Thursday, September 18, 2008

Three's Company? Palin, Mohler, and I

The following is a post I wrote for Complegalitarian. The issue surrounds the debate about how Sarah Palin should be viewed as a Christian woman in politics, running for the Vice Presidency of the United States. Although the debate over women in positions of authority is not new, the subject of Sarah Palin has catapulted the issue to the forefront of Christian circles. For Christians with a Complementarian point of view (that is, women have limited roles with respect to men) that also have a great interest in politics, this is the ultimate test of how their views apply. Some, like Al Mohler and David Kotter, both contributors to the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, make way for Sarah Palin to lead in the highest executive position in the country. Others, like Doug Phillips of the Vision Forum, say that consistency is key, and no woman should ever occupy any civic position of authority.

As you can tell from the title of this post, I side with Mohler's approval of Gov. Palin. However, the reasons underlying my agreement differ quite a bit from the majority of Complementarians who have put their views in print, as CBMW has. This post, as well as the next one, expound on my particular views on the issue. As the following is in repsonse to comments made on the Palin-Mohler issue, please feel free to read Complegalitarian for the full context.

This is hardly a cheering endorsement from Mohler, though it certainly is an acknowledgement that not all wives and mothers are called to stay at home. It is, however, a clear admonition to not view her as a normal women. She is an exception, like Esther or Deborah, period. She is not so much an example to be followed as she is an exception to the general rule. (molly).
Mohler has a consistency problem with this one because Palin professes to be a Christian. Mohler/CBMW teach that Christian women have a 'role'and all that entails that we have discussed here ad nauseum. :o) However, they are also saying that we can separate the civil and spiritual realms for women in leadership. That does not seem to be a problem except that Palin is a Christian woman. Is anyone else not seeing this conumdrum for CBMW? How can they separate the civil and spiritual realm with a Christian woman? You can't. Christians don't have 'realms'. (lin)
It is clear that the non-egals want to have their cake and eat it too. (don)

Is CBMW being inconsistent, many ask?

I think it depends on the person speaking. Doug Phillips seems to believe he is more consistent than Al Mohler, but I don't think that matters in light of his views. When you believe that a woman is created for no other purpose than to be a babymama-housekeeper, you've effectively dropped out of reasonable conversation altogether.

Is complementarianism in trouble because of Sarah Palin?

That's funny, and the answer is no. Let me point out that Richard Land (complementarian) was one of the first people to propose naming Sarah Palin for McCain's VP early on in the campaign.

Do I have a problem with consistency as a complementarian?

Well, if I make the kind of errors I've read so far from both egals and patriocentrists, yes. But I haven't. In this previous post, I argued that it is perfectly consistent with my views on Complementarianism that a woman could be a leader in any civil realm she chooses.

To the issue raised that Christians (and certainly complementarians) don't have separate realms, vis a vis a Christian/spiritual realm to a secular realm (and the accusation that complementarians are trying to split life into these two realms): I would contend that this is an incorrect framing of the issue, which is then, incorrectly trying to expose inconsistency in complementarianism.

The idea, 'There is no separate spiritual realm and secular realm for the Christian,' is a theological proposition about how we should conduct ourselves with Christlike integrity wherever we are (not an existential proposition). Al Mohler is not making a contrary theological claim to that. Instead, he is making a simple modal distinction brought up by the case of Sarah Palin. In short, she can wear that hat (whether governor or VP or whatever). As to whether or not there exist separate realms, of course there are--we don't live under a theocracy afterall, and we don't demand that our government be ruled by the Church. This is an argument against a position like Doug Phillips'. That anyone can construe this to be a problem of complementarian proportions is ridiculous.

