conservative politics and staunch pro-life position. She was chosen because she is a woman. There are people who will vote for her because she is a woman. There's even an expectation that some of Hilary Clinton's supporters will vote for McCain because his vice presidential running mate is a woman, despite the fact that her politics are the polar opposite of Clinton's. Why? Because for many people, the number one agenda is the empowerment of women, according to the world's standard and criteria of power. "We're going to shatter the glass ceiling," was a quote I read from Palin herself, as I recall. This sort of strategy and rhetoric leads me to think that Palin's nomination and potential election are iconic and significant of a pervasive undermining of the order that the Lord our God established in His creation of man as male and female. That is my concern.

Rev. Rick Stuckwisch said...

My friend Jane has worried on her blog that "the perfect may become the enemy of the good," if people choose not to vote for McCain on the grounds that he's not ideal, or because, as in the case I've been discussing here, Sarah Palin is a woman and shouldn't be elected to the office of Vice President.

I've tried to be clear in my intentions, but for the sake of greater clarity: I understand that we often have to choose a course of action that is not ideal, good or even "right" by the letter of the Law. This is why I have said that I can understand voting for McCain-Palin as a choice of "the lesser of evils," or as a compromise for the sake of expediency. I can do that with a certain amount of regret, but I'll not refuse to do anything, and I certainly won't vote for Obama.

Mainly, I have been perplexed and befuddled by the apparently unabashed enthusiasm of conservative friends and colleagues over what I would have to regard as a sadly unfortunate circumstance. I don't question that the Lord our God can work good through the election of a woman to the office of Vice President. And, as I've said, I'll give thanks for the lives of any unborn children which may be spared as a consequence of Sarah Palin's efforts (in whatever capacity she may be serving). But the ends do not justify the means, and proceeding down that road is a path to perdition. It is one thing to be confronted with two or more "evils" from which one has to choose; it is another thing to applaud and/or pursue such choices. Eve saw that the fruit was a delight to the eyes, good for food and desirable to make one wise. Sounds great, but acting against God's Word brings death, not life.

My fear is that a vote for Sarah Palin by those who are most excited about her pro-life politics will, inadvertently, aid and abet the very agenda that has undergirded the push for abortion to begin with: namely, the desire that women not be chained down by the obligations of home and family, but "empowered" and free to pursue their own careers. Sadly, though, I don't see that we have much choice.

I won't vote for Obama, because, as I have said more than once, a man who advocates and supports the destruction of human life is unfit for office. If he is elected, however, I trust that the Lord, who governs His kingdom of power ultimately for the benefit of His Church (His kingdom of grace), will use that cross and suffering to grant life and preserve it, perhaps in ways that we do not even begin to comprehend.

Trust not in princes; they are but mortal. If we view the election of Sarah Palin, not as a regrettable better option, but as an expedient strategy to achieve our goals, then I fear that we may be deceiving ourselves with the false appearance of wisdom.

So, unless something changes, I'll vote for John McCain and Sarah Palin, and I'll be happier if that ticket wins than the alternative. But I'll not be celebrating. I've yet to hear or read any compelling explanation as to the propriety and appropriateness of a woman being made a chief executive officer. Palin's nomination was savvy, surely, but I doubt that it was meet, right and salutary.

WM Cwirla said...

"...the perfect may become the enemy of the good..."

This is an excellent little phrase and perfectly illustrates the tension between the deontological ("the perfect") and the teleological ("the good") and why neither principles alone nor the desired goal alone can govern our decisions.

It is a frightful freedom indeed when we can't simply look up our answers in a book.

Rev. Larry Beane said...

It also sounds like the Hegelian dialectic - which has only served to surrender the good inch by inch until we'll one day be voting to decide between using gas or electric in the concentration camps.

Peter said...

I'm tempted to say that this concentration camp, gas/electric chair language is typical Lou-Rockwellian hyperbole. But, I suppose, we already have such measures in the form of abortion (will we suck the baby out? inject it with a needle? kill it as the child comes out, or after). In such a situation, Sarah seems ideally situated to turn the tide. She'll be far from a feminist icon. Instead, she represents motherhood, and special-needs children (an issue very closely tied to abortion). To say that she was chosen simply because she is a woman is not true. Kay Bailey Hutchinson would never have ignited the pro-life movement like Gov. Polin. Yes, I agree the perfect should not be made the enemy of the good. In this world, there's no other way of looking at it, for there is no perfect. But Sarah represents our best shot (granted, in my opinion) at changing opinion on the most crucial of issues. One other thing to think about. You know an awful lot about a person by her/his enemies. Listen to the abortionists and feminists howl at the chose of Palin. That should tell us something. Go Sarah!

Peter said...

Oops, I meant "choice" of Sarah.

WM Cwirla said...

"It also sounds like the Hegelian dialectic"

Wrong. Hegelian dialectic seeks constructive synthesis out of two antithetical positions. Deontological and teleological ethics are two different starting points. Vastly different.

The Hegel card doesn't play any better on this hand than the Taliban card or the Nazi card.

Rev. Larry Beane said...

No, the Hegelian dialectic is exactly what is happening here.

If you are Satan and you want to destroy Christianity, the best strategy is to give the Christians a "choice" between mild evil and total evil. They will choose the mild evil every time, and the line will be redrawn for the next skirmish ("My dear Wormwood...").

We are constantly faced by two bad choices. Those two bad choices ("the lesser of two evils") then become a new synthesis - which is then combined with another "lesser evil" (antithesis) - and so it goes.

We have seen this time and again in American history - especially in the 20th century as "conservatives" have capitulated things like income taxes, Social Security, budget deficits, excessive federal control, a central bank - etc. - all left wing agenda items that we have simply come to accept as "normal."

That is a classic example of a diabolical use of the Hegelian dialectic for a "contructive synthesis" (it's just a matter of to whom it is constructive).

Sometimes, compromise is indeed necessary to achieve a greater good or to avoid total defeat. But American conservatism has become so conditioned to jump on the "lesser of two evils" bandwagon that we have seen the Right basically become the Left with an elephant rather than a donkey.

It is simple mathematics that you cannot subtract a small amount again and again and end up with a larger number down the road. This is nothing more than incremental surrender.

BTW, if a pro-life majority is elected to Congress - even with a pro-abortion president - Roe v. Wade could be overturned. There is a constitutional remedy in the hands of Congress - but they will not use it.

WM Cwirla said...

Wrong again. The antithesis of "an evil" is not a "lesser evil." Since they are both "evil," they cannot be, by definition, antithetical to each other. They differ only by matter of degree.

"Compromise" is not the same as an Hegelian synthesis. In Hegelian dialectic, Thesis and Antithesis both "die" to a new Synthesis.

The "lesser of two evils" argument is strictly a teleological one. It suspends principle for the sake of some perceived "good."

This is really more a matter of driving on the road rather than in one ditch or the other.

Peter said...

For the record, I don't accept the category of "the lesser of two evils." I am not choosing a "mild evil." I am making a choice that I think is, from a human standpoint, quite "good." Gov. Palin is pro-life in a culture that does not reward such a view. She is also pro second amendment. The proponents of abortion can't stand her. She has received an awful lot of flak for taking these positions. And, she does so with humor, a positive outlook, and optimism. You may not agree with my assessment, but you should know that I am not making a bargain with the devil. I'm voting for what I think is good and right in a world that has gone wrong.

Rev. Rick Stuckwisch said...

Thanks for your comments, Peter. I appreciate and respect your opinion and position, and I am glad of your clear articulation of it.

Perhaps you are an ideal person to provide a possible answer to my initial and ongoing question: By what rationale do you consider it a good thing (not a compromise) for a woman to be made the chief executive officer of a country (again, assuming that election to vice president is akin to being elected president)?

As I indicated to begin with, I don't question Sarah Palin's competence or commitments. There's a lot that I really like and admire about her, and I'm pleased by her policies on things that I know and care about. But ability or virtue do not, of themselves, qualify a person for an office or vocation, if God has not given it.

