A Woman in Leadership Authority: Is It Really Okay?
Today at 9:57am
A few weeks ago, a friend (and Biblical Scholar) forwarded me this email commenting on a popular Christian radio broadcast. It is in regards to a woman in leadership role in civil authority.
Let me preface this email by saying that this is a heated debate. If you comment on this email, please keep it positive and helpful.
Also, this is only one of a number of issues in this election and one that, quite frankly, I don't believe is the most important. As our country progresses into the economic meltdown that we are pursuing, I am reminded of the quote by the dynastical banker, Lord Rothschild, who once said, "Permit me to issue and control the money of a nation, and I care not who makes its laws."
With those things said, here is the email (edited to exclude any personal references).
First, I would like to thank you for all that you do. My wife and I have been regular listeners of yours for several years now and generally find such great encouragement and even challenge to consider the times from a more biblical perspective.
Which is why I was surprised by your enthusiastic response to John McCain's recent choice of Mrs. Palin as his running mate and choice for Vice-Presidential nominee. Several times on your show, I thought you might approach the text of Scripture to help shed light on this very important issue. And I was very surprised when, in the end, you indicated that the passages concerning roles for genders applied to church & family, but not state.
I have questions about how you understand some of the specific passages that would indicate to me that God designed a woman to function with the home as her base and not a life and career that would clearly be in competition or exclusion of the daily duties of mother & wife (which public office would seem to be). I would be very grateful for a response to what I believe to be fairly clear indication from Scripture that the roles designed for the genders apply beyond just the home and the church.
It would be my understanding in light of these passages that the normal pattern for leadership in the state and in the church and in the home would be male leadership. This would be clear both from explicit commands and from the patterns encouraged for godly women. Would we find a woman who is a "keeper/worker at home" and a "helpmeet" (to her husband and not to another man) whose main time, energy, and work was spent helping another man to rule a nation? Would this be the normative expectation we would find for our daughters from Scripture?
I appreciate your thoughts on this.
* Isaiah 3.10 Say to the righteous that it will go well with them,
For they will eat the fruit of their actions.
11 Woe to the wicked! It will go badly with him,
For what he deserves will be done to him.
12 O My people! Their oppressors are children,
And women rule over them. [emphasis mine]
O My people! Those who guide you lead you astray
And confuse the direction of your paths.
It seems in this woe of the Lord through Isaiah that there is a general statement about women in leadership: it is indeed a saddening thing. This general lament for the usurpation of the biblical order does not seem merely bound to the home or the temple leadership, it seems a much broader issue.
* Titus 2.3 Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good, 4 so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, 5 to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored.
This seems a very strong exhortation indeed that the primary locus of the influence of women to be from their work in their homes. It doesn't seem to encourage their "work" to be an independent life apart from their work as wives & mothers.
The woman of virtue seems to be able to widely influence public policy and policy makers through her work and influence on her husband. It is her works that are praised in the gates. Seemingly her business, influence, and power expressed within the realm or sphere of her given influence: her husband, her children, her home.
* 1Cor. 11.2 Now I praise you because you remember me in everything and hold firmly to the traditions, just as I delivered them to you. 3 But I want you to understand that Christ is the head of every man, and the man is the head of a woman, and God is the head of Christ.
Though given in the context of a discussion on church order, Paul does not base his argument on design pertaining to only those distinctive realms, but instead on creation. Which would seem a very broad application of the truth is intended.
* 1 Tim 2.13 For it was Adam who was first created, and then Eve.
Again, I recognize that this passage is being aimed at the particular application of the church. Yet, is seems a broad argument to make if it has no application outside the church. In fact, it seems a better understanding that the biblical definition of leadership is generally masculine in all its spheres from creation on. Though there are exceptions given, the prescriptive norm seems always to be of men in leadership in the home, the church, and in the state.
* Ex. 18.21 “Furthermore, you shall select out of all the people able men who fear God, men of truth, those who hate dishonest gain; and you shall place these over them as leaders of thousands, of hundreds, of fifties and of tens. 22 “Let them judge the people at all times; and let it be that every major dispute they will bring to you, but every minor dispute they themselves will judge. So it will be easier for you, and they will bear the burden with you.
Moses was given particular command to place men in the roles of civil authority.
* Deut. 1.13 ‘Choose wise and discerning and experienced men from your tribes, and I will appoint them as your heads.’
Again, Moses given command to place men in leadership.
* Deut. 17.14 “When you enter the land which the LORD your God gives you, and you possess it and live in it, and you say, ‘I will set a king over me like all the nations who are around me,’ 15 you shall surely set a king over you whom the LORD your God chooses, one from among your countrymen you shall set as king over yourselves; you may not put a foreigner over yourselves who is not your countryman. 16 “Moreover, he shall not multiply horses for himself, nor shall he cause the people to return to Egypt to multiply horses, since the LORD has said to you, ‘You shall never again return that way.’ 17 “He shall not multiply wives for himself, or else his heart will turn away; nor shall he greatly increase silver and gold for himself.
The King himself was not to be a man OR woman, but a man.
Though Deborah seems an exception (as mentioned), I don't believe you would argue that the pattern of the Judges is to be instructive as a model to the church. Instead, it seems an indication of how far Israel had gone in their sinful, self-will. So, I don't feel like Deborah is a great proof-text on this issue.