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.