I have tried to articulate the source and nature of my concerns, and Pastor Cwirla did a better job of spelling out my dilemma early in the discussion. Is there an error in my understanding or my logic? Or am I truly missing some key factor in my consideration? For the time being, at least, if you regard the nomination and potential election of a woman to the office of vice president as good and right, then either you must disagree with my premises, or there is another premise at work in your thinking that may offer some greater clarity to me, as well. Can you help?

Please understand that I have no particular axe to grind. I'm not harboring any hidden agendas. I'm struggling conscientiously because I am concerned to defend and uphold what I regard to be the good and acceptable will of God; not simply for the sake of "being right," but for the sake of doing good and loving my neighbor and honoring the Lord, who is the Head of His Body, the Church.

Matters of headship and authority within marriage and family are, originally and ultimately (in my opinion), christological in their significance. As I would maintain that society is a large family and government the office of father writ large, I regard the headship of man within his home and family as iconic of Christ as the Head of His Bride, and of the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom every fatherhood on earth is named. I believe this is the way that St. Paul argues his case in First Corinthians 11 and elsewhere, and while those may be difficult and challenging passages, I am disinclined to dismiss them out of hand.

There are time in this fallen world when a woman must become the head of her household and family, whether by default in the case of a husband and father who refuses to carry out his office and responsibility; or by the death or outright desertion of her husband. There are also plenty of cases in which a lazy man and a usurping woman reverse the order that God has established. These and other unfortunate circumstances of a fallen world do not change the fact that Christ remains the Head of His Church; He is never to die again, neither will He ever leave her nor forsake her. In so far as it depends upon us, therefore, in the offices and vocations entrusted to our stewardship, we ought to confess the fidelity of Christ and not imply that the Church must assume His office as the Savior and Head of the Body. I say that, knowing full well that civil government is not the same thing as the Church; yet, it is by and through and for Christ that all things have been made, and for His sake that all things are governed by the good and gracious will of God.

That is the perspective from which I am approaching these questions.

Jane said...

This thread has been really interesting to me, and made me pull out my BOC to read the section in the Large Catechism that pertains to civil government. That has given me a new struggle because I don't see our president as having a paternal role. I see the role of president as more a role of agency. Maybe the entity of government--as a whole--is in a paternal role. So I need to read and think more about all of that.

It is also difficult for me, as someone who was raised in the church, but with inch-deep theology, to know what to think. I see pastors that I respect with varying opinions on this question.

Am I 100% comfortable with a woman VP? No. But I am way more comfortable with that than Obama as president.

As always, I appreciate your thoughtful and thorough way of looking at and talking about things.

Peter said...

Well, Rick, I don't see the big deal. When I was at Notre Dame, as a man, I had a wonderful woman professor, who certainly had authority over me. When I drive, I am libel to be pulled over by a female officer. Likewise, if I run afoul of the law, I may have my case decided by a woman. In fact, if I lose my book at the library, a woman may tell me that I owe a fine. I don't see how this is any different, in kind, than electing Sarah Palin. Gov. Palin is a wonderful advocate for many of the things I hold dear. She is also, clearly, the wife of her very good husband, who is every bit the man. And, certainly, why many of us like Gov. Palin, is that she doesn't shrink from her role as a woman.

WM Cwirla said...

Rick, as I indicated above, I think your dilemma is more ethical than it is theological. Going back to my three theological principles that are part of this question:

1. Order of Creation - I'm hard pressed to see how this plays into the role of women in government or even in society in general. What our old Lutheran dogmaticians referred to as the "Schöpfungsordnungen" (doesn't German do it a whole lot nicer?) are like the laws of physics, which are part and parcel of the created order. Like the law of gravity, you can't violate it or you'll go splat trying. When men try to conceive babies, they will run headlong into the order of creation and realize that women are uniquely outfitted for this work.

2. Headship of Husband over Wife - This is quite easily dealt with by the Lutheran doctrine of the two kingdoms.

3. Vocation - This is most likely where your anxiety lies, though we need to remember that we all make delicate, ethical vocational choices throughout our lives. Different people will come to different conclusions and pathways as we balance principle with the various needs of our neighbor. Remember that only the one who was free from the law (the Samaritan) was free to fulfill his vocation as neighbor to the man in the ditch. The other two, the priest and the Levite, had to be concerned for their purity.

Rev. Rick Stuckwisch said...

Thanks for your thoughtful comments, Jane. I appreciate your feedback and input.

One thing that I have found interesting is the way in which the race has been cast as though it were Obama vs. Palin. That, in itself, says something concerning the McCain-Palin ticket and the strategy involved in the choice of Sarah Palin as the Republican vice presidential candidate.

I still maintain that Palin was chosen because she is a woman. But in saying that, I haven't meant to imply that she has no other qualifications or qualities. Clearly, she does.

Rev. Rick Stuckwisch said...

Thanks for your further comments, Peter, even though we simply see this differently. I don't have any qualms about most of the examples you have given of women in various other offices, but I disagree that any of these are of the same "kind" as Vice President of the country. I'm still not going to let myself get drawn into a general discussion of women in public office or in the workplace. But just as a general comment on these examples that you've given, they strike me as analagous to a mother having authority within her own home over her children, yet remaining under the headship of her husband. In any event, examples of what already happens is hardly determinative of what is right and ought to happen. There are all sorts of things that happen in this country, many of them legally, that aren't right.

I've never doubted or questioned, either, that many women are quite capable and competent to do many things as well or better than many men. Ability is not the issue.

Anyway, thanks for your comments. I do appreciate your input and your perspective, even where it differs from my own.

John Scaer said...

A judge is not analogous to a mother, neither is a woman police officer. These are both examples of adult women acting in positions of authority over women and men. You could make that argument with women at a grade school, but not in other examples.

Rev. Rick Stuckwisch said...

Pastor Cwirla, thanks again for your input on this topic.

I'm not sure what you mean, exactly, by your distinction between "ethical" and "theological," but okay.

I believe you are mistaken as to what the "order of creation" is, but perhaps I am the one who needs to be corrected and further instructed. What you are describing sounds more like an aspect of natural law than the order of creation, the latter of which I understand to be spelled out by St. Paul in First Corinthians 11 and elsewhere.

You are right, though, that women are uniquely suited to conceiving children. They are also the ones who lactate in order to feed the babies they bear. Perhaps that is not by accident, but a deliberate aspect of God's creative design, that the one who is given headship is not the one who is given to bear and feed the babies?

You haven't helped me much by saying that the headship of husband over wife is easily handled by the doctrine of the two kingdoms. Maybe this is the key to what I am missing. So explain it to me. I don't believe that the headship of a husband over his wife (and a father over his family) is unique to the life of the Church, but belongs to the divine creation of man as male and female. Where am I confused?

Finally, I'll simply clarify again that, while I do have some pastoral concerns about the arrangement of things within the Palin household, that has not been my chief concern, nor my primary consideration. I'm not their pastor, nor do I know their situation nearly well enough to make any kind of judgment calls. I haven't questioned Mr. Palin's masculinity, nor Sarah'a commitment to her family. In a more general way, I think these things are related to the main question at hand, but less directly than you seem to suggest.

You've lost me with your reference to the Good Samaritan. Jesus describes him as an example of the fulfillment of the Law, not as one who is lawless. He loves his neighbor, which is the very thing the Law commands. I understand that he is free to do so by faith in the Gospel, but neither am I trying to justify myself by the keeping of the Law. My concern is not for purity at all costs, but for the right way to love my neighbor, whether my neighbor next door, or the whole neighborhood of my country, as a citizen of the same.

This discussion has been helpful and engaging, and I'm certainly glad for it to continue as long as there are folks who wish to chime in with their comments. I'm going to continue thinking about it, myself, because I've certainly not heard nor arrived at any conclusive answers to my questions.

Is it not true that husbands and fathers have headship and authority over their wives and children?

Is it not true that government derives its existence and authority from the office of father?