Is Gov. Palin the exception? Yes, in the sense that I think most women don't have the ability to do what she is doing, including myself. I can hardly find time to read a book much less occupy a public office. But also no, in the sense that she is an exeption because she is exceptional, not because she's bending some rule somewhere to get where she is (which is otherwise closed to women). There is no such rule that prohibits women from exercising public office. Any woman who has the skills to govern effectively and still regard her husband and family properly should be afforded the opportunity to exercise those skills, regardless of whether she is a Christian or not. (I would add, especially if she is a conservative Christian, but that is my bias that we don't need any more liberal pro-abortion politicians hostile to Christianity here in this country). Marilyn did make this point in the combox (much better than I, I think).

For those of you who are salivating at the idea that the issue of Sarah Palin proves that complementarianism as a system of thought is wrong need to aim your guns elsewhere, because you've really missed the point. Some hard complementarians/patriocentrists, like Doug Phillips, are certainly wrong in their views, but their problem isn't complementarianism. It's the refusal in their own hearts to see the full humanity of women.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Pimp My Church?!?

When authentic has left the building.

every sunday in september

car cruise on virginia avenue, 9am - 1pm
free popcorn & drinks for cruisers
worship @ 11am

register each sunday to win a wii game

drawing september 28

live abundantly *
learn diligently *
laugh freely *
love completely

pimp my what????

the connection united methodist church

st. louis,
missouri 63111 * sundays 11am

Under the "pimp my what????" link is the following, er, explanation:

Pimp My Church is a play off of a popular MTV show called "Pimp My Ride." They take old junker cars - ones really meant for the trash heap - and "pimp them out," meaning, they give them new paint jobs, fix the dents, clean out the trash, and add outrageous things like movie projectors, refrigerators or whatever else the owner might like. That's what it means to "Pimp My Ride." (translation, fix up my car)

It seems our society has begun to view church as an old junker, something useless, worn-out, out-of-date and ready for the trash heap. At The Connection we want to let people know the church is absolutely relevant and useful - that life & faith can meet in a way that impacts our very existence. The church is as "fly" (translation - cool or hip) as we dream it and create it to be. God is certainly not out-of-date and neither should God's people be out-of-date.

So, come each Sunday in September and find out what The Connection is becoming. You'll find people just like yourself, searching for something meaningful in life. You'll enjoy a live band playing music that will connect you with God, hear practical & relevant messages that make an impact on every day life, and build relationships worth keeping for a lifetime. Now, that's a fly, outrageously pimped out church.

I think I've heard enough.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Matt Damon, Comedian

The media blitz on the presidential campaigns has been exceptionally droll so far, so thank God for the comic relief I saw today. We need more entertainment like this kind Matt Damon dished up Wednesday. The fact that he could execute such a barrage of comedic lines with a straight face is golden. No one could have done better.

You gotta see this:

YouTube credit: The AP.

For instance, in the midst of the unprecedented anal exam that the entire state of Alaska is going through in search of Sarah Palin's identity, Damon jokes that he knows nothing about her, which is really funny. 'Cause, aside from the names of all her kids, that her oldest is going to Iraq, her daughter is 17 and pregnant and marrying the baby's father, she was almost Miss Alaska, has a Down's baby, her husband is First Dude, she's brought terrific success to Alaska in 24 months as governor, and the names and locations of every place she's ever step foot in since birth, I guess we really don't know a lot about her. US Weekly and, you're falling down on the job--"Gimme More"!

I love that he jokes about how he expects John McCain to die in office. But he missed the line where McCain just might beat Dick Cheney to the grave. And you know all hockey moms are a bunch of softies, especially those from plush, beachy, fair-weathered Alaska, so that joke is right on. I mean, hockey, Barbie, what's the diff?

There aren't enough small town ("really small town") jokes floating around, especially mayor jokes. We should thank Damon for reminding us how funny people with humble beginnings really are. Does he have polack jokes, too? I wonder.

Just to make sure no one misunderstands that he's not being serious, throwing that bit in about how things might go in a McCain presidency being like "a really bad Disney movie" should get him booked on Comedy Central by the weekend.

