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Palin and Church Leadership

Palin and Church Leadership

I’ve watched the news reports on CNN about Sarah Palin and the debates about her experience–which are understandable. I have also seen or read about…

I’ve watched the news reports on CNN about Sarah Palin and the debates about her experience–which are understandable. I have also seen or read about the enthusiastic response from conservative Christians due to her stances on important values and family issues and, of course, excitement about her Christian background. I am personally, so far, very thrilled about those values from what she is communicating.

It is dawning on me however, as I have been reading some blogs and hearing which Christian leaders are excited about her, that many of them are from conservative complementarian churches. Which means as they are enthusiastic about her becoming vice president and making incredibly important decisions for our country–for both men and women–and make speeches and lead, she couldn’t teach in most of their pulpits, or be an elder or pastor in their church and make decisions and lead both men and women in a church setting.

Complementarianism is a term used to describe the theological perspective that the roles of men and women are made to complement each other but they are differing in function. Women are not to be pastors, elders or leaders over men and are called to submit to their husbands. This limits the roles of women in leadership positions in the church and home.

So we would be “OK” with her taking on the leadership role of vice president. By doing so, we are also supportive of her being president if John McCain wasn’t able to lead and she stepped in to lead the 303 million people of the USA. But the irony and theological, yet practical tension is how we are supporting her as a leader to that extreme capacity of 303 million people, yet in a complementarian rural church of 50 people, she would not be able to lead both men and women.

I’m not intentionally trying to argue for an egalitarian viewpoint by the political system, and certainly not about who someone should vote for! I have just found it fascinating thinking about the interesting irony that we can be excited about a female leading 300 plus million people (men and women) and giving leadership, direction and teaching about the national and global economy, wars which may take or save thousands of lives, laws, freedom issues, and the environment, but in most conservative church settings, Palin could not hold a major leadership role or preach.

You have to admit, it is an interesting thing to think about. To me it sure is. And I believe that complementarians will have to have a response to this.

I’d love to hear how those with a complementarian view sort this out or if others have thought about this. I understand that some complementarian churches do allow a female to preach on occasion (under the authority of the male elders) and some will call a female a pastor, generally if it is females they are pastoring. I assume the complementarian response is that the sphere of leading as a pastor or elder in a local church is different than the sphere of leading the entire country. There is a sphere of assigned leadership within a local church body whom are under the leadership of the elders/pastors (and Jesus of course) – and then there is a sphere of leadership that happens in various places outside the church leadership including government, schools, doctors and hospitals etc. I understand that. But it is an interesting thing to ponder if you simply lay that out and think about its functional reality. I would love to hear how responses will go, as I cannot imagine this won’t be coming up in discussions.

Any thoughts on this?

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