But if both of these things are true, then how is it appropriate and right for a woman to be made the chief executive officer of a government (at whatever level of society)? (Apart from the death, abdication, or incompetence of all the men within that society.)

Rev. Rick Stuckwisch said...

I understand that not all of the examples Peter gave would fit the analogy of a mother in her own home. I think I qualified my comments by referring to "most of your examples." But I am mainly trying to avoid getting into the broader general discusison of women in public office and in the workplace.

In order to clarify further what I mean by distinguishing these other offices from that of a chief executive office, it seems to me that a police officer, at least, if not also a judge (which does seem questionable in my opinion), is under a higher authority. In that way, I think, even though both men and women would be under the officer's authority, it is more akin to a mother in her own home than a mayor, a governor, or a president (or vice president).

There is a difference, is there not, in being the one at whose desk the buck stops?

Peter said...

I still don't see how this is substantially different than submitting to any other woman in authority, as we happily do every day, whether it is at the library, on the city council, or the local business. Gov. Palin seems to understand well the role of her husband in her life, for which I'm grateful. I felt the same way about Margaret Thather, no feminist, who helped defeat Communism.

RevFisk said...

Some well voiced "traditional Christian" views! I am enheartened.

Not to dig in, but to briefly respond to the light comment the lack of paternal care in the presidency, according to a Lutheran view of the civil realm, one might actually be forced to the conclusion that we actually live under an illegitimate government .... I do still vote, however. ;D

Also, a note about "older women teaching younger women"....I've always found it important to note what precisely it is Paul says that they ought to be teaching:

"what is good, [namely]: to love their husbands and children, 5 to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled."

The one thing women ought to be teaching others is who to be women, according to (at least in St. Paul's view) the Word of God.

The arguments against this amazingly clear statement of "natural law" in the "Word of God" are legion. Augustine's words regarding the Trinity are apt: One must believe it first in order to begin to understand. (paraphrased, of course)

The real question is that which we theoretically settled in 1973: is the Word of God "inerrant" or merely "inspired."

a almost relevant post from this past week at:

WM Cwirla said...

Is it not true that government derives its existence and authority from the office of father?

This is a key question, I agree. Luther states it in the Large Catechism in his expanded understanding of the 4th commandment (LC I.141ff) but offers no Scriptural basis. It seems to proceed by logical inference from the fatherhood of Adam. Scripture does say that the governing authorities are established by God (Rom 13:1ff).

I think it's interesting that while Luther refers to patres et matres familias, he refers only to patres patriae. If government proceeds by logical inference from the family under the 4th commandment, one would reasonably expect both fathers and mothers of the nation as there are both fathers and mothers of the household.

1 Corinthians 11 deals with the propriety of women (or wives - you can't tell which from the Greek text) praying and prophesying in the Christian congregation with uncovered heads and shorn hair. One of the great difficulties in this passage is that you can't tell whether Paul is referring to women or wives vis-a-vis men or husbands. The words in Greek would be the same. He seems to be making the same point he makes in Ephesians 5, which clearly refers to husbands and wives as images of Christ and the Church. The 1 Corinthians passage is written in response to a specific question addressed to Paul by the Corinthian congregation (1 Cor 7:1).

Also, I'm certain that even those who hold to the biblical inspiration and inerrancy would not pause over the application of the verse in this passage which states that long hair is a shame to men and an honor to women (1 Cor 11:14), a verse my mother used to trundle out during my hippie days. At the very least, we're going to have to revise those Jesus pictures, if that is a universal truth binding at all times and places.

Interestingly, the passage in question does not limit what a woman does, only that she do it with a "sign of authority" on her head. I see nothing in the text that refers to the role of women in government.

In saying this, I do not question the authority of the Scriptures as the Word of God, but I do question our traditional exegesis of some of these "proof passages" along with the logical moves that are made to go from specific to general.

WM Cwirla said...

Also, I'm certain that even those who hold to the biblical inspiration and inerrancy would not pause over the application of the verse in this passage which states that long hair is a shame to men and an honor to women (1 Cor 11:14)

Correction - the sentence is a bit convoluted. I mean to say that even those who hold to biblical inspiration and inerrancy will pause over the application of the verse that says that long hair is a shame to men but the glory of women.

At least I think they will, though this might explain the very close haircuts of some staunch confessionalists.

Bryce P Wandrey said...

Since this seems to be the thread to voice confusion, may I voice something that confuses me here about those who pine for laws and legislation.

Let me begin by saying that I understand that if abortion was made illegal then less abortions would take place. Granted. But then again, just because abortion is made illegal does not mean that women (and their baby's father) won't seek an abortion beyond the law. It will be more difficult, which means the numbers will decrease, but still, passing a law does not change a person's inclination (or, in other words, the passing of a law and the enforcing of a law does not change a person's heart). They may not get the abortion because of the difficulty, but that may very well not convince them that they actually want the baby or that the baby should be born. It certainly won't convince them (if they don't believe it in the first place) that what is inside them is, at a certain early stage, a BABY. And so, the law has not made a positive effect upon a person's belief and philosophy, other than possibly a woman who didn't want her baby now has the baby and can put it up for adoption, etc. (Of course, there is the possibility that she has the baby and falls in love with it and keeps it, etc., possibly the best case scenario).

I grant all that and I understand the pro-life position but what confuses me is the reliance upon political candidates, the actual stance "I am voting for this person BECAUSE they are pro-life." A pro-life legislator is not going to change people's hearts by passing laws (and most people aren't going to tune in or read someone's speech in order to be "changed").

And so, to make this long post short, why such reliance and faith in laws and in legislation?

p.s. This might be a dangerous situation of thinking out loud.

Erich Heidenreich, DDS said...

In a republic, the citizens are participatory in the Government and fulfill their duty by voting for candidates who will rightly administer justice. That justice is administered through the civil law as legislated, enforced, and adjudicated by the three branches of U. S. Government. Government is not instituted for the purpose of converting men's hearts, but for preserving civil order.

Perhaps it might also help your confusion to review the three distinct purposes of the law.

Epitome of the Formula of Concord, VI, 1:

Since the Law was given to men for three reasons: first, that thereby outward discipline might be maintained against wild, disobedient men [and that wild and intractable men might be restrained, as though by certain bars]; secondly, that men thereby may be led to the knowledge of their sins; thirdly, that after they are regenerate and [much of] the flesh notwithstanding cleaves to them, they might on this account have a fixed rule according to which they are to regulate and direct their whole life...

Does that help?

Peter said...

Bryce, you're right. I'm happy if the baby lives, whether or not hearts are changed. People want to murder, and will always hate, but, I'm glad that there's a law against murder. So, I'm all for passing the law.
Yet, in a democracy/republic, laws aren't passed without the will of the people. Politicians can help change the way people think about things. It's an essential component of leadership. That's why it's not enough to be "right" on the positions. You also have to articulate them in a way that persuades others. So, yes, vote for pro-life candidates, because it matters.

And, it is my guess that Sarah Polan is well situated to make the pro-life case in a way that changes hearts and minds.

Peter said...

I should really proofread what I write. That's Palin, pardon.

Bryce P Wandrey said...

Erich, That helps only in the sense that the first use of the law applies to civil law. Thanks.

WM Cwirla said...

This is correct. Government is an exercise in the first function of the Law (curb). The purpose of government is not to change men's hearts but to curb their outward behavior within acceptable bounds. In Romans 13, the purpose of the governing authority established by God is to punish the wicked and reward the good. This presumes that government officials know the difference between wickedness and good.

Jeff said...

Pastor Stuchwisch

I think you have missed the whole point of picking Gov.Palin and the excitement that followed. It is all about winning. To get the vote of people like myself who were going to vote third party to show our displeasure with what was being offered.Gov.Palin give Sen.McCain the help he needs to win in Nov.A person who not only talks the talk but walks the walk.I am sure there are men who are just as working class,pro-life,pro-gun as she is. Can you name one man who could have brought about the change in this election that she did?(and get elected)

Maybe like Deborah it is her time to do what no man can or is willing do,help put Sen.McCain in the White House.