And just when I thought he couldn't get any funnier, he unloads the very best line of all about Palin--"I need to know if she really thinks dinosaurs were here 4,000 years ago; that's an important--I wanna know that. I really do, because she's going to have the nuclear codes. Y'know? I wanna know if she thinks dinosaurs were here 4,000 years ago, or if she banned books or tried to ban books. I mean, y'know, we can't--we can't have that..."

How he trails off at the end there is beyond precious! Let me add one more thing: he set this up perfectly by using the word "absurd" two or three times right before this joke. Matt Damon has just outdone Michael Richards in every way. This has got to be worth some award. I hope he wins big. Go Matt!

Monday, September 8, 2008

Laugh Rack 5-Can I haggle for those ninjas?


The ninjas sound spectacular, since they are on there twice.

I'd buy a cat and a ninja, but I was afraid they'd fight and make a real mess in the car. Mmmm, cake...

What James Dobson ate for dinner Aug. 29th

Crow. Did you catch that? Crow.

From a flat out rejection of Sen. John McCain in February to a possibly-maybe endorsement in July to now a full-fledged booya! in the wake of McCain's VP pick of Sarah Palin, James Dobson has made a red-faced reversal on who he'll vote for in November. Other than to make me writhe in pain on the floor from the sheer agony of it all, what was the point of all this "I hate you; don't leave me" hullabaloo?!

What if he would just say we should pray for all the candidates to do the right thing? What if he stopped picking one person to pin a blue ribbon onto? What if we all kept silent just a wee bit longer and gave objectivity a little more time to work its way through our minds? Seriously, is that asking too much?

A lesson to all of us evangelical, conservative Republicans out there stumping for a hero(ine) in politics. Open your mouth too soon and you may just discover a foot in it--your own. Rethink the idea of endorsing someone (or saying that you won't vote for a particular candidate "under any circumstances") as official position of your Christian organization and/or as the face of your like-minded community. Keep your endorsements personal and you may save yourself some embarrassment in the public eye, for you and members of the conservative Christian community. Ahem, that would be me.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

The Amazing Thing...

About Amazing Grace (the movie) is not the actors, although they were terrific. It was not the screenplay, although excellently written. It was not even the way the movie looked and felt, which was really, really good--almost fantastic. It took me a minute to ID Ioan Gruffudd, who plays William Wilberforce, as the same guy who played Mr. Fantastic in the much lesser movie The Fantastic Four, but thanks to his role here, I'm now a fan! The movie is filled with great scenes, but this exchange between Wilberforce and Lord Dundas on the floor of the English Parliament struck me like a bolt of lightning.

Lord Dundas: "I am in favor of the abolition of the slave trade. There's no doubt in my mind that this trade in human beings is an Almighty calumny and is a disgrace to this nation. However, I also take the point of my honorable friend, the member for Liverpool, if we were to outlaw the trade tomorrow, this would bring financial disaster to the many great cities and industries of this country. I therefore suggest a period of reflection--"

Wilberforce: "After a year and a half of privy counsel and investigation, what good would it do to delay the inevitable?"

Dundas: "Inevitable? Is my good friend already counting the votes before they are cast?"

Wilberforce: "I didn't mean that."

Dundas: "If the trade were to be abolished, I suggest we do so gradually. Violent storms sink ships. This great ship of state should not be sunk by a wave of good intention."

Substitute "abortion" for "slave trade," and you have what many say today about overturning Roe v Wade: I am personally against abortion, but I believe it should remain legal. Though the economics of retaining legal abortion are strained at best, pro-abortionists do try hard to make a case that unlimited access to abortion is a necessary part of our country's makeup.

As for the gradual part, I believe we are already on this path with informed consent laws, parental notification laws, and bans on late term abortions. I support these laws. It would be better, though, if lawmakers and judges would recognize the inherent humanity of the unborn and extend the right to life the same as the rest of us. That would be the human(e) thing to do.