In the next 8 years we should see opening on our highest court and I would feel a lot happier with Sen. McCain picking the people to fill those seats.

I know I did not help with the deep theological question but I'll have to leave that for someone a lot smarter than myself.

Emily said...

I have all kinds of personal responses to this question!

I really like your reasoning, Pastor Stuckwisch, and I've heard you explain this in person. I think it's very elegant, and very logical. However, there are two things that are not coming through for me.

1. Where in the Bible do we have a clear explanation of the origins and validation of civil government demonstrating its parental function? I really do understand the logic, but I don't see this logic as coming explictly from the Bible. Especially because there is a clear separation between the two governments and their spheres of influence, I do not see how the structure of the civil government is validified as an explicitly paternal role, and how that leads to an exclusively male position. Necessarily.

2. Is it not an oversimplification to use a basic patriarchal governmental structure to compare to the American presidency? For instance, in the American governmental system, we use an electorate to select leaders. Not so among our children. In the American government, we divide the powers, judicial, legislative, and executive, and not so among mothers and fathers. The father has to be judge, jury, and executer. This would be horrible tyranny in the civil government. So I do not see an exact parallel between a father and a president.

A president has a great deal more power in the world, temporally speaking, but compared to a father, a great deal less power over the individual and the home. He (or she) would definitely not have the spiritual authority granted to fathers and husbands. Or pastors.

Rev. Rick Stuckwisch said...

Thanks for your kind words and good questions, Emily. (I'm sorry to others whom I have not answered, but I simply haven't been able to keep up with every facet of this conversation. I have certainly read everything with interest, but responding to each comment would take far more time than I can afford to give.)

Emily asked: "Where in the Bible do we have a clear explanation of the origins and validation of civil government demonstrating its parental function?"

Pastor Cwirla also posed this same question, more or less, in pondering where it is that Luther derives this position. For us Lutherans, it is a matter of our confessional subscription, since it is explicitly taught in the Large Catechism. But we ought to pursue Luther's exegetical basis for confessing this point.

Pastor Cwirla offered that it may simply derive from the fatherhood of Adam; which is a shorthand way of expressing what I attempted to describe with respect to the original family and its growth (both in the beginning and then again following the flood). It may be worthwhile to look at Luther's lectures on Genesis; perhaps he deals with it there. (I really should know that work better than I do!)

Emily wrote: "Especially because there is a clear separation between the two governments and their spheres of influence, I do not see how the structure of the civil government is validified as an explicitly paternal role, and how that leads to an exclusively male position."

This is surely a worthwile observation, though I'm not clear on what you have in mind by your reference to the "two governments." Do you mean what we typically describe as the "two kingdoms"? Or are you simply distinguishing between the family and the civil government in a more general sense?

Others have refered to the doctrine of the two kingdoms, but I still don't see how that applies in this case, since the family and the government both belong to the "kingdom of power" (even though the Christian family also resides within the spiritual realm of the "kingdom of grace").

Emily: "Is it not an oversimplification to use a basic patriarchal governmental structure to compare to the American presidency? For instance, in the American governmental system, we use an electorate to select leaders. Not so among our children. In the American government, we divide the powers, judicial, legislative, and executive, and not so among mothers and fathers. The father has to be judge, jury, and executer. This would be horrible tyranny in the civil government. So I do not see an exact parallel between a father and a president."

This, I think, Emily, is the most fruitful train of thought, if one is going to argue against the premise and its logical conclusion, that the paternal character of the civil government implies that the head of state ought to be a man. I don't have a definitive answer (leastwise not yet), but here are some thoughts to consider (in no particular order).

I do not take Luther's description of the government as a patriarchal authority to be an analogy of the paternal office, but as derived from it. There is a difference. It's not simply that there are these various ways that a king (or president?) is "like" a father. Rather, what the Large Catechism asserts, to begin with, is that all temporal authority on earth derives from the parental office; and that the head of state is the father of his territory. There are ways in which such a ruler is "like" a father, to be sure; but that is more a consequence of his paternal authority, as I understand it, rather than the reason for it.

The office of teacher also derives from the parental office. In that case, a father employs someone to assist him in educating his children. Yet, we would not say (nor have I suggested) that a teacher must be a male. Here there is a decisive difference, however, from the case of a ruler. The teacher remains under the father's authority and serves at his direction. A ruler, on the other hand, stands in authority over all the fathers in his territory. In fact, fathers and mothers, men and women, adults and children, are all commanded to submit to the governing authority. Even where a ruler is elected, as in our democratic form of government, it is beyond the power or prerogative of any individual citizen, whether a father or otherwise, to remove that ruler from his office. The ways in which a president may be removed from office, whether by impeachment or by the election of someone new at the end of a term, are neither quick nor easy; they come after the fact and hold no authority over executive actions as they are actually undertaken.

It is true, and significant, that our democratic form of government involves checks and balances. Aside from that, even a monarchy does not possess the same powers over every individual citizen that a father exercises over his own family. On the other hand, a father does not have the authority to execute his child. So, yes, indeed, there are differences between the scope of the authority of a father and the head of state. But while such differences are noteworthy and help to distinguish the office of father from that of a president, it does not lead to the conclusion that the presidential office is more like that of a mother. Again, I don't believe that Luther's point in the Large Catechism is an analogy so much as a line of authority that derives originally from the office of father (Adam?).

Emily: "A president has a great deal more power in the world, temporally speaking, but compared to a father, a great deal less power over the individual and the home. He (or she) would definitely not have the spiritual authority granted to fathers and husbands."

This is true, but I'm not sure I understand how this pertains to the question at hand. Here, I think the doctrine of the two kingdoms really does come into play, because the headship of a husband and father over his own home and family is not unique to Christian marriages, but is part of the universal order of creation.

It is signficant, I have often thought, that the parental office, in the case of Christian parents, straddles both kingdoms in a way that no other office does. The office of the president does not (although, at the time of the Reformation, the civil rulers were called upon to act as emergency bishops, for all intents and purposes, since the Roman bishops refused to serve the evangelical churches as real pastors).

But your reference to the power of the president is pertinent, I think. I've often heard the President of the United States described as "the most powerful man in the world." And that's in spite of our system of checks and balances. So I guess I'm asking whether it's appropriate for a woman to be given that position of "ultimate authority" in the temporal world? Someone has pointed out, rightly so, that women are not commanded to submit to men in general, but to their own husbands. (In other respects women, along with everyone else, are commanded to submit to the governing authorities and to their spiritual elders, that is, to their pastors, as per Hebrews 13. But that is somewhat beside the point, as well.) I haven't argued that every woman is supposed to submit to every man; nor do I believe that to be true. I'm not even so convinced by the age thing, whether it be age 18 or whatever, since I don't see any contingency on the Fourth Commandment. My nineteen-year-old married son is still commanded to honor his father and his mother; so my wife still has a measure of authority over him, even though he is now the head of his own wife and household. But what I am posing is the question, whether every man, woman and child in the country should finally submit to the headship of another man's wife (including her own husband)?

WM Cwirla said...

Here, I think the doctrine of the two kingdoms really does come into play, because the headship of a husband and father over his own home and family is not unique to Christian marriages, but is part of the universal order of creation.

That's not the "two kingdoms" doctrine; you are simply locating marriage in the 1st article within the order of creation, where it belongs.

The doctrine of the two kingdoms distinguishes state from church, or better, God's temporal reign of power from His eternal reign of grace.

I do not take Luther's description of the government as a patriarchal authority to be an analogy of the paternal office, but as derived from it

Luther shares this opinion with many an medievalists. Where in Scripture does this come from? I hate to be so "sola Scriptura" but that is the basis of our Confessions. Where in Scripture do we see the derivation of governing authority from parental authority?

And secondly, if it is truly under the 4th commandment, as Luther has it, why are there not "fathers and mothers" of the nation but only fathers?

Rev. Rick Stuckwisch said...

Thanks for your further comments, Pastor Cwirla.

Yes, you're correct concering the distinction of the two kingdoms. But what I meant to say was that the two kingdoms comes into play in distinguishing between the office of a father and the office of the governing authority; because, as Emily pointed out, a father also has spiritual authority over his wife and children. So, a Christian marriage and family reside, not only in the kingdom of power under the first article, but also in the kingdom of grace, under the third article. Perhaps this is less precise than it ought to be, but that was all I intended to say.

Your questions concerning the source of Dr. Luther's statements are quite appropriate and to the point. This is where we need to do our exegetical homework, to discern as best we can the basis for that confession of the Large Catechism. As I suggested, I think Luther's lectures on Genesis would be a good place to look; but I haven't had the time to do so.

The question as to why Luther speaks of the office of father, rather than the parental office (of both father and mother), in his description of governmental authority, is at the heart of my question concerning the propriety of a woman serving as the chief executive officer of government.

St. Paul locates the basis of his assertions concerning the roles of men and women (in the Church), in 1 Timothy and 1 Corinthians, in the order of creation and the order of the fall into sin. I'm reversing the process and raising a question on that same two-fold basis, with respect to a new question: one that St. Paul doesn't address, and the Holy Scriptures do not clearly and explicitly answer in so many words. I've asked the question, not because I have an answer, nor because I have something to prove, but because I'm interested in understanding the Word of God as well as possible, and in being as faithful as possible in my own responsibilities as a citizen.

Unknown said...


I never post to your blog because it always seems the threads I would post to are conversations long past when I drop in. But since you found no resolution in this one I thought I'd offer a couple of points for consideration that I don't believe were mentioned.

I don't think I agree with your concept that government is based on the family, or on the father's headship. In the Old Testament there is always a clear division between families, often with the clear implication that one family has two government systems (or at least two legal systems) going - contrast Cain's family (Genesis 4:17-22) with Seth's (Genesis 5). Noah's family is also divided (Genesis 10 is the descendants of Noah's sons, sons specifically, not of Noah), and at the tower of Babel God made it impossible for all people to see themselves as one nation or to function as one family. From that point on, I believe, the only genealogy given is that of the people of God, and for some time the people are living under a governmental system not of their own.

When compared to the various positions on the family the historical church has taken, American Christians tend to over-value the family in that, as far as I can tell, measuring the government and church as reflecting the father's role has never been the standard before. Christians of other times were more likely to focus on government or the church as the "most important" of the three; I suspect the truth is that none of them are the "most important" and that they need to be seen as reflections of God's providence rather than as reflections of one another. I think when Christ said, "call no man Father upon the earth, for there is one who is your father, who is in heaven," he was pointing out that the ultimate authority rests with God, not the human father. In the same passage he refers to Rabbis, and reminds us that their religious authority rests with God, and to being a master yourself, and reminds us that your authority over others rests with God (Matthew 23:8-10).

The authority systems on earth are based on God, not on the role of the human father, is my belief. So I would not apply commands specifically directed toward family relationships to governmental positions.

I also think that male leadership in the church and home to some extent "balances the powers", in that women give birth and men can't, so God gives men a role that women do not have access to. This is more a gut feeling than a well-researched doctrine on my part, but it does seem to me that 1 Timothy contrasts women "who will be saved in childbearing" with male Christian leaders, both in the passage on male leaders following hard on the discussion of women's role in church, and in the fact that the women "will be saved in childbearing" (1 Timothy 2:15), while Timothy will, through his church leadership, save himself, and those that hear him (1 Timothy 4:16).

Just as women have a primary role in bringing human life into being and in raising young children, men have a primary role in bringing spiritual life into being and in raising new Christians. I have seen it argued that women were forbidden from ruling the ancient Hebrews because political leadership in that time was a spiritual leadership in a sense that it is not now. But since leadership in most modern countries does not give women that religious leadership, secular leadership is open to women. I do think men are more constitutionally suited to leadership as a rule, but the fact remains that some women make good leaders. I don't think God chose Deborah in desperation, but because she was the best person for the job. God formed all those people living at the time in the womb; if he'd wanted to be sure there was a man available for the job, I think he could have arranged that.

I have some issues with Palin seeking office when she has a little one (although ultimately that is not for me to judge), but I don't have any issues with a female president.

My thoughts, for what they're worth.


Rev. Larry Beane said...

Dear Sheryl:

You wrote: "The authority systems on earth are based on God, not on the role of the human father, is my belief. So I would not apply commands specifically directed toward family relationships to governmental positions."

I don't know if you're a Lutheran or not, but Lutherans are bound to the confessions - so we aren't free to interpret government apart from the fourth commandment: such as the Small Catechism: "we should fear and love God so that we do not despise or anger our parents *and other authorities*..."

Also, Luther in the Large Catechism ties government to fatherhood.

So, we Lutherans either have to abandon our confessions or we're stuck with this albatross of governmental authority being linked to paternal authority.

Hope this helps a little bit...

Rev. Rick Stuckwisch said...

Sheryl, thank you for your comments on this topic. I'm glad for your perspective and opinions.

Although you are correct that this thread of thought was never really resolved, I'm afraid that I don't have more to contribute at this point, myself. I'm left with many of the same questions I began with, but have nevertheless been well served by the discussion.

A couple of quick responses to your points and observations:

The concept of government deriving its authority from the office of father isn't mine. I know it from the Large Catechism, which belongs to the teaching of our Lutheran Confessions. I gather that Luther did not invent this position, either, but that he followed in the footsteps of numerous other theologians before him. I have simply tried to wrestle with what it means for the government to derive its authority from the office of father, and what that may also imply concerning the roles of men and women in government.

You are correct, of course, that the human family has been divided (as a consequence of sin), already with the children of Adam & Eve, and again following the flood. It is interesting that those divisions are defined and headed by the patriarch, whether Cain or Seth, or one of the sons of Noah. Anyway, I know the world isn't one big happy family, and that hasn't been my point or my argument. It has rather been to consider the origins of government as the headship and authority that arise within the larger family of society.

Your reference to God the Father is appropriate and instructive. In fact, precisely this has been part of my consideration, since St. Paul describes Him as the One for whom "every fatherhood on earth is named." Although it is not explicit in that passage -- and therefore not decisive -- I would offer the opinion that "every fatherhood on earth" includes the "fatherhood" of the chief executive office, such as that of president or monarch. But that is simply to restate my premise and to beg the question.

On Deborah, I agree with you that God did not act out of desperation. I don't believe I've spoken in such a way, but if I did, it was a poor turn of phrase. I do think that Deborah is not such a clear cut example as some have suggested. She is not a chief executive officer; she's not even called a judge per se, so far as I remember. She is a prophetess who was judging, which is to describe the function rather than the office of a "judge." Yet, even with that, it is clear from First Samuel that judges are quite a different sort of thing than kings.

Anyway, in the story of Deborah, it is made explicit that the leadership of Israel into battle is supposed to be carried out by a man. When Barak balks at that directive and essentially hides behind Deborah's skirt, the Lord shames him by giving the enemy commander, Sisera, into the hands of a woman. I believe this is an indictment of Barak, in particular, and of the men of Israel in general. Remember that the persistent problem throughout the book of Judges is that the men are marrying pagan women and following them into idolatry. The men are not leading as they should, but are being led into sin.

Finally, your comments on the roles of men and women within the home and family, and your own concerns regarding Sarah Palin's responsibility for her infant son, are apropos to this discussion. Those same differences, it seems to me, also inform in a general way the sort of roles that men and women ought to undertake within society. It is largely due to birth control, abortion rights, formula and daycare that the roles of men and women in the world have been blurred and redefined in recent generations. I'm not saying that as a blanket criticism of anyone. Aside from abortion and abortificants, I do not regard these other things as inherently sinful; yet, they have been used in ways that have been detrimental to the home and family, to women and to genuine femininity, and to society as a whole.

The decisions of the Palin household are not for me to judge or determine. But the iconic significance of a woman in chief executive office does concern me.

Thanks again, Sheryl, for contributing to the discussion, and for your thoughtful perspectives. I appreciate the chance to "think out loud" with you.

Rev. Larry Beane said...

If I might, I'd like to toss out a couple of items on the topic:

First, a Lutherans perspective on the role of women (see the linked Preus essay).

Second, a short item from a Neo-Evangelical perspective that cites some scripture passages concerning the propriety of women in elected office.

Both of these are contrary to prevailing wisdom in contemporary secular and Lutheran thought, but should help to give a counter-cultural "minority view" on the matter.

Rev. Rick Stuckwisch said...

Thanks, Father Hollywood, not only for these suggestions, but also for your contributions to the topic along the way.

Political Jules said...

While you sound like an intelligent man, your post contradicts yourself over and over. The general message I received was that you don’t want to attack her for being a woman, but your words did. It is hard for me to even take you seriously because of that. But that is not really the bigger picture. The bigger picture is that you are throwing your support for an evil man, by attacking her. If you want to call me a one issue voter, then so be it, but Obama's overt support for abortion goes against every principal of my being. He is not just for termination of a human life, but he supports the killing of babies surviving late term abortion. Which means he supports the barbaric cause of late term abortions in general. Obviously you have nine children, your pro life issues show through all the way, so how can you support this man? You actually are a good example of how Obama has brainwashed his supporters without letting them see his true issues. I truly believe that when one looses the basic principal to protect life, all of their other values suffer. I am not here to judge you because I have my own sins to worry about, but I will pray that God shows you mercy for your blatant support of such an evil man.

We Can Make a Bigger Difference. Please be sure to get out and vote. McCain/Palin gets my vote. God Bless America.

Rev. Rick Stuckwisch said...

Political Jules, you are entitled to your own opinions, but you have missed my points entirely. I have nothing against Sarah Palin, nor have I spoken against her. I've raised a question for discussion, asking for conscientious answers from the Word of God and sound theological argument.

I'll reiterate what I have said more than once in the course of this discussion: I'm not going to vote for Obama, because any man that would condone and support the takign of human life is unfit for office. Not sure how you were able to miss that assertion, but I surely don't want to leave any ambiguity.

Political Jules said...

But your post is overtly negative toward her. You cannot deny that. You have used the pulpit to profess a negative light toward her. Where is your admonishment for Obama, let me see that post, and maybe I will take your words as truth. Until then you are just banging a noisy gong, and unfit to uphold the word of God.

~Wyycked Jules~ said...

There are several instances in the bible of strong, good women doing as God would have them do.

Obama has very questionable religious affiliations, links to known terrorists, and radical choices in friends and a wife. If you have not read her thesis, I suggest you do so http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0208/8642.html

As a man of God why would it not cross your thought process that Sarah Palin is what God intends and knows is necessary to counter the Obama train.

Either way you are a bit late in posing your questions. What matters is who will be the next president. Not how you feel about his VP selection. It is too late for that. For a man of God it should be very simple. Elect someone who says abortion anytime is fine, and if it is botched, no one does a thing, even if it takes hours for that newborn baby to die, let it. OR you elect pro-life.

God gave you free choice too, and you will have to live with that choice.

Rev. Larry Beane said...

Political Jules's comments are very illustrative. Her line of reasoning reflects the premises:

1) Any perceived negativity toward Sarah Palin is "hate", contrary to the Word of God, and equates to support of Obama and abortion. Thus, according to the Word of God, Gov. Palin (and by implication Sen. McCain) are exempt from any and all scrutiny, whether personal (such as Sen. McCain's views on family life reflected by his rejection of his crippled wife in favor of the millionaire bombshell) or political (such as McCain-Palin's unity with Obama-Biden in supporting the unconscionable "bailout").

2) Christianity = patriotism = support for the Republican Party. This ignores the fact that there are other parties out there - some of which are by far more conservative and pro-life than the GOP. There is nothing in Scripture or the U.S. Constitution forbidding Christians and/or Americans from either not voting or voting for a candidate not blessed by the two Big Parties. At one time, the Republican Party itself was a "third party" that wasn't even on the ballots in every state.

3) The philosophy of feminism has been not only swallowed, but embraced by mainstream conservative Christians. This is an example of Isaiah's lament that evil is called good and good evil. Any advocacy of the traditional vocation of the Bible and the Church regarding the sexes that was never questioned until the radical sexual revolution is rejected prima facie as "anti-woman" - to the point where Dr. Stuckwisch is attacked personally with the implication that he is an unfit father to his daughters, and that he is an unfit pastor (both assertions are simply ludicrous).


~Wyycked Jules~ said...

Father Hollywood,

Just a comment about voting for some party other than the two who actually have a shot. While I understand, and have agreed with other candidates of the lesser (shall we call them) parties, the reality of it is that they have no shot at the presidential position.

Your assertion to not vote at all, amazes me. Do you not care at all? Would this be something you would preach from the pulpit?

Rev. Larry Beane said...

Dear Jules:

There is no "assertion." Please re-read what I wrote. I said there is nothing in the Bible or the law of the land requiring anyone to either vote or to vote for any particular parties.

You need to be more accurate in your assertions.

To clarify: I'm not telling people to vote. I'm not telling people not to vote. And I certainly don't address political endorsement from the pulpit. First of all, that's actually illegal for a 501c3 church to have a pastor in the pulpit urging people to vote this way or that.

But more importantly, the pulpit is holy - which is to say set apart for a single purpose: to preach Christ. Many churches allow candidates to stump in the pulpit. Lutherans tend to limit preaching to homiletics on the texts of the readings assigned. We are to preach Law and Gospel and to declare the Word of God - nothing more, nothing less.

The pulpit is for the sole purpose of bringing people to repentance and forgiving those who are repentant. If you want to know what I preach in the pulpit, every sermon I've ever preached is on my blog.

Rev. Larry Beane said...

I do think it needs to be pointed out that unless he has truly had a change of heart, Sen. McCain isn't really pro-life. He is (again, unless his position has changed) pro-abortion in matters of rape or incest. If one is going to be against abortion based on the premise that the abortion kills a human life, then it follows that a pro-life position means embarrassment or inconvenience doesn't justify the taking of a life.

Obviously, this is not as bad as the position taken by Obama and most Democrats - but at least they aren't advocating abortion in some cases while calling themselves "pro-life."

~Wyycked Jules~ said...

Father Hollywood,

I am well aware that a church is 501c 3, hence my question.

If I understand your position you are legalistic.

What is your stand on abortion? Jer 1:5 should speak to you. [“Before I formed you in the womb I
knew you, before you were born I set you apart” (Jer. 1:5)].
If so, then there is no question on how any true Christian of any religion can stand personally on the abortion issue.

Are you Missouri Synod?

I understand what the start of this blog was, but I still maintain the question is moot, and comes too late.

Rev. Larry Beane said...

Dear Jules:

No, I'm not legalistic. You obviously don't understand my position. But I would certainly quote the law to oppose abortion. Abortion is murder (contrary to the 5th commandment). You can cite many passages of Scripture to support the humanity of the unborn.

Abortion is murder - even when the unfortunate child is a product of incest or rape.

I don't know why you would consider me being legalistic because I'm pro-life and don't "put my trust in princes."

We can preach in defense of life, but endorsing candidates and parties from the pulpit is not what we're called to do.

I'm an LCMS pastor. You are right.

~Wyycked Jules~ said...

Dear Father Hollywood,

Thanks for the information.

No offense was intended at all. I apologize. I did not mean legalistic as a negative or positive thing, more as a desciption, maybe a poor one. Again my apologizes.

We are in total agreement about abortion!

Where would I be able to read some of your sermons?

I am still very curious about the question posed initally about Gov. Palin and her potential as VP as it relates to the bible. I will be reading to see what you all have to say. I still think it is a bit late, and moot, but interesting none the less.

Your in Gretna? Howdy neighbor! I am in the Lafayette area.

~Wyycked Jules~ said...

Father Hollywood,
Is your blog part of your mission field?

Political Jules said...

Fr. holly. I mean no disrespect, but your message tends to hide behind your big words of apparent intellect.

I am not a preacher, just a follower. I do not profess to be perfect and the only leader I expect to be perfect is God. However, we should all strive to to be like God. McCain is closer to that task than Obama. God is who I answer to, not the public opinion.

Sarah Palin is part of that package with McCain. It is not my job (or anyone else’s IMHO) to even question why God has brought Sarah Palin forward, or even how she can possibly raise her family. It is my job to be grateful for the gift God has brought forth, and to share with others His gift in her.

Now you can (in a very ungodly way IMHO) explain my reasoning away with your big words, but I have strong faith in God that my message will be heard by at least one set of ears. I do not question the message, but I have faith in it.

You see, a great man reminded me of a great principle. Everything works for the Greater Good of God.

He explained that, when everything works for the Greater Good of God, it is not…everything good works for God, but the good, the bad and the ugly work for the Greater Good of God. That great man was Mike Huckabee. He was also a preacher, with a well articulated message.

We Can Make a Bigger Difference. Please be sure to get out and vote. McCain/Palin gets my vote. God Bless America.

Political Jules said...

McCain has always been transparent on his position of abortion. He has never professed anything different. You seem to think we are blinded by our conservatism, when the truth is we are very aware of what we are supporting. It is people like you who try to convince us that we don't know, but you would be wrong. Very, very wrong.

Political Jules said...

I must say your assesment of me is quite the Godly one. It made me feel warm and wanted. Bless you Fr. Holly & Peace be with you.

Rev. Larry Beane said...

Dear Jules:

Howdy neighbor! I have to tell you, we just had our Gretna Heritage Festival, and one of the highlights for me was eating the pheasant gumbo from Prejeans (which, I'm pretty sure, is from Lafayette). It was so good I had to fight the urge to inhale it.

Y'all also have some fine music in Cajun Country. Nothing goes better with hot gumbo than hotter zydeco.

Rev. Larry Beane said...

Having women (especially married women) in political office presents some problems. One of which is Gov. Palin's obligation according to Eph 5:24 to be "subject" to her husband "in everything."

This means a President Palin, who would be elected to have the authority to veto legislation would be subject to her husband's veto - and her husband is unelected. We would be allowing an unelected man to hold authority over his unelected wife's decisions.

In other words, what if Todd and Sarah disagree about legislation, and what if Todd tells her to veto when she wants to sign? She would either have to break her obligation to God or to the people.

If Todd (rather than Satah) were the president, we would have no such problem. When we do things the *right* way, we don't run into these potential problems.

~Wyycked Jules~ said...

Father Hollywood,

Ahh a man of discriminating taste indeed ! Prejeans is definately one of the better places. Pheasant.. eh I would rather some good chicken and sausage gumbo, but to each his own.

I missed the festival this year. Was just too busy recouping after Gustav and Ike.

Political Jules said...

Fr. Holly said, "This means a President Palin, who would be elected to have the authority to veto legislation would be subject to her husband's veto - and her husband is unelected. We would be allowing an unelected man to hold authority over his unelected wife's decisions."

I am not sure you understand how our government works. Which surprises me with how intelligent you sound.

The president, President Palin in your case, does not represent her implicit views in making a decision, nor her husband's views. She would have taken an oath to be a representative of the people.

Thus her personal view has just as much value as any other american. If her view is in the majority then her decision lies to support the majority. If she is in the minority then it is not a factor. This is extremely oversimplified to explain my point.

Her work in Alaska is an excellent representation of that. She will make a great leader because of the fact she realizes her job is to represent the people.

In her marriage and her home it could be different, and it is not for you or I to judge how her marriage works. It could work just as you profess, but it is really none of your business. What is your business is how she would run a government.

That, Fr. Holly is how we vote.

Rev. Larry Beane said...

The president is bound by oath to the people (bound by the Constitution). A male president is not to be in submission to his wife, but a female president is to be in submission to her husband "in everything" (if the Bible is to be believed).

The president is not a robot. For example, a pro-life president ought not refuse to sign an anti-abortion law just because the majority of Americans want him to do so. Presidents make unpopular decisions all the time. This is a republic, not a democracy.

But regarding a bill sent to her desk, what if Hubby says: "Veto it!" If the Presidentress signs it, she is not in submission to her husband. If she vetoes it, her unelected husband is now running the executive branch of the federal government.

Granted, this is a hypothetical - but one that is avoided by wives submitting to their husbands instead of the other way around.

In Alaska, there is an un-hypothetical investigation going on regarding Todd Palin's sister and her ex-husband. What if Todd Palin told his wife to make sure his brother in law got fired?

By putting women in such convoluted chains of command, we are inviting them to sin, and inviting the husband to be seen by his own children as being 2nd in command in the family.

It's a complication that could be avoided by having someone else (surely there is some man out there somewhere who is at least as qualified as Gov. Palin?) to serve as VP while Gov. Palin can actually not be required to spend days (or even weeks) on end away from her newborn.

Part of being pro-life is being pro-mother. But when "mother" is basically a stranger who the child sees on TV doing her "more important work," that's just not terribly pro-family to me.

But then again, the bar of conservatism has slipped to the point where simply not killing your child gets you a an "attagirl" from the modern conservative community.

~Wyycked Jules~ said...

Father Hollywood ! Oh no you didn't... And I was going to head to bed.

Father Hollywood said: Part of being pro-life is being pro-mother. But when "mother" is basically a stranger who the child sees on TV doing her "more important work," that's just not terribly pro-family to me.

Now good father Hollywood, this just brings out the mama bear in me. How do you possibly suppose to know that she is a stranger to her child? You do not. One thing that impresses me about Sarah Palin is that she has her priorities in place. None of her children seem to only recognize her as the mom they see on TV. And she was Mayor before Governor. So this is not new to her.

Have you seen her schedule? Have you seen how much time she is with her family to make this assumtpion? Do you know the quality of that time?

Pro-family... should we examine that phrase? You used it. Oh heck why bother. It would fall on deaf ears I think.

That insult was not necessary, and coming from a man of God.. disappointing.

Rev. Larry Beane said...

Dear Jules:

The woman was eight months pregnant and leaking amniotic fluid, and yet chose to fly to Texas for a speech.

Well, after all, John McCain was there. That was an *important* speech. Thank God her irresponsibility didn't result in her son being hurt.

And thank God the Virgin Mary didn't see some job as more important than motherhood. I'm sorry, but I cannot respect that decision.

Furthermore, Sarah Palin's political stumping forces her to be all over the country. But that's what's important to her right now. That's her right.

But it's my right to say that I think God my mother made *me* a priority over a *job*.

I know Sarah Palin is human, and cannot be in two places at once. Newborns eat every two hours. Feeding them is a full time occupation. Again, I thank God that my wife was there to feed and nurture our son and was not seduced into seeing something else as a higher priority on her time.

St. Paul says women are "saved in childbearing" (1 Tim 2:15) not in being a Very Important Politician. You cannot work 40, 50, or 80 hours a week and not have your ability to be a mother suffer. It's ine thing when women *have* to do it. It's something else when they do it by *choice.*

And this is another clash between being *pro-life* and *pro-choice.*

Now you can't go to bed while the Saints are on MNF!

Rev. Larry Beane said...

I wrote:

"But it's my right to say that I think God my mother made *me* a priority over a *job*."

That should be "I thank God" not "I think God." Sorry about that.

Rev. Rick Stuckwisch said...

No, my post was not overtly negative toward Sarah Palin. I've spoken very positively of her and her politics, as well as of her family. My question, from the beginning and throughout the conversation, has not been about Sarah Palin per se, but about the propriety of a woman being nominated for a chief executive office. And that is not due to any opinion on my part that women are inferior to such an office. It is a question of the good order with which God has established His creation.

By way of clarification, my blog is not my "pulpit." I take seriously the fact that, as a pastor, my public discourse cannot help but reflect upon my office as a pastor. But there is a difference between thinking out loud on my blog and the preaching I do from the pulpit.

Regarding Barack Obama, I don't know how I could speak any more critically of him than I have. I have said more than once that, in view of his support and advocacy of abortion, he is unfit for the office of president.

Also, for the record, and I may need to write a new blog post on this at some point: I question the propriety of a woman being nominated to the office of vice president, not because I think that such an office is above and beyond a woman. I don't think that way, but even that is beside the point. I wouldn't wish such an office on any of my children, neither my sons nor my daughters. But that's not the point, either. I respect and submit to the governing authorities because they are established by God, and I honor their offices as good and right. Nevertheless, I do not regard such offices as higher or more important than the God-given vocations of husbands and wives, fathers and mothers. I regard the offices of wife and mother, in particular, as the highest and holiest and most significant stations in life; though these ultimately belong to the Church, just as those of husband and father ultimately belong to God.

Rev. Rick Stuckwisch said...

"Jules," you suppose that I am a "bit late in posing my question," because you are working with the assumption that my concern is with political campaigning and strategies. It's not. I posed my question because I care about the Word of God and sound theology. I posed the question because I was interested in learning what others had to say in response. I posed the question because I think it is helpful to engage in discussion and debate, quite apart from strategies.

As far as being pro-life is concerned, I don't think you're going to find anyone more committed to the sanctity of human life than I am. And as far as how I intend to vote, I've made that clear enough: I'm going to vote for McCain (and Palin), in spite of my questions, because I think it is the best thing to do under the circumstances. But expediency and pragmatism do not change the good order of God's creation. So, I am still interested in asking my questions; and I'll still be interested even after the election, irrespective of who wins.

Rev. Larry Beane said...

Dear Jules:

That's funny. Where do you get this "passed over for a job promotion" stuff. Goodness! You should write. I'm serious, what an imagination! That is how truly brilliant stories begin.

But I do want to make it clear that this is Dr. Stuckwisch's blog - not mine. My opinions are my own, and to be fair, my reservations about Gov. Palin are certainly a minority view in the Missouri Synod.

But then again, we in the LCMS don't ordain women, and we believe God created the world in six days - so a lot of people describe us as knuckle-dragging neanderthals for those reasons.

And you're not the first person to suggest that we are a cult. One of our traditionalist Lutheran brethren in Finland, Pastor Halvar Sandell, was even threatened with prosecution and may yet be defrocked for being an abortion opponent.

We're really out of step with modern sensibilities - and you're absolutely correct in picking up on that.

But the job promotion thing - IMHO, there is no higher calling than to be a parish pastor (which I hold by the unmerited grace of God) and a parent (which is likewise an unmerited gift of God) - and neither I nor my stay-at-home wife would seek something "better" than we each have now. My Bryn Mawr educated MicroSoft engineer wife would consider it a demotion to re-enter the work force - no matter how glitzy or lucrative the title.

The only regret we have is that we were blinded by feminism for so long.

But hey, that's just us. Others are free to live as they wish. We are all entitled to our opinions (at least for the time being) and to express them.

~Wyycked Jules~ said...

First off, I did go watch the game. Secondly, there seems to be two Jules here, I am assuming the comments are mostly for the other Jules, since they seem to address Political Jules posts.

I do agree the bible sets up the order of the home. It also speaks directly to the wives, is says to submit themselves to their husbands. Submission is something you give, not something another takes from you. The actual defination in the hebrew is to yield oneself to the power or authority of another.

Your question posed from your perspective is interesting in that you seem to already know the answer and not be searching as you stated. But more to look to be debating others of like mind.

Father Hollywood, I too was blessed to have a stay at home mom, and since we are very close in age, we were raised up in the same times. I do find it interesting, that a lot of what I am reading in your beliefs and ways (from the main website, and your sermons and your blog as well) reminds me of another day and time, or of the Amish. Not a bad thing, just an observation.

I guess in a perfect world Men would step up, do the right thing, and have the internal fortitude to be Godly men in a world that is far from Godly in many way. But here we are, in our world, such as it is. Where men have not stepped up, those who do are not usually Godly men, are fornicators, homosexuals, and many other types of unacceptable sinners.

Yet you have issue with a woman because she is not the head of the house. Forget that she and her husband believe they have been called by God to do exactly what they are doing. What matters to you is what YOU think they are doing wrong.

We are all called to be accountable for what comes out of our mouthes, and I believe as well what comes from our fingertips though this media as well. Remember and live by Matthew 7:1

My last post. I wish you well. I pray for your souls

Rev. Rick Stuckwisch said...

Thank you for your cordial comments and observations, Jules.

Regarding the question I posed: I believe that certain things are clear from the Holy Scriptures and our Lutheran Confessions. First, that a husband is the head of his own wife, and a father the head of his own household. Second, that the office of the governing authority derives from the office of father.

In light of these two points, which are matters of confession for me as a Lutheran pastor, I wondered out loud how it was that many of my colleagues, including kindred spirits with whom I am almost always of the same mind, could be so unabashedly excited and exuberantly positive about the nomination of a woman to the office of Vice President. It wasn't adding up for me; and frankly, it still isn't. No one in the course of the conversation has answered my question, although various good points have been made along the way. I've heard historic precedent and pragmatic expediency cited as the main reasons for rejoicing in this nomination; but no theological explanation as to how this should be understood in keeping with the good order of God's creation.

When I asked the question, initially, I honestly expected that someone would have a forthright and ready answer, something that I had forgotten, overlooked, or was otherwise missing. Maybe such an explanation is out there, but I haven't heard or seen it yet.

The discussion has been interesting to me; not only because the topic and its underlying theological implications are worthwhile things to think about, but also because of what it reveals about public discourse. Some of the immediate assumptions that have been made about my question, my opinions, my intentions, and, in some cases, concerning my person and my family, have been wildly incorrect. I've tried to be patient, clear and careful, both in framing my original post and in my responses, and that has helped some people to understand my point, but clearly not everyone. Attempting to have rigorous yet cordial debate appears to be a daunting challenge these days.

I understand very well that I am accountable for what I say (and write), especially as a called and ordained servant of the Word of God. I take this very seriously. If I have spoken irrevently or in any way contrary to the Word of God, I would hope to be corrected, that I may repent of that and make both apology and amends. But I do not apologize for questioning what appears to me to be at odds with the Holy Scriptures and my Lutheran confession of the faith. That is, in fact, precisely part of my responsibility as a pastor.

Because I do understand that we live by grace, through faith, under the Cross of Christ in the midst of a fallen world, I am able to question the propriety of a woman being nominated and elected to a chief executive office, without thereby concluding that I cannot in good conscience vote for the ticket that she is on. I know that life in this world is not what God intended from the beginning; yet I cling in faith and hope to the Cross and Resurrection of my Lord Jesus Christ, and in that confidence, I make the best decisions I can on the basis of what I know, within the parameters of what is possible.

It's only that I don't rejoice in the falleness of this world, nor do I blithely support that which is other than what God intended. I think it is a shame that a wife and mother should have to be thrust into the demands of such an office as Vice President; not because I think such an office is above her, or too much for her, but because I believe her vocations as a wife and mother are higher and holier, more significant and more important.

In any case, I thank you again for your contributions to the conversation.

Rev. Larry Beane said...

Here is an example of the complexity the situation of a woman governor (especially a married one) causes.

Todd Palin was simply "trying to protect his family" - as any man should be doing. But his wife is now put in the position of telling him not to do this.

So, who "wears the pants" in the family?

In this situation, either an unelected man is calling the shots over the elected governor, or the elected woman is calling the shots over the God-ordained head of her family.

Either way, this is a no-win situation.

This is the kind of confusion this situation causes. Maybe Luther and the confessions are still as relevant as